Devil Lady Vol. #3: The Strengthening - Mania.com



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Info:

  • 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

Devil Lady Vol. #3: The Strengthening

By Chris Beveridge     March 16, 2003
Release Date: April 01, 2003


Devil Lady Vol. #3: The Strengthening
© ADV Films


What They Say
Jun is desperate. Is there anyone who can tell her what is happening within her? Will anyone be able to stop her from becoming The Beast again? Each night brings Jun closer to the truth-but the truth is hard to bear. As Jun clings to the last shreds of her humanity, she discovers that she is part of a plan that threatens to erase all traces of humanity from the Earth. The clock is ticking, and darkness slowly swallows the day...


The Review!
It’s time for things to start falling apart in Jun’s life as she’s now facing more serious challenges both emotionally and physically.

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:
These covers continue to work beautifully as this one highlights the raw sexuality of it all with Jun in an embrace and one of the women caught up in the clutches of a Beast. 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. The back cover also lists a “behind the scenes” extra, but none is actually on this disc.

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)
Hitting the halfway mark at the end of this volume, this series has managed to successfully keep its dark suspenseful aura as well as progressing through with the characters. There is a larger plot going on here, but the main focus continues to be on the slow but subtle changes Jun goes through as she tries to retain her humanity as both the Beast inside and the beast outside (i.e. Asuka) push to change her.

The opening episode is one of the best in the series so far, as things move inside one of the Human Alliance hospitals after they pick up a potential Beast in progress. A young four-year-old girl is at the center of this tragedy as she is the sole survivor from a massive apartment fire. Both her parents are dead, she’s got 70% burns on her body and she’s even lost her vocal chords. But there’s something about her in the way she’s healing fast and the possibility that she was the cause of the blaze that keeps her in the HA’s clutches. A lot of this is a psychological episode as Asuka and Jun each approach dealing with her from different ends, since she is just a child but also potentially a Beast. This was a very eerie episode, especially with having kids of my own now.

Another episode provides a rather enjoyable battleground for Jun as they end up investigating a potential Beast appearance that’s holed up inside a large multi-floor department store. The enclosed spaces plus the way they simply got to toss around a wide variety of things brought some nice changes for the action sequences. But the really interesting aspect of this episode has Jun actually trying to get one of the Beasts to try and turn back to its original human state, something that if possible would cause irreparable harm for the Human Alliance, since their more “professional” members would surely hate to have to work to save the Beasts as opposed to just eliminating them.

Throughout the four episodes, the changes and evolution of Jun continues to be the most fascinating part for me. In particular, there’s a moment during the fourth episode here where she’s on a photo shoot and the photographer has her slide her hand into the other actors jeans. While I can fully well see her doing that without issue as a professional, it’s the glimmer of glee and mischeviousness about her that marks a change in her personality as she continues to become more comfortable with her newfound sexuality as a Devilman. It’s the small progressions like that that help indicate that the end of the series will show the character to be quite different from what she started as, and that’s the mark of a successful show.

Things are continuing to be very entertaining here, even though they’re still working what’s effectively a monster of the week campaign. There’s new interesting bits in each episode that bring out new revelations, both big and small, that help propel the show along. I’m fascinated and really enjoying this. Very recommended.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Devil Lady trailer,Clean opening and closing animation,Original Japanese 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.

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