Geneon // 2002 // 75 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Bryan Byun (Retired) // August 4th, 2005
Medusa: "I have become one with your body...and your soul
You'd think it'd be difficult to go wrong with a premise like Demon Lord Dante's, which has regular guy Ryo Utsugi discovering the spirit of an ancient demonic entity within him, and being thrown into an apocalyptic battle between the forces of God and Satan on Earth. After all, stories don't get much more epic than that of the war between Heaven and Hell, and the plot becomes even more fascinating when we learn that God and Satan aren't quite the way they're portrayed in the Bible. (I may be wrong here, but I don't remember rampaging dinosaurs and jet fighters being mentioned in the Scriptures.)
And yet, as Demon Lord Dante lurches into its third tedious volume, Dante Agonizes, we plumb fresh depths of boredom, yawning and welcoming each lackluster fight scene between badly-drawn demons as a chance to stretch our limbs and head to the kitchen for a fresh cup of coffee. About the only thing this series has to offer anymore is unintentional laughs; my favorite scene is when two characters spy on Ryu and his sister Saori while they're out on a "date," and discuss whether or not they're actually lovers -- it's like an episode of "Ambiguously Gay Duo."
But for sheer head-shaking absurdity, it's hard to beat Go Nagai's take on the Biblical story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. I probably would have gone to more History of the Bible classes back in college, had I known that what really happened at Sodom is that God -- not a benevolent older bearded gentleman after all, but a ravenous planet-eating mass of sentient energy -- decided he wanted a physical body, and demanded that the residents of Sodom provide their bodies for this purpose. When the Sodomites -- led by a handsome, noble good guy named, uh, Satan -- refused this perfectly reasonable request, God responded by raining fire and dinosaurs down on the city. I wish Nagai would adapt the entire Bible; I'd love to see the scene where Moses blasts his way into the Pharaoh's temple in his robotic exoskeleton and demands, "Let my people go!" And the Pharaoh would transform into a fifty-foot-tall tentacled demon with the head of a teddy bear and, for unexplained reasons, gigantic naked boobies. Now that would rock.
This series, however, is just plain ridiculous. There's some potential for an intriguing examination of the nature of good and evil as merely labels for vastly more complex and ambiguous moral forces, and an interesting take on God and Satan that challenges our traditional view of Heaven and Hell, but that potential is wasted in this shallow, plodding series.
Geneon's presentation of Demon Lord Dante: Dante Agonistes contains three episodes -- "Disbelieve," "Labyrinth," and "Encroachment" -- presented in full frame, with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo audio in Japanese and English dubs. Video quality is excellent, with a virtually flawless transfer (except for some annoying but minor problems with moire patterns and excessive edge enhancement) and a clean print that offers up some vivid, mostly dark colors. The audio track is functional, offering Japanese and English language dubs in clear, bright Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo that supports the dialogue-heavy soundtrack more than adequately. If you're watching this in order to actually enjoy it, stick with the superior Japanese track; if you want a good laugh, though, go for the English track -- God has never sounded funnier!
Extras on this volume once again include highlights, this time of episodes 11-13 from the forthcoming volume, and absolutely not-worth-the-trouble-of-clicking character profiles of the Four Demon Kings, Kuninpa, Lamia, Shea, and Sakushi. This being a Geneon release, the presentation is top-notch, but the substance is disappointing.
Demon Lord Dante is Sominex on a disc. It's not entirely horrible, but with no shortage of more worthwhile series on the shelves, there's no reason to waste your time on this dreck, even if you're a fan of Go Nagai's other work. Demon Lord Dante: Dante Agonistes is declared guilty on all charges, and sentenced to four hours of tiresome dithering about whether or not to embrace its hidden demonic form. Oh wait, it's already done that. Let's make that time served and move on.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)
* English (Signs Only)
Running Time: 75 Minutes
Release Year: 2002
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Episode Highlights
* Character Profiles
* Official Site
* DVD Verdict Review: Volume 1
* DVD Verdict Review: Volume 2