Judge Steve Power once tried surfing on a corpse...what?
Based on the hit video game series created by the same guys at Capcom who brought us Resident Evil, Devil May Cry takes the stylish, brutal action of the games and attempts to supplant it into an animated series. Is it worth the effort? Or should we just stick with the games.
Facts of the Case
Dante: half-human, half-demon, and all bad-ass, works from day to day exterminating monsters and demons…for a price. Armed with a giant broadsword, and two gigantic hand cannons, he blasts and slices his way through wave after wave of demonic hellspawn, hoping to make a buck to keep his starving company, Devil May Cry, afloat in these rough economic times. Along the way he picks up a little girl, some sexy ladies, and plays some poker.
Unlike the realm of live-action features, the world of video games has had a decent time of it in anime circles, with no small number of hit and not-so-hit titles making their way to the animated medium. Devil May Cry makes the transition partially intact, for better or for worse.
The biggest problem in working with a video game as a basis for a dramatic series is that, generally speaking, video games have very poorly developed narratives. This is no exception. Story exists in the DMC game-verse as an excuse to rip out guns and blade and unleash unholy hell on any demon or moving object on the screen dumb enough to get in front of your "X" button. Here, we get poorly executed stories that attempt to draw from what little narrative material the game allows for building upon. The biggest problem is that the game's only real narrative hooks are abandoned in favor of invented scenarios new to the series. The episodes follow a "villain of the week" pattern, more or less, and dumps Dante into one ridiculous scenario after another (poker with a demon, anyone?) until the final bit where the big bad appears out of nowhere and our hero fights him for what feels like 2 minutes. Game villains like Nelo Angelo and Virgil are nowhere to be found, and Dante's old man gets one or two episodes of mention, but doesn't play a huge role. It's disappointing that the darker themes of the series were dropped in favor of more "cool" or humorous ones. Fans of the games expecting non-stop action will be sorely disappointed. On the flipside, people who enjoyed shows like Hellsing may have a bit of fun with what Devil May Cry offers.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Devil May Cry comes to us from acclaimed animation studio, Madhouse (Ninja Scroll), and as such, it looks pretty awesome in motion. It doesn't quite measure up to Madhouse's big budget theatrical stuff, but it's one of their better TV efforts. There was definitely money spent on the presentation. Funimation's treatment of the series on DVD is also top notch. The transfer is rock solid, and the audio is pretty punchy if not completely over the top. The dub job features, from what I could tell, voice talent from the games, which should endear it somewhat to fans, and Dante's cocky rock star swagger is in full effect.
Also worth mentioning are the extras. The usual textless opening and closing sequences are accompanied by a few interviews and a bevy of trailers for both the series and the most recent entry in the DMC video game series. It's a decent collection of stuff that helps make this particular DVD set a pretty slick package.
Devil May Cry may not be exactly what fans are looking for. While the animation and quality of the disc are excellent, the show itself suffers from some poor narrative choices and a finale that will leave you crying, let alone the Devil.
Close, but no cigar. Guilty.
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Scales of Justice
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