The end of the world has arrived and it’s up to Dante to save it – stylishly!
What They Say
Devil May Cry is one of the biggest combat game franchises of all time, with millions of devoted fans. Now the Devil May Cry anime takes fans deeper into the story of the half-demon Dante and his fight against evil.
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.
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.
The final installment of the series is solid as it has a great shot of Dante with his sword and gun crossed while Trish is in the background adding a bit more color to it, albeit dark colors. With the logo across the center, there’s some good reds to be found and it has a dark vibe to it that fits perfectly. Fans of the games seeing this cover would certainly be inclined to look at it in detail. The back cover is laid out well 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 that’s done in standard FUNimation style and you’ve got a well done piece, but one that will irk those who like continuity just a little bit. No insert is included for the show nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu layout for this release is rather simple and straightforward which certainly doesn’t earn it many cool points. The static background uses the image of the floating metallic skull from the second episode of the series 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.
The extras section is very light here and doesn’t even try to make it seem like more unlike the second volume. Fans of the games may find more to like here than just anime fans as there are a series of cut scenes from the game which are also spoilers for it. The anime side of the extras is kept simple once again as we get a clean version of the opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The final volume of the series hits with four more episodes and it manages to draw things to a close in a way that once again surprises. My expectations of Devil May Cry weren’t high to begin with, admittedly because so many game to anime conversions are awful. And that’s being considerate about them. Devil May Cry managed to rise above that with some very solid production values but at the cost of much of its core audience because it didn’t give them what they wanted. Lots of action and style. Devil May Cry spent more of its time being atmospheric and moody before going into the all too brief action sequence where it was stylish and fun. The moody and atmospheric side was a whole lot of fun though...
For these last four episodes, the breakdown works rather well as we get one more standalone episode, one that sets things up as a prelude to come and then a two part finale. Even more interesting is that a very annoying minor character there since the start suddenly rises to the top and has a role of some importance. And it makes sense as to why and how as well which is equally as surprising. The opening episode is nothing major, but it’s a nice moody piece that has Dante invited to a poker match with a mysterious benefactor named King who always wins. That’s not unusual, but the fact that the losers die makes it a little more interesting. An episode like this easily works against the core audience, much as how people felt about the recent Casino Royale movie, in that’s not what they want out of the character. Dante playing cards? Not exactly exciting or stylish. So color me amused that I enjoyed it.
Where things become more interesting is in the second episode as Dante’s past has come to the forefront. Or more specifically, his father’s past as Sparda’s friends of sort from some two thousand years ago are intending to fight him. Baul has long wanted to have a fight against Sparda but with the belief that he’s dead now, he intends to fight against Dante to have some taste of what he’s wanted. His brother, Modeus, had given up the sword a long time ago and is in his own way trying to keep the peace here. There are some nice little nuggets here about the family relations and how things are now with Dante doing what he wants to do that gives the character a bit more of a fleshing out. On the plus side, we finally get what seems to be a really personal intense fight, but like so many of the fights here it’s cut short. But within that short period it plays out in an engaging way.
When it comes to the two part finale, Devil May Cry plays out beautifully. I can imagine fans wanting things like this to be the bulk of the series. The introduction of Nina, Patty’s mother, brings that particular arc back to the forefront. It doesn’t get dealt with directly at first since she’s initially brought to Dante to safeguard a talisman that she has that acts as the final part of a seal against Abigail, a very powerful devil that was put away by her husband and Patty’s father years ago. Everything gets murky when Patty finds this woman and instantly realizes that it’s her mother. Throwing everything further into the mud is that Nina is being manipulated by Sid, the powerless devil from early on that’s been cackling in the shadows. He’s intent on getting all the pieces together to try and make a play to become on par with the four great devil kings.
The two episodes feature a good bit of action, but it’s the second episode where it has the most. With Dante going up hard against Sid and taking the fight right to him when they cross to the other side, it has a very good epic feel. It’s somewhat forced at times, such as Nina’s occasional “The world is going to end now because of what I’ve done” and all, but when you have everything being raised to this level, it certainly feels appropriate. It’s dark, moody and stylish at the same time. The culmination of the story here does a surprisingly solid job of bringing to closure several of the smaller story plots that have been brought up here and there throughout. It’s obviously open ended enough for more, but what we get here takes elements introduced in the start of the series and ties it all together in a smart yet simple way.
While Devil May Cry isn’t high art, it’s certainly a lot more entertaining and engaging that I suspected it would be. It’s kept to episodic stories with some underlying currents to them but it avoided being filled with nonstop action and over the top silliness. Everything that caused me to enjoy the show are likely things that alienated its gamer audience however and I can understand the general derision there is among many for it. It’s not a series that leaps out as the cream of the crop, but it’s solidly animated, has a great sense of style in its design itself and gave me twelve interesting and rather well connected stories in the end. It’s a series that I can actually see re-watching again and looking to see how it all ties together in more detail with that viewing. FUNimation did right by the show by giving it the last volume release but I imagine they’re going to go all out with the eventual collection in order to nab more sales and really appeal to the gamer market.
Japanese 5.1 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
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.