Devil May Cry Vol. #2 (also w/box) (of 3) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Wednesday, May 07, 2008
Release Date: Tuesday, May 06, 2008



What They Say
The Game was only Half the Story.

Now you can step deeper inside the bloody truth behind Dante's most dangerous missions. And these cases are even more lead-filled and blood-drenched than the last.

There's the demonic face behind the Mafis. A rock star siren who'd sell her soul for a hit song. A lowly fisherman who reels in a Satanically sinister catch. And a man who succumbs to dark purposed to fulfill a noble goal - to shocking results.

With more monsters, hotter babes, and more brutal battles, this is the most exciting anime series based on any game ever! Don't miss part two of the awesome Devil May Cry animated trilogy!

The Review!
Dante continues to deal in standalone stories where the Devils are most definitely in the details.

Audio:
Devil May Cry is a rarity as it's a Japanese TV anime series that's sporting an original 5.1 language mix. Both it and the English 5.1 mix are encoded at 448kbps and there's a lot of good use given to it overall. The show has a lot of quiet moments in which dialogue is well placed and given a distinct feel but it's the big action scenes where it shows off the most. There's a good bit of directionality during these moments and the subwoofer gets a solid workout at times when it comes to things like the guns and other elements like the motorcycles. The sound mix for this simply stands out better than most other series and reinforces my wish that the Japanese would get on this kick a bit more often since it does enhance the shows all the more.

Video:
Originally airing in the second half of 2007, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. Devil May Cry is a series that spends a lot of its time in the dark and shadowy places while using a lot of really solid animation. The end result that we have here is a very appealing looking show that holds up very well in some of the difficult areas by using a good bit of the bandwidth available to it. There are a lot of peeks into the high eight's here which helps it to maintain a solid feel and to flow with the very fluid animation at times. Colors are very distinct and vibrant when required and there is very little noise to be found throughout it. Aliasing isn't an issue outside of a couple of brief pans here and there which in the end means that this is a very appealing piece of work.

Packaging:
Just lie the first volume, the cover art for this release is just perfect as it has lots of familiar designs and a very strong mature look with older characters and a sense of action to it. Familiar logos, detailed character designs and a great sense of color, this installment gives us the pairing of Dante and Lady and it just shines. The back cover is fairly straightforward with a dark murky background that has a collage of shots from the show along one side as well as a very strong bright piece to accent it with a blonde woman while the other has the summary of the premise. There's a good deal of text included below that the lists the episode titles and numbers, the game extras and then the anime extras. Add in the production credits and the technical grid and you've got a decently laid cover that shines a bit more than the previous one. No insert is included for the show nor is there a reversible cover.

In addition to the disc only edition of this release, there is also a disc+box version which is highly appealing. ADV Films has had some pretty good designs lately and the shift to a slicker paper for the box art works in favor of the show. One main panel has a shot of Dante in the center while putting a pair of the female supporting cast characters at opposite angles. It's both dark and bright with a lot of detail mixed in. The other main panel gives itself over exclusively to Dante with a great shot of him in an excited violent mode just before he gets the party started. The spine goes for simplicity with a red and black design that has the familiar logo and a good pencil sketch style headshot of Dante. This is quite the appealing box to hold the series.

Menu:
The menu layout for this release is rather simple and straightforward which certainly doesn't earn it many cool points. The static background use the image of the floating metallic skull from the second episode with a lot of black around it while overlaying the episode selection and logo around the outside of it. The red text is a bit hard to read at times but the layout is decent overall and I liked the little gun icon for the cursor. The music for the menu gets a nice little bump up to a 224kbps stereo mix of some fast action material and that does help to set the mood nicely. Navigation is quick and simple and submenus load very quickly. The disc also correctly read our players' language presets and played accordingly.

Extras:
The extras section is loaded with lots of stuff but it is pretty light in actual content. Fans of the games may find more to like here than just anime fans as there are a series of cut scenes and promotional trailers for the game. Those extras make up a good chunk of what's listed in the menu while the anime side is relegated this time around to just the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
To my surprise, I enjoyed the first installment of this series far more than I expected, especially considering the lashing it gets in certain circles. The lack of a real connection to the game beyond some poor playing of it years ago means that I'm not wedded to any particular concept of it, though I am certainly familiar with the basis of it all. The anime incarnation plays more like a detective of the week kind of series but with a slightly more action angle to it with a lead who is fairly disinterested in things that doesn't involve pizza or strawberry ice cream.

