D.N.Angel Volume 4

It’s been a bit of a hectic ride for poor Daisuke ever since he started transforming into the Phantom Thief Dark and stealing artefacts at his mother’s insistence. Still, given enough time you can get used to anything, and by now Daisuke is pretty accepting of his bizarre new routine; although unfortunately, as this volume goes to show, that doesn’t mean it’s going to be an easy ride from hereon in.

First up, we have a straightforward theft that turns into something more difficult when a trap set by Hiwatari and Krad seals away not only Dark, but Daisuke’s friends Risa and Saehara as well. Naturally, it’s up to Daisuke to save them- with a little help from the Eternal Guide Towa, the human form of the very object he was trying to steal.

The next couple of episodes introduce a new character in the form of Mio Hio, a wild and boisterous transfer student with a fixation on Daisuke. Naturally, her unsubtle attempts to insinuate herself into Daisuke’s life only complicate the tangled emotional web that includes Daisuke, Dark, Risa and Riku, forcing all of them to start seriously considering their feelings for each other.

Following in the pattern of previous volumes, this latest instalment of DNAngel offers a mix of action, comedy and romance- and, as always, the series achieves varying degrees of success. Despite a few hints that something deeper and darker is going on behind the scenes, these episodes primarily focus more on the lighter-hearted side of things- if a main plotline is in the offing, it’s still very much on the backburner for now.

The humour deserves marks for effort, but while it would be hard not to smile once or twice at the cast’s antics, for the most part the comedy is a little too predictable to be funny, with the accompanying “cartoony’ sound effects only accentuating its simplicity. The romance is similarly mixed; Mio’s overtures towards Daisuke are irritatingly over-the-top, with Risa’s efforts to catch Dark’s attention coming across as similarly insipid. In contrast, however, the friendship and understanding that seems to be building up between Riku and Daisuke feels far more genuine, and consequently makes for better viewing.

Character-wise, this volume introduces two new faces in the form of the aforementioned Eternal Guide Towa and transfer student Mio Hio. Following her importance in the first episode on the disc, Towa quickly settles into a supporting role, and at this point it’s difficult to see her having any further importance to the plot. Mio, however, is a different story; we’ve already had a couple of unsubtle hints that there’s more to her than meets the eye, although admittedly for now she comes across as little more than an annoyingly overdramatic personality. For the rest of the cast, development is a little uneven; a look into Riku’s past in the final episode of the volume adds some depth to her character, whilst Dark’s continuing self-centred cockiness is starting to make him quite a dislikeable character.

The one place where DNAngel has always excelled is in its character designs, and this volume is no exception- Mio may be more than a touch underdressed, but for the most part the visuals remain pleasing on the eye. The one exception is the CG effects, which unfortunately tend to be on the simplistic side. The background music continues to rely on the themes established earlier in the series, providing a solid if not outstanding selection.

In Summary

As it moves into the second half of the series, DNAngel eases up on the action side of things to bring us an instalment even more geared towards comedy and romance than usual. Unfortunately, whilst these four episodes certainly prove entertaining enough, the series still lacks the polish and sophistication it needs to become truly memorable.

7 / 10