For our next anime review, I’m taking on another video game adaptation of a series with over-the-top action, bullets by the barrel, and attitude to spare, and also (in keeping with the season), lots of creepy monster slaying.
Toshiyuki Morikawa/Reuben Langdon as Dante
Akio Ohtsuka/Rob Mungle as Morrison
Atsuko Tanaka/Luci Christian as Trish
Fumiko Orikasa/Melissa Davis as Lady
Misato Fukuen/Hilary Haag as Patty Lowell
Nachi Nozawa/Chris Ayres as Sid
Directed by Shin Itagaki
Written by Bingo Morihashi (eps 3-4, 11-12), Ichiro Sakaki (ep 6), Shôtarô Suga (eps 2, 5, 8, 10), Toshiki Inoue (eps 1, 7, 9)
Based on the game “Devil May Cry” by Capcom
Music by rungan
Animation by Studio Madhouse
Dante is a half-demon, half-human demon hunter (for pay, as a fella’s gotta pay the bills). Dante goes about his business trying to pay off his ever growing debt, all while displaying a rather impressive amount of ego, attitude, and general bad-ass posturing. Though, to be fair, he can back it up.
With Gungrave, the series took significant shifts in tone from the game, based on the material that they were expanding upon. This was fine, as the material was there to be expanded on, and they didn’t have to advent or tack on material for their backstory. With Devil May Cry, the material isn’t really there, so to their credit, rather than tacking something on, they just stick with what’s worked thus far – over-the-top action, braggadocio, boatloads of expended shell casings fired from guns that never need to be reloaded, absurdly large swords, and bad-ass men and women with attitudes, and it generally works.
Even the main female characters, Lady and Trish (aside from scrappy kid comic relief Patty) are cool collected beautiful bad-asses, to the point that in the episode that (re)introduces Trish (people who played the first game know who she is) basically ultimately is a giant epic cat-fight with guns and explosives instead of hair pulling and scratching. There’s even a joke where Trish gets a cheap shot in, and the writers drop a Spaceballs reference, by deliberately shooting Lady’s hair. To the writers’ credit though, these female characters are almost invariably more competent than Dante, and in several episodes Dante can’t win without their help.
The show has a habit of falling apart if it ever tries to slow down its pacing or take things too seriously. Dante is a character who can’t pull off pathos. He’s either cocky & lazy (most of the time), or he’s angry and violent (fighting demons), or he’s blase and violent (fighting demons). He doesn’t do sad, he doesn’t do dejected, he doesn’t do weepy. He can’t angst. He can’t even put on a false pretense of angst like rival video game character Kratos (God of War). So, attempts to be methodical or introspective just turn into plodding. We’re here to do, as the Giant Bomb writes would say, to see Dante cut demons and/or shoot them in the face. Fortunately, the writers realize this and make sure that we basically have at least one big fight per episode.
No major nudity, though the series has blood by the gallons and, if it’s a problem for you, women wearing suggestive clothing. Even the people who get cut in half have no organs spilling or anything like that.
Originality: This is adapted from a video game, and while tonally it doesn’t shift much from the game – there is one respect that it differs that I didn’t go into above. The original games tended to spend all their time in various types of neo-Gothic architecture, usually ruins of some sort, though the first level tended to involve Dante’s bar/office and the more urban street outside. Here the series just sticks in the urban environments and doesn’t attempt to explain the Gothic architecture much. 3 out of 6.
Acting: Those who have read my anime reviews for a bit will notice that I list both the English and Japanese voice casts above. This is because I listened to both and found the Japanese voice acting lacking. In particular, the English voice cast is much more emotive than the Japanese voice cast, without over acting. That said, the English voice acting is well done and I think goes the extra mile over the Japanese voice acting. 4 out of 6.
Animation: The animation style is generally solid and maintains the same rate of quality over all 12 episodes. I suspect that were this a 24 episode series we might have seen a quality drop during the middle of the series. Still, the quality generally stays good over the whole run. 4 out of 6.
Production: Sound effects and music quality are great. However, more significantly, I want to give a shout out to the English TrueHD audio track on the Blu-Ray release, as they really went and gave a reason for getting this on Blu-Ray over DVD. For the English voice track they made sure the audio was engineered to reflect the environments the characters are in, distance from each other in frame, and so on. They didn’t need to do that, the Japanese audio engineers certainly didn’t, but the English engineers did anyway, so more power to them. 5 out of 6.
Story: The story is relatively shallow, though I do like that they did get an arc for the series together and went and executed it in a subtle fashion (which was probably helped by the overt over-the-top action during the rest of the series serving as something of a distraction). 4 out of 6.
Emotional Response: As mentioned earlier, the only real emotional response that this show provokes with any degree of regularity is something along the lines of “That was cool” whenever one of our heroes does something cool. If the leads attempt to display any sort of angst, it falls flat. Consequently, the only characters that can promote any sort of emotional response or concern is any ancillary characters introduced for a specific episode, or Patty (as she is comparably the most vulnerable of all the other characters in the show, due to her age). 3 out of 6.
Overall: I liked the show, but I wouldn’t call it my favorite show ever. If anything, I would say that it’s fun mindless entertainment, much like the games it’s based on. 4 out of 6.
In Total, Devil May Cry gets 27 out of 42.