DNAngel Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: DNAngel

DNAngel Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     January 06, 2005
Release Date: January 04, 2005


DNAngel Vol. #2
© ADV Films


What They Say
Love is never easy, but that goes double for Daisuke Niwa. The only way Daisuke can rid himself of the phantom art thief residing in his DNA is to have his love returned. The problem is Daisuke has fallen for his classmate Risa, who is obsessed with his alter ego, Dark. It's Risa's twin sister Riku who seems to have eyes for Daisuke himself! It's not a simple task keeping track of the criss-crossing paths of these people's affections. One thing is for sure - watching the situations these four get themselves into will always be twice the fun!

The Review!
With the introductory confusion of the series out of the way, things settle into a some stand alone tales that help to build up more of the mythology of the premise and the characters.

Audio:
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.

Video:
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.

Packaging:
This is a great looking release from start to finish with the packaging. The front cover has a sweet looking image of Riku running towards to viewer while there are numerous shots from the show behind her that are purple filtered and a touch soft. The shades of purple mixed with the whites works really nice here to create a very eye-catching cover. 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 shot of Riku in her school uniform 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 that front cover image is Daisuke in profile mode that has a bit more color to it. The back cover is the same as the regular back cover.

Menu:
Using an good looking static image of Daisuke along the left with the mix of blacks and purples to him, it stands out well against the white background and the floating black feathers. 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.

Extras:
The extras are 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 commentary track is included for one episode, this time featuring Luci Chistian and Hilary Haag, so the show's twin characters get a chance to talk about things. For Japanese voice actor fans, there's a video segment on Miyu Irino and how he got the part and what kinds of things he goes through in the theatrical troupe he's in to hone his skills. Another really neat inclusion is the "DNAngel Unplugged" sequence, which is just what it sounds like, a performance of some of the music from the show done live on stage with just the piano. The series has some really great music so having this is a real plus.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first volume of DNAngel was one that was that we enjoyed quite a bit but found it confusing due to the numerous changes from the way the manga started out, which is of course our own problem but when you have a mental view of things in one way and then they make some interesting changes like they do here, partially based on where the series moved towards later on, you almost feel a bit like you're not sure what you're seeing.

The first volume does the basic job of setting up all the main characters, the setting and introducing Dark and touching on what his history is all about. There were plenty of hooks to be found to get you interested. From the character of Dark himself or his nemesis to the way Daisuke has to deal with trying not to change into Dark based on his feelings for one of the Harada sisters. Packaged with a lush setting in a unique looking town that has plenty of peculiarities of its own, there was a lot to take in and absorb and they did a good job of getting it across while mixing in plenty of action and drama to move the story forward. It was a bit rough at first but once it found its groove, it kicked in and went forward well.

With the second installment of episodes, the show moves into more stand alone episodes that help to fill in some of the gaps in the story that the first set of episodes opened up and we get to know our cast better. It's not quite as tense as the first volume due to Hiwatari not being there to challenge Dark at each of his thefts, but the thefts almost take something of a back seat in these episodes as the story about the item continues to take greater importance. Some of the stories are a bit weak but still enjoyable, such as the opening episode that deals with the twins and their problems with a particular home economics teacher and the meals that they're cooking. The back and forth between the twins is actually pretty fun to watch since it only helps to highlight their differences and what strengths each of them has.

One of the best things in this volume is that we get to see more of the history of the family and Dark. In particular, we get to learn about the reasons why Daisuke's mother is the way she is about his being Dark and doing what he does. Going back to when she was younger and growing up with the family knowledge of Dark, she has to deal with the reality that Dark can only be used by men and that she's lost her chance to become the Phantom Thief because she's a girl. But she's intent on being involved on some level so she gains quite the reputation growing up by her main question to male suitors being whether they can guarantee to produce a male heir. With her being as attractive as she is, she certainly gets plenty of offers about it but during her younger years it's more amusing when she asks them directly about their abilities.

Another tale that was really tender and enjoyable had to do with Daiki, Daisuke's grandfather. When he learns of a piece of jewelry that's been donated to the museum, he's surprised to find that it's still got some power in it and he sets Daisuke to stealing it. It gets conflicting for Daisuke when he goes to do this and discovers that a young woman is attached to it and she requests just one more night before he can take it from her. To complicate it more, one of his school friends named Saehara has seen the girl as well and has fallen in love with her. So when Daisuke as Dark goes to steal it the next night, Saehara tries to stop him from doing so. The tale of the pendant and the girl goes back to when Daiki was channeling Dark and was the Phantom Thief and we see him dealing with the same girl some forty years prior. The similarities in how both Daiki and Daisuke look are amusing, especially since Daiki in old age has the hair Daisuke has now with its wild look.

Daiki gets involved in another tale from the past as well here regarding a statue that he and Dark had tried to seal some time ago but were unable to finish doing since a storm swept the statue into the sea. It's returned now as a salvage crew found it in the bay and have returned it to its proper position. This has caused the seals to weaken enough so that the creature inside walks the streets again, looking for young women that it can woo and kiss, allowing it to steal their life forces and maintain its own life. The background plot is interesting enough but it's how it plays out with Daisuke watching the young woman, a classmate of his, fall under the spell of the creature and how conflicted things get. Much of the problems that Daiki was unable to resolve in his own tenure as the Phantom Thief seem to cause much grief for Daisuke during his.

In Summary:
While there isn't any major arc or grand episodes here that elevate the series, the material we do get is very enjoyable and works towards expanding the characters and setting nicely. This town is apparently rich in history and artifacts that allow for a lot of these stories to take place in a reasonably short amount of time. One of the best parts though is just how much more familiar we're getting not with Dark but with Daisuke's mother and grandfather. Getting more of their tales of their past and motivations makes watching the first couple of episodes much easier and helps connect things in a more sensible way. I'm enjoying the premise quite a bit but am looking forward to seeing where they're really going to go with it.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles, Clean open and closing animation,Voice actor commentary with Luci Christian (Risa) & Hilary Haag (Riku), Meet Miyu Irino, DNAngel Unplugged - True Light

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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