DNAngel Vol. #5 (of 7) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, June 13, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, June 07, 2005
What They Say
Daisuke Niwa is not a normal junior high student. However, for the next 6 days he gets to act like one! Daisuke and his classmates head to the seaside for a week of fun and studying. While there, Daisuke finally realizes his true feelings and gives his heart to a young lady. Which girl is it? Yet paradise can't last forever and it couldn't get any worse back at home. He was cast in his school play but as a girl! His maid and pet are going bonkers! And then there's Mio...
More revelations abound and the darkness gets closer as two people find out what they really mean to each other.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The stereo mix for this series is quite good with some very well done moments of directionality both for dialogue and for action effects throughout the show. The English track, which is in 5.1, is a bit louder and makes the directional moments a bit clearer, is also a good strong track. Listening to the Japanese mix in full, it felt more full and warmer to us. During regular playback, we had no issues with dropouts or other distortions.
Originally airing in 2003, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. With this being a recent show, it has plenty of digital effects to it but it uses it an interesting style that makes the transfer a bit hard to pin down at times. In a number of scenes, the show has a somewhat soft and almost grainy feel to it, such as when it moves around the lower city and does some of the digital pans of the buildings. Areas such as inside the school and along the train all look very sharp though. The color palette used for the show is a mix as well with some dark earthy colors used for the city buildings and layout, lots of soft oranges and purples as well, while the character animation is very rich and vibrant in a different way. There are a lot of sections of solid colors that look really good here and avoid noticeable blocking or color gradation issues, in addition to no noticeable cross coloration and only a few minor moments of aliasing here and there during some panning sequences.
This is a great looking release from start to finish with the packaging. The front cover for this volume provides a rather fanservice oriented picture of Satoshi laying on his bed with his shirt open a bit while other characters are showing in a purple hued strip along the side. The back cover provides a small strip of full color shots from the show through the middle. The top half has a pretty good explanatory pair of paragraphs about the show while the bottom half displays all the discs extras, production and technical information in very easy to read and find blocks. The insert has a nice picture of Towa in her maid outfit next to the episode listings and the extra listings while the reverse side has a cute picture of With by himself. The cover for this release is reversible and has the same piece of artwork of Towa with a full background similar to previous volumes. The back cover is the same as the regular back cover.
Using the image from the cover but adding dark feathers falling around him, the static image here looks good and blends well with the layout. With the menu selections and icon using the purple shade from his hair, the layout for this looks really nice and fits well with the character. The only downside is that the music loop is really far too short and ends on such a bad way that it's almost annoying, which is a shame since it's such a good opening. The menus are quick and easy to navigate with no transitional animations and the disc correctly read our players language presets and played accordingly.
The extras continue to be pretty good here with mix of material to please both types of fans. The standards are here in the clean opening and closing sequences. A new commentary track is included for one episode featuring the shows ADR director David Williams and DVD Producer and voice actress for With, Mariela Ortiz. Knowing both these people I'm obviously biased since I hear things like this when I see them in person so it was enjoyable to hear them talk about the show itself, some of the quirks of the actors and just how much fun they're having on the show. For Japanese voice actor fans, there's a segment called "DNAngel Talk 3" with Miyu Irino and Shunichi Miyamoto. They continue what they started in the first and second talks and go over their experiences that help them in their acting and discussing the show. A new extra has the series director and the 3D director talking about their approach to bringing 3D into the series and it helped, just slightly, to change my opinion towards the better with how they did certain elements in the show. Also here is a new Unplugged section which has the group Mawano's first performance and it follows them around before it and into the performance itself. This release is just so full of extras that it takes quite a bit of time to go through everything and certainly gives it plenty of replay value.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The fourth volume of DNAngel was one where the series seemed to really rise above itself and become something more than I thought it was going to be able to be previously. It had been enjoyable and fun to watch, but that volume just seemed to raise the bar a bit more. With the fifth volume and the series hitting up to episode twenty, we get some more interesting changes along the way.
The show in a way takes a break from what we've had in the last few volumes and it is basically free of Dark outside of a few minor appearances. This lets the focus be kept on the Daisuke and the relationship side of things. And what better way to do that then to send everyone on a cruise to a tropical island where everyone gets to have fun. With bathing suits being the clothes of the day, this is a beautiful time for Saehara to try and get closer to Mio as he simply lusts about her. But unfortunately for him, she's got bigger fish to fry and we start to see more of who she's working for which works its way back to Satoshi since his father is pulling strings on something that he's unaware of and may be impacting his own agenda to capture Dark.
While this is the darker side to the storyline going, a lot of where the main focus goes toward is following the slowly growing relationship between Riku and Daisuke. With everyone on the island, people get together in different dynamics but Daisuki and Riku end up getting together rather often throughout this adventure. From playing on the beach together to gazing at the stars at night, the two often find themselves alone and Mio sees that as a challenge to her own needs but also a way she can use it to her advantage. One extended trip has Risa, Riku and Daisuke heading up a mountain to check out something and it becomes a trip that's too much for Risa to take so Riku and Daisuke continue on and have a great little adventure, but one that ends up with a bit of danger that eventually draws them even closer.
Where things get interesting is where Risa starts talking about how she needs to move beyond Dark and to realize things about him and how he's not exactly what she should be really going after. Her own eventual discoveries about his past and her grandmothers only pushes this further since she doesn't want to be a substitute for her but she does retain her feelings. At the same time, she's noticing how much more mature Daisuke has become and it's something that becomes really evident at that point. Not only has her personality settled but he's getting taller and filling out more manly, something that Riku notices and comments on. Risa though sees more of a connection to Dark and her casual conversation seems to bring her towards him more, which only scares and confuses Riku more.
All of this becomes something of a small tempest within Riku's mind and with Mio pushing her to give a special necklace item to Daisuke to prove how she feels about him, an awkward moment that's easily misunderstood leads to a beautiful moment on a starlit beach where the two of them admit their feelings to each other - before the last scene of the series happens. This continues to be a rarity in series this day and is a welcome change. While the series had started off with Risa as his center of focus, the change in his desires and wants over the course of it, probably aided by Dark's influence as well, has led him to realize that the one that is the best for him is actually Riku and he's confident enough in himself now that he can admit it and actually act on it.
This sets things up well for the series to progress as the various forces that are out there start to come together. Satoshi has his own plans but senses that things are being worked on by his father that will throw off what he's doing and could mean he's on a wild goose chase. Daisuke's parents are working hard to end his dealings with Dark and Mio is the focus of a plan that will change things entirely, not only for her but for Daisuke as well. Daisuke's being closed in on but he found himself an oasis in the middle of it named Riku and it's something that will hopefully play a big part in things as it wraps up over the next six episodes, especially with Dark becoming more of a player in it.
With far less focus on action, artifacts and ancient dangers, this installment of DNAngel lets us just deal mostly with the kids and very little with the adults. There's plenty of moments with them and plenty of comedy mixed in throughout the episodes but the relationship that are tied to Daisuke are the real focus between a trip to a tropical island and the realization of true feelings. These episodes just make you feel good and really smile about how it happens and what they do while still making you tense because you wonder how those who are still skulking behind the scenes will impact all of it. DNAngel continues to have some predictable moments but mostly plays out in a way that keeps you wondering just where it's going to go and what the real agendas are.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Three separate video segments on the making of DNAngel,Commentary track with ADV's DVD Coordinator Mariela Ortiz and ADR Director David Williams,Clean opening animation,Clean closing animation
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
Mania Grade: A-
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2