DNAngel (2003) Review

Synopsis

Daisuke Niwa was born into a family of thieves. For several generations now the men of the Niwa family have shared their bodies with a phantom thief named Dark. Now, Daisuke has inherited that responsibility and must steal magical works of art in order to protect the city from their power.

Having someone else inhabit his body is not his only problem, however, Daisuke is infatuated with Risa, a friend from school who knows nothing about his double life.

Review

Initially, I was a bit underwhelmed by this series. The pacing was somewhat slow and action was lacking. The first several episodes served to introduce the characters and establish a routine that would be followed in many later episodes, but they mostly consisted of Daisuke going to school, being embarrassed, and rushing off to steal something. This predictability no doubt caused the show to seem monotonous and slow.

Fortunately, the show’s pace quickened in the last half as relationships began to form and evolve and the plot started to advance more noticeably. The primary point of interest is the dynamic between Daisuke and Risa and Riku, twin sisters from school. He feels strongly about both of them and struggles to discern his own emotions as well as to keep Dark from emerging at inconvenient moments, as he often likes to do. The relationship between Daisuke and Satoshi, whose destiny is to be Daisuke and Dark’s nemesis, is also interesting but is not investigated in great depth.

Of course, to add to this turmoil is the fact that he must steal various artworks in order for his family to seal them. This whole notion felt a bit contrived to me, and perhaps this is why I had a difficult time engaging the premise of the series. More about the history of the Niwa family and the family that creates the magical artwork is revealed near the conclusion, which helps to flesh out the story a bit more.

The characters of D.N.Angel are much more entertaining than the storyline, in my mind, and help to at least balance some of the shortcomings of the series. Daisuke is a rather redundant character, the self-doubting adolescent boy who is terrified of confrontation. On top of that, he is oblivious (or innocent as they call it). Everything from his voice to his simpering attitude and clumsiness serves to frustrate the viewer, but by the end of the series, I was a bit more sympathetic towards him. The other characters, especially Riku (I love her voiceover) and Risa, are all at least mildly enjoyable, however.

Artistically, the show is well done. The character designs are all cute in their own way, some sickeningly so, and the backgrounds are probably the best I’ve seen in any series, blending CG with standard animation seamlessly.

The musical score is definitely one of the highlights of the show. It features some brilliant piano melodies that are elegant and subtle and lend a great deal of emotional impact. One of the better soundtracks I’ve heard recently.

Conclusion

This series was not exactly what I was expecting. Much more of a drama than an adventure anime, it should appeal to those who enjoy titles that focus on the development of relationships between characters. There is some humor and some magical elements, but it relies mostly on personalities and emotion to tell the story. The story itself is not all that significant, but it holds its own fairly well. If you have the patience to get past the first few episodes, the end is rather satisfying.

  • Audio: Very melodic soundtrack.
  • Video: Consistently good. Very well done CG backdrops
  • Plot: Somewhat ludicrous, but good character interaction
  • Style: Cute character designs. Not overly original.
  • Characters: Good interaction. Sometimes frustratingly immature
  • Violence: Mild
  • Language: Mild
  • Nudity: None
  • Genre: Drama
  • Episodes: 26
  • Rating: 3.0 of 5

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