Sometimes you don't know what to make of a piece of entertainment until you get through it. You go in with no preconceived notions, it changes gears a few times throughout its storytelling, and the ending might even be a bit discombobulated... That sort of thing. Well, guess what, D.N.Angel is one of those shows. It's been a week since I finished it, but I think I finally have a firm grasp of what it was trying to do. It was trying to tell a fun tale that was silly in some places, had a slight bit of drama near the end, a confusing background plot, and some muy likeable characters. And in its trying it pretty much succeeded. This is its story.
D.N.Angel is basically a kids' show. It was enjoyable to me, a somewhat adult, but it was obviously aimed at the 10-14 year old market. But, despite that it had some of the most fullfulling character development I've seen in any kind of storytelling in quite a while. Quite a while. Some of the players were a bit annoying at first, but got to be fairly likeable once you found out their story and their reasonings. But right now you just want to know about plot and shit, don't you... Fine. Be that way.
D.N.Angel is all about Niwa Daisuke, a nice, but a bit dorky, early teen whose mother has been training him all his life for one special purpose: To be a great phantom thief. Daisuke doesn't question all the booby traps and such built into his house (to keep him on his toes and his body in gymnastic condition), nor does he seem to think that his mother's ideals for him are really all that odd, but at the beginning of the story he's got something even bigger on his mind that he has to worry about: Will the girl he likes, one Harada Risa, accept his confession letter? Well, the short of it is "no", she won't at first, but that's okay for Daisuke in the long run because.... Well, I won't tell you cause that's actually one of the better parts of the show: How all the characters act and react to eachother. What I will tell you is that on Daisuke's 14th birthday he gets a special present that's been handed down to the men of his familial lineage for a looooong time: A split personality with black wings by the name of Dark Mousy (those silly Japanese and their random attempts at English) who comes to share Daisuke's body with him. See, Dark is THE ultimate phantom thief, but he's been out of business for 40 years, ever since Dai's grandpappy grew too old and had to give up the phantom thieving business himself. But Dai's mom has been planning for Dark's return ever since her dad started telling her stories about his adventures when she was a child, and... Boy, I'm getting a bit ahead of myself again.
For a while it's never said why Dark is so necessary and why he needs to steal all the shit that Dai's mom and grandpa want him to steal (and boy do they want him to steal a lot!). The whole family seems to be decently well off, and they appear to be as law abiding as the Joneses, so why the need for greed? Well, it's pretty intriguing when it's revealed. And what about Dai and Risa? That relationship is pretty interesting too. So's Dai's link to his somewhat brooding classmate, Satoshi. And his eventual connection to Risa's sister, Riku. And Dai's missing father. And Towa-chan, Dai's eventual maid. And Satoshi's father. And Krad, Dark Mousy's evil winged twin (no, it's not a Clamp show... I don't think). And that fucking hilarious "American exchange student"... I always enjoy when there's somebody in an anime who's "fluent in English". There are 5 year old retarded children from Mexico with 20Xs the English linguistic skills than any "American" character in any given Japanese show. Hee hee, I'm just thinking about how I needed subtitles more for her English than for her Japanese.
Probably the best part of this series though is how things move. The characters that you pretty much know will end up together don't wait to let their feelings be known until the last episode, as pretty much EVERY other fucking anime has done in the past. They get together at about halfway through the show, and then they help eachother out as a couple from then on. It's very gratifying that way.
Though with all the good things about D.N.Angel there was one thing that really kind of annoyed me about the show, and it's never really explained away. See, in the first episode we find out that Daisuke is really good at breaking codes, opening locks and is pretty much a super athlete all on his own. He's still a bit of a dweeb, but who isn't at that age. But as soon as Dark appears, all of Daisuke's thieving abilities seem to disappear. What were his previous 14 years worth of training all about?! After Dark becomes a part of him, Dai becomes geekier and pretty much an uncoordinated gimp. Where did that come from? It's made perfectly clear that Dai is Dai and Dark is Dark, and that neither has any real control over the other. So why did Dai lose all his machismo when Dark Mousy (snicker) popped into his life? It's never explained, and it's kind of ticked me off a bit... But honestly it is forgivable and it doesn't truly hurt the plot or any character development. So I guess I can deal with it. Whatever.
