The summer school trip is here, and for Daisuke and his friends, that means they get to spend a pleasant few days on a tropical island. Whilst there, Daisuke comes to realise that Risa is no longer the one who activates the “love DNA’ that turns him into Dark- could it be that his true feelings lie elsewhere? But even with his romantic complications apparently solved, a new threat lurks in the background in the form of the unpredictable Mio Hio; her plans seem to revolve around giving Daisuke a magical pendant, but the consequences of accepting it could be life-threatening for our hero.
In keeping with the tone set by the last volume of DNAngel, this fifth instalment in the series puts aside the adventures of the Phantom Thief (in fact, Dark barely appears here) to focus on the not insignificant romantic elements of the series. Over the course of the series, we’ve seen Daisuke’s enthusiasm for Risa slowly cool off as he strikes up a friendship for her sister Riku, and it is in this volume that events finally reach a natural and rather satisfying conclusion.
That’s not say the romantic angst is over, though; far from it, in fact. As we rather arbitrarily learned in volume four, the true love of Dark’s life was Risa and Riku’s grandmother, a point which is explored further here. For Risa, this means dealing with the fact that her feelings for Dark may well remain unrequited, and given recent developments, she cannot even count on Daisuke as her “back up’ man. It is unclear whether this particular storyline is supposed to have reached a resolution or if there’s more to come; like many other aspects of the series, it feels unnecessarily dragged out, with no clear goal in mind.
Another major focus of this volume is the ever irritating character of Mio Hio, as we finally gain some conclusive insights into her true nature and purpose. Predictably enough, Mio finds her feelings for Daisuke at odds with her mission, but given that she is a rather dislikeable character, it is hard to feel any sympathy with her situation.
The comedic side of the series is still very much present here, although as always it remains too simplistic to be truly amusing. Admittedly this time around the humour is a little more subdued than previous volumes, but overall the mood remains reasonably light, and it remains to be seen whether the final six episodes will continue in this manner, or attempt to address the darker elements that we’ve seen hints of here and there. Given that this volume sees one of our villains in the clichéd position of sitting in his office holding audiences with underlings, it may be wise not to expect anything too spectacular at this point.
There are a couple of weak points in the visual department this time around- apart from the usual complaints about the simplistic CG effects, episode twenty suffers from a slight but noticeable drop in quality with regards to character designs. These flaws aside, however, the presentation is solid and on a par with previous episodes.
Romance is the watchword in this latest instalment of DNAngel, but whilst it is nice to see Daisuke finally realise where his feelings lie, even this resolution cannot save the volume from mediocrity. We’ve seen some interesting story threads introduced in earlier episodes, but if the slow and predictable pacing of this volume is anything to go by, it is doubtful that the series will offer a decent resolution in the last six episodes.