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"Divergence Eve: Misaki Chronicles" Vol. 1: My Eyes are Up Here

“Foolish Earthlings, totally unprepared for the effects of time travel! Ahahahah.”- Kang

That basically sums up the main plot to Misaki Chronicles, the follow-up to Divergence Eve, a sci-fi anime from 2003. For those unfamiliar with the original 13-episode tale, it concerned a newly-recruited cadet named Misaki who fought against “Ghouls”, mechanized monsters bent on invading the universe. Despite her pathetic performance in training, Misaki had a special ability that she was unaware of. And of course there were a bunch of backstage conspiracies too.

Now in the second series, we take a trip back in time, where we find Misaki struggling in boot camp on Earth. The twist: This isn’t a typical prequel like the first episode would have you believe. Instead, it concerns Lyar Von Ertiana, a high-ranking military member from the original series, traveling through time to stop the Ghouls from altering the course of history.

In episode 2, Ertiana travels to a scene of boot camp to try to save Misaki from the (future) horror of the Ghouls. And in episode 3, sci-fi meets samurai as Ertiana and a wandering warrior battle with Ghouls in 16th century Japan. With so much focus on Ertiana in the second two episodes, one wonders why the show isn’t called Ertiana Chronicles instead. Which is sort of a shame, since Ertiana is a rather cold and stoic character, not very likeable or compelling for a lead.

Still, I really like where this sequel is headed. The story is fairly straightforward and allows for both episodic and serialized stories. There are some Back to the Future-style plot twists dealing with time paradoxes, and best of all, the colossal amount of hardcore sci-fi jargon from the first series is greatly reduced here. The first series required a background in astrophysics, but this one is much better.

The character designs are the distinctively pointy work of Toshinari Yamashita, who also did Amazing Nurse Nanako and the first series. Animation continues to be decent enough, with the occasional splurge on good in-betweens, which was a nice surprise. Also, the show occasionally mixes 2D and 3D graphics to good effect, though the 3D stands out like a sore thumb in the spaceship blast-off scene in the first episode. The actual video transfer is nice: colors are vibrant, the show retains its widescreen aspect ratio, and there was no noticeable dot crawl as in some recent releases like Full Metal Panic: FUMOFFU.

The dub seems superior to the original series. The awkward lip flaps of the first series, which often broke up dub lines in odd places, are greatly reduced in Chronicles, and since the original cast is all back, there are no noticeable continuity errors.

Some of you might be wondering how I managed to get through an entire Divergence Eve review without even mentioning the, erm, overly bountiful chest sizes of the ladies. Well, they’re back in the sequel, to the joyful squeals of some and the annoyed groans of others. But even if you count yourself among the latter, don’t let it deter you. While there are some moments of bounciness (especially in episode 1), and a very brief nude scene in episode 3, things could have been a lot worse. The focus is usually on the story and characters, not panties or boobs. At least it’s not Najica, whose main goal was to cram in as many upskirt shots as humanly possible. Was the fanservice truly needed? Probably not. But it brightened up an otherwise bleak story. So endure a few bouncy shots here and there and you’ll find the series doesn’t have a one-track mind.

Three episodes is too few to recommend Misaki Chronicles, but the premise is cool and the time traveling plot quite interesting. Already I’m feeling less confused about the baffling ending to the original show, and it seems this series will wrap up some questions left hanging after the first 13 episodes. Misaki continues to be a very clumsy yet chipper and likeable heroine, despite her more limited screentime. Keep an eye on this one.

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