DNAngel Vol. #5 (of 7) (Mania.com)

By:Christopher Homer
Review Date: Tuesday, February 05, 2008
Release Date: Monday, April 17, 2006



What They Say
Daisuke Niwa is certainly not your average junior high student, most don’t transform into the phantom thief Dark! But for the next few days, he’ll get a break from stealing artworks as he joins his friends for some fun and sun on a tropical island. This break may be just what he needs to help him realize his true feelings…but which girl will he choose? Toss in being cast as the female lead in the school play, something causing Towa and With to act strange and Mio being, well, Mio of course, and all isn’t perfect in paradise. Just what IS Mio up to anyway?

The Review!
A conclusion on the romantic side, a home run on the emotional side, and even some silliness combines to create the 5th Volume of DNAngel.

Audio:
Due to the commentary track on this volume, for this review I listened to the volume in English. There were no noticeable distortions in quality of sound when switching from English to Japanese, with the 5.1 track being noticeably quite clear on my speakers. Everything is clear on the stereo side in Japanese as well and came through cleanly with no problems upon viewing.

Video:
Viewing DN Angel on my 37-inch screen is at times like watching a work of art. The gorgeous palette of colour that is on offer combined with the 3D Effects at full work can make you pause the DVD player just to look at the screen, like when watching Riku and Daisuke in a cave staring at a cave full of glow worms or just simply looking at Daisuke’s snow based painting. The transfer to DVD is simply perfect with no problems within the transfer – the effects used in 3D and digital make the video come to life – the colours look really good here and no glitches found, making the show seem completely serene and just stunning to look at. No problems whatsoever.

Packaging:
The front cover is a shot of Satoshi looking like he’s ready to model, almost a fan service shot with his shirt open laying upside down, his hand through his hair. On the back is a summary with an embarrassed shot of Daisuke amidst small shots of the episodes and briefly explaining the DVD Extras. On the inside, the lovely Towa takes the inside cover shot in her trademark blue maid outfit, whilst the reverse side has the mascot character With, looking cute though lonesome, whilst on the opposite side of the slip showed the episode guide and DVD Extras once again. Whilst being on the grey background they weren’t particularly eye-catching, the summary and extras were all neatly presented…and any cover that has Towa on it is an automatic thumbs up for me anyway.

Menu:
The menu is presented neatly with the opening theme True Light in the background as black feathers surround a cute picture of Mio in a white angel’s like outfit. The menu itself is quite simple for scene selection, languages and special features. Selecting languages or extras presents you with a beautiful piano or acoustic version of True Light, which is almost a shame that the loop has to cut it and repeat it. The disc had no problems switching languages or on the last episode, to switch to the audio commentary as well.

Extras:
The extras for DN Angel volume 5 continue to be very good indeed. Along with the usual clean opening and ending animation, there is something for both dub and sub fans to enjoy.

For dub fans, there is a commentary track for episode 20 involving the director David Williams and Mariela Ortiz, the DVD Coordinator and the voice of With. I’ve heard a number of commentary tracks with David before and they are always interesting but you add Mariela into the mix, who after hearing her infamous Ohjiro fixation on an Angelic Layer commentary, you get a lot of energy as well as a lot of their thoughts of the series and characters – Mariela’s take on Mio was especially interesting, whilst David delights in torturing the Voice Actors as well as answering questions that we had to know, like speaking to Japan about certain scenes and characters, why is Mariela obsessed with mascots, and of course, did Monica Rial bribe David Williams into getting a part? These questions must be answered and answered quickly…

On the Japanese side, we get another DN Angel Talk, this time with the Japanese voice of Daisuke Miyu Irino and the songwriter of much of DN Angel’s music including the opening Shunichi Miyamoto. Here, they discuss their favourite characters in the show, which characters they have the most/least in common with, which characters have characteristics similar to people they know, and how they want to use With when they need a substitute. It’s amusing especially to hear the last one, as well as things like Miyamoto’s take on why Riku is his favourite character and why Kousuke remind’s Irino of his own dad.

There is also a 3D Scene Production extra, where the creators of the anime show how they created some of DN Angel’s 3D scenes – it’s very intriguing and great to watch how some of the lovely animation comes to life, such as the train from episode 1 within the process in creating/modelling the shapes in 3D.

Lastly, we have another musical extra, this DN Angel Unplugged focusing on the band Minawo, who performed the two ending songs for DN Angel. It’s a behind the scenes segment during a performance which whilst doesn’t give anything new or give a long life performance compared to Miyamoto’s work, it’s still nice to watch.

Basically, there is a large varied amount of extras, with something for everyone, it’s all both informative and amusing, and up to date DN Angel hasn’t let me down with the extras side. Very good stuff.

Content:
This volume of DN Angel comes past the half way point and suddenly revelations come full circle, the purpose of Mio is fully identified, and shock of all shocks, we have a conclusion in the romance department as Daisuke finally realises who he truly loves.

Episode 17 starts off though quite innocently enough, as Daisuke’s class is heading to a beach resort for 6 days. There are elements of comedy at first, with Risa and her friends wanting to play Titantic, Mio going after Daisuke in her usual Mio way and Takeshi going after Mio in his own Takeshi way. And with it being the beach, there is a slight element of fanservice, however it’s pretty much at the backburner as the plot involving Mio’s pendant comes into play. However, it seems Satoshi has noticed there is something about Mio and he’s keeping an eye on Daisuke…though to Risa and a few of the other girls, it’s humorously interpreted as Satoshi being more than interested at Daisuke, and his comments don’t help much to poor Daisuke.