The good and simple fun things in the show definitely outweigh the questionable parts. Sure, the ending is a bit weird and mixed-up (What with all the "No! Don't do that! That's the worst thing you could possibly do!!... Uh, I meant that was the best thing you could do! It was the only way to win!.. But if that character does what he's trying to do, then all is lost! No, wait, he must succeed for that is the only possible way to stop the madness!"), but I think that the writers really had something solid in mind when it was originally conceived... I just haven't grasped it yet. Oh, and one part of the artistry of D.N.Angel really stuck out in my mind, making its world a lot more enjoyable and immersive: the 3D painted cityscapes. All of the set-up shots and some of the background paintings were done in 3D... But don't go thinking "cheezy skeezy 3D" like Initial D or Vandread, where it's all shiny and "Hey! I'm a computer graphic! Help computer" graphics. The D.N.Angel 3D shit looks like it was oil painted. If you took a still shot of any of the 3D environments you'd think that somebody handpainted the image. Very impressive, and very subtle. They never shove it in your face. Just a nice touch to make the world come alive a bit more.
The Dark CARL
What... The.... Fuck?...... This was like the gayest pile of crap EVER! No fights, no giant robots fighting and no blood or killing and fighting. That's L-A-M-E. That spells LAME. Lame lame lame lame lame lame lame!! Whoa, if you like say "lame" over and over again it begins to sound weird. Lame. Lame. Llama. Now, try saying "Garfield" over and over. That's even weirder.
Man, I went over to the Rossman's place to see if he had any cool robot death fighting shows to show me, and he sat me down and said "Dude, this D.N.Angel show might be good. I think there are fighting fallen angels in it and stuff. Heaven Vs. Hell! Hell yeah!" I was all for that, but this was all cutesy wootsie middle school crap. Yeah, that dark angel guy did steal shit from rich people all the time, but I thought that it was just stupid that his mom actually told the cops about the crimes ahead of time. Seriously, I'd fucking kill my mom if she did that to me when I was in middle school! I would tell her stuff like, "Don't wait up, mom, I'm just going over to Jimmy Jammer's place to kick his fat ass for taking that Ding-Dong from my lunch box today." And if she ever then went, "Oh, to make this more interesting I think I'll inform the police about it ahead of time. When do you think you'll reach this Jimmy's house, honey?" I'd so lay the smack down on her! Urrrrrrgh! It just pissed me off thinking about it! LAME!!! Lame lame lame lame lame lame lame!!!
The Thieving MEGAPLAYBOY
Curses! Foiled again, ya whore! Them fuck up cops busted my ass when I was all like cruisin' downtown, acting all smooth and bossa nova. I wasn't lookin' to score with any of Tammi With an "I"'s slutty fam. or nothin' for money, so I didn't get why the fuzz had to start messin' with me.
They was all in my face like "Yo, bitch, we had us some call in sayin' that some fool by your description was gonna drag race down this here stretch of good road. You know anythin' about that, dickweed?"
That's when I threw down and had to represent myself to preserve my honor and shit. I jumped out of my car and started spittin' in their faces all like, "What?!?! What, bitch!?? What the FUCK did the MegaPlayboy ever do to you, chickenshits?!?! Just back the fuck off, piggies, and let the men play their games." In retrospection, that may not have been the best way to deal with two cops who I only noticed later already had a picture of me on their dashboard. Yeah, I was gonna go draggin' later that night against Malcolm Z and his whores, but I ain't done that shit as of yet. And ooooh man, was I gonna clean the toilet bowl with that boy! Just like I did the week before, and the week before that! Heh heh, he just knew he was gonna lose that night, and I'm sure he's just proud as peaches that those baitin' cops kicked my ass and threw me in the slammer before I could meet up with him.... Waaaaaaait a minute! I know who the fuck turned the cops on my extreme ass!... I'll kill that gay robot if it's the last damn thing I do!!