DNAngel Vol. #1 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • 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

DNAngel Vol. #1

By Dani Moure     August 23, 2005
Release Date: August 30, 2005


DNAngel Vol. #1
© ADV Films UK


What They Say
Being a teenager is rough enough, but young Daisuke's got more troubles than any ten normal guys. Due to a strange quirk of genetics, Daisuke's been cursed with an ancient family affliction that's sure to put some major kinks in his relationship with the opposite sex. You see, whenever he becomes, well, enamoured with the object of his desires, Daisuke finds himself transformed into the legendary thief Phantom Dark!

Unfortunately, the only way to return to his true form is for his 'true love' to love Daisuke for himself. But when she's only got eyes for Dark, how can Daisuke compete with himself? Stealing the heart of one's true love has never been as complicated, or intriguing, as in The Dawn Of Dark, the first scintillating volume of DNAngel!

Directed by manga artist Yukiru Sugisaki and produced by Dentsu (Angelic Layer), Kadokawa Shoten (Full Metal Panic!), TV Tokyo (Cowboy Bebop) and Xebec (Sorcerer Hunters), this hit anime series is based on the wildly popular manga from Asuka Magazine in Japan.

The Review!
Another popular series hits our shores, this time a fun tale of a boy who's struggling with having a phantom thief taking over his body at some rather inopportune moments.

Audio:
For this review I listened to the first episode in Japanese with subtitles, and the last three in English. The Japanese stereo track is pretty standard, and I enjoyed the performances of the voice actors, with all the key performers putting in great efforts. I noticed no dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

I really enjoyed the English track as well, particularly as the disc progressed and the English actors started to find their feet. The 5.1 mix adds a bit of directionality to things, and I noticed no problems with this track, even when down-mixing to stereo (which has been a problem in the past with some ADV mixes).

Video:
The four episodes on this disc are presented in their original full frame aspect ratio, and the transfer looks good for the most part. There are a few moments of cross colouration throughout the disc, along with occasional blocking that affects certain things like characters hair at a few points. These moments aren't all that noticeable though, and didn't really affect my enjoyment of the disc.

Subtitles are in a nice yellow font (ADV's usual), and I didn't notice any major grammatical or spelling errors.

Packaging:
The front cover features a really nice image of Dark, with a filmstrip of sorts in a faded red tone down the right hand side with a few screenshots from the show. The logo adorns the bottom of the cover along with the volume number, with the volume title in a strip at the bottom. The back cover has an image of Daisuke along with the show's (somewhat contrived) summary and a selection of screenshots. Extras are clearly listed along with production credits, and the usual ADV information boxes which make it really easy to see all the specs on the disc.

This release continues the style of having no insert, with ADV UK instead opting to put the disc in a clear keepcase, with a reversible cover which features a really nice image of Risa, and features a similar filmstrip and layout to the regular side. The back cover is the same with a slightly smaller information box thanks to the lack of a barcode or BBFC logos. Both covers really suit the tone of the show though and look really nice.

Menu:
The menus are pretty simple and in the same style as most ADV menus. The main menu features the cover image of Dark on the left, with the show's logo on the right and the option to pick which episode to watch, the language setup, scene selection (something I like to see personally) and special features. The theme song plays over this menu. Submenus are static with different bits of artwork featured, and access times are nice and fast for a simple but effective menu.

Extras:
We get a really nice selection of extras on this disc, catering to both fans of the Japanese and English tracks. First up is the obligatory clean opening and ending, and a voice actor commentary from Kevin Corn (Daisuke) and Vic Mignogna (Dark). Both have a lot of fun on the track, and it's always nice to hear the dub actors talking and enjoying themselves even if the tracks don't contain a huge amount of information.

We also get a nice Japanese promo for the series (approved for "all audienced"), from prior to the show airing, a nice selection of TV spots (three and a half minutes worth), and a Japanese "in-store promo" (which was presumably shown in stores to promote the series). I really like seeing these kinds of extras to see how the Japanese market the shows. Finally there's a nice feature that runs almost ten minutes on the recording of the opening theme "White Night ~ True Light" with Shunichi Miyamoto. ADV get big props in my book for a nice varied selection here, and I'm hoping they sustain the level of extras throughout the release.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the popular manga series by Yukiru Sugisaki, DNAngel the anime series has been quite successful both in the land of its origin and over in the US, making it a natural series for ADV UK to choose to release. While I'm not quite sure it'll find quite the same success over here, it certainly does help that the manga is available, and it's certainly a fun show based on this opening volume.

