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Anime Info

Creator: Studio Madhouse
Director: Shin Itagaki
Genre: Action/Video Game Adaption
Length: 12 Episodes

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Summary

+ Great Madhouse animation
+ Lots of neat fights
+ Dante is a stylish character
– Very little character development

Overview

Dante is hired to investigate paranormal happenings. Dante discovers demons. Dante kills demons. Lather, rinse, repeat. The ultimate triumph of style over substance, Devil May Cry the anime plays more like an extended commercial for the video game series than an actual television show. It gives a decent introduction to the characters, their world, and their situation – enough so that some viewers may be enticed to buy the game. And perhaps that's what the producers intended. Or maybe it was meant to fill in plot gaps for diehard fans of the game series. Either way it ignores a large segment of the anime audience -- casual viewers who have never played the game but nevertheless find the characters likable and may want to see them in situations other than fights against easily defeated opponents.

Public Rating

Our Rating

Score of 2.5 out of 5
2.5 out of 5

Devil May Cry Anime Review

Written by: Frank B. Chavez III on 5/27/2008

Introduction

When it seems like all the comics, novels, history, and legends have been adapted into anime form, where are anime producers to turn for inspiration? Video games have been popular fodder for animation for years. Street Fighter, Pokemon, and Final Fantasy are just three of the many video games that have inspired anime adaptations. Developed by Capcom and created by Shinji Mikami, Devil May Cry was originally intended as a sequel to the popular Resident Evil series; during research and development it took a radical departure from the Resident Evil formula and even the survival horror genre in general becoming the first game in the Extreme Combat and Hack and Slash genres. The plot of the game follows the adventures of Dante, a mercenary out to exterminate the demons that killed his mother and corrupted his brother. Chronologically, the anime series is set between the first and fourth games in the series and features Dante as a down-n-out owner operator of a demon hunting business struggling to keep his head above water while continuing his search for the demons who killed his mother.

Review

In a series like Devil May Cry, style is more important than substance. Dante, the series' protagonist is as stylish as they come. In creating the character, Hideki Kamiya, creator of the original game has said that he was inspired by the titular hero of the manga Cobra and that he combined elements he found "stylish" – including a long red overcoat to look "showy", dry British wit, and wild silver hair. He carries twin automatic pistols named "Ebony" and "Ivory" and a giant sword called "Rebellion" which he hides in guitar case. Because his father was a demon, Dante also possesses a variety of supernatural powers such as greater speed and agility than a normal human being. His only apparent weaknesses are his indebtedness to various creditors; fondness for strawberry sundaes and pizza; and his lack of skill as a gambler.

The series first episode depicts our hero helping a young woman named Patty Royale to reach a meeting with her brothers and collect an inheritance. This all sounds simple enough but Dante does operate a business called Devil May Cry. So his mission largely involves making sure a variety of demons don't kill Ms. Royale. As the episode concludes, Dante discovers that Patty, the girl he was protecting, isn't the real Ms. Royale but is rather an orphan hired as decoy. The real Ms. Royale pays Patty a substantial sum for her part in the plan and Patty takes up residence with Dante.

The first episode showcases what is the series greatest strength and greatest weakness: Dante fighting demons. There are a wide variety of the creatures and the series' animators are endlessly inventive in their depiction of Dante's battles with them. However, Dante is so powerful that the demons, who can be killed with ordinary guns and swords, pose no real threat to him – there is no real drama to the fights only stylish action. The best, most popular stories have always been those where the hero manages to overcome a more powerful opponent such as David vs. Goliath, Odysseus vs. the Cyclops, or even Luke Skywalker vs. the Deathstar. The battles depicted in Devil May Cry are fun and exciting but ultimately emotionally unsatisfying exercises in style. This may make an exciting video game but it doesn't make good television.

