Devil Lady Vol. #2: The Becoming (of 6) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Friday, January 31, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, February 18, 2003



What They Say
Former fashion model Jun carries the Devil Beast gene, a small, microscopic speck of organic matter whose power is beyond imagination. But she is not alone-there lives among us a race of Devil Beasts. Each empowered with the ability to destroy, and each containing the ability to tear the world apart. Only a few still call themselves human. Fortunately, Jun is one of them. For now...


The Review!
After a strong opening volume, Jun’s story as a devilman continues to pick up steam as conflicts become more intense and we learn more of the Beasts.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The track here is a standard stereo mix that makes good use of the forward soundstage, most notably during the action sequences as well as with the gorgeous music score attached to it. Dialogue is crisp and clear throughout and we had no issues with dropouts or distortions on either track.

Video:
The transfer for this series continues to deal with the materials well. The feel of the animation itself is quite dark, especially with most of these episodes taking place at night, so the blue skies look good with hardly any macroblocking or pixelation. There’s a feel of grain throughout that’s very minor and looks to be more intentional than not, so as to give things a slightly soft and almost comfortable feeling, which balances out the suspense that the show builds. Colors look great, there’s no cross coloration and I was hard pressed to find much in the way of aliasing.

Packaging:
Kazumi gets the center stage here with this volume as she’s done up in silver ink with shades of deep red accentuating things as Jun in full transformed mode is behind her in the distance. The back cover features only a few small screenshots but makes up for it in just a general look and feel. There’s a brief summary spread over most of the back cover as well as listing the discs features and basic production information. This release is in a clear keepcase, but the reverse side of the cover is completely red with nothing on it, giving it a very strange feel when you open it as you expect more. There’s also no insert, but that’s made up for with four trading cards, each of them about one of the Beasts found in the episodes on the disc. Don’t read them until afterwards though as they may spoil your enjoyment.

Menu:
Set up in a letterbox style, the central portion of the menu has a small sequence from the opening playing repeatedly to the opening music with the almost flame-like movement of the light against the reds and blacks. Selections ring the top and bottom of the menu, as well as providing instant episode access. Access times in the menus are nice and fast and the layout works good overall.

Extras:
The extras in this volume are pretty weak, as outside of the textless opening and ending sequence we get a four page original artwork gallery and a Japanese trailer for the series.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Jun’s life only continues to get more intense as she starts to become more comfortable in her role, but at the same time still pulling back and resisting the commanding tones Asuka uses on her when she treats her as nothing more than a dog or a tool.

The ties between the Beast possessed gets strong with the opening episode. We’re introduced to Hitomi, a fellow model of Jun’s who has recently started in the area. She’s been showing up at nearly all of the same auditions as Jun. Her manager tells her that she’s been competing with her for the same jobs for a bit now, but hasn’t made one of them yet. As it turns out, as Hitomi introduces herself to Jun, she’s admired Jun for some time and wanted to be like her in some respects so she’s been trying to get similar jobs.

The two look similar in some respects, so it’s easy to see how she would have luck getting roles that Jun may not be interested in. The two end up spending time together, but Kazumi finds herself worried about it all and Jun seems to be getting more and more relaxed around Hitomi. This plays out in a very suspenseful manner up until the moment that Hitomi ends up transforming, and we start to learn about just how drawn the Beasts are to the scent of another one. Hitomi had been attracted unconsciously to Jun even when Jun didn’t realize what she was for so long. This aspect plays up later on in the disc as well.

We do get to spend some time in Jun’s past during an eerie episode as the fog settles on the city and everyone starts staying indoors. While she talks to Asuka about stories her father used to tell her when she was little about the grim reaper waiting outside, we hear similar tales from the adults in bars as the “crazy” guy starts talking about how there’s just a sense of something sinister out at night lately which is why the streets are so bare. While this episode does play out with a beast attacking and related issues with it, I found it far more interesting in how it gave the city a lot more character and how the regular uninformed people are feeling about what’s going on in the shadows.

Arguably the most interesting aspect so far is the addition of Jason Bates to the scene as he’s come over from the U.S. to try and help out and to see Jun first hand in her devilman form. His suave style and the way he towers over most everyone causes interesting reactions depending on who he’s dealing with, but his biggest impact is on Jun, whom he continually calls beautiful in both her forms. He’s pushing hard to see her transformed and trying to convince her about how she is when she’s in that powerful form.

But it’s not all about that, thankfully, as there’s something more sinister going on with a Beast who’s on a mission. This particular Beast has made a recording of his transformation and goes on about how it’s the next step of evolution and so forth. While there is a media blackout of this kind of material that the Human Alliance has set forth, there’s always some cocky reporter or TV producer who thinks he can get away with broadcasting it and scoring a coup. The Human Alliance has a copy of the tape and has stopped everyone from showing it, but someone is still intent on it.

It’s more than just setting a panic though that’s causing the worry, and this comes back to the Beast allure we saw earlier with the model who had followed Jun without really knowing why. If a part of the nation sees the footage, the number of people who would then begin transformations could potentially be staggering. So the chase to learn who it really is on the tape as well as where all the tapes are becomes the focus of the episode, all while Bates continues to try and pick up Jun.

The exploration of Jun is a solid piece on this disc, particularly the last episode that deals with a models phobia of being watched and how it relates to the Beast progression. Junko Iwao really pulls off this role and continues to impress me as one of the best voice actresses working today. Jun’s change between a quiet and almost somber character to one filled with rage is extremely well done and she never misses a bit. The moodiness and atmosphere of the first volume is really built upon here, and these episodes had me just as fully engaged as the first volume did. There’s something that’s just really drawing me in here.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Clean opening and closing animations,Original artwork

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.



Mania Grade: A-
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: 17 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Devil Lady