As a big warning ahead of time, this will be a very, very difficult
series to assess. Though I had high hopes for DNAngel, there were so
many things about this series that tarnish it, that I can't expect
giving a high score in most categories. That being said, the story:
Niwa Daisuke is a "nice guy". You know the type: super quiet and shy, a
pushover for anything that has a vagina (especially the popular girl he
has a crush on), and in general, very... nice. He also has a strange
dysfunctional family consisting of mom and grandfather, who constantly
turn the house into a life threatening obstacle course to train him for
unknown purposes. Dad isn't around; he left when Daisuke was a baby. Things change on Daisuke’s 14th birthday, when he’s told about his family history and the heavy burden he must bear. At the age of fourteen, male children in the Niwa family inherit the power of Dark, a phantom thief who is notorious throughout history. Luckily (or unluckily) for Daisuke, that time has now arrived and he must get used to his new alter-ego taking the reins of his body once in awhile. At the same time, Daisuke can’t get enough of Risa, a twin he’s had a crush on for a long time. The only problem? She’s attracted to Dark! Looks like Daisuke has a lot of growing pains ahead of him.
DNAngel has a lot of problems, and the plot definitely is one of them. The pacing of the entire series is very reminiscent of E’s Otherwise: first four episodes are engaging, catchy, and exciting, and the remainder, with the exception of the last few, turns into 100% filler and slice of life, which ends up being a huge disappointment. The first four of DNAngel, in this case, involve Dark taking over Daisuke’s body and stealing a new artifact for unknown reasons. These artifacts are works of art that are possessed by a spirit of some sort, and in general these episodes will probably remind you of Vampire Princess Miyu TV or something related (as far as the whole "evil power gets people to do bad things, tragedy, etc). Unfortunately, after that point, the seriousness goes away, the angst-factor is turned up about 15 notches, and each episode turns more into a "who does Daisuke like? Which girl likes Daisuke?" sub-arc (though it lasts almost the entire series) that quite frankly reminded me of every other dating-sim series out there. The last few episodes come seemingly out of nowhere with a heavy plot-driven conclusion, but considering the previous twenty episodes had almost zero plot, this felt very forced and rushed, and otherwise uninspiring. I will admit that the overall "plot" at the end, and/or the somewhat interesting (but still confusing) plot twists made up slightly for the total waste of my time which was the rest of the series, but given the ratio of content to crap, they could have made the series about 6-8 episodes instead of 26 and it would have been just as good.
Really, that’s my main problem with series like this and E’s Otherwise: lack of identity. They can’t decide what kind of series they are, and not in a good way. Some series have a good mix of different genres such as comedy and drama, but with series like the above mentioned, usually one aspect of the series is so overbearing that the other aspects are barely noticed and the series in general loses its touch. In DNAngel’s case, this is easily noticed with how much the plot was overshadowed by the slice of life and dating-sim type aspects. If I start watching a series that appears to be a dark and serious thing, I don’t expect that 2/3rd of it will then present itself as Daisuke and the Olsen Twins try to figure out who has a crush on whom. If I wanted that, I’d go to the mall and watch the kiddies hit on each other. Then again, had this presented itself as slice of life/romance from the beginning, I might not have thought the difference between the first/last episodes and the rest of series was so jarring.
Overall, a story that could have been compelling, interesting, and engaging, but ended up being so poorly paced and so scattered that I left feeling very disappointed.
Easily the best part of the series, by far. If you enjoy bishounen type characters (similar to anything Clamp, including X TV), look no further. Dark is very gothic with his black tight clothing and flowing purple hair, and all of the villains are very beautiful, whether they are male or female. Unfortunately, I still felt there was something a bit weird about the designs, and I think it was the overly round alien looking eyes (even more so than normal). Also, I didn’t enjoy Daisuke’s character design at all. His hair was way too chunky and pointy (DBZ anyone?), and in general he just looked... fake. It’s hard to explain. Also, Hiwatari’s character bothered me from the beginning, but that might have been because of the seiyuu choice. He’s this completely nerdy looking kid, with bright pastel blue hair (wtf?), and on top of that, has a very famous seiyuu who sounds a lot manlier and different than his image would portray. I’m sorry; I couldn’t take him seriously with how badass he was supposed to be, versus what he looked like.
By far the best part of the animation was the depiction of Dark and Krad as the black and white angels, especially when they fought together fluidly. I also enjoyed the depictions of the artwork and in general, the backgrounds and scenery were both beautiful. There was definitely an old movie type feel to the scenes, especially when the art galleries and such were shown lit up at night by police headlights. Colors were beautiful and vibrant, and besides Hiwatari’s hair, were a good mix of dark shades.
