September 5, 2007

Divergence Eve

Divergence EveGary gave me a $5 coupon to Best Buy the other day, and I had a couple of $2 gift cards from when Luna and I went to one of their special events and filled out a survey. Most of the time, it doesn't make any sense to buy something from brick-and-mortar stores because it's cheaper to order them online, but with $9 in credit I decided it was worth stopping by to take a look at what they had. After talking to Tintin for a while on the phone, comparing prices in the store against prices online, I chose to get Divergence Eve. As it turns out, the price I paid after the coupon and gift cards is about the same as what I would have paid if I ordered online.

But I think it was a pretty decent choice. Superficially the series is about massive fan service, but to be honest I don't think it spends an abnormal amount of time on that. It's more like something that just is, rather than something the storyboarders went out of their way to focus on instead of other things. Of course many people are likely to disagree on that. What I liked about the series is how well thought out the overall plot is, as things are revealed with hints and little backstories, with the protagonist Misaki figuring out what's going on and her role in things. Plus, the series doesn't shy from consequences of the situation or the indifference of some of the players involved.

Misaki and three other cadets, Luxandra, Kiri, and Suzanna, arrive at a some sort of research facility named Watcher's Nest that has been set up around a strange orbital body. Faster-than-light travel is somehow connected with the phenomenon that is occuring at this location, and the four of them are joining the defense forces there to fight an "enemy", the nature of which is classified. Each of them has their own different reasons for leaving Earth behind and pursuing this career, but unfortunately it won't end happily for most of them.

There is extensive use of amateurish-CG for the 3D space craft and outer space visuals. It's amateurish because it has the budget look-and-feel of older 3D CG work, rather than more sophisticated work that is available. As a result, the space structures and ships look flat and fake, and plastic rather than organic and gritty. CG is also used for some of the 2D visuals, which work fine since those are mostly console interfaces or visual displays and not supposed to be physical objects. This sort of cheap mashup of CG and drawn or cel-shaded art always disappoints me. Over time I got used to it, but it's still a let down.

The biggest disappointment, however, was the ending. Throughout the first twelve episodes, things move at a fair pace, although not quickly. During this time, things are slowly revealed. The motivations and different loyalties, and the opening scenes showing backstory, give depth to the plot. Even though there isn't a whole lot of character development other than for Misaki; the time spent on other characters is too little, although not insignificant in their meaning. But in the last episode, everything is suddenly explained outright when it really could have used a few more episodes to try and actually illustrate the situation instead of dictating it, and the ending is conveniently short and without any exploration of the repurcussions.

The only thing I can think of is that Divergence Eve is not supposed to be considered complete. There is a second thirteen-episode series, Misaki Chronicles, which looks like it explores the consequences of Divergence Eve's ending. But in a fun and entertaining way.

Regardless, I enjoyed watching Divergence Eve and have ordered Misaki Chronicles because I want to see what happens next. The series kept me interested in the plot, and I found myself attached to Misaki and really trying to understand how she could get out of this okay, considering what has happened to everyone else. There's also a lot of deeper subtext going on throughout the series which isn't focused on and doesn't need to be picked up in order to understand or enjoy things, but its presence does provide a little more depth.

Posted by josuah at September 5, 2007 4:26 AM UTC+00:00

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