Upon the release of Ranma 1/2 on Bluray, Mike takes a stroll through the world of Rumiko Takahashi.
Reviewby Allen Divers, Feb 21st 2003
DVD 1: Metamorphosis
The future of the world is in danger as overpopulation has become a serious crime. Adding to the problem is the legacy of the Mega Playboy, a man, who a hundred years earlier fathered one hundred children. Those descendants also followed their father's path, simply adding to the overpopulation problem. To save the future, DNA Operator Karin Aoi is sent back to the past to inject the boy who would become the Mega Playboy. There's only one small problem: Junta, destined to become the Mega Playboy, has a slight problem when it comes to girls. Ah, well, a working girl has to do what she can to ensure her future. Of course, now it seems that the Mega Playboy has appeared after all, and it's up to Karin to stop him… while she's not falling in love with him!
From the creator of Video Girl Ai comes DNA², at first glance, a standard romantic comedy with a slightly sci-fi related setting. Featuring many of the typical elements of an anime romantic comedy, DNA² proves to be a light-hearted romp with a healthy mix of comedy to keep things fresh. While definitely not covering any new ground, the series has many elements that are sure to please its audience.
DNA² Metamorphosis, featuring the first three episodes of the TV series, contains all the standard extras for a release from CPM's U.S. Manga line. Art & Sketch galleries and a set of previews fit the bill of standard features, while a small "What is DNA?" presentation and a Mega-Playboy quiz go that extra mile for viewer's attention. CPM also includes a set of DVD-ROM features accessible via a computer with a DVD drive. These include another art and sketch gallery as well as scripts and cast and production crew credits.
Masakazu Katsura, the man behind Video Girl Ai, is also the creator of DNA². His familiar designs fill DNA² with a set of characters reminiscent of his earlier work. The release of DNA² comes under a lot of scrutiny thanks to a rumor of the original master tapes being destroyed in a fire. Many openly speculated that any DVD release would be poor due to no masters being available. Luckily, the rumor turned out to be just that, and the transfer to DVD is quite good. The only real problem with the transfer lies with the fact that DNA² is vintage 1994. The animation and artwork seem a bit dull when compared to many newer series that use newer technology to create a brighter tone. Even beyond its time, the animation is top-notch: very smooth and consistent. While tame when compared to newer series, there is a hint of fan service for the guys, as many of the female characters tease Junta.
The DVD features both the original Japanese soundtrack as well as the English dub created by CPM. For the most part, much of the English dub follows well with the original script, making allowances for lip flaps. Both soundtracks share music and sound effects, giving a nice consistency between them. The original Japanese cast feels well suited for the roles, allowing for the dramatic moments needed to give this romantic comedy its credibility. The cast for the English dub is another story, as a few of the voices come across as awkward, while others seem a bit repetitive. Many of the secondary female characters sound like the same voice actress, while one of the leads conveys too much of a fake voice. The one real jewel in the English cast is Jessica Calvello as Karin. A very manic-type character, Jessica works well, as the character of Karin bounces all over the emotional chart.
While the plotline for DNA² is the standard cliché romantic comedy of one guy surrounding by a bunch of beautiful girls, the script and setting help this series create its own identity. Starting from the ironic twist that drives the plot to the moral of being true to oneself, the story moves forward at a steady comic pace, simply entertaining the audience. Junta, the hapless hero, simply can't hold in his lunch when he's around beautiful girls. The only exception is his childhood friend, Ami, who lives next door. Due to a strange mix of events, Junta starts becoming the Mega Playboy, a super cool guy who knows exactly what to say to win the heart of any woman. Of course, just as Junta is about to score, he reverts back to his old self. Conflict arises as Karin must find a way to stop the Mega Playboy. Her plan is simple: get Junta and Ami together. Karin figures if Junta can find love with one woman, his Mega Playboy days are over. While the plot remains rather simple, the comedy covers a spectrum of pratfalls, ironic twists and bits of sexual tension and panty shots. The motivations of each of the major characters are laid open to the audience right from the start, so the real payoff for this series is whether or not Karin succeeds and if viewers find out who Junta ends up with in the end.
DNA² is a romantic comedy that, despite feeling derivative, does a good job of creating its own charm. With solid artwork and animation, familiar character designs, and some solid performances, DNA² won't have any problems finding an audience to entertain. DNA² Metamorphosis, with the first three episodes, establishes a solid setting for the story to flourish in. For viewers who enjoy a good romantic comedy romp, DNA² is a perfect choice.
Overall (dub) : C
Overall (sub) : B
Story : B
Animation : B
Art : C
Music : B
+ Quirky romantic comedy for those looking for fun
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