Divergence Eve – Anime Review by Bryan Neef

https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=2293

Let’s get it over with.  Divergence Eve is fan service and easily dismissed as a video to watch for the plot, much like an infamous American magazine was “read for its articles.”

The above is only half right.  Divergence Eve has fan service, but considering other, less obvious examples, it’s actually tame.  And, surprisingly it has a plot.  The plot is both homage to, and a minor rip off of Neon Genesis Evangelion.  It is also a spiritual predecessor to Knights of Sidonia, which I reviewed last year.

Mankind has discovered a way to traverse the galaxy without the traditional tropes of hyperspace and worm holes.  At least it’s not called hyperspace or worm holes.  Instead, humans can tunnel into another universe and come out at their destination by effectively creating mini Big Bangs.  The story builds upon this technique and uses it’s mechanics throughout the series.

As with any good sci-fi story, the explorers found something on the other side.  Now, the interesting thing about this “other side,” is the series isn’t clear if it’s the other universe, or the planet and outpost called Watcher’s Nest.  This is, I think, a good thing.  It builds the suspense, and it does it very well.

The main character in Divergence Eve is Misaki Kureha, the daughter of one of the explorers of Watcher’s Nest.  He and his expedition were lost eleven years prior.  And it wasn’t the first expedition.  And there are hints that certain people knew, and/or expected what happened.

To a lesser extent, the series follows her squad of cadet pilots and their encounters with the denizens of Watcher’s Nest, called Ghouls.  And the squad follows the trope of “only people with special talents are recruited.”  Only, this trope has a twist, and it isn’t the body types, or the uniforms (the aforementioned fan service.)

In the first episode, we find out quickly that Misaki isn’t just a normal person.  She really is something more.  And this is where the series shines.  We, the audience, know she’s special.  Most of the characters don’t.  But even in knowing she’s special, we aren’t told how, or why, for nearly ten episodes of the thirteen episode series.

Those in the series who know, follow the trope of a secret organization called SEELE…sorry, wrong series.  I believe the secret organization is Alchemy, but there are a lot of names thrown out.  Both during the main story time and the flashbacks that show what has led up to the current time, reference a pseudo-governmental agency.  And the flashbacks are another, great technique Divergence Eve uses to move the story on.  And they do it well.

As the series progresses, the citizens and crew of Watcher’s Nest encounter Ghouls.  Some more frequently than others.  The command crew keeps vital information secret from Misaki and her friends, as well as the public at large.  And the super secret Alchemy keep more secrets from everyone.  The audience learns as the crew does what the Ghouls are, and the secrets Alchemy is trying to keep buried, and bring out.  And those secrets are a major force in the show.

And without revealing too much, what Misaki learns about herself, her father, Watcher’s Nest, and the Ghoul causes her great distress.  She sees her friends killed or mind wiped.  She sees the citizens being lied to, supposedly to protect them.  And as she is about to learn more about her father, her informant is killed.  She finally learns what her role is in Alchemy’s plan.  All of this gives her the resolve of Shinji Ikari!  Sorry, wrong series again.  After everything she learns, she has the resolve to do more to protect the people of Watcher’s Nest.

Shockingly, the series, more accurately, the first series, ends on a very depressing, yet hopeful note.  Misaki returns from the brink of insanity, or worse, and tries to stop the mad scientist, an Alchemy agent, behind the events in Watcher’s Nest and, possibly, her life, but it appears to be too late.  But with what she learns at this juncture, she is able to set in motion a plan to fix things.  And that fix is, apparently, in the second series, The Misaki Chronicles, which I will be watching and reviewing soon.

As I’ve mentioned, the plot execution has been very good.  It builds and maintains the suspense better than many other programs.  It has its light moments, which are less frequent as the series progresses.  It doesn’t have the same smoothness as Knights of Sidonia or Evangelion.  In some places, the pacing is too fast, and others it’s too slow.  The slowness is more to point out the important parts, drawing attention to plot points in a heavy handed manner.  But it can be forgiven, since it doesn’t appear to have the same production quality of many of its contemporaries.

From the production stand point, the blend of CGI and traditional cells were, at best, rushed.  Computers animated the ships, battle suits, and the Ghoul.  In the docking bays, the ship CGI was appropriate.  Even some of the flying sequences were decent.  However, shows released at the same time, that I’ve watched, such as Sakura Taisen, Angel Heart, and Galaxy Express 999 TV had smoother CGI sequences.  Even Lensman, released in the mid-80’s had better CGI than the 2003 Divergence Eve.  But, as I said, the production of Divergence Eve seems rushed.

For the most part, the acting was decent.  Being an AD Vision release, their stock actors did their best, even with fake British accents, considering how much they were releasing at the time.  To me, there seemed to be too many scenes where the emotional turmoil presented wasn’t necessary, too strong and fast, or not enough.  Taken in context, it matches a rushed project on both sides of the Pacific.

Overall, I think Divergence Eve did more right than wrong.  I would recommend it for the story, and fan service (which, while more tame than others, really wasn’t necessary here.)  The execution of the story may leave viewers wanting, but that comes with the glut of anime produced before the anime market crashed a couple of years later.

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