He’s faster, stronger, and deadlier than any devil he’s ever met. He’s laconic, laid back and confident, with good reason: he’s never lost. Oh, and he loves strawberry sundaes. Meet Dante, the entirety of the devil extermination company Devil May Cry. There’s no may about it. He’s the best, and not just because he’s the best at it. There’s some might say his love of strawberry sundaes is a truer sign of his character than his twin guns or his skull carved sword. Do you kill things because you hate them…or because you understand their true nature? He is powerful, deadly, and a romantic. He is Devil May Cry, and there is no may about it. Not least because he himself still remembers how.
Toshiyuki Morikawa as Dante
Akio Ohtsuka as Morrison
Atsuko Tanaka as Trish
Fumiko Orikasa as Lady
Misato Fukuen as Patty
Action, Drama, Supernatural
Twelve total, no extras to my knowledge.
To me, strong action means strong character motives behind it. And to be perfectly frank, I can stand a lot of idiocy in the battle if they’ve got the motivation right. Perhaps that’s why I disagree so emphatically with all of the people who have such a low opinion of this series. I can only guess; to me, it was fantastic, very nearly an ideal. With very strong, cool action headed by a wonderfully charismatic figure, I enjoyed this series to the fullest as a series of excellent one shots that combined the action of Claymore with a contemplative edge reminiscent of Kino no Tabi. It’s detractors are welcome to their opinion, but mine is that Devil May Cry rates four point five, for a series that reaches beyond ordinary four-dom though not quite ranking a five. This one is a must for all character watchers who appreciate strong, dark action.
As a one shot type series, there are not a lot of constant characters to describe. Even among the ones that are constant, most don’t rate an in depth character probe. Dante’s charisma makes up for this. There is something about a tall, white haired, seriously cool guy walking into a dark and dingy bar, sitting down…and ordering a strawberry sundae. He does this every time. He knows those kind of places won’t have it, but he tries anyway. He is laconic, laid back, and incredibly strong, and yet under it all, he’s a romantic. When he’s told to guard a child, he says no…but when Morrison makes it a bet on a coin toss, he doesn’t argue, even though he never, ever wins at games of chance. When it comes to debating semantics, he talks hard bitten – but in the end, he’s anything but. The girl he protects in episode one is a character throughout, and worth mentioning, as she just radiates personality. Devil May Cry would just not be the anime it is without Patty Rowell, a ten year old (roughly) blonde without a dumb bone or a hint of pushover in her body. Whether it’s beating him at cards with ice cream and new clothes as the stakes, badgering him to stop eating pizza and clean up, or just being there in the background, she makes every moment she’s on screen worth seeing. Aside from them, there are two or three other constant characters, but they are good in a 2D way – not meant to rivet or lead, which is appropriate to their roles and screen time. Devil May Cry is an episodic type, and in that, it excels.
Which is why the plot paragraph is the telling one (though my brother, enchanted with ‘metal’ macho, has now declared Dante his ideal, possibly minus the strawberry sundaes). Devil May Cry epitomizes the philosophical fighting series, giving you ten – well, nine really – shots of great one episode stories containing both fantastic action and great character plot, though the proportions of the mix varies. Episode one manages to give a taste of all the best elements to show up throughout the series, though each one is represented better in at least one other episode. However, it makes a great intro in that it tells you all the series is capable of. We then get one that is mostly action but has some good, serious characters, and like even the worst of the Devil May Cry shots, ends with a nice, thoughtful revelation or statement. Number three is just fantastic. Then we get four, the one and only dud. Don’t let it put you off, and don’t worry about skipping through it. Five is much better though mostly amusing – still we have that nice ending sentiment. And that’s the end of the downhill – it’s just one great one after another. Rock Queen, Wishes Come True, Death Poker, the Last Promise – it’s nothing but top of the line stories. Dante himself is a great character who lends flavor to it all, but every single one appearance character is excellent in their own way, carrying their parts with ease. Think Kino no Tabi. It’s not really that kind of introspective, of course, but the resemblance remains. A demon with a human’s heart, a singer who wanted to enchant her audience so badly a demon uses it to infiltrate her soul, a demon that offers three wishes but grants only death, even a demon of poker, who takes the lives of the losers – there is an undeniable philosophical edge to this anime, something that offsets the action in a perfect blend that is rarely achieved anywhere. When the climax does occur, it’s the character aspects that come off best – the action is sort of anti-climatic. If you are the sort to demand a proper, pounding cool showdown, then it may disappoint. But if you can be happy with just character, than all the right things happen and are said, and are said and done well, superbly well. In my anime collection there is a ‘hall of fame’ folder, where the fives and four point fives go. And this one is now there. There is no such thing as being able to say ‘I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed’…but if you love strong character combined with dark action and introspection, the odds of you being disappointed are, I feel, very, very low.
One more paragraph to emphasize what is, increasingly clearly, an important point. The thing about Devil May Cry is, it looks like a raw adrenaline pumper – blood and guts and action (and more blood) – but it’s not. Or rather, those elements are there but people who are focused on that are pretty much guaranteed to be disappointed. Few people who gravitate to a guy with a huge sword and two monstrous handguns are going to appreciate the atmosphere of the episode Death Poker, the fascinatingly dark character plays as the players go down one by one. Most people who want to watch someone decapitate and dismember monsters are not interested in the character complexes of two demon swordsmen brothers trained by the same master – Dante’s father. Devil May Cry looks like an action guru, but is in fact more suited to intellectual introspectives, and this deception has cost it dearly. It looks like it’s for people who watch Berserker and Elfen Lied, but is actually for people who watch Kino no Tabi or Noir or other character focused stuff. It’s a point that cannot be emphasized too heavily, so be sure to take it into account (and if you’d take it into account before you commented, I’d appreciate it – if I’ve already allowed for your likely point of view, it’s tiresome to get piles of comments saying it).
The anime world is made of every sort of series and opinion. Despite what many others, and most notably ANN (who also put down Utawarerumono, if this gives you any perspective), I give this anime the highest rating but one. I hope this review leads to more people, put off by other opinions, to give what I consider a most note-worthy series a try. Devil May Cry is four point five. Go find it.
Final Rating: 4.5/5
This review is brought to you by Z.N. Singer
Information such as cast and airtime are courtesy of ANN’s encyclopedia listings. All else is and always will be the origination of the author.
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