Top to bottom, right to left: Satoshi, Daisuke, Dark, Risa and Riku.
"You've heard the stories of the legendary phantom thief Dark... whose real identity is unknown. Well, now it's your turn to inherit that identity, Daisuke... I mean, Dark." —Emiko Niwa
Daisuke Niwa was just your average middle schooler pining away after his unrequited love. Well, average except for the odd training his mother put him through, planting traps for him when he returned from school to test his agility and problem solving. But that all changed on his 14th birthday, when, after being rejected by his crush Risa, he suddenly transformed — appearing much older, and his hair color changing to purple. His mother happily informs him that this is normal — for hundreds of years, every generation of males in his family undergoes a transformation into the "legendary phantom thief, Dark" when they experience the feeling of love, thanks to a unique "genetic condition". Until the girl he loves returns his feelings wholeheartedly, Daisuke must transform into Dark and steal cursed pieces of art to cleanse them.To Daisuke, it seems like the end of the world—he has to avoid getting overly excited when he sees his crush so he won't turn into Dark, and Dark himself just happens to have a Handsome Lech personality and happily hits on ANY female that crosses his path. Then Risa Harada, his crush, announces that her ideal man is just like Dark—which means he has to compete with himself for her affection! To complicate matters even more, Daisuke's mysterious classmate Satoshi Hiwatari starts to suspect Daisuke's secret identity—and just happens to be the commander of the police working on the Dark case.An anime and manga series that seems determined to prove to you that your own teenage years weren't nearly as bad, D.N.Angel would probably never be called a masterpiece of its mediums, but it's still an entertaining romp through shojo tropes. Sometimes called a "magical boy" series, it generally has a lighthearted, romantic comedy/fantasy feel, although occasionally there's hints of darker mysteries and backstories lurking in the shadows.The manga was started late in 1997 by Yukiru Sugisaki, and went on for 11 volumes before being put on a two-year long hiatus. Sugisaki wrote new chapters for the series again in 2008 to the delight of fans, particularly since the stopping point was a cliffhanger. Then, after a one year hiatus, Sugisaki picked up the series again for the January 2010 issue of Asuka. As of Stage 4 Volume 14, Part 1 of the manga has ended and it appears that Sugisaki is once again going on hiatus to do a 6 month serialization of a new series titled "School Girls Pin-Up". Hopes are that it will once again resume after these 6 months, as the ending to Part 1 was quite the cliffhanger. Most of the manga has been brought over by Tokyopop, though nothing yet has been announced about bringing over the already released Volume 14 and the recently announced Volume 15. The anime aired in Japan in 2003, and was released in the US by ADV Films. The anime and manga differ on some details, particularly which Harada twin Dark happens to have a thing for in the beginning. The anime also ended with a Gecko Ending (although with the way Sugisaki has been going on and off hiatus with the series for a while now, it seems like the anime ending might be the only resolution available).If you're a fan of fantasy shojo (or bishounen!), both are worth a look—if only to spot the many tropes the series makes use of.
D.N.Angel provides examples of:
Action-Hogging Opening: The opening shows far more action than most episodes, due to the romantic nature of the show rather than its focus on action all the time.
Action Prologue: The first episode of the anime opens on a fight between Krad and Dark, that is actually the final climactic action sequence of the last episode.
Allergic to Love: All right, so Daisuke doesn't get ill, per se, but he certainly has a genetic condition that makes loving someone a pain in the neck.
All Up To You: One plot involves Daisuke having to save Dark after Satoshi traps him inside of a dream world.
Flipped with Dark having to save Daisuke in the Ice and Snow arc.
Anime Theme Song: Written for the show and sung by a teenage boy (probably in reference to Daisuke). Vic Mignogna has also recorded a version in English (although he did it independently and it wasn't included in the official DVDs).
Art Evolution: The series has been drawn off and on since the 90s, and the change in the artist's style is pretty obvious if you compare an earlier volume with one of the most recent ones.