Interestingly though, the romance side of things suddenly takes a turn for the up. During a scene with both of the sisters, Daisuke ends up helping Risa with a sandcastle when his heart isn’t racing like it normally does. Ironically, it seems that Risa seems to now be interested in Daisuke, as a possible Dark of the future when she sees Riku and Daisuke getting friendly towards each other. Of course, Mio isn’t taking that lightly but it’s obvious now that she does seem to actually feel affection for Daisuke rather than it being her ‘job’ as she struggles between her job and her genuine like for Daisuke. In the end, she decides to hand the pendant over to Riku, as the elder Harada also has feelings for Daisuke, so she hopes the job will get done through Riku’s feelings.

On the nature hike later that day, it leads to the Harada twins and Daisuke taking the hike together. The characterisation of the twins is well defined in this episodes, both as opposites and similar. Risa is easily exhausted whilst Riku is full of energy, yet both girls earlier were crying as they feel hard done with their love – Risa as Dark has now pushed away and Riku because she feels Daisuke won’t ever be interested in her. It’s a good time when the girls are been branched as individuals but at the same time still have a bond they can’t break.

It flows into episode 18, where Riku slips off a cliff and Daisuke jumps after her. The fallout is fairly obvious as Riku hurts her ankle and Daisuke has to help her get back up to the top. This is a favourite scene of mine as we see Daisuke carry Riku up the cliff, Riku’s heart pounding a mile a minute as she relieves her memories of Daisuke, and has nothing but good to say about him. It comes to a conclusion where as the thunder strikes and Daisuke is exhausted, Riku clings to him in fear…and the same feeling he used to get with Risa earlier in the series hits him so hard he has to run away just in case he transforms into Dark. Back at the hotel though, things get a turn when Daisuke brings Risa some medicine and they accidentally get caught in the closet, and later on the bed together…where Riku sees them. The aftermath however whilst slightly predictable, is absolutely wonderful as Daisuke chases after Riku, and Daisuke’s simple…’It’s not Miss Harada I love…it’s Miss Riku’ made tears form. Some beautiful animation from the shooting star scene at the beach after adds to the romance as well…

…behind the scenes though Mio is now worried about Riku and Daisuke unifying the pendants. As Episode 19 comes into play, it starts off with a lot of teasing in the relationship between Riku and Daisuke, with Towa in particular enjoying teasing the young boy. The episode focuses a bit on Risa though, as we get back to the fact that Dark fell in love with Risa’s grandmother. Risa finds a key that unlocks the statue outside their house, where a letter and a black feather await Risa. It’s quite touching as Risa shows that she’s finally starting to grow up as a character, how she could never understand Dark as well as she thought she could. Mio however, is getting more and more concerned about her feelings for wanting to be a proper human and gain a proper life by sacrificing Daisuke so for Mr. Hiwatari to capture Dark, or her own friendship with Daisuke stopping her from doing that.

In the final episode of the disc, Mio gets a lot of focus though. Whilst the preparations for the cultural festival are in full swing (with Daisuke playing a female lead in their play Ice & Snow…and Satoshi playing the male lead!!!), Mio continues to spy on Riku and Daisuke whether they will use the pendant. Satoshi indirectly interferes, again Satoshi doesn’t get much time this volume, but you can see that the Satoshi/Daisuke friendship/rivalry is always touched upon to remind us what an integral part he is to the story. Strange things have been going on as well – both Towa and With have been acting strange and Mio calls Daisuke out of the blue all serious and sad. It leads to a scene where Daisuke is trying to call Riku but as it is engaged, he rides over to her house to enjoy some stargazing. Mio spies on them and the two begin to link the pendant…Mio finally snaps and runs to stop them…but…

The ending of episode 20 was a shocker – Mio was a character I was never really fond of at first, however it was so sad what happened to her. If an anime can make me cry about a character I don’t particularly care about then it must be doing something right. The whole disc was full of goodness though – the Harada sisters triangle with Daisuke seemingly resolved, some good character development for Risa and a tender romance blooming with Riku and Daisuke. If there was anything negative about this disc was the lack of Dark and Satoshi – this focused on resolving the romantic problems so any of the battles faced between Dark and Krad were put on the backburner. However with the problems with Towa and With, there is obviously something to look forward to with future discs.

In summary:
The battles of Dark put on hold, instead we get focus on the character relationships, and specifically one in Daisuke and Riku. These two get a lot of limelight both in comedy, drama and romance and it all blends in to a scenario that had me wanting more as the dramatic finale to the disc concluded. The tears fell, the music played and the fact that I was sad about what happened to Mio meant that the show was doing a fine job with the drama as much as the comedy. Whilst there may still be some fun moments coming up with the Culture festival, DN Angel is slowly coming to an end and all these little clues and hints showing up means that there is going to be an interesting bloodbath by the end of the series. It makes you laugh, it makes you tense, it makes you cry and it makes you squeal with happiness. I want more. Very recommended.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening Animation,Clean Closing Animation,Staff Commentary with David Williams (Producer/Director) and Mariella Ortiz (DVD Coordinator and voice of With),D N Angel Talk: Three with Miyu Irino (Japanese Seiyuu of Daisuke) and Shunichi Miyamoto (Songwriter of True Light: D N Angel opening),3D Scene Production: Part 1,D N Angel Unplugged: The Day It Begins

Review Equipment
Toshiba 37C3030 - 37" Widescreen HD Ready LCD TV – Tangent Ht-50 Home Theatre System Multi-Regional DVD Players/Speakers – Tangent Subwoofer 50-150 Hz, Impedenced 8 OHM.



Mania Grade: A-
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: A-
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: 2 - Europe
Released By: ADV Films UK
MSRP: £19.99
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: DNAngel