The story follows a 14 year old boy called Daisuke Niwa. He likes to think he's just your average kid, but of course, he isn't. No, he's not some giant robot pilot, in fact, he's just co-inhabited by a man they call Phantom Thief Dark. Each male in the Niwa family apparently carries this gene that matures on their 14th birthday, and now it's Daisuke's turn to carry the baton and take on the role of Dark. The morning of his birthday he goes to give Risa Harada, the girl he likes, a love letter, but when she says she wants to be friends with him, he backs down. On getting home from school (and going through an assault course), Daisuke's mother and grandfather send him on his first mission to steal a statue. They send a letter informing the police and media of the time and place of the robbery, and away goes Daisuke. But on his return, Dark is spotted by Risa's sister, Riku, and has to kiss her to keep her quiet.

The next day Risa tells Daisuke of her infatuation with Dark having seen all the publicity around him the night before, and forces Daisuke to go with her to spot Dark on his next robbery. This isn't ideal since Daisuke is Dark, but he goes off and steals the statue, and Dark challenge Daisuke to get away without his help. Whoever comes up trumps can do whatever they want. Daisuke almost manages until he sees Risa and turns into Dark again, who asks her out. Things are further complicated by one of Daisuke's classmates, Satoshi Hiwatari, who leads the investigations into Dark's true origins. He comes to suspect Daisuke, but when he concocts a plan to get him and Daisuke together to try and reveal Dark, he turns into Dark's nemesis Krad, which doesn't bode well for anyone.

At this early stage, it's hard to tell exactly where DNAngel is going. It could easily develop into a bit of as romance focused show with the main love quadrangle (or however many care to piece together) taking centre stage and spending lots of time at high school and so on. On the other hand, the Dark story could become the central focus point as Daisuke discovers who Dark really is, why is even there, and everything else to do with his origin. But judging by what we've seen on the first disc, it seems as though it'll try to strike a balance between the romance and Dark's origins, with potentially some other story arcs revolving around some of Dark's old enemies and the like.

The characters in the series are definitely an interesting bunch. Daisuke is a strange one because on the one hand he is a bit of a bumbling idiot and can't really bring himself to get what he wants, while on the other hand he still manages to be more forward and honest regarding his feelings than a lot of young anime males. He tries to be forward with Risa right from the get-go, and granted, it ends up getting complicated by Dark's presence but at least he tried.

Dark himself is another great character, and the fusion of the two characters really works well in the context of the series. It could easily become over-played and tiresome eventually, but so far seeing Dark and Daisuke argue as one of them inhabits Daisuke's body and the other isn't is the source of a good few laughs. This plotline is also the hook that keeps Daisuke away from Risa, since he struggles to not transform into Dark any time he's around her. Granted, it's just a way to keep the love triangle going, but it's a lot of fun just because Dark and Daisuke are one and the same, at least when physically manifested.

The love story is one of the key focuses of the series, and so there has to be someone to complicate the Risa/Dark/Daisuke triangle even further, so enter Riku, Risa's sister. She grows affectionate for Daisuke, but he sees her just as a friend. There are the obvious parallels here with how Risa looks on Daisuke with how he looks at Risa, but it adds another dimension to the story and with Riku being a bit more level-headed and sensible than Risa, the foundations are laid for more heartbreak and family in-fighting.

Satoshi is another really interesting character, because he's the mystery in the whole piece. Thus far, we don't know much about him other than his father seems to be involved and has sent him on a mission to find Dark, and he seems to know that Daisuke is Dark. But it leads to some rather strange encounters, with Satoshi at times even seeming a little affectionate for Daisuke. This adds another dynamic to the already involved Dark saga, but it's good in that it makes Satoshi's pursuit all the more interesting.

In Summary:
While the stories on this volume aren't exactly going to set the world alight in any way, they're good fun and serve as a nice introduction to the characters and the premise of the series. As the love story gets more involved and the Dark saga becomes more complex so should the stories, and I'm looking forward to hopefully seeing that happen. As it stands though, DNAngel has all the makings of a good series, and given how accessible it is, it's easy to see why it's quite popular. There's room for improvement, but for now I'd definitely give the series a recommendation if you're looking for a light, enjoyable series.

Features
Japanese Language (2.0),English Language (5.1),English Subtitles,Commentary,Clean Opening and Closing,The Creation of an Opening Theme,Promos & TV Spots

Review Equipment
Philips 28" Pure Flat Widescreen TV, Pioneer DV-464 code free DVD player, JVC gold-plated RGB SCART cable, standard stereo sound.

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