Daphne in the Brilliant Blue Vol. 2
I did a short review in May on the first volume of this blatant fanservice show, as I expected it to be nothing more than a pretty anime with little to no actual plot. Boy, was I wrong.
Daphne in the Brilliant Blue centers on Maia, a fifteen year old girl in a future Earth where the ice caps have melted, thus raising ocean water levels and lending to technology that embraces sea travel, and the bikini as ordinary business clothing -- at least for the Nereids, a group of female bounty hunters who aren't adverse to more menial jobs. Maia didn't intend to join the Nereids; her dream was to join the Ocean Agency, the elite UN organization that oversees world government. By some quirk of fate, she fails the entrance exams, so penniless, homeless and orphaned, Maia joins the Nereids and becomes a working girl, wearing the seemingly standard outfit of a tiny bikini for the ladies of Nereids.
Nereids is rounded out by the standard group of characters: the hard-as-nails but sexy leader, the bespectacled technical genius, the gun-crazy girl, the martial artist, the long-suffering branch manager, and the innocent Maia. Despite being stock characters, they each have developed charms of their own, making Daphne in the Brilliant Blue a rare show that combines fanservice and story. However, it's easy to have a good first volume, as the story is just starting and characters are just being introduced. To keep up this pattern of quality through the second volume... now that's a good sign.
The first episode on this volume introduces Yu, the martial artist member of Nereids who has just been released from jail for causing massive property damage during her last assignment. Although Yu is introduced as a cold and destructive woman, Maia finds that she has a great debt of gratitude towards Rena, the leader of this branch of Nereids, and Yu is perhaps the most dependable member of the team.
During the second episode, Maia reconnects with Tsukasa, a friend who applied to the Ocean Agency and got in. (We get the impression in the first volume that Maia accidentally gives her good luck to Tsukasa, thus costing her the job.) Here, the issue of class rises up again, as Maia is ashamed to admit that Rena, Yu, Gloria and Shizuka are her co-workers, and Tsukasa keeps telling Maia that next year, she'll definitely get into the high-class Ocean Agency and escape Nereids. Then Tsukasa's rental car gets stolen, and it's up to the Nereids to recover it and catch the thieves. Finally, Tsukasa sees that maybe Maia's job isn't all that bad or useless.
Finally, the branch manager gets some of the limelight! His daughter, Yukari visits Nereids as part of a school report on her father. He tries to make it seem that he's the boss by bribing the ladies with raises and paid vacation days, but it fails, and Yukari sees her dad exactly as how he is (rather pathetic). However, he does save the day by leading the Nereids to a gang of smugglers dealing in endangered penguins, thus leading to regaining Yukari's respect and love.
The final episode centers on a new hovercar. The test driver, a friend of Shizuka, has an 'accident', thus she is unable to drive it at the timed races to win the contract for the Ocean Agency. Luckily, Maia happens to have a Class A license; she can drive the experimental hovercar for Team Albatross. However, someone is sabotaging the car, and it's up to the Nereids to find out who it is and keep Maia safe.
Overall, I am really enjoying this series. The animation isn't cutting-edge, but then again, it's not poor either. The world of Daphne of the Brilliant Blue is one of color and believable futuristic designs, as well as fun characters to watch and follow. The dialogue (dub and sub) is witty, and never has a dull moment. Physical comedy scenes, mostly between Gloria and Yu, don't grow old and are spaced nicely. With five more volumes left, I'm sure that you'll be hearing more about this great new series!