I saw the rest of Misaki Chronicles the other day. Combined with Divergence Eve, it’s a really wonderful, deep, imaginative and moving story. (On its own, I can’t imagine that it would make any sense.) The storytelling itself, particularly as Chronicles begins moving into the home stretch, remains densely packed and I’m still not too certain, now, what was going on at the time or if I understand it all. But definitely a candidate for rewatching.
I’m going to try not to have any spoilers here, because in my opinion the series really should be seen by folks who are interested in stories told with imagination. On the technical side of things, the CGI is much better integrated and better detailed. The Ghouls don’t do as much, but there’s a guy near the end with these spiky tentacles who looks pretty scary indeed.
The music is also very good (if a bit repetitive). It’s not the chugging industrial slam of Divergence Eve’s opening credits, it’s more a series of overlapping keyboard patterns arranged in moods. Most soundtrack music for anime tends, to these ears anyway, to be serviceable without being memorable (Noir being an exception). I’d love to see a soundtrack album.
So I definitely recommend this one. Recommendation comes, of course, sigh, with the breast caveat. I’ve come to the conclusion that the breasts were a serious mistake. Anyone looking for an interesting story to watch, based on casually browsing the web or the local DVD store, is going to skip this one by. A little deeper digging would reveal the quality nature of the show, but there are a lot of series out there in anime; who has time to dig deeper? In order to be motivated to dig deeper, something in the initial encounter has to spark your curiosity. The show has to do some of the work itself when you come across it.
If you do a Google image search on Divergence Eve, you’re going to find (as I did) pictures of the women all cavorting on the beach wearing impossible swimsuits. Here’s the thing: had I not already had my interest piqued by Stephen Den Beste’s review, I would have dismissed Divergence Eve. That would have been a loss, for me and the show. (Likewise, someone deciding to watch the series based on those swimsuits is in for a serious letdown.)
I dunno. Maybe anime shows can present themselves this way and succeed; maybe I’m just not aware of how this stuff works. Though I can’t help noting that another excellent, dark, character-driven show (Noir again) didn’t seem to need bikinis. But yes, in my opinion, the breasts were a bad idea.
Ah well, one of the themes of the show is that you can’t change the past, but you can shape the future. So let me say that I do, now, finally, have an appreciation for the silly-seeming closing credits of Divergence Eve and the similarly presented opening credits for Misaki Chronicles. In plain, this is the only time in the whole show when Misaki gets to have pure, unfettered fun. She’s such a sweet kid that she deserves to have a good time roaming around with her friends, going to the beach, etc, etc, even if it’s only in a credit sequence. It’s not like she ever got to do that during the show. In fact, her every thought and action seemed directed toward helping other people, often to her own cost. I’m glad she had friends who thought she deserved the same. A pity they never got to have that kind of opening credits fun together. (The closest they seemed to get was, according to a snapshot, what looks like an ice-cream fight.)
The ending of the series may change that, though. It’s open to a few interpretations, some nicer than others, but I’m going to exercise my prerogative about shaping the future and say that it was the best possible one. Not only for her but for Lyar Von Ertiana as well.
I mentioned in the earlier post that it’s almost as much Lyar’s story as it is Misaki’s. That doesn’t change as the narrative unfolds; a good chunk of it is about Lyar’s ability to live for something other than missions and her duty to fulfill them. The character remains interesting, and I’d love to see a series about her. As for Misaki herself, I hope that she’s learned that while friends are important and necessary, it isn’t required that you place all your happiness upon them; it’s okay to cherish and enjoy yourself for who you are, rather than how others perceive you.
The final episode addresses something I’d thought a bit silly in the opening title sequence of Divergence Eve. During the credits, we see each of our major characters, with a brief summary of facts about them, including name, national origin, measurements (for the ladies), strengths and weaknesses, etc. Lyar Von Ertiana’s weakness was “Marriageable Age.” Now that’s a bit condescending I thought. But the final episode briefly addresses why this might be an actual relevant detail, and why it was best for her to find her purpose and life in her work, heartbreaking though that must have been for her. Not that she’d show it; she’s too much of a pro and besides, people are depending on her.
You’ll note I’m treating these characters like real people. That, to me, is the mark of excellent story-telling, when a book or a film stops being a series of events in a narrative, and instead becomes a series of events you’re witnessing in people’s lives. One goes from, “I hope they catch that vampire,” or “I wonder if the rocket will work” to “I hope he finds purpose in this,” or “I hope this love is the one she wants.” One of my favorite moments from Divergence Eve is a simple conversation between Kiri and Misaki held over their pressure suit radios (they’re in different parts of the station). It’s actually quite touching, just audio and faces; that’s how good these characters are. I really enjoyed being with them and I’m going to miss seeing them. But I like to think they’ve been given life of a kind and are continuing on without me. Maybe someday we’ll meet again, somewhere out beyond Watcher’s Nest.