DNAngel Complete Collection (Thinpak) (of 1) (Mania.com)

By:Christopher Homer
Review Date: Thursday, April 01, 2010
Release Date: Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A classic tale of thievery and romance, as an angle done from the days of Lupin III to Saint Tail takes a bishounen route and manages to make a very enjoyable story combined with some of the sweetest romance this side of a Bryan Adams song. 

What They Say
Adapted from the international best-selling manga series by Yukiru Sugisaki, D-N-Angel is a romatic adventure with a fantastic premise. High School hottie Risa has two suitors: shy Daisuke and the magical thief Dark. But the twist is that Daisuke and Dark share the same body, and it's Daisuke's love for Risa that allows Dark to take over! The only way to resolve this romantic disaster is for Daisuke to win the heart of his true love-but since she's only got eyes for Dark, that's not happening anytime soon!

The Review!

Audio
I choose to listen to the Japanese 2.0 Stereo for this review. Briefly switching to the English 5.1 Dolby Surround however in an unusual twist, the Japanese audio sounds much more clearer, which was very odd. I tried this several episodes switching from English to Japanese, and in all cases the Japanese was the more clearer – very rare however it does mean a very good transaction in Japanese, English dub fans may feel disappointed that such a lush series however has a weak audio in their case. 
 
Video
The video is of a very high quality. Originally released in 2003, this boxset released in 2009 gives a very good transaction of video compatibility. It combines hand drawn animation with computer-generated animation in certain aspects with a very lush European setting which takes full screen – whilst more of a fan of widescreen and would have enjoyed seeing this series like that, it’s still very good as there is no distortion between either style in the transition of the video NTSC format, or within the linkage of the subtitles. A very good show to watch on the eyes. 
 
Packaging
The thinpack has gorgeous packaging, both inside and outside. On both sides, there is a double bishounen imagery, first of Dark – his clothes slightly torn on a nightmare background, wings outstretched, whilst on the reverse, we have an image of Satoshi lying inconspicuously, holding a white feather – on the side, there’s an image of the Second Hand Of Time in her state of near undress – and on the inside, all 5 discs have a cute image of one of the girls, in order of Riku, Risa, Towa, Freedert and Hio. The only back point is that because of the imagery, there isn’t a description of the show on the back/front, and you need to look at the back of the discs separately – which if in stores if wrapped, someone not familiar with the show won’t know and wouldn’t be able to know what it’s about. In terms of eye-candy though, it’s excellent. 
 
Menu
The menu is very basic and the same on each disc – black writing on a blue feathery like background. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a scene selection part so you cannot go into a specific part of the episode straight away and thus have to click the episode and start forwarding, which is always a pet peeve if you have to leave the show and then come back to it. 
 
Extras
Nothing is supplied in this collection as extras. 
 
Content
D N Angel holds a strong place in my heart – for those who don’t know it was the first series I reviewed in the UK for AoD so I was glad to have a good look throughout the whole series again and see if it’s aged well. I’m glad to see it’s still an above average classic in today’s market, with some lush animation and the characters are still as good as I remember.
 
We are introduced to Daisuke Niwa, a 14 year old boy who unbeknownst to him, is part of a family of Phantom Thieves – legendary thieves who are fortold to steal various artworks in part of the Niwa name, each holding a piece of powerful history and/or magic – which also puts them at odds with the Hikari family, which this generation is led by Daisuke’s classmate Satoshi, however for reasons he doesn’t choose to say, goes by the name of Satoshi Hiwatari. However, Daisuke has no knowledge of that – as he’s been waiting for this day to come for another reason – to confess his feelings to his crush Risa Harada. However, when things don’t turn out the way Daisuke wants, he soon finds himself with the DNA of the Phantom Thief Dark Mousy, who he transforms into every time he sees a picture of Risa. However, everything links in with the Haradas, as Risa falls in love with Dark, and to make matters even more complicated, after his first heist, Dark has to make a pit stop at the Haradas, and kisses Risa’s more tomboyish twin sister, Riku, to stop her from screaming.
 