Art Initiates Life: The cursed artwork that Dark steals was given life by their creator's emotions.
Better Than It Sounds Anime: Let's be blunt, the show's premise — particularly the "genetic" condition — is pretty hard to believe at times. That being said, it manages to pull you in nonetheless, particularly the unraveling mysteries about Dark and Satoshi's pasts.
Breaking the Fourth Wall: In a jibe at the series' own eyecatch, one episode uses the feather and logo eyecatch not only before and after commercials but also between every major scene change. This results in at least half a dozen appearances of the eyecatch in one episode alone, prompting Risa and Riku to yell, "Enough already!" this occurs in episode five.
Cannot Spit It Out: Daisuke can't seem to tell Riku that he turns into Dark — but unless she knows and loves every part of him, he'll continue to transform into Dark.
At first, Riku is unable to tell Daisuke that she's starting to suspect that Daisuke and Dark might be the same person. When she finally confronts him about it, he convinces her that he's not Dark.
Dark can't admit his growing feelings for Risa, knowing full well that he'll someday disappear and can't be with her.
Class Trip: There's a major arc that takes place during a class trip, where Daisuke tries to steal a piece of art on a lighthouse while there. Things don't go as planned since Satoshi has attended the class trip as well. In the manga, this is also when Krad makes his first appearance.
Cliff Hanger: The two big breaks—the one after Volume 11 and this most recent one (which will probably be the end of Volume 15)—come to mind.
Dark Is Not Evil: Literally. It's the angelic-looking one you have to watch out for.
Disappeared Dad: Subverted: Kosuke, Daisuke's father, is rarely mentioned in the beginning of the series, to the point where it seems he must be either dead or deadbeat. He isn't—he was just off on a trip related to the Niwa's "family curse", and happens to be a very devoted and loving father and husband.
Also, Kei Hiwatari is Satoshi's adopted father. There has been no word on his real father.
Disguised in Drag: Satoshi crossdresses to distract Dark during a heist. He's very convincing, and Dark nearly kisses him before he realizes who he's talking to. (Ho Yay / Foe Yay?)
Disturbed Doves: Occurs when The Second Hand of Time/Freedert tells Daisuke that his paintings might have the ability to prolong their life.
Does This Remind You of Anything?: The "pendants of eternal friendship" that Mio gave Riku to use with Daisuke. Especially with such lines as "This is the first time I've done this..." when putting them together
Dragged into Drag: Daisuke arrived to school late because he had a cold, and learned that he was voted to play the female lead in the school play. Not only that, but Satoshi plays his love interest, also leading to much Ho Yay. And it didn't help that even his own girlfriend thought that he was cuter than her.
Dramatic Irony - This is responsible for an enormous chunk of the suspense in the story, as the two-person love triangle causes a great deal of problems for Daisuke.
Dojikko: Daisuke is the rare male example. Especially odd, seeing as he's had his reflexes conditioned since birth to be a successful thief. The end result is that he often trips, immediately performs an complex, acrobatic save...and then flubs the landing.
Subverted in that this is deliberate. Daisuke has to at least pretend to be clumsy in order to avoid giving away the fact that he is training to be a thief.
Doting Parent: Daisuke's mother, Emiko. For some definitions of Doting.
Early-Bird Cameo: In the anime, Krad fights Dark in the opening scene, but isn't properly introduced until several episodes later.
False Start: Daisuke tries to tell Risa his feelings in the first episode of the anime, but loses his nerve at the last minute. (The manga version has him successfully give her a love letter, but she rejects him because he's not her type.)
Forceful Kiss: Dark kisses Riku to stop her from screaming when he accidentally makes a pit stop in her room. Of course, this makes Riku think of Dark as a pervert (and, to be fair, she's not exactly wrong).
Gentleman Thief: This is Dark to the very core, if you look at it. He only goes after the hardest to get targets, which are very rare themselves, AND he alerts the police. All core elements of the trope.
