I am unsure why others are giving the show such a low rating. Mars Daybreak holds its own against some other mecha. It's very very similar to Elemental Gelade, and Eureka Seven. But the plot isn't as good, and there's less substance in some areas. However, despite that the story also compares in some manners to gigantica because of the water setting.
Mars Daybreak is refreshing in some manners because the mechs are in the water. Which in some ways actually is a setting where mechs can be build right now. It's just very impractical.
For our main cast we have Joe Aspiring who's super good and talented, but doesn't want to be the leader.
We have our main female lead, and out boss character who's a lot like the generic boss voice from all anime.
While the characters can be pretty cliche' it's done in a manner that's not terrible.
Another relatable story is Firefly in some ways because these guys are bonified treasure hunters. They get caught up in story events that are very similar to Eureka Seven, but only because they are mercenaries. Story wise it makes a lot more sense then "TAKING on the entire universe."
There's also some scenes about sub fighting. How many shows have scenes about submarines?
"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.
Anime in 200 Words: Mars Daybreak
Premise: The rich citizens of Earth aren’t sharing the wealth with the poor people of Mars, but Robin Hood style pirates try to even things out. Oh yeah, and a teenage boy gets an awesome mecha that only lets him drive it. That happens too.
Characters: There’s a really odd assortment of crew members on this boat that reminds me of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Beyond that, I simply chose not to think too much about how the dolphin worked his robot suit or why the cat could talk. Yeah…
Art: It’s ok, nothing scary here… except the MAN-WOMAN! Technically, it’s just a very muscular woman with wide shoulders, masculine facial features, and an androgynous hair style, but each time there was a headshot, I instinctively thought it was a man. The breasts and woman’s voice contradict me, but really… she is the opposite of a bishounen.
Relationships: There’s a relationship that started out strong but is now in jeopardy because the people are on different sides. I heart tension and passionate hatred, so I’m a happy camper.
Overall: Mars Daybreak is average, but enjoyable. There’s nothing new here, but nothing mind-scarring either.