Demon Lord Dante Vol. #3 (of 4) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, December 07, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, September 07, 2004
What They Say
The secret organization "D" employs the Four Demon Kings and the man-made monster, SX, to massacre numerous innocent people to implant horror and loathing toward demons into people's minds. Seeing the organization's atrocious deeds in the name of God, Sosuke, a member of the organization, becomes skeptical, while Lamia captures Saori and Ryo seeks the help of Saeko.
Although Saeko rescues Saori, Saeko becomes trapped in the labyrinth herself by the Four Demon Kings! Ryo, along with demons, fights to save Saeko, who then brings Ryo back to the past to show him the forgotten history of demons and God. What fate awaits Ryo as his memory returns and his real identity as Demon Lord Dante is rekindled?
Go Nagai turns the Bible on its head in this next to last volume of Demon Lord Dante.
My primary viewing session consisted of the Japanese audio track. It is a straightforward stereo track containing no noticeable problems. Most of the track is dialogue, but there are spots that capture the creepy, otherworldly feel of the demons. Music and dialogue were balanced well and did not overshadow each other; outside of the opening and ending theme songs, the music does not make much of an impact while watching the series. The end result is a solid but not overly impressive audio track.
Geneon provides another solid transfer for this volume; there are no noticeable defects on the print itself or from the digital transfer. The colors are vibrant and present some great detail in both the day and night scenes. Geneon has placed the English translated credits directly onto the print, and the original credits are not present on the disc. Most of the video does not have the partial obscuring seen in the previous two volumes; there are a few spots, but they seem random in their use.
Ryo in his half-human, half-demon form dominates most of the front cover; the series logo and volume title are along the bottom. The back cover contains the requisite synopsis, screenshots, and disc specifications. No volume number is present on the packaging. The insert is a fold-out with the front cover image is on the outside. When you open up the insert, you are given a listing of the episodes along with screenshots.
A close-up of Ryo's face takes up most of the main menu; his face morphs between his human and demon form. The menu items are to the right of the screen over a flaming background. A piece of music loops in the background; the final touch is a periodic flash that has Dante's face appearing over Ryo's. Functional and a touch creepy, the menus get you into the content quickly.
The extras section contains highlights from upcoming episodes. Broken into two one-minute segments, we get a taste of what will be happening in the final three episodes. Four terse character profiles of the demon kings are also included.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
So far, Dante has been a rather dull title; the one element from the previous volume that was intriguing was Nagai's take on Bible stories that most people know at least a little about. While he goes full bore with this element in this volume, the execution still leaves a lot to be desired.
The volume opens up with the four demon kings using the God Squad's artificial SX devils for a little midnight "devil show". They slaughter innocent, yet stupid for being their in the first place, men and women in an effort to draw out Demon Lord Dante for a fight. Ryo resists their trap and manages to keep his emotions and Dante's powers in check.
Meanwhile, Sosuke continues to question the God Squad's methods; he decides to show Ryo the truth about what Ryo's father is working on. Sosuke shows Ryo the vats where they grow the SX devils; the SX break out of their vats and attack and injure Sosuke. Ryo transforms into his half-demon form but has no need to do battle. Medusa shows up and eliminates the SX, but Ryo has no memory of who she is or why she is helping him.
We quickly move into Lamia's Labyrinth, a place where people are mysteriously disappearing into. Saori is sucked in but is rescued by Medusa after Ryo asks for her help. Medusa is captured herself, and a rather boring battle has Dante destroying the demon kings and rescuing Medusa.
Yet, Ryo still has not recovered Dante's dormant memories, and Medusa is tired of waiting for them to return. She transports them back one million years into the past when God first came to Earth. Dante was a scientist in the utopian city of Sodom, and Medusa was his lover. God was a giant mass of sentient energy searching for a body; he demanded that the inhabitants of Sodom turn over their bodies for that purpose.
The leader of the city, Satan the Wise, refuses this unreasonable order; God unleashes hell on Earth as punishment for defying his order. War against God has become, and Dante attempts to use a fighter jet to fight God. On lift-off, Dante is attacked by two dinosaurs and God; Dante and Medusa manage to absorb God's energy and transform into their devil forms. Dante's particular form comes from the fusion of the dinosaurs and his jet. And the volume comes to close with the revelation of Dante and God's origins.
This is quite a novel take on the Biblical account of the destruction of Sodom and proves to be the most interesting aspect of the volume. Sadly, this is confined to the last episode, and the previous two have little material that comes close to holding the audience's interest. Great attention has been given to the character designs and their details; the same cannot be said for the actual battle scenes.
From the devil show to the "climactic" battle with the demon kings, the battle sequences feature only a modicum of action. And the action that is on the screen appears to use the same shortcuts most serial anime shows use. Demons stand still while a few projectiles shoot from or around them.
The most frustrating part of this volume is the bizarre turns the writers take with Sosuke's character. They seem to be portraying him logically at the beginning; Sosuke finds himself questioning the God Squad's methods to the point that he wants to expose the evil they are doing in the name of God and the greater good.
Yet after the attack in the research facility, he is suddenly back on the God Squad's side. He no longer questions their methods even though he knows that the SX project will continue and that the Squad is making pacts with devils to defeat Dante. It makes little sense for Sosuke to go from the one sane person questioning the events around him to a good solider that is simply obsessed with killing devils. Perhaps this is a ruse on his part to gain the Squad's trust again before bringing them down, but it just feels like the writers completely botched an otherwise good character at the moment.
One good note though is the almost complete lack of the obscuring haze used on previous volumes. There are a few scattered scenes that are obscured, but they seem focused mostly around Saori. Most of the scenes I would have expected to be obscured due to their content were left intact. This allowed one to actually sit back and watch the volume without having to continually furrow their brow in annoyance as part of the screen goes nearly black.
Dante continues to be a series with an interesting premise but just cannot execute well enough to tell an engaging story around it. The action is stale and more suited for a long running serial series. Sosuke's characterization seems to get tossed out of the window. The final episode of the volume holds the only interesting material as it continues to blur the line of God and Devil, right and wrong. The twist on the age old war between God and Satan is a refreshing change, but it just is not enough to recommend picking up this title unless you are a die-hard Go Nagai fan.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Episode Previews,Character Profiles
Mitsubishi 27" TV, Panasonic RP-82, Sony STR-DE915 DD receiver, Bose Acoustimass-6 speakers, generic S-Video and optical audio cable
Mania Grade: C+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: C+
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Demon Lord Dante