Series Review

January 2016 Review No. 1

Well the new year has been at hand for some time! Well I had mentioned that I am starting off with a trio of anime titles that share a common theme, that being ‘Complicated Relationships’. I have talked about anime that touch upon character relationships before, but this time I am covering some titles that are a bit off the beaten path. First up is……

DNA2

1994-95 TV Series and OVA

Studios: Madhouse/Studio DEEN

Director: Junichi Sakata

Script: Tatsuhiko Urahata

DNA2_12.PNG

Junta has a rather embarrassing problem, in that he’s allergic to girls as in they make him vomit up Pepto Bismol haha which leads to some awkwardness with Tomoko a girl he fancies. However, Tomoko is going out with Ryuuji some suave guy at the school they all attend. Karin, a girl from the future, has been sent to deal with a “Mega-PlayBoy” and she tracks down Junta who is the human that becomes it. The future she hails from where genetic manipulation via the use of muta-genes are prominent but overpopulation is a problem caused by the Mega Playboy who basically made out with so many women that they gave birth to other Mega-Playboys who then proceed to cause the overpopulation. She runs into a bit of bother after she shoots Junta but screws it up big time with Junta gaining his Mega-Playboy powers anyway. With the help of Junta himself and aloof female childhood friend Ami who for some reason doesn’t trigger Junta’s condition, they seek out to prevent Junta from becoming the very thing that will ruin the future.

DNA2_01

Now the story is rather schmaltzy and quirky romantic comedy in all that means, but it has its own charm and heart to be not annoying. Masakazu Katsura, creator of this, Video Girl Ai and Iria Zeiram, is more known for his manga from ‘90s though he has more recent character designs for shows like Tiger & Bunny and Garo. I do like his work on this, as it presents a nice cast of interesting characters with some complex relationship dynamics. I wasn’t kidding when I say that if you were to develop a chart with the relationship between characters in DNA2 it would be quite interesting. It’s the driving force for the story and does that excellently with some great dialogue moments.

DNA2_03.PNG

 

Granted, it does have some issues, mainly in terms of pacing and scientific fact. Katsura seems to have a very loose grasp on science, basing it all on simple genetics and just expanding from there. Rather humorously, the story tries to pull the ‘oh love/physical attraction is all hardwired on the genes’ nonsense which only serves to have a flimsy ‘nature vs.nurture’ questioning that doesn’t really go anywhere. Pacing is alright but then veers off for the last 3 episodes into something completely different from the rest of the show, setting up something that wasn’t really earned. Also the slight harem dynamic is only held in due to misunderstanding and lack of proper communication which is a bit grating to those of us that have seen one too many rom-com anime. It also at points can’t decide if it’s a rather serious story with comical hijinks or being a romantic comedy that takes itself seriously. Though it ends on a good note, with a somewhat happy ending.

DNA2_05

DNA2 is very old school production but it has aged quite well. Katsura’s character and art design is maintained in the anime so those that like Video Girl Ai and Iria Zeiram the Animation will delight in seeing that here as well. Granted this was done before either studio (Madhouse and Studio DEEN) were known for doing anything well-known. Also this show has so many great faces animation that one could compile them in an online album I’m sure. The music is well done, but the OP is a nice rocking upbeat number “Blurry Eyes” performed by L’Arc en Ciel, the FMA ‘03 OP was another they performed.

DNA2 OP

Now the English dub, oh boy, is a rather mixed bag from 2003 brought to us by the wonderful folks at USA Manga Corps. On the one hand, Jessica Calvello and Rachael Lillis are really good and are the standouts in this dub. Liam O’Brien, though somewhat of a newbie at this point, does a decent if a tad uneven performance. On the other hand, you got hentai dub voice actresses Veronica Lake who is just terrible with some truly stilted and bad delivery and Lotus just being stilted. Dan Green….well he sure is in this. A notable extra is on Volume 4 is a short documentary on how Liam O’Brien had to coordinate his move to LA with the recording of this show and a glimpse into the behind the scenes of dub production which is neat.

Overall this show is very entertaining with some niggling problems in terms of story pacing and scientific fact backing. But what attracts me to the show is the complex and nuanced character relationships and dynamics present. The dub is a bit uneven, but worth a listen if only to see how far we have come in terms of anime dubbing. That in itself is commendable.

Next time, will here’s a hint: Crispin Freeman was involved in this little gem.

Later, dear readers.

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