A Couple Points on “Divergence Eve”

Good lord…*choke*.

“Divergence Eve” is an interesting and entertaining anime series set on a space station, a super-structure built around Saturn’s moon Titan (which has been pulled apart at the center). Titan, you see, happened to have a black hole at the core, and it was discovered that it could be used for interstellar travel. Unfortunately, someone on the other side of the black hole had the same idea, and the personnel of Watcher’s Nest (the space station) are in a continual war with giant, powerful creatures called Ghouls.

The writing is pretty good, the characters are well-rounded and the story holds interest throughout. The integration of CGI is a little clunky—the Ghouls and the fighter robots look and move very stiffly (sometimes, it looks like someone is waving a cut-out in front of the camera). On the other hand, I don’t recall any I’ll-just-stand-here-stock-still-while-music-plays bits that seem to be prevalent throughout anime. The CGI is a shortcoming that’s easy to overlook, since it’s treated as a storytelling tool and not a “Gosh, look computer animation!” element. Overall, it’s a smart and fun series. It could be considered “Neon Genesis Evangelion” done better and more concisely.

If you’ve seen any stills from the show, you might be wondering why every female character has a couple of extra air-tanks stuck to the chest of her spacesuit. Well, believe it or not, those aren’t air-tanks. They’re breasts. The biggest damn breasts you have ever seen. These are breasts that would give Russ Meyer pause. When I said the characters were well-rounded, I meant it.

The strange thing is, these breasts are completely gratuitous. No one ever comments on them or even notices them; there’s no scene where some rookie guy suddenly rounds a corner, comes face to, er, face with these developments and gets that stretched face that anime guys get when they’re embarrassed or shocked or something. And every single female has this gigantic chest (with the exception of the android, who has the body of a ten-year-old girl). It’s as if evolution just took this sideways jump, all at once.

It’s bizarre to watch this thoughtful, interesting series while being constantly bombarded with breasts. I can’t think of a good analogy; the closest I come is imagining an episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” in which every character wore a black cape and had fangs, but these were not plot elements or even addressed in the episode; no matter what happens in the story, I’d be thinking What the heck is going on the entire time.

Of course, if the story involved the crew turning into vampires, that would be one thing. Similarly, if the gargantuan breasts were commented on once or twice (“Hey, it’s the hundredth anniversary of that comet that enlarged everyone’s breasts!”), that might at least put them into a context. But no, they remain a textbook example of “gratuitous.”

Now, I understand the concept of “fan service.” And certainly, big breasts would seem to fit snugly into that category. But they’re not really treated as erotic objects. I mean, sure there’s some jiggle and a couple of bits of nudity, but not to the extent one would suspect, given the character design. For all the attention given them, the series would not be substantially changed if everyone had thumbs that were over a foot long.

Now, it may not be my fetish, but these breasts don’t really look erotic. They look preposterous. But different strokes and all that.

This begs some questions, though. Or rather, variants of the same question.

Who was this series aimed at? Who was the intended audience? When the film-makers made their pitch, who did they say they thought would watch?

If you knew nothing of the series and saw the box in Best Buy, you’d think it was a fan-service comedy. Here are these smiling, uniformed women with huge breasts. What else could it be? But I have the feeling that people who watch or buy it for that reason are going to be disappointed. Aside from the breast presence, nothing happens in a sexual or even romantic fashion. The one kiss in the series is a diversion; the guy gets smacked for it afterwards.

No, I think a person watching this for fan-service is going to find a great deal of plot, counter-plot, grim atmosphere, horror elements and other stuff getting in the way of ogling the breasts.

On the other hand, those who want a cool science fiction/horror story, those breasts sure get in the way. I mean, how would you recommend this one—and I do recommend it—without adding at least one, “Oh, by the way, I should probably warn you…” caveat?

Normally, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend something like this, even to older kids (twelve and up). There are a couple of graphic deaths (largely implied rather than shown, but nothing worse than a typical video game) and (as mentioned) a bit of nudity. Nothing that a relatively mature kid couldn’t handle. But then there are those cyclopean chests. You just know the kid would turn to you with a quizzical look, and all those awkward questions you hoped to avoid would come to the forefront. Your plan of letting them learn all that stuff on the street corner would be in ruins. And then what would you do?