Show More The second episode begins with Lady, a tough female demon hunter, killing a demonic killer. In a plot heavily influenced by the works of horror maestro Stephen King, Lady tricks Dante into helping her on a mission for the government to stop "Red Eye", a demonic motorcycle that haunts the highways. Lady is the kind of female character created by geeks for geeks. Like Lara Croft she wears tight revealing clothes, has a pair of big…guns, and fights as well as any guy. While she is pretty to look at and fun to watch in action, very little of her background is revealed in the anime. While players of the games will be thrilled to see her, casual viewers will likely be left scratching their heads once the novelty of her sexy appearance wears off.

Dante owes Lady a fortune and she holds this over him in order to get him to help with jobs that are too big for a single demon hunter. In this episode we also learn that not only is Dante a master gun fighter and swordsman, he is also a master motorcycle rider when he ends up in race against the leader of local motorcycle gang named Vincent (Japanese writers seem convinced that "Vincent" is a tough sounding name). Dante is also not above doing thousands of dollars worth of damage while in pursuit of a demon. This episode features him destroying a bridge during a highway chase with Red Eye; Dante literally shoots the bridge down. Between those kinds of stunts and all those pizzas, it's no wonder he's in debt up to his eyeballs.

The title of the fourth episode is "Rolling Thunder" but it might as well have been called "Cat Fight". Episode four introduces Trish, a demon formed in the image of Dante's mother by Mundus, Emperor of the demons. After Mundus's defeat by Dante, Trish became Dante's partner but then set out on her own. Lady and Trish end up working on opposite sides of the same case. Trish is hired to kill a disguised demon and Lady ends up being hired by the same demon to kill Trish. The rival demon hunters end up reeking havoc all over town as their little misunderstanding leads to fighting. Trish is more eye candy for the geeks. Unlike Lady who is often depicted in sexy schoolgirl wear, Trish dresses like the kind of woman who only exists in magazines and music videos wearing low cut jeans and corsets. Trish suffers from the same problem as Lady; fans of the games will immediately recognize her, while casual anime viewers will wonder at her background and connection to Dante.

Show More
While the majority of Devil May Cry episodes are stand alone stories, an over reaching story arc involving a struggle amongst the demons is introduced in the opening episode and finally kicks in the last three episodes of the series much too late to be of any interest. Two thousand years ago, Sparda, a powerful demon swordsman turned against his cohorts and defended Earth from demonic invasion by defeating their Emperor and sealing the gateway between the human and demon worlds through an act of sacrifice. Near the end of his considerably long life he fell in love and married Eva, a human woman with whom he had two children Dante and Vergil (A villain from the video games not depicted in the anime). A rumor has spread among the demons that whoever can defeat Dante and take his soul will inherit Sparda's considerable power.

As episode 10 begins, Dante is walking through the fog shrouded city when he is suddenly attacked by Barusa a demon in white. The demon is on the verge of cutting Dante's head off when Lady chases him off with her big gun. Later, Dante meets another demon dressed all in black who turns out to be Barusa's brother. Barusa has waited his entire life to fight Sparda, his former teacher. Failing that, he challenges Dante. Barusa's brother tries in vain to stop the fight and when Dante kills Barusa, Barusa's brother challenges Dante and is also killed. As the episode ends, the audience learns that Sid, a seemingly week demon whom Dante earlier took mercy on has set this conflict in motion as part of a larger plan that could potentially destroy the human world.

Conclusion

Lady Devil May Cry is an unusual show. Fans of the video game series may well enjoy seeing the adventures of their favorite characters in a form other than the games but casual viewers who haven't played the games may be confused by the sudden arrivals, actions, and departures of various characters whose stories are related through the games but not in the anime series. While Trish and Lady are gorgeous eye candy and their battles are occasionally exciting, eye candy only goes so far – some background and insight into their characters other than they like fancy clothes would be nice. Dante and the other two demon hunters are so powerful and skillful and the demons so ridiculously weak that no real drama comes out of their battles. This may work in a video game where much excitement is generated by the player's skill in controlling Dante's various abilities but seeing demons shot to bits and stabbed gets tiresome after awhile. What little real drama exists in the show develops too late for the audience to care. In the end, Devil May Cry is a triumph of style over substance.

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