Mars Daybreak (Japanese: 絢爛舞踏祭 ザ･マーズ･デイブレイク, Hepburn: Kenran Butōsai Za Māzu Deibureiku) is a science-fiction anime series that aired on TV Tokyo from April 1 to September 23, 2004. Directed by Kunihiro Mori and co-produced by TV Tokyo, Dentsu and Bones. The anime series is licensed by Bandai Entertainment
Kenran Butōsai (絢爛舞踏祭, Kenran Butōsai) is a simulation game based on Kenran Butohsai. It was developed and published by Sony Computer Entertainment for the PlayStation 2 video game console.
Mars Daybreak takes place in a future where Mars is terraformed into an Earth-like planet. The once dry red planet is now covered over by one large ocean (except for the peak of Olympus Mons). Due to human intervention, various animals and machines now have human-like intelligence and the people reside in large floating cities called city-ships. The Martian economy is based mostly on water, a readily available resource and the planet's main export. However, a ceasefire in the Pan-Galactic war has reduced demand for the export of water, causing the Martian economy to weaken and also affected the quality of life to its inhabitants.
The ocean-covered environment makes a perfect setting for commercial trade ships and pirates to utilize submarines to make a living. At the same time, the pirates also raid those very trades for personal profit. The most renowned and feared of the pirate vessels is the Ship of Aurora, which makes a habit of reselling its booty cheap so that it can be redistributed to the less fortunate folk. However, the pirates had pose such a problem that the Earth government, which controls Mars, dispatches their own aquatic forces to deal with the threat of piracy. Through specialized aquatic mobile suits, called Round Bucklers (aka RBs), both opposing sides battle for their supremacy over Mars' waters.
The story focuses on the protagonist, Gram River. A vagrant and orphan, Gram has spent the latter of his life living on the slums of the city-ship Adena. He and his little friend, Bon, had just lost their jobs and in need of money. A local thug offered to reward Gram handsomely if he agreed to show him ways to infiltrate and steal goods from protected warehouse; Gram refused, but Bon secretly took Gram's place.
After Gram learned what happened from Bon's little sister, Shie, he intervened to rescue him. Coincidentally, the Ship of Aurora, attacked and destroyed an area that Gram was in. Causing him to fall underwater, Gram was sinking until his necklace reacted and mysteriously summoned an unclassified RB that shows great resemblance to the Aurora's high-performance RB, belonging to Yagami "The Reaper" Arian. Unclear how did the RB came into his possession (later christened as Hope), Gram engaged Earth Forces and was assisted by Yagami.
After escaping their battle against Earth Forces, Yagami invited Gram to join him as part of Aurora's crew. Gram initially agreed to help the Aurora crew for a single mission, but Yagami wanted Gram to stay for his talents. After surviving an initiation sword fight with its captain, Elizabeth Liati, he was accepted as part of the crew and spent the latter of his time in the Aurora's mess hall making extra money as their new cook.
In between all that has happened, an old flame returns, Vestemona "Vess" Lauren. Vess and Gram grew up and survived together in the slums. However, by chance, Vess was adopted by the wealthy Lauren family and left for Earth; she recently returned to Mars as an Earth Forces officer and stationed back at her hometown of Adena. During the conflict between the Ship of Aurora, news had revealed that Gram was part of the Aurora's crew and she made it her mission to hunt down Gram in attempts to save him from the lowly pirate life. By chance, Gram bumps into Vess as he was bidding Bon and Shie farewell. Vess tries to stop Gram, even threatened to shoot him, but Gram stopped her and surprised her with a goodbye kiss; it became Vess' mission to take down Gram.
While traveling aboard the Aurora, Gram had rescued and taken in Enora Taft (secretly the granddaughter of Earth's President Taft) as part of the crew. Gram had also earned the unwanted attention of Kubernes, a freelance pirate that realized the potential behind Gram's necklace and constantly battles with the Aurora crew for his allegiance. It was only later, at the city-ship of Rigaoka (descendants of the first Martian colonizers) that Gram learned that his necklace is called the Elder Emblem (aka Mark of the Chief) and the key to unlocking the Box of Guidance to show him where the Stone of the Gods (aka God Stones) was. By chance, Gram encountered Garma, the guardian of the box and she entrusted him with the box and even suggested he might be a descendant of their people. The captain was intrigued by the legend of the treasure and decided to search for it.
During the Aurora's quest to find the treasure, Vess wasn't far behind to hunt down Gram. Unfortunately, Vess' past connection with Gram was finally revealed and the military had arrested her under suspicion of her allegiances with Earth Forces. However, she managed to escape and tried to exact her anger towards Gram for ruining her life. Unfortunately, she barely survived the encounter and Gram thought she had died in combat. However, she was rescued and recruited by Kubernes as his new RB pilot. Taking advantage of her anger, Kubernes tried to direct Vess' rage towards the Aurora.
Vess later reveals she's alive and settles their problems in combat. She confronts Gram in a sword fight on an old shield-ship. During the fight, Vess confesses that she's angry with Gram because he did not try to stop her from going to Earth and because he let her go alone; Gram argues he thought it was the best future for her. After Vess vented all her personal frustrations, the two finally make up their differences and embrace each other as a loving couple. However, before the two can be together, Vess had to settle things in her terms; she surrenders to the military to face punishment, but her father intervenes and walks away unpunished and agrees to return to Earth after he concludes his business in Mars.
Gram and the Aurora crew eventually found the God Stones. However, there was resistance as Kubernes unsuccessfully fought Gram for the treasure and the crew had to face Niall Poe (a self-proclaimed revolutionist who owns the Aurora). Unfortunately, the Aurora crew didn't agree with Niall's views; the crew lost claim of the God Stones and was arrested by the Earth Forces. Gram, Yagami, and Enora (due to her grandfather) escaped capture, but the remaining crew faced a public execution. When Vess realized that her father is involved in shady dealings with Niall Poe and that the Aurora's crew faced death, she defected to save Gram.
After Gram reunites with Vess, he made an unlikely choice of hiring Kubernes (moved by his sentiment for his comrades) to help him save Aurora crew. On the day of execution, Yagami, Gram, Vess, and Kubernes successfully launched their rescue mission of the Aurora's crew. The Aurora in turn ruined Niall Poe's exploitation of the God Stones. However, Gram's RB was destroyed and he abandoned it as he no longer needed it. The story ends afterwards as the God Stones was liquidated into its bacterial state (later proven beneficial towards Mars' ocean and future). At Adena, Gram receives his family with a new sub (found in the Ice Graveyard), rechristened as the Ship of Hope, Gram intends to live aboard the ship with Vess, Bon, and Shie for a new life across the seas and bids the crew of the Aurora farewell.
The first colonists of Mars and only ones to experience Mars as a world not covered in water, the Aborigines were meant to be the first phase colonizers of Mars until the flood that would cover Mars in water. After centuries had passed, Earth, believing that Mars was unpopulated soon allowed another group of colonists to populate Mars. Instead, they found people surviving in such violent environment without advanced technology required to survive. The second migration occurred around 200 years before the time of the series.