Incidentally, this series has closing credits that have got to be the most ridiculous I have ever seen for a show of this nature. Over a happy, bouncy pop song, Misaki (the lead character) is seen trying on clothes, looking over desserts, and (for the most part) having fun at the beach (lots of her in a bikini). None of which ever happens in the series. None of which ever even comes close to happening. After watching robot-armored women battle ghouls, this ending is a massive head-scratcher. If you watched this bit, you would have no idea what the show was like. No, let me amend that. You would have the completely wrong idea what the show was like. You’d think it was a fan-service comedy. And we’re back to square one.

Somebody in charge of making decisions for this series made a couple of seriously strange ones.

(Incidentally, I got interested in the series after reading Steven Den Beste’s review.)

UPDATE: Mr. Den Beste was kind enough to note my somewhat scattered thoughts, and he also pointed out a factual error: Watcher’s Nest is actually on the other side of the wormhole, some 30 light years from Titan. D’oh! And it was on the test, too!

I think I’ve also found a parallel to the series: the scene in Alien when Sigourney Weaver strips to her underwear. Someone watched that and thought, Man, I am going to make an entire series of nothing but this.

To alter one of my favorite quotes, “The Japanese are not only stranger than we suppose, they are stranger than we can suppose.”


9 thoughts on “A Couple Points on “Divergence Eve”

  1. YAY anime review!!
    Yeah it’s total fan service, babe.

    and what’s wrong with cyclopian boobs that could crush all of tokyo and could block out the sun with just a single areola?

    I would so like to know.

  2. That’s the strange thing about it: no one, no one reacts in any way to the huge breasts on all the women. It’s clearly not noteworthy to them.

    But it’s not correct to say that it’s “total fan service”. For that you want some piece of dreck like “UFO Princess Valkyrie” or “Eiken”. Divergence Eve/Misaki Chronicles actually tells a damned good story about engaging characters — who happen to be young women with tits the size of cantaloupes.

  3. You know I love you, FRA, but I gotta agree with Mr. Den Beste here. Unless I am totally missing the concept, fan service should make me think of erotic, sensual, or romantic things. I understand the idea that a lot of it (like panty shots) is unexpected, but it shouldn’t be completely jarring.

    If I were watching a live-action movie about a couple lost in the woods, and a werewolf attacked and disemboweled the man, I would think it would be a bad time to insert a shot of his screaming companion’s panties. It wouldn’t make me think erotic thoughts (at least I hope it wouldn’t). I think it’s a matter of the direness of the situation. While there are some light moments in Divergence Eve, they are relief from the darkness and horror and hidden agendas. They’re not a main part of the series at all, in fact, a couple of the “good times”-—buying ice cream and eating that noodle soup-—come back to haunt Misaki when things change.

    On the other hand, the situation when the girls are flying in Stratos 4 is pretty dire at the time (errant meteors about to smash the Earth), but the series as a whole has a light touch (at least what I’ve seen of it). The girls are cute, and the other characters comment on that. So even though meteors are about to smash us, it’s okay to show the girls piloting their craft in, shall we say, rather undignified positions. It’s much less of a personal threat to them (the show seems to be about proving yourself) so I can think, Wow, that’s a nice rear.

    To further expand on my parallel above, imagine the film Aliens, only all the men are dressed in speedoes and all the women have thong bikinis (except Newt, who would have a giant yellow hat). None of the dialogue, action, effects, NONE of it has changed except the costumes. That’s almost Divergence Eve in a nutshell.

    Well, now that I’ve thoroughly exposed my ignorance, I’m going to go paint some more…

  4. I’ve never got into Anime, but in my dim and distant youth I used to do a lot of those fantasy / sci-fi roleplay tabletop games, and it became a standing joke in our games circle that every roleplay manual included a depiction of at least one random female character with what we called “ULBs” (“unfeasibly large breasts”) that were never commented on, and never explained. The joke got to such a pitch, that one player deliberately created a female character whose chest was so large that it automatically cost her movement points whenever it was his turn to throw the dice.

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