published in Empire No.86, Sydney
Despite the abundance of near-naked nubile nymphs in Daphne in the Brilliant Blue, the series is an engaging and well-crafted parable of the working woman’s plight transposed into the future as only anime can depict it. The future this time round is governed by Earth’s oceanic sprawl which has submerged most land areas as we know them. A chain of underwater cities had developed once the tides took over, and Daphne takes place 100 years after these cities finally returned to the surface. Of course, crime persists. The police are adequate, but the renegade agency Nereids picks up the slack. Run by the imposing (and busty) Rena, a crack team of misfits, nerds and bimbos are assembled to carry out daring jobs which comprise the series’ roller-coaster thrills.
The adventures of Nereids are viewed through the eyes of newbie Maia, as she attempts to work hard and fit in – symbolising the Japanese work ethic. Refreshingly, the other members of Nereids are sardonic enough to bear a healthy disregard for the bureaucracy tied to such an ethic, branding them as outsiders with firm morals of their own. Cutting through these escapades and portrayals is the mystery surrounding Maia’s background. Her story eventually overwhelms the series’ narrative trajectory, making for some exciting and emotional reveals by the end.