DNAngel Vol. #4 - Mania.com

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Mania Grade: B+

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  • 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
  • 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. #4

By Chris Beveridge     May 17, 2005
Release Date: April 26, 2005

DNAngel Vol. #4
© ADV Films

What They Say
How much can one kid handle? In the fourth exciting volume of DNAngel poor Daisuke Niwa finds himself in some precarious situations. After the souls of Risa and Saehara are locked away in a stone he travels to the future with the help of a new friend, Towa, to save his classmates and Dark. Daisuke has to deal with Mio Hio, a crazy new student in his class who has decided that Daisuke will be hers...whether he likes it or not. And if that wasn't enough, Daisuke finally gets a day off and somehow the Harada sisters and Mio end up at his house! So much for relaxation...

The Review!
Moving into the second half of the series, the stories continue to stand alone but the threads that bind them all are becoming stronger.

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 gives us two new characters, Mio and Towa, and they both show off their assets nicely here with big outgoing smiles and plenty of skin. 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 replicates the front cover artwork 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 a nicely detailed image of Dark with his wings out behind him as he's got something of an introspective look on his face. The back cover is the same as the regular back cover.

Using the image from the cover but adding 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 the actresses for the two new characters with Monical Rial and Jessica Boone. For Japanese voice actor fans, there's a segment called "DNAngel Talk 2" with Miyu Irino and Shunichi Miyamoto. They continue what they started in the first talk and go over their experiences that help them in their acting and discussing the show. Rounding out the extras, we get a lengthy section of DNAngel music videos which are great little atmospheric pieces..

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As DNAngel moves into the second half of the series, the stories continue much as they are but the meanings are starting to get a bit deeper. It also provides a significant change in how things are going to be going forward as two new characters are introduced and you can sense that there is some actual movement with the larger plot. DNAngel hasn't seemed to be a show that has a really big storyline, but it has a couple of things that it wants to cover, such as the relationship between the characters and the entire Krad and Dark rivalry.

The opening story is one that provides a small glimpse but it's a rather neat one. Dark and Krad end up meeting up at one of the places that Dark targets but events go so that nobody else is there, though Risa and Saehara show up there as each wants their own time with Dark for different reasons. What they didn't expect was that Hiwatari was going to be there and that Krad would knock them out for the duration. The artifact that Dark is after ends up being affected by both of them using their powers and to Hiwatari's surprise, it puts the future of the Risa and Saehara at risk because they won't wake up unless a particular stone is broken. Even Dark has been affected by this so it's down to just Daisuke to handle it.

Using the artifact, it ends up transforming into an attractive young woman named Towa who is apparently a princess of some sort but that's a detail that comes later when Dark tries to seduce her somewhat. In the meantime, she works with Daisuke to help save his friends as they search in a strange but familiar town for the stone. As it turns out, they're actually twenty years in the future and Daisuke comes across his own future son who has swiped the stone from him. The scene when he arrives at his house is confusing at first, because the woman who comes outside you would initially think of being his future wife and she looks very much like a character that arrives later in this volume. But it's actually his mother as there's a quick reference to "Grandma" before you see anyone. It's so quick that it's easy to miss and at first I thought it was a glimpse at who won his heart in the end.

The amusing change to the series with this volume is the arrival of a new character from the US named Mio Hio, a spunky and highly outgoing young woman who sets her sights on Daisuke the minute she sees him and essentially treats him as a husband to be by fawning over him and doing whatever she can. She's funny right from the start with her slightly broken Japanese from spending time in the states and introduces herself by asking everyone to keep an open mind about her and closes it by calling them all punks. Even better, she calls out Daisuke on his attraction to Risa fairly early but she goes even further when Riku starts getting aggravated about her being all over Daisuke and calls her on her attraction, though she denies it pretty well. Mio is a tempest in a teacup and she brings a whirlwind of changes to the group dynamic.

She's got an agenda though and we see it in a couple of scenes, such as one where she tries to place a necklace around him in order to capture him to her whims and she has some mysterious chats on her phone with people who seem to be giving her orders. But even without that, she's such a change from the rest of the characters that you can't help but smile at her. There's a part of an episode where all three girls end up at Daisuke's house while it's just the men about and it's priceless when you have all three men lined up and see how similar they all are and the grief they give Daisuke asking which one of the girls he really wants.

Daisuke does get to be the wishy washy guy here but he's not always that way. Dark's been better able to take over and maintain control of the body and he does just that at one point here and ends up taking Risa out on a date. This completely destroys Daisuke from the inside and causes him to start thinking about giving up on her, but it's a great bit of time for Dark to have him out and about on the town but also that he ends up treating her like any casual date of his that isn't intended to actually go anywhere. This sends confusion into the ranks which is already heightened due to Mio and it all sort of starts bubbling up even more from there.

In Summary:
This set of episodes has a lot of great little nuggets of advancement in terms of the relationships which is one of the biggest parts of this series, though they're somewhat coy about it at times. The dynamic changes considerably for a number of characters so it's not just another one-sided change that nobody notices. Mio has quickly become a favorite character but these episodes also did a great job of actually making me like Riku even more than I did before. Bringing in Towa seems a bit excessive but the growth of the characters and the way it's all working out continues to be interesting and it's mixed with a number of good action missions for Dark that help balance out the show just right. This continues to be a very engaging and fun show.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Commentary with Monica Rial and Jessica Boone,Behind the Anime segment with Miyo Irino and Shunichi Miyamoto,DNAngel Music Video Collection,Clean opening animation,Clean closing animation

Review Equipment
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.


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