Divergence Eve (2003)
Directed by Hiroshi Negishi

Artistic Value: * * ½
Entertainment Value: * * *

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Sometime in the future, while posted on a space station known as the Watcher's Nest, Misaki, a rambunctious and very busty teenaged military recruit, is being trained to pilot the giant robotic machines used to fight. supernatural creatures referred to as ghouls, which are emerging from another dimension to threaten humanity. At the same time, she meets other, equally buxom trainees, discovers mysterious plots, and tries to unravel the secrets of her own past.

While there is quite a bit in Hiroshi Negishi's thirteen part animated television series Divergence Eve that may distract or even annoy the viewer, it has a sufficient number of appealing elements to keep him involved in the lives of its characters.

The story the director tells may never be especially memorable, but it is reasonably entertaining. Negishi does elicit feelings of danger and suspense by revealing or hinting at certain characters' less than admirable motives, and he does often effectively delineate his characters' interactions with one another. Misaki's developing friendship with her fellow cadets, for instance, which mixes a real camaraderie with frequent rivalries, is often nicely done and helps to engage the viewer with these persons. The director even incorporates a number of surprisingly tragic occurrences into his narrative, which do suffuse it with a certain emotional depth. In spite of such virtues, the series often feels like it is skimming across the surface of tale that could have been explored in greater detail. The result is, I am sad to say, somewhat unsatisfying.

I must also admit that the action sequences with which Divergence Eve is punctuated are never terribly exciting. A few are creepy or even gruesome, but most are oddly static. The viewer, instead of being thrilled, is more likely just to be bored.

What is more, there are certain details of the series' visual style that are likely to bother many people. The designs for female characters are especially problematic. Their breasts, in particular, are so enormous and so prone to exaggerated bouncing that they often seem to be more important than the persons to whom they are attached. Regrettably, these melon-like appendages are simply too big to be even vaguely attractive. They actually make the characters look awkward and bulky. Fortunately, most of the characters' faces are charmingly drawn and do enable the viewer to sympathize with these persons.

Actually, the quality and style of the animation is very uneven. There are attractive elements, such as the characters' faces and some of the backdrops employed, but there are others, such as the grotesque wiggling mammaries, that are not. Another of the elements that is sufficiently unsuccessful to be worth noting is the director's combination of traditional animation with "three-dimensional" computer generated images. There is a real disjunction between sequences created with one of these techniques and sequences created with the other. They simply do not mesh with one another.

Although I did enjoy Divergence Eve, it is never more than a mediocre science fiction adventure. What is more, what virtues it does have are severely compromised by the director's insistence upon burdening every one of his female characters, with one exception, with monstrously gigantic breasts.

Review by Keith Allen

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