Series that promise to be better in their second half are always tricky. You never know whether they can actually live up to their claims or not; it went well for series as El Cazador, Chevalier, NHK ni Youkoso and Full Moon wo Sagashite, but on the other hand, things went disastrously wrong for series as Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, Utawarerumono, Mai Otome and Romeo x Juliet. Thankfully, D.N.Angel lies on the good side of this spectrum.
It starts out as a very strange series: a boy with a very bad haircut suddenly finds out that on his 14th birthday that he can change into a winged phantom-thief bishie called “Dark”. Not that promising, though thankfully this series turned out to have a similar story flow as El Cazador and Suteki Tantei Labyrinth: entertain your viewers with random cases (in this case random artworks that have to be stolen, or background on various main- and side-characters), and abandon these cases as soon as the second half hits, so that the characters can develop themselves.
Such a formula works surprisingly well, and indeed: once this series passes its halfway-mark the characters really start shining. Especially the teenagers turn into well-rounded characters that will make the journey through the first 13 episodes a rewarding one. Unfortunately, the other characters do feel a bit incomplete. Especially the major bad guys could have gotten more attention, there’s one particular side-character who feels out of place and doesn’t seem to serve any purpose whatsoever and Dark himself too feels like he could have been more if given more screen-time.
While I can’t say that D.N.Angel is a must-watch, I am at least glad that it managed to make use of its potential, and didn’t get itself caught in endless fillers. Even the random cases serve to flesh out and provide background for the different characters. If I recall correctly, then the creators completely rewrote the original manga for this anime, and I must say that they did a pretty decent job on it. Do note that the graphics can be a bit of a turn-off. Don’t get me wrong, they look great at times, but there are also quite a few lower-quality shots and the characters do take a bit of getting used to if you’re not a fan of bishies.