Mars Daybreak

Alt title: Kenran Butou Sai: The Mars Daybreak

TV (26 eps)
3.62 out of 5 from 1,824 votes
Rank #3,945

In the near future, Mars is covered with oceans. Within one of its cities, Gram River is just another kid trying to survive in the slums, until he finds himself right in the middle of a pirate attack! After nearly drowning, he finds himself aboard the pirates' ship, and is faced with a decision: be killed, or stay and fight alongside them. And thus, Gram joins the pirate crew in their quest to find the legendary treasure of Mars, but they aren't alone in their search. Now, while being hunted by the military, bounty hunters, rivals and even a few old friends, they search the seas of Mars for clues...

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"I can't believe all of you are so worked up over a silly treasure hunt." Mars Daybreak is the kind of anime that you forget about almost as soon as you are done watching it. It serves a purpose - and it certainly isn't terrible - but it becomes almost immediately obvious that this exists to chew up a few hours of television when ntohing major is available to be aired. There has to be an average for there to be classics, and Mars Daybreak is certainly average. The story of Mars Daybreak takes place on Mars, as you may have guessed. This version of Mars was originally colonized centuries ago, but since the original colonists were either piss poor at terraforming or really into irony 99% of the planet's surface is covered in a huge ocean. The only land based colony is on the summit of Olympus Mons, while the rest of the people live their lives on giant city ships or, as the protagonists have chosen, as mech suit piloting pirates. It is the kind of thing that might have been relatively warmly remembered as an obscure little afterthought if it would have come out in the 80s, but as an anime from 2004 it doesn't stand out despite the decent premise. The main characters are inhabitants of the Ship of Aurora, a pirate ship that takes the role of Robin Hood on the economically depressed planet. Most of them fit into a very basic anime archetype - young hero with a secret destiny, tsundere childhood love interest, little sister surrogate, guy voiced by Steve Blum, guy voiced by Johnny Yong Bosch, and guy voiced by Crispin Freeman - but surprisingly enough they are all solidly endearing. The best characters tend to be the ones that either operate entirely over the top, or actually seem unique. There is a sentient dolphin in a dive suit and a talking cat. It might not be surprising to point out that Mars Daybreak doesn't take itself particularly seriously, instead shooting for more of a lighthearted theme which is one of the lone bright spots of the whole thing. A lot of the more lighthearted humor stuff actually lands which isn't something I say often. Usually in these also-ran or average-as-hell anime, the humor is so hackneyed that it is wavers between ineffective and intolerable. It even got me to laugh at a rapid fire amount of completely obvious jokes related to the robot keepers of the ship being named "Balls." "It can't fiddle around with the Balls." "I control all the balls on this ship." "We balls are able to move around." "More balls!" . While the characters are easy to care about, the aforementioned setting of Mars Daybreak is its strongest feature. Both of these things are routinely ignored by the threadbare and poorly developed plot though. Too often it ignores the vast reaches of an economically depressed Mars ocean and the unique ideas that could foster in order to present what is really just a simplistic mech anime. I like mech anime, I like pirate anime, I like anime with a Robin Hood theme, but Mars Daybreak takes all of the most worn out aspects of those three themes and doesn't do a whole lot more with itself. The first half of the show is fine enough, but by the time it actually gets around to fleshing out the plot and paying off storylines it runs out of gas. Most of the second half of the anime is complete stand alone filler, and none of the writing is strong enough to make the filler episodes do the characters or settings real justice. Still, my love for pirates and my inability to not be entertained by any anime that has lines like "we comrades of the revolution will never succomb to the tyranny nor yield to the sadistic oppression of the state." It ends up being a half assed Eureka Seven or a toothless Gurren Lagaan, but it ends up being a hard anime to completely hate. WATCH if you need to have something on in the background while you do something else or are a BONES completionist. DON'T WATCH if you think the common-hero-with-a-great-destiny thing is a bit waterlogged by now.

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