Don’t get me wrong... at first, I was impressed by the background music. It’s orchestral and pretty, but after awhile it gets very, very, very old. There are some series that have one track that repeats itself the entire series, and it still ends up being catchy. DNAngel, for whatever reason, just isn’t one of those. The same song is played so much (through so many types of scenes) that it loses its appeal by the end. Also, I really didn’t enjoy the seiyuu, almost entirely. Daisuke’s voice was whiny and made him sound like a wuss, and in general became grating after awhile. I wanted to smack him upside the head and yell "GET A BACKBONE". Hiwatari’s seiyuu is quite well known, but really, really didn’t fit what he looked like. Risa and Riku’s actors were annoying, and Riku’s especially got on my nerves for some reason. Only Krad and Dark’s voice actors were not only not annoying, but also fitting. Actually Kosuke’s voice was well placed as well.
As I’ve made very clear, the reason you watch this isn’t for the plot, but it’s not really for the characters either (even though they are the focus of the bulk of the series). The "mid" 20 or so episodes that make up the bulk of the series are focused on one main thing: Daisuke and his relationship with the twins Risa and Riku. Risa and Riku are total opposites: Risa is extremely girly (to an annoying fault), who thinks she can get whatever she wants and whoever she wants. I might add that I hate females like this and consequently wanted to see her get slapped and thrown in a ditch somewhere for being so ridiculous. Riku is almost the complete antithesis: she’s athletic, has short "boyish" hair (instead of Risa’s flowing locks, because of course, she’s more feminine, right?), and in general doesn’t appear to care about anything except sports. Needless to say these twenty episodes focus on a love triangle of sorts that didn’t really get to me. Maybe it’s because of the characters involved that I can’t bother feeling empathy towards the "relationship", but in general I thought the love story was very uninspiring and ultimately was too blatantly exploited (in an attempt to draw your attention from the fact that the plot was ass until the last few episodes, perhaps?).
Dark and Krad end up being the mystery of the series, because we have no idea who they are or where they came from. Ultimately, at the end of the series we find out why, but the answer felt rushed and in general is a little confusing. Literally the only thing that moved me in the story was how the saga of Dark and Krad played out in the last few episodes, but that still wasn’t very much.
As far as character growth, yeah, there was some. Daisuke changed from totally whiny to still sort of whiny but less of a pushover. Riku became a little more solid. Risa became less annoying but still stayed annoying. Hiwatari and Dark were probably the most developed and I enjoyed their stories, but Hiwatari I still couldn’t take seriously because of the combination of seiyuu plus appearance. In general, I don’t know... the characters moved me very little. You know it’s a bad sign when two completely episodic characters (who show up for maybe 2-3 episodes) move you with their tale of tragedy more than the main characters.
DNAngel had great potential, and I had wanted to watch it for a very long time. The idea of the story had sounded good, the graphics looked beautiful, and in general it seemed like something I’d really enjoy. Little did I know I’d leave feeling so disappointed. The attempt to wrap up the story with a rush of plot points that were confusing didn’t help. The fact that 2/3rd of the series was filler that got repetitive and boring didn’t help. The audio didn’t help. The weak characters didn’t help. Overall, I felt like watching this, except the last few and first few episodes, was a waste of time, and that sucks. Had the pacing stayed even, the characters been less annoying and the plot stayed consistent, this would have been a great series to recommend to people. As it is now, the only people I’d recommend watch this are those who really want to see the bishounen characters, or must see anything with angels in it. Bear in mind, though, that no matter what the screenshots look like, the amount of angels and such is very minimal compared to the overall slice of life feel of the series.
i honestly have mixed feelings about this, the first 12 episodes i hated it because all the characters seemed two dimensional, i didn't see a point in watching a boy pine over a shallow girl, and a dark angel who stole art, seemed boring, but my friend implored that i watched the whole thing... but then, what's this? character and plot development? about halfway through the series, just as i was ready to stop watching, i slowly noticed changed in things and i no longer wanted to kill myself, because the anime really was grinding me with boredom until then, lol.
i really wish plot development wasn't so slow though, most anime watchers who have less tolerance than me would have quit watching by episode 5-10, which is the normal cut off zone for uninteresting anime :p but despite being bored to tears early on, i was brought to tear from emotionally driven plot around the upper teens of episodes :'3
so, i'd say this is worth watching, but start at episode 13... i'm serious... you're really curious of what you're missing?...
okay, SPOILER ALERT: kid gets rejected by girl he thinks he's in love with, his parents are mages or something, his blood has curse, edward elric's voice takes over boys body, transforms into dark angel, steal art and no one know why, boy is depressed, he whines, edward elric's voice laughs, steals more art, some other boy gets locked in a freezer with him, the anime has a yaoi tease (IMO), edward elric's voice starts hitting on the boy's crushes sister, then kisses her (i think? i forgot) boy gets made at his alter self (edward elric's voice AKA Dark Mousy, such a dumb name), etc etc, okay, ready, go, episode 13.