Before I jump into talking about this show, I would like to thank Lita for making me interested in watching this show. Without her I would have never even heard about this little Jem. I mean, this show is from Studio Bones in the early 2000’s. Probably over shadowed by something like Scrapped Princess which is completely over shadowed by things like Eureka Seven, Fullmetal Alchemist, and Wolf’s Rain, while airing after RahXephon. Studio Bones’ first years as a studio was amazing and it’s only come back to that quality in recent years. Anyway, Mars Daybreak was a lot of fun. I do have some minor complaints about it, but the experience was worth it. It’s also incredibly unique. Not only because it’s one of the few mech series that was affected by Evangelion, but because about pirates on a submarine finding treasure on mars. Where else have you heard that.
Imagine if you will, a time in the future where Mars is completely terraformed. Not just in the way that people can breathe on Mars without the aid of special equipment, but Mars is almost one hundred percent ocean. The population of Mars lives on huge city ships. That sounds kind of fun right? What if I told you that Mars is having its own version of the Great Depression right now? That sound fun? Probably not. This was displayed in front of us when our main character was hired and fired from a manual labor job during the same day. I should also mention that the person that is the head of the Mars government is completely incompetent, gives out promises she can’t keep, and is insane enough to pay government money to pirates so that they can go against other pirates…twice. Her name is Annabel Grace and she is such a loveable idiot. In fact, the cast is full of loveable idiots of various varieties. Somehow the Ship of Aurora and its crew need to navigate through all these political forces, find the treasure, and maybe even save Mars from economic ruin. It’s all for the future of Mars and the watcher’s joy.
I am not going to say that these are the best characters that have existed, but I can’t call any of them flat. Not even our main protagonist Gram, feels fully fleshed out, but the cast is huge. You can understand who they are and what they like to do by how they interact with each other. Some of them even have an episode centered around them. And no, I am not just talking about our pirate crew here who are known as pirates of the Ship of Aurora, but also Anna Grace, and even some members of the Earth Federation ‘s forces get some development as well. I could probably talk about these characters for ages, but I don’t think that I have all the time in the world for that and I doubt it would make for interesting reading to talk about a whole cast of characters that you have never heard about before, so I am only going to talk about only a few of them. Let’s talk about Gram, his love interest Vess, the Captain Elizabeth, and the fantastic pirate by the name of Kaburnes. Talking about these characters might give you much larger feel for this show.
So, let’s talk about our Daybreak’s main couple Gram River and Vess(emona) Lauren. If there is anything that represents the two sides of this conflict, it’s their relationship. Gram and Vess were both poor orphans on Mars in their backstories. The difference is that Vess was taken in by a rich Earth family and Gram stayed with two younger orphans on the streets that can’t fend for themselves. Vess became this super serious person that came back to Mars with a vengeance. The easy-going Gram just floated around all his life from job to job which gave him multiple skills and eventually lead him to join the pirates of Aurora. You know what? That’s where he stayed. He does have a dream of owning a city ship and living free, but he’s always been the easy-going person that naturally had the ability to do everything. The one time he felt anything different was when Vess was in danger of dying. Vess, however, is the one that made most of the changes. From her non-stop hunting down the ship of Aurora at all costs including insubordination and lead her down the path of becoming a pirate herself. Vess’ journey and the treasure hunt of the Aura are what make the series so interesting. Vess and Gram falling back in love with each other was great and really sold the emotional weight of the series.
(Kaburnes is in the featured image)
Then there is Captain Elizabeth and the Pirate Mercenary Kaburnes. The two are not a couple, but considering that they are both pirates, they do have a unique relationship with each other anyway. The relationship of “I am waiting for the other to backstab me” is always a fun one from an entertainment perspective. Elizabeth is worthy of note here, because she is one of the few older female captains that I’ve ever seen in anime. Yes, I’ve seen female captains in shows like Nadesico and Gundam SEED, but they are always young and attractive. I’m not saying Elizabeth isn’t attractive, but she has a larger build, grey hair, and one of the most gar, never say die personalities that I’ve ever seen in anime. I mean, you have to have a sword fight with her and win to be in her crew. That’s awesome. On the other end, Kaburnes is an insane and incredibly flamboyant that wears glasses. I just love how over the top and how unpredictable he is, because he only does things because he is paid for him. There are a lot of people that bring excitement and energy to the series, but these two carry most of the weight.
This show was produced by Studio Bones in the height of it’s power during the early 2000’s. Mars Daybreak is absolutely beautiful. From the amazing character designs that look like proto Eureka 7 designs to the many different backgrounds of city ships to a large variety of ocean spots, the show is a visual spectacle from an art stand point. You can almost see yourself living and breathing in the world presented on screen. It’s so good. Then the animation is fluid too. Just like everything else, there are a few times the show relies on noticeable cg, repeated animation frames, and still frames, but when the show is good, it’s good. The mechs moving under water, the sword and gun fights, and just general walking animation are stellar. Studio Bones’ production values have always been great and that remains the same here.
A little bit about the mech designs. I love Studio Bone’s Mech Designs already, but there is something special about adding elements to the sea to them. The unit names through out the show are named Round Bucklers or RBS. That’s where it all begins. There are the Earth Force units that are remote controlled and are attached to units called Seahorses by cabling, a unit that looks like a mermaid, and even the standard units of the Ship of the Aurora have a fun bit of a water theme to them. This all brings together some of the most unique mech designs that I’ve seen in a while and I’ve been watching mech anime for a while. I love Mars Daybreak.
Some More Thoughts
If there is anything else I can add to this show, it’s the fact that Mars Daybreak is one of the few mech series that doesn’t borrow anything from Neon Genesis Evangelion. No sync ratios, fighting against monsters from outer space, no test children designed to pilot robots, or anything. Many series have done all of those things and more sense Eva’s inception, so that makes this one feel so different. I do love Eva and a lot shows that borrow from it, but it’s nice to take a break sometimes. Mars Daybreak show is a pirate show that happens to have mechs and it’s all the better for it. Maybe it borrows from Gundam with all the space politics and the Earth being rich ass holes, but it doesn’t get focused on a lot. Mars Daybreak is far and away its own thing.
I think you may have noticed it by now, but I love Mars Daybreak. It’s not only a fun ride of a show with a lot of craziness in-between, but it’s so heart felt. The crew of the Ship of Aurora felt like a family. Everyone knew where their places were, which crew member felt like a father to others, who is attracted to who, and many other things. The best part is that none of the crew members that were added on later in the ship fell outside of this group dynamic. Everyone jelled. When all the pirate treasure adventure stuff and mech stuff is attached to this frame work, it’s almost the perfect show. In terms of what the show is trying to accomplish, it accomplishes it in spades.
(Photos are from Google Searches)