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DNAngel: Complete Collection

ADV Films // Unrated // August 12, 2008
List Price: $89.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Todd Douglass Jr. | posted September 19, 2008 | E-mail the Author
The Show:

With the restructuring of the American anime industry, the future remains relatively uncertain for some of its publishers. Companies like ADV have consolidated some of their titles and have passed off some licenses to FUNimation. Whether this is a good thing or not remains to be seen, but in the meantime you can bet the farm that ADV is going to continue its barrage of re-releases in the form of thinpak boxed sets. It's something that the company has been doing for years and it's a trend that shows no sign of slowing down. After all, who doesn't like getting a whole collection of anime for a lower price?

One of the latest such endeavors is for the series D.N.Angel, which originally aired on TV in Japan during 2003 and landed on DVD here in the States in 2005. The show met a modicum of popularity and critical praise, but for the most part it never quite became a resounding success. After the individual DVD releases in 2005, a complete collection came out in 2007, and here we are again, just a year later looking at virtually the same compilation of the 26 episode series. In case you missed it the first or second time around, this third opportunity offers yet another chance. Ironically, even though this is another repackage of the same series that has been in circulation for five years, the MSRP is still the same as the edition from last year.

D.N.Angel is a romance series with fantasy elements and a little bit of action peppered throughout it. The show follows the life of a 14-year old named Daisuke Niwa who is your typical school boy who is discovering his emotions and life. Daisuke wants to do little more than create art, but being a Niwa, he has learned the trade of thievery. Unfortunately for Daisuke that isn't the only skeleton in his closet.

Daisuke's family bears an interesting curse that afflicts only the male members. An entity known as Dark resides within then and surfaces whenever they think about the object of their affection. In the case of Daisuke this turns out to be his classmate Risa, and let's just say that for this kid puberty is a real bitch. Dark and Daisuke share the same body but exist in a strange dual existence. Only one can exist at any given moment though the other is almost always aware of what the other is doing. It gives split personality a whole new meaning and the only way for poor Daisuke to resolve his situation is to have Risa fall in love with him. Unfortunately this show isn't about to make that easy.

During the course of the program, Risa tends to fall for Dark instead, which leaves the dueling personalities stuck with each other. Complicating matters is Risa's older twin sister Riku. Before long D.N.Angel becomes a complex mess of he loves her, she loves him, and they love each other. Some of the material gets lost in translation and it is definitely not a plotline that can sustain a whole 26 episode series without becoming droll part of the way. A fifth wheel is introduced during the course of the show as well, and while it shakes up the romantic diversions, it doesn't necessarily help the plotline feel any fresher.

While the romance angle is definitely overplayed in D.N.Angel, there are other elements that help flesh out the story. The idea that Daisuke and the Niwa family are a bunch of thieves working with Dark to seal away dangerous art is an interesting premise. It adds a layer of the depth to Daisuke and Dark, and allows for an extensive amount of background in the show to be brought into play.

During the course of the show, another character with a dual personality is introduced and he actually has a lot more to do with Dark and the Niwa family than you'd first think. Daisuke's fellow classmate Satoshi Hiwarata is quiet mostly and keeps himself distant from everyone around him. As it turns out, Satoshi's "other" self is a being known as Krad (get it? It's Dark spelled backwards) who is Dark's polar opposite and mortal enemy. This particular storyline helped break up the tiresome romantic jargon and gave the protagonist a nice villain to overcome.

At the end of the day D.N.Angel isn't a bad series; it's just not a particularly impressive one. The series has an interesting concept, but it never really capitalizes on it until it gears up for its finale. The characters are rather bland and they aren't developed as well as they could have been and some episodic "thief of the week" storylines hurt the pacing and progression. All in all you could do far worse than with this anime, but you could do better as well. Consider it a rental if you're tapped out on current shows and are looking for something you may have missed.

The DVD:


D.N.Angel is presented on DVD with its original 1.33:1 full frame aspect ratio as it was produced with about five years ago. The show looks good for its age, but it doesn't quite hold a candle to more recently produced anime and the transfer here contains some flaws. A slight amount of grain appears here and there, compression artifacts can be spotted from time to time, and aliasing is present in some of the earlier installments. Otherwise the picture is solid with vibrant colors, nice animation, and an all around sharp presentation. It's a good, if not dated, looking show.


Like other ADV efforts, D.N.Angel comes with 2.0 Japanese and 5.1 English selections. As far as the dubbing quality is concerned both handle the material very well and nothing is lost in translation. Both casts do such a good job to the point that you're going to make your selection based on how immersive you want your experience. The 2.0 selection is perfectly fine, if not a little flat, while the English 5.1 stands out with a slightly better spread and some rear channel use now and then. It's not the greatest mix in the world, but this isn't exactly a show that calls for a booming soundtrack.


While the first boxed set didn't have any bonus features, I was hoping that the re-release would correct that mistake. Unfortunately none of the five discs here include any of the supplemental material that was packed onto the individual volumes. You get the show with this boxed set and that's all.

Final Thoughts:

D.N.Angel had a very interesting premise that drew me in early on. Unfortunately my interest wandered as the show explored other avenues and went down some tiresome paths in order to explore romantic quadrangles. There are a few moments towards the end and scattered throughout where the series really stands out, but otherwise you can expect a somewhat mundane experience. Your mileage may vary depending on your personal tastes, but D.N.Angel's wavering quality assures that it's more suited for a rental than a purchase.

Check out more of my reviews here. Head on over to my anime blog as well for random musings and reviews of anime, manga, and stuff from Japan!

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