The Glasses Gotta Go: Risa isn't attracted to Satoshi at all, even though the other girls all adore him. That is, until she realizes that he's cute without his glasses.
Hereditary Curse: The Niwa and Hikari families each have a hereditary curse created by what essentially amounts to an magical accident. The Hikari seems to have gotten the worst of it, as their curse creates a Superpowered Evil Side who tends to act without much regard to his "host", causing members of the Hikari family to all die young.
Hooked Up Afterwards : Heavily hinted at in the anime. In the climax, Daisuke tells Satoshi he can't kill himself to destroy Krad because he still has to find the person he'll fall in love with. At the end, Satoshi and the losing Harada sister then exchange glances and quiet smiles with each other.
Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Early chapters in the manga have titles that start with "A Warning of _____", referencing Dark's warning letters. (This practice was dropped later in the series.)
Inner Monologue: Daisuke and Dark sometimes take advantage of their shared body and use this to communicate to each other.
Inspector Javert: Inspector Saehara. Although Dark IS a thief, he just has a good reason to steal.
Kiss of Life: Daisuke (or, if you're reading the manga, Wiz/With disguised as Daisuke) nearly drowns in the school pool...which means Satoshi has to step up to the plate and give Daisuke mouth-to-mouth. The yaoi fangirls were pleased.
Living Crashpad: Daisuke turns into one for Riku when they both fall off a cliff during a school trip.
Locked in a Freezer: At one point in the anime, Daisuke and Satoshi get trapped in the school's freezer when Satoshi deliberately sabotages it, in an attempt to force Daisuke to reveal himself as Dark. He does, but this also sets off Satoshi's transformation into his alter-ego, Krad.
This also provides an excuse to have Daisuke and Satoshi huddling together for warmth to up the Ho Yay quotient even more.
Love Letter: In the very first chapter, Daisuke gives Risa a love letter, but she turns him down.
Loves My Alter Ego: Risa, who rejects Daisuke when he tells her his feelings because she wants someone mature and cool—which fits Dark perfectly in her eyes. Later inverted when Riku begins to date Daisuke, but can't stand Dark.
Love You and Everybody: Daisuke's familiar, With, can transform into his doppleganger...but often only manages to be able to say "daisuki" (Japanese for "I really like you") in an attempt to say "Daisuke." This causes a rather embarrassing situation for Daisuke and one of his love interests.
Mukokuseki: There's quite a few strange hair colors on display, which combines with the setting to be downright surreal—all of the characters have Japanese names but the town looks European, in fact looking at this article (town no. 5), the town is based on the Italian town of Manarola.
Orphaned Series: The manga has been put on hiatus, then picked back up, then put on hiatus AGAIN....
Painful Transformation: Satoshi's, partially because he tries to fight it, and (in the manga) partially because he uses "the wrong emotion". Daisuke has a few times when it's painful for him as well, in the manga because of the aforementioned "wrong emotion" and in the anime when he grows wings himself.
Red Eyes, Take Warning: Argentine. His eyes also lack depth/highlights most of the time, making him even creepier. Subverted slightly, in the fact that he never meant to harm Risa, he just wanted to get a heart so he could 'fix' Quolia. D'awww.
Red-Headed Hero: Daisuke, although he doesn't fit most of the stereotypes of redheads.
Red Oni, Blue Oni: Daisuke, has red hair and eyes and is energetic and friendly. Satoshi has blue hair and eyes and is calm, intelligent, and mature to the point that it's a little creepy for his age.
Remember the New Guy: In the most recent manga chapter, some guy pops up out of nowhere in the classroom and acts as if he and Daisuke know each other pretty well, on a suffix-less first-name basis even. Daisuke doesn't know who the hell he is either, until... suddenly he does. Eeriness ensues.
In Volume 3 of the manga, Satoshi finds Daisuke's white ribbon (that he meant to give to Risa), but assumes that the owner of the ribbon is Risa because she just walked past him when he found it. He spends two chapters looking for her, and when he does find her, she's crying to Dark after getting upset over seeing Daisuke (and Riku together). Satoshi ends up standing by a wall nearby them, staring at the ribbon. Aww.