So it's little surprise that the second installment of episodes really is just more of the same outside of a few brief scenes that hint at a bit more which will likely be saved for the finale. The story of the week concept is a tried and true one and what helps it to work here is that it has some decent scripting to it but just very solid production values for the animation. While I'm sure Madhouse could make a bad looking show, they haven't done so here as everything has a very fluid and rich feel to it. That can't exactly make bad content good, but it can make mediocre material feel far more engaging overall. And that's what's really happened here as we get fairly predictable stories that are surprisingly engaging because of how well it's presented.

While predictable, the stories are still rather enjoyable and remind me of a kind of old school style storytelling, reminiscent of some of the films and OVAs of the late 80's where it was tinged with sexuality and violence. But there's also a sense of fun to it, such as the opening tale in which a man named Isaac has the hots for a waitress at a diner that Dante frequents a lot for his sundaes. She tells him that Dante is a real man and that's why he turns down her advances. That gets to him and he tries to figure out what makes Dante a real man, but all he can see from his point of view is that Dante is mixed up in a lot of bad stuff and doesn't qualify as a good guy that Cindy should be interested in. It does mix things up with the Devils and all, but it's interesting to see how Dante comes across from an outside point of view.

Devil May Cry also has an interesting sense of history in how it deals with events that took place awhile ago. A pair of stories dwell in that area and both are interesting for different reasons. In "Rock Queen," we get to find out about a massively popular rock singer who had been almost doppleganged and whose music caused a lot of problems while still being intensely popular. Dante even has an affection for it as he has worn through the original record he had of hers about the mermaid song. When he gets involved with a group of treasure hunters who have discovered a trove of records that haven't seen the light of day, he finds an interesting connection to the singer and starts to discover the real story behind it.

In a similar kind of background piece, Dante is drawn into a story that happened twenty years prior where an entire town was burned down and one woman was blamed for it. Dante discovers this when a man shows up claiming to be a friend of Dante's from back then as well as claiming that Dante was really this woman's son named Tony. The smell of a Devil in the mix does draw Dante in but he plays along with the entire thing which is surprisingly creepy. Everyone seems to get into the story in this way but there are those who admit the truth to him. The man, Earnest, is just like his namesake and he's come to get Dante so that he can reveal that Dante's "mother" really wasn't guilty of what she's been accused of. This is a slow episode, one where you can feel Dante's distaste in playing along, but it provides for one of the better Devils for him to fight when the big reveal comes along.

But this is also where the main problem with the show lies in that there really isn't all that much in the way of an action payoff to each episode. The battles with the Devil's tend to be more psychological at times, or a game of cat and mouse as Dante manipulates things so that they can be revealed and he can dispatch them. The actual dispatch moment - the thing that the Devil May Cry games are built on with its style over substance - is given only a brief moment and often without the actual climax to it. The shift to the moments afterwards instead of seeing Dante defeat the Devil feels very awkward at times, though it does fit in with the overall mood and style of the show. The series is very much about the atmosphere and persona of Dante rather than his action capabilities.

In Summary:
Watching a show like Devil May Cry, I feel sort of guilty for enjoying it. I know that it's not a high work of art but I can't really see it as terribly bad either. At best, in terms of its story, it's pretty mediocre and without any surprises. But when combined with the great production values that Madhouse has brought to it and the way it all comes across on our display, it's a show that just draws me in with each episode. Nothing really stands out when it comes to the story but I can't help but to get to the next episode as quickly as I can to watch it play out. Visually it's very engaging and I love that it has that kind of "mature" feel to it where it's really not revolving around young kids who are saving the world. Even Patty's role is fairly diminished after her initial stories, which leaves this to be all about Dante. And that's just a plus, strawberry sundae's and all.

Features
Japanese 5.1 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Cut SCenes,Promotional Trailers,Clean Opening,Clean Closing

Review Equipment
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.



Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: A-
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: TV MA
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
MSRP: 26.96/36.96
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Devil May Cry