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Mars Daybreak: The Complete Series

Bandai // Unrated // November 6, 2007
List Price: $44.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by John Sinnott | posted December 3, 2007 | E-mail the Author
The Series:


As has been the trend for the last few years, after an anime series
has been released in single volumes the entire run is collected and solicited
at a discount price.  Bandai has now gotten around to collecting Mars
Daybreak
in a nice compact collector's set.  The show is based
on a video game, which bodes ill, but it isn't as bad as it could have
been.  While this story of a young man who finds a mecha unit (sound
familiar?) never raises above the average mark, it is still entertaining
and enjoyable.

In
the future, Mars looks quite different than it does today.  After
extensive terraforming the planet is now a giant ocean, with people living
on huge floating cities.  The planet is at peace now, having recently
lost a war with mother Earth.  The economy is sour though, with rampant
unemployment and abundant poverty.

Scraping by, trying to keep body and soul together is a young man named
Gram.  He takes jobs wherever he can get them, but steady employment
is hard to find and most jobs only last a day or two.

One way that people are able to make some cash is by piracy.  The
most feared pirate ship on the seas is the Aurora, and Gram has the bad
luck to be in a storage depo when the ships rams.   The city
releases its mecha, called Round Bucklers to fend off the attack, but it's
pretty much useless.  The Aurora is staffed with trained Buckler pilots
and they make quick work of the remote controlled vehicles that the city
launches.

During
the battle Gram falls into the seas to a certain death.  He doesn't
die however he's saved by an odd and very powerful Round Buckler. 
It seems to come out of nowhere and automatically brings the young man
aboard.   The city forces don't recognize the craft, and assume
he's with the pirates.  Climbing on board the Aurora after the battle,
Gram's offered a place on the crew if he's willing to fight for them. 
A steady job sounds good, even if it isn't exactly legal, and Gram is reluctantly
joins.  He's never liked the idea of pirates, but these guys seem
alright.

Newly arrived on Mars is a rookie contingent of Earth forces sent there
to complete their training.  One of their member is Lt. Vestamona,
an attractive lady who used to live on Mars.  When she sees Gram's
picture on a wanted poster, and later runs into him in person, she makes
it her personal mission to bring him in.  They have some history,
and though she still feels for him, she's not about to shirk her duty.

The beginning of the show plays out like a typical mecha anime, with
the good guys being good (the pirates sell their booty to black-marketters
who promise to sell the goods to people at a cut rate, and go out of their
way to avoid harming any civilians) and the bad guys being bad.  About
halfway through the series however, it changes into a quest show. 
Gram is wearing a necklace, one that he's worn since birth that has some
significance to another pirate, Captain Kubernes.  Apparently it will
lead him to the Stone of the Gods, an item of incalculable wealth, if it's
matched with the Box of Guidance.  Oh yeah, and Gram might, just might,
be the chosen one.

This
series started out with some promise, but never rises above average. 
The beginning, with Gram stumbling across a powerful mecha, was very clichéd
and overdone, but the underwater setting and the pirate angle were nice
twists on the typical story.  There are some interesting characters,
including a talking cat and a dolphin pirate who spends him time on the
ship in an adapted mecha suit.  The show also isn't short on ideas
such as the underwater fireworks, special torpedoes loaded with liquid
nitrogen that explode and create intricate symmetrical patterns in ice.

The problem is that there just isn't any energy.  The show starts
off with some interesting mysteries (where did Gram's mecha come from?)
but as the series goes on it fails to build on its successes.  The
story seems to throw in every plot device the writers could think of, and
because of that there are a lot of inconsistencies and holes in the story. 
Not enough to ruin the show, but it does make the show feel a little more
haphazard.

Unfortunately, this program never revealed a deep inner core like I
was hoping it would.  In the end, it was all fluff with little substance. 
That's not necessarily a bad thing, as I don't regret the time I spent
screening it.  Mars Daybreak is enjoyable enough to watch,
but not the type of show that cries out for repeat viewings.


The DVD:




This release presented the entire 26 episode series on six DVDs. 
These discs come in a double width keepcase which has two pages inside,
one disc on each side of the page and one each on the front and back of
the case.

Audio:

This set offers viewers the choice of either the original Japanese audio
or an English dub both in Dolby Digital stereo.  I started off alternating
language tracks with every episode, as I often do, and settled on the Japanese
track after the first disc.  While the English actors did a good job,
some of the secondary characters didn't sound as natural as their Japanese
counterparts.

The series made fair use of the front soundstage during the battles,
though after the action was over it pretty much reverted to a mono soundtrack. 
The range was adequate though not impressive, and the discs were free from
common audio defects.

Video:

The show was presented in full frame, as it was originally broadcast
in Japan, and the looked pretty good.  Since a good amount of the
action takes place underwater, the colors aren't bright and vivid but a
bit muted to create a submarine feel.  This works fairly well and
isn't a cause for complaint.  On the digital side things look equally
fine, with only the most minor aliasing in the background.

Extras:

This was a pretty bare bones release.  The only bonus items were
a clean opening and closing.

Final Thoughts:

While this show started out with some interesting ideas and a story
filled with possibilities, it wasn't able to develop its strong points
and consequently is only average.  Still worth watching the show definitely
has its moments and is enjoyable.  This one gets a light recommendation.

For a more thourough review of the series, check out Don Houston's reviews
of the single volumes here.

 

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