DNA2 Vol. #4: Crossfire (of 5) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Sunday, August 17, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, August 12, 2003



What They Say
When Ryuuji meddles with technology he doesn’t understand, he is transformed into a dangerous shape-shifter. Unable to handle his new powers, Ryuuji sets out to take over the school, win the love of all the girls, and teach everyone who’s ever insulted him a painful lesson. Only his genetically altered classmate Junta can stop him, by becoming the most unlikely of heroes, the infamous Mega-Playboy!

Contains episodes 10-12.

The Review!
The fourth of five volumes brings the TV series itself to a close by going considerably dark and messing with the characters.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese and then a few episodes dubbed while writing the review. The show is very much center channel based with all of its dialogue and a good amount of the music and ambient effects. Dialogue on both tracks is nice and clear and we noticed no dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
The transfer for this series looks good so far, though there are some minor mars throughout it. The main thing that crops up throughout the print is some basic damage in the form of nicks and scratches as well as a bit of dust and dirt here and there. There’s nothing hugely distracting unless these things really attract your eye. Aliasing and cross coloration are very minimal and won’t even register to most people likely. Colors look good, though the show is intentionally soft in areas, giving the colors a slightly muted look in certain scenes.

Packaging:
This volume has another cover that’s fairly weak but plays up some of its strength, notably in having Kotomi spinning on it again in her gymnastics outfit. Add in the dark look of Ryuuji in his new mode and it looks like a weird mix of an afternoon school special and a super hero show. The back cover continues with the format established on the first with several character shots in bubbles and a decent summary of what’s going on here. The discs features and basic technical information is all nice and easily found here. The reverse side of the cover highlights the same back cover artwork but in black and white and bigger while listing the episodes chapters and bilingual voice actor information. The usual basic production information is also found here.

Menu:
The main menu is a nice piece that plays parts of the opening sequence in the background while you have the shows logo and menu selections layered above it, all while the great opening song plays along. Access times to the submenus are a bit slower due to some transitional animations, but there were no issues in navigation. Access times in general are good and the layout is pretty much the typical for a CPM show.

Extras:
The extras for this round include another small area for the art and sketch gallery video. The unique new extra included here is an original piece (something that CPM is really excelling at lately) that’s entitled “Dubbing Against the Clock” that deals with one of the actors who moved across the country during the series and ended up having to record a lot of material quickly. It’s done amusingly but plays out nicely and is a nice little feature.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the fun of the last volume and the accidental shooting of Ryuuji by Karin with the single DCIM bullet that she’s ever going to get, the series turns notably darker and moves into something of an action series for the remainder, though it does keep to its roots of sex and romance.

With Ryuuji, he’s finding himself excited by the fact that he now looks like Tomoko and proceeds to do what any many would do, and that’s to strip down immediately and check yourself out. Amusingly, his body remains the same but only his facial features have changed to resemble her. Something in him has definitely snapped though and he’s not as stable as he was before, not that that is saying a lot. With his relationship with Tomoko as bad off as it is, he decides that he simply needs something, as long as its female.

And his need is tied up with his other need to destroy Junta. With his new found powers due to the DCIM bullet, he realizes that he can change how he looks. He uses it to change into Junta and proceeds to find Ami, nearly raping her in one of the darkened school rooms. But this is only the start of a pattern for him as he adopts other visages and proceeds to cause a lot of trouble, almost always going back to Junta himself being in trouble.

While all of this is going on, Karin’s panicking over the fact that her failure means execution in the future when she gets home while Junta tries to console her and be as close to her as possible. He finally gets a look inside her time ship, which is a huge move for her if she wasn’t so worried about her impending doom. The two try to figure out how to fix things but it keeps coming back down to the lack of the right bullet.

Everything comes to a head though when Ryuuji really goes over the top and starts wearing a cloaked costume and a face mask while absorbing the DNA of as many people as he can et his hands on who might be useful. He ends up luring Karin off to his mansion so he can absorb her abilities and continue gaining more and more strength so that he can finally defeat who he views as his ultimate foe, Junta.

With all the dark natured material here, particularly the time between Ryuuji and Ami as well as the time he manages to get Tomoko alone while pretending to be Junta isn’t fun, but it says a lot about the characters mindset and mentality. His dark nature wasn’t really expected, at least by me, in this show though I always figured he’d cause problems later on. The change in the shows style is a bit off-putting at first, but it works out in how it draws some serious tension into the final arc of the series.

I’ve definitely enjoyed the TV series, though I think it was more amusing and accessible at the beginning than in the middle section. The ending does fit overall and the characters continue to act true, particularly Junta and his love for Karin. Now all that’s left is three OVAs which ought to be interesting to see, both to see how it continues on now that the relationships are a bit different and that they don’t have to deal with the TV censors.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Art & Sketch Gallery,Dubbing Against the Clock

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.



Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B-
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Central Park Media
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: DNA2