DNAngel Vol. #6 (of 7) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, July 19, 2005
What They Say
Things are not going well for Daisuke Niwa. Besides dealing with his usual school and girl problems he also has to deal with Dark. The Cultural festival is coming up and Daisuke painted a beautiful snowscape for the festival. Everything seems fine until Daisuke is suddenly pulled into the world of his painting! Dark runs to the rescue and brings Riku and Risa along for the ride! However, when they have the chance to save him, Daisuke decides to stay. Daisuke's world gets turned upside down in this next exciting volume of DNAngel. Why not come along for the ride?
As the 'Snow & Ice' story takes on its true form due to Daisuke's closeness to it, revelations of the past and challenges in the present become critical moments that will determine if Daisuke lives.
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 has Dark on the front and lets the ladies get a great look at his bare hairless chest, which only serves to remind you how few men in anime have any hair there. 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 Second Hand in her white garb 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 Second Hand 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 more 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 some of the actors relevant for these episodes such as Kira Vincent Davis, John Swasey, Christine Auten and Sasha Paysinger. For Japanese voice actor fans, there's a segment called "DNAngel Talk 4" with Miyu Irino and Shunichi Miyamoto. They continue what they started in the previous talks and go over their experiences that help them in their acting and discussing the show. Continuing an extra from the previous volume, there's a new installment where the series director and the 3D director talking about their approach to bringing 3D into the series. Also here is a new Unplugged section which has the 'True Light' piano solo. 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)
With only one volume left after this, the setup that's been coming since the previous volume is built up nicely here and the threat to Daisuke's life becomes much more apparent. The story itself is somewhat convoluted but does go back to some of the earliest things we've learned in the series which makes it a bit difficult to remember at times and it forces some of the players to really look at their position in the grand scheme of things.
Daisuke's problem with déjà vu continues early on here where things seem really familiar to him and he has dreams of places that remind him of his painting. Unknown to him is that his ability to paint these things is involved with magic and it allows him to be in contact with the reality behind that painting in a way. Through the efforts of Daisuke's father, we learn that the story of 'Snow and Ice' isn't the real story. During the Cultural Revolution, all of the original forms of the tale were burned and destroyed and a much tamer version with the truth excised was put out so that nobody would know or remember that it was originally called 'Snow and Darkness.'
With Daisuke having painted an access point of sorts to what's behind the original story and the use of the modified story for the play, things in this little town are all geared towards bringing that original work back into reality in a way. Hiwatari's concerned about Daisuke's inability to control what's going on and sets to take action against his father based on how things are being manipulated in that direction. Hiwatari's visit to the Niwa residence has some very amusing moments as well when Daisuke's father starts talking in a roundabout way about the family feud that's gone on for so long between the two and what it's really all about and whether it truly needs to continue. Hiwatari's been on edge for so long now and Daisuke's helped him so much along the way that he's much more open to the words of others now instead of just his fathers.
With the information that Daisuke's father learns about the book, Dark heads off to steal the painting that Daisuke gave to Riku since it'll serve as the conduit item that will lead them to dealing with the greater issue. With Daisuke now falling under the spell of the Second Hand of Time, he finds himself caught up in the world that the story is based on and begins to learn the true story behind it. Dark's set on getting the painting and using it so he can try and save Daisuke from what's about to happen but it goes badly when Riku refuses to let it go and Risa gets involved and all three find themselves transported to this other world where Daisuke is being kept for larger purposes.
In a way, watching these episodes is fairly straightforward as the plot all unfolds before us as we learn of the true story of Freedert and the men in her life that became the basis of things. Everything goes back to the art piece that the Hikari's created that avoided being destroyed or sealed properly early on and the revelation of its location in the city is almost amusing. The problem that I have during all of this is that there are so many variations on the story of Freedert that it can get confusing in a way, since you have the school play, the book version and the reality of it all. Plus I made the mistake of reading the manga for this arc and I've got all of that bumping around in my head. This can make it a bit confusing when trying to describe it and get it all down since my mind is trying to reconcile all of them. In the end though, the anime version is very tightly written and when you watch it, it all makes sense as it unravels.
The final arc for the series which covers quite a few episodes manages to go back to some of the earliest things we learned in the show as well as revealing more about what the feud and those involved have been doing over the years. These episodes go by fast and at first you're hard pressed to really think of anything that's happened other than one or two key moments but there is really a lot going on and the dangers are simply growing and growing around Daisuke who simply wants to do the right thing and help. These are great episodes in an already great series that has such a rich tapestry of characters and designs that the world they all live in is simply very engrossing. Very recommended.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Commentary track for Episode 23 with Kira Vincent Davis (Saehara) John Swasey (Daiki) Christine Auten (Second Hand of Time) & Sasha Paysinger (Freedert),"DNAngel Talk" 4 video segment, Part Two of the "3D Scene Production" segment,"True Light Piano Solo",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: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2