animefringe april 2003 / feature
Animefringe Coverage:
DNA^2: A Science Fiction Romance For the Ages

Nice guys always seem to have it rough in anime. Heck, they seem to have a hard time in real life, as well, but that's an issue for another time. Junta is one such fellow. While he loves women just as much as the typical heterosexual male, he has a unique allergy. Whenever he gets sexually aroused, he becomes physically ill. If he can't curb his excitement quickly enough, it usually ends up with him throwing up just as a cute girl is about to think he's an attractive guy.

Needless to say, throwing up whenever you're in the company of a lady doesn't do much to win her affection.

So, for his entire life, Junta has been stuck without feminine interaction save for what he receives from his mother and his childhood friend (who may actually have a crush on him, even if he's too dense to realize it).

That is, until Karin enters the scene. The cute but eccentric woman isn't like most of the girls Junta knows, particularly due to the fact that she's a visitor from the far future. She's traveled to the past in search of the notorious Mega Playboy, a man who impregnated over a hundred women in his lifetime. Except for the terrifying amount of childcare support that would entail, such a feat would not necessarily have been devastating on its own, but the rampant procreation didn't end there. Every male child produced from Mega Play's encounters went on to impregnate 100 women of his own, and the pattern continued for generations until the planet was dying of overpopulation.

Thanks to advancements in technology, though, the Earth's population crisis can be solved quickly and inexpensively with a single trip back to the 1990's - back before Mega Play entered the scene. That's where Karin comes in. As a DNA Operator, she has the skill and authority to seek out Mega Play and alter his sex-driven DNA. Essentially, it's Karin's job to "fix" the culprit of the population explosion. However, changing DNA is as simple as firing a re-sequencing bullet into the target, so it should be a simple job.

Following her data, Karin concludes that the shy, girl-allergic Junta is, in fact, Mega Play himself. While his seed-spreading instinct hasn't apparently surfaced yet, he is undoubtedly the man that will doom the Earth with his indiscriminate fooling around. Karin quickly approaches the boy, calmly informs him of the dire state of humanity's future, and proceeds to shoot him with her DNA altering projectile to ensure that his Mega Play inclinations are suppressed forever.

But this is a Masakazu Katsura (of Video Girl Ai and Shadow Lady fame) story, and they tend to be more complex than that. Indeed, this is the case, for when Karin returns to her time machine, she finds that she actually brought the wrong pellet with her to the past. In fact, she shot Junta with completely unknown DNA, the effects of which she can only discover by leaving her ship again and tracking down Junta once more.

What she finds ruins her plans for a raise anytime soon. As it turns out, it was her rogue DNA alteration that created the Mega Playboy aspect of Junta's personality. She soon realizes that now, instead of barfing every time he's with a woman, Junta changes into a completely different person. When dealing with ladies, he's no longer a shy, self-conscious boy, but a brave, super-attractive man that swiftly grabs the attention of every woman that can see, hear, or smell him.

Luckily, the treatment hasn't quite stabilized yet, and he only takes on the Mega Play persona when he's exceptionally excited. That means that Karin still has a chance to fix her mistake and put an end to Mega Play...before he gets started.

As is typical of Katsura's work, the character designs are simply beautiful for this series. They look almost too much like characters from Video Girl Ai, but they differ quite a bit in personality. This is a romantic comedy, and while there are some undeniable sci-fi elements, it's the funny stuff that comes first. Karin is a very fun character to watch, and her over-the-top dialogue keeps the show moving along swiftly - even as a touching romance unfolds alongside the humor.

U.S. Manga Corps. has released the first volume of this series in two flavors -- one with just the disc, and the other with an artbox designed to hold the other four DVDs. The series consists of twelve TV episodes and three OVAs, so stretching it out over five discs seems rather silly, but on the upside, I guess we get more nifty box art to enjoy. I thoroughly enjoyed the first release of this series, and I'll gladly have some reviews up for the next two volumes (which I've already preordered from The Right Stuf).

The show should be pretty widely available -- I actually bought my copy of the first volume at Waldenbooks. You know anime is gaining in popularity when you can more than just a Disney-released Miyazaki film in a mall bookstore.