From there, it starts to become almost a magical girl (or in this case, boy) anime in terms of Dark stealing various artworks for the Niwa family, and sealing the powers of more problematic works. However, it soons becomes apparent that despite the episodic nature of the early part of the anime, almost every episode has a point. For example, we learn that Satoshi, who is a friend/rival/significant other for Daisuke depending on who you ask, also holds the genes of a phantom, the white angel Krad – how the cute mascot character With is linked with Daisuke and his true powers, and the gradual relationship between Daisuke and the Haradas, whilst in love with Risa, he gets along and is more natural with Riku…
 
The series gets good however around half way the series, the introduction of some other characters Towa add to the fun element, and the rival Mio Hio ups the romance aspect, but also when Mio’s true character shows and what she is, the plot kicks into overdrive. The romance aspect is one of the sweetest and most natural I’ve seen in anime, when it goes from sad but understandable (between Dark and Risa) and then a rare case of love triangles (or squares in this case if you want to add Hio or Satoshi – DN Angel is definitely an interesting show if you’re a yaoi fan) being sorted out without too many problems. The good thing about it is that whilst the romance aspect is handled very well, it doesn’t interfere with the greater picture, as the plot of sealing Dark’s powers gradually brings the show full circle, and just little moments in the episodes all lead to this, for example Towa and With acting strange, the mentioning from Daisuke’s grandfather of 40 years ago, and the return of Daisuke’s father, and how the power of the Rutile fits into everything.
 
It helps as well that the characters are all strong in one way or another – Daisuke himself is a lovable male lead – he’s had to go through hellish training to prepare to become a Phantom Thief, yet he’s still a bit clumsy, shy – but always tries his best. You can’t help cheering him on in his endeavours. Satoshi, his rival – is mysterious, intriguing and you have to wonder if his interest in Daisuke is based on his connections with Dark or something else. However, he does have a good side, and helped Daisuke on more than one occasion, and doesn’t want to be part of Krad, which is why the final episodes where Satoshi has a major role, you can’t help but feel for him. Risa at first seems quite annoying and selfish, but she grows dramatically as a character, where you realise she has grown up throughout the show, and you smile at her moments of realisation. Riku however is a wonderful girl from the start, tomboyish yet caring, and her moments with Daisuke are some of the most precious in the show. And Dark himself seems like an arrogant playboy, but he goes to care for Daisuke and is almost a confidant of him by the end of the series. Even the side characters are fun – Mio seems an even more jazzed up version of Risa, but again when it’s revealed what she really is you can’t help but feel for her, Towa is pure fun and even Daisuke’s mother Emiko has a lot of good moments. And With is just adorable. 
 
D N Angel really shows what can be done with a series that develops per episode. Whilst episodic at first, there is always something that links to the future, and it isn’t confusing either – it flows naturally – whether it’s Dark and Risa having a heart to heart talk about Risa’s grandmother, whether it’s Daisuke chasing With after being heartbroken, whether it’s Riku taking one of Daisuke’s paintings (the Ice and Snow arc on the final disc is one of the most potent and heartbreaking arcs I’ve seen in anime) or whether it’s just simply Satoshi and Daisuke having a talk in a freezing room, everything has a purpose, and it makes the series all the more enjoyable and worthwhile in the end. 
 
Summary: 
DN Angel has a bit of everything for anyone. There is comedy (whether it’s Daisuke crossdressing for a play or Towa turning into her bird form after a kiss from Dark), drama (the revelation of Satoshi’s father, Dark’s past with Risa’s grandmother), romance, adventure, action and great storytelling. Combine this with gorgeous animation and great music, the only worry would be the earlier episodes being too run of the mill as an episode of the week. However, even that’s nullified by the little hints each episode brings to the grand picture. Nice little arcs and a great ending, D N Angel is a show that comes highly recommended for nearly everyone.
 
Features
Japanese 2.0 Language ,English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles

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: A
Menus Rating: B-
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
MSRP: 89.98
Running time: 650
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: DNAngel