School Newspaper News Hound: Daisuke's best friend, Saehara. He often looks for scoops on Dark, which just makes Daisuke's life even more complicated.
School Play: Daisuke's class puts on a play of a fairytale unique to the series' world (which just happens to be integral to a story arc). The class decides to put on an all-male version of the story...and just happens to cast Satoshi and Daisuke as the romantic leads. Did we mention this series has a lot of Ho Yay?
Second Love: Daisuke's first love was Risa, but he ends up with his second love Riku.
In the manga, Dark's first love is Riku, but recent manga chapters have him beginning to reciprocate Risa's feelings.
Secret Identity Identity: An interesting case with Dark and Daisuke—one is the secret identity of the other, but they're also independent of each other. Seems to be invoked with Dark constantly telling Daisuke "I am you," along with Daisuke wondering constantly if that's really the case and whether "coexistence" is possible. Gets complicated in the last few chapters of Stage 4, where Daisuke can't tell who's feeling what for Risa, and he learns that, should he accept to become one with Dark, he may be the one to disappear—leaving the "mask" in control.
Ship Tease: Everyone tends to get their share of it. Daisuke/Risa, Daisuke/Riku, Daisuke/Satoshi, Dark/Risa, Dark/Riku, Satoshi/Risa, etc etc.
Shonen Hair: Nearly all of the male cast. In fact, it'd be easier to list who doesn't fall under this trope.
Shy Blue-Haired Girl: Satoshi is a male example, although he's not so much "shy" as he is "emotionally distant".
Sibling Yin-Yang: Risa and Riku Harada. One is feminine and obsessed with her image, thinking that Dark is the perfect match for her because of how cool and handsome he is. The other is a tomboy who (outwardly) couldn't care less about fitting in, and thinks Dark is nothing more than a pervert.
Slipped the Ropes: Dark and Riku have been captured and handcuffed because Dark surrendered the moment they were confronted. Riku is furious and begins yelling at Dark, at which point he reveals he has easily escaped.
Teen Genius: Satoshi finished college by the time he was thirteen. The reason he returned to middle school was so he could "get closer to [Daisuke]." Hey, we told you there was a lot of Ho Yay in this show.
At one point in the manga, Daisuke has a date with one of the Harada twins, while Dark has a date with the other... at the same time. The interesting part is that Riku, the Harada twin meeting up with Daisuke, deliberately set it up this way to see if he was connected to Dark in any way.
Purposely done in a recent chapter between Daisuke with Riku and Risa. Riku purposely rejects Daisuke to a school masked ball because she knows Risa will be alone at the dance as she cannot ask Dark to go, so Risa solves it by both of them being Daisuke's dates (while switching as each other).
Valley Girl: Mio Hio in the English dub. This is, of course, most likely to accentuate the "American-ness" of the character, as the original dub did this by having her sprinkle her speech with English.
Wham Episode: Stage 4 Volume 14 could probably count as one, seeing as the thing Daisuke's been trying to avoid—Riku finding out about him and Dark—has just come to a head with Riku seeing both him and Satoshi transform right in front of her. This Wham Episode also happens to be the end of Part 1, and a Cliff Hanger to boot.
Where The Hell Is Springfield??: The setting appears European, but the characters have Japanese names. One of the audio commentaries on the English DVDs has Vic Mignogna and Kevin Corn expressing confusion on where the series is actually set.
Fortunately, the name of the town itself is "Azumano," which can literally translate to "Eastern Japan(ese)." It's probably in a generic location in Eastern Japan, then (for example, Azumano #2 Junior High = Eastern Japanese #2 Junior High).
Your Days Are Numbered: In a later chapter of the manga, Satoshi confided in Daisuke that the Hikaris rarely live very long, thanks to their family curse. His mother died very young — and he tells Daisuke that he believes his own death is fast approaching, as well.