Geneon // 2002 // 100 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Joel Pearce (Retired) // August 26th, 2004
Unsealed to unleash its satanic powers.
If you think your teenage years were tough, you can bet it was nothing compared to Ryo Utsugi. He starts having demonic nightmares with girls getting sacrificed, only to discover that the murders are actually happening. He even starts having similar dreams involving his sister, Saori (who is just a tad too friendly with him at times). While all of this is happening, a group of satanists is attempting to resurrect the great Demon Lord Dante. When they snatch Saori in order to use her as a human sacrifice, Ryo stops them, but his involvement does not end there. Ryo is swept away to the Himalayas and is transformed into the great Demon Lord, when the real identity crisis can begin.
Instead of railing on this absolute mess of an anime series in the traditional format, I have decided to give you the top five compelling reasons to stay far away from Demon Lord Dante, in no particular order:
1. The Plot:
Sometimes, anime series have plots so convoluted and condensed that they just don't make sense. This series has the opposite problem. Each plot development is explained three times by various characters, discussed at length, reiterated by tactless character voice-overs, then summed up by a narrator at the end of each episode, just in case the audience is really stupid. A thriller about the apocalypse ought to be exciting, but the creators of this show have made it so boring that it hurts to watch. There are some other problems, like the ridiculous mishmash of mythological elements from all over the world, but they hardly seem important when put beside the script and story.
2. The Characters:
After four episodes, I don't really give a damn what happens to Ryo. There was nothing likable about him in the first episode, and while I'm sure it would suck to be eaten and absorbed by a giant demon, he hasn't proved himself to be a compelling enough protagonist for me to care about his fate. I have issues with Saori as well. If she's supposed to be this totally innocent angel, then maybe she should stop flirting with her brother. Just a thought. The dialogue that has been given to all of the characters is iffy at best, and there are these painfully obvious exchanges where they explain important plot points in a stilted, uncomfortable way.
Let's face it. If you are one of those people that is drawn to a title called Demon Lord Dante, you want to get fed the naughty content. You want to see all the blood and gore, you want to see boobies and human sacrifices and fan service. The animators wanted you to see all of that too, but somewhere along the way someone decided that you shouldn't be allowed to. Most of the inappropriate bits of the show have been edited out. Most of the time, that constitutes part of the screen being darkened in a gradient to place the offending gore or body parts in shadow. At other times, it looks as though some militant mother came by with some black spray paint to cover up the worst bits. It doesn't make much sense, and it damages the experience for the audience that would most want to watch the series.
4. The Music:
It sounds like the music in this series was written, designed, and performed by a $50 MIDI keyboard. It sounds flat and synthesized, and really limits the power of the scenes. A few times it sounded so much like video game music that I found myself looking for a game controller. The opening and closing scenes have better songs, but the closing theme doesn't really fit the story at all.
5. The Animation:
Because Demon Lord Dante is based on an old manga from the '70s, I don't have a problem with the fact that the characters look like rejected concept art for Astro-Boy. What I do have an issue with is the fact that this show came out in 2002 but the animation looks like it came out ten years ago. The characters lack detail and the backgrounds are pretty static. When this animation is compared to some of the other anime series that are being released now, it looks pretty pathetic.
Perhaps I am being a bit hard on the series. After all, it may get better once the massive battle between good and evil continues. There were several cool sequences, especially the icy hall of mirror sequences when Ryo is convinced to release Dante from the Ice Hell. Still, a few good moments can't drag the whole volume out of mediocrity. The show does demonstrate a certain level of potential, but it will need to improve drastically after this point in order to make it worth slogging through this volume. As a side note, taking a shot each time a character says "Demon Lord Dante" would make a great drinking game. It would increase the overall enjoyment of the series, and save you the pain of watching the last episode. I don't think anyone could make it that long.
The disc itself is nicer than the series deserves. The full frame video transfer has no trouble handling the animation, with no digital flaws to speak of and good color and black levels. The stereo track is perfectly acceptable, although it doesn't do anything dazzling. The Japanese and English tracks are quite similar, and come down to a question of preference. Geneon has also included some special features. First up are some brief "episode highlights" from episodes three through six. These consist of brief clips from these episodes in Japanese with no subtitles. If you haven't managed to identify the five main characters by the end of the fourth episode, Geneon has been kind enough to include character profiles that describe these characters and says which side they are on. Also included are clean opening and closing animations and the U.S. trailer.
Moving on, there is a segment of the original press release from Japan. These include interviews with both original comic writer Go Nagai and director Kenichi Maejima. They both seem like incredibly nice people, and I wish the finished product had turned out better for them.
While I hope that the rest of this series turns out to be more exciting than this volume, I am not holding out much hope. Anime fans that are interested in the series are strongly advised to give this title a rent before dropping the cash to buy it.
For the reasons outlined above, I find the defendant guilty of all counts and sentence it to 2000 years in Ice Hell.
Review content copyright © 2004 Joel Pearce; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Release Year: 2002
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Episode Highlights
* Character Profiles