Mania Grade: A-
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- 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. #4: The Gathering
By Chris Beveridge
May 25, 2003
Release Date: May 13, 2003
Devil Lady Vol. #4: The Gathering
What They Say
© ADV Films
As the Devil Beasts draw together in their ultimate quest to eradicate humankind, Jun must come to grips with the beast she has become. Her human soul fights a bitter battle with her feral instincts in a last-ditch effort to defy time and destiny. The only hope the human race has against its evolutionary predators is locked away inside Jun's tormented mind. Will the salvation of the species cost Jun her life? Or a price far greater than that?The Review!
This volume is appropriately named as the beasts in the land are starting to really gain strength and gather themselves into something much more formidable. Their ascent is nicely balanced with Jun’s slow descent into madness however.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:
The artwork here again strikes a powerful look with its vibrant reds mixed with the black and silver, this time around giving the “men” in the series a bit of a nod. 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 white 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 continue to be pretty repetitive, as outside of the textless opening and ending sequence we get a few pages of original artwork gallery and a Japanese trailer for the series.Content:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
This series continues to make serious impressions on me and is definitely helping to keep me from disliking just about all things Go Nagai in origins. Devil Lady continues its very strong story here with a lot of torment for poor Jun and for some of those who have become close to her. These episodes really put her through the wringer.
The disc opens very strongly as Sakazawa finally makes his move. After essentially stalking Jun and Kazumi for so long now, he puts his plans into motion. Using Kazumi as bait, he lets Jun know that he’s holding her and is ready to do quite nasty things to her unless Jun comes alone and unarmed, though he knows she won’t bother with manmade weapons. With Jun still being so protective of Kazumi, she doesn’t hesitate in the slightest in going to get her. So when she arrives, only to find out that Kazumi was used as bait but redirected elsewhere, Jun’s thrown off balance and unsure of what is really going on.
As it turns out, Sakazawa has one of the earliest beasts that Jun fought and has brought him there, tied up, for her to tear apart. Sakazawa’s a bit off in how these things work, but he knows that putting two beasts together will definitely cause something to happen. With his belief that Jun is the one responsible for the death of his own family, a truly tragic sequence we see in flashback, he’s intent on exposing her and her kind through this. The entire piece plays out much like the flashback sequence, which is tragic and sad.
Jun’s worries don’t actually stop there. Things are followed up fairly quickly thereafter with Kazumi really being taken by a beast. This brings Jun as her beast self really into contact with Kazumi for the first time, and it’s a heartbreaking experience for both of them, even with Kazumi’s life on the line. This final revelation and realization by Kazumi brings her to tears on many levels and is echoed throughout several episodes here.
For Jun, this signals her descent, as the one she most wanted to protect is seemingly afraid of her. This also ties into the plans by the one that’s manipulating the beasts, as they’re starting to draw out more of the dormant beasts in people. With a growing number of kills, and quite a lot of them being draped across the city from various heights, the general public is becoming much more aware of something going on. When Jun slips even further into her own mind, and with Asuka out of the country at the same time, those of the Human Alliance on the front lines start to relegate Jun to obsolescence. This rather abrupt change has caused quite a few problems. With the growing number of beast incidents, control of the media is becoming harder and harder, causing more and more people to actually witness the events.
And those that catch glimpses of the beasts invariably awaken something deep inside themselves. It’s a really interesting way of spreading an “infection”.
A lot of the episodes here really bring focus to Jun’s relationships with those around her, from Kazumi to her manager and Asuka’s secretary who ends up turning into Jun’s personal driver. Each of those around her are now seemingly much more threatened in her eyes by those she hunts, so she starts seeking ways to minimalize all of it, going so far as to find a new cage to live within. The portrayal of Jun through all of this is excellent, ranging from sheer mad rage at certain points to a glum resignation. Her descent is quite well done and is at just the right point for something like it to happen.
Watching this show late at night in the dark has definitely added quite a bit to this. If there’s one thing I’m not caring all that much for is that they’ve decided to have the “mastermind” behind things be in the body of a younger character. It just feels like it’s been done far too much and provides little real shock value at this point. But beyond that, this series has been quite gripping with its excellent pacing and dark visuals. It’s great to have a horror series that’s not overly gratuitous with the blood or mixed into a hentai series.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Clean opening and closing animation, Original Japanese artwork,Printed monster cards
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.