Saturday, November 13, 2010

Devil May Cry (anime TV series), via Hulu

Synopsis:

Devil May Cry appears to be a tiny, rundown private investigation agency with only one private investigator, Dante. However, Dante only takes a certain kind of case: anything involving devils (or demons or whatever you want to call them). His only goals are to earn money killing devils and to use that money to buy strawberry sundaes and pizza and pay off his mountains of debt.

One of his cases brings a little orphan girl named Patty Lowell into his life. Although he acts like she annoys him, he doesn't really mean it, or he'd make her leave. Among his other sort-of-friends and colleagues are: a lady devil hunter with a scar, a lady devil hunter who can wield lightning and used to be Dante's partner, and a guy named Morrison who brings Dante new cases every episode.

It's not until the last three episodes (final quarter) that the show becomes more than a series of nearly standalone stories. At that point, it is revealed that Patty's mother is still alive and has been on the run, trying to keep a devil-summoning amulet safe. In order to save her mother from a minor demon, Patty ends up giving up the amulet, which allows the minor demon to grow enormously powerful. Dante tries to stop him and, despite being half-demon and wielding wicked powerful guns and a sword, is almost killed. At the last moment, he somehow manages to un-impale himself, fight the demon, and win. The series ends with Patty going off to live with her mother, but still coming back to visit Devil May Cry occasionally.

Commentary:

I am so very happy that I never actually spent money on this series. A while back, I was tempted to buy this series because the ad artwork was pretty (yes, I know, terrible reason to buy anything) and I vaguely remembered thinking that the video game this anime is based on looked cool - not the best reasons to buy anime, because none of those reasons indicate whether the anime is actually any good. In this case, it's pretty bad.

The series isn't unwatchable, but that's not really saying much. I haven't played the game, but I can't imagine that even fans of the game would want to spend money on this - watch it for free, maybe, but not spend money on it. The best reason I had for even considering getting this show, the artwork, turned out to be a disappointment. Yes, there were moments when the artwork looked good, but you could really, really tell that the animation studio gave any character drawing assignments that weren't extreme close-ups to their worst animators - sometimes it was so bad that the characters would have been unrecognizable if it weren't for their hairstyles and clothing.

For a show that had a battle in most, if not all, episodes, the fight scenes weren't very good. I think the biggest problem there was that Dante was always so much better than all the devils he went after. As dangerous as the devils might seem, Dante never worried that he might lose - the only battle that might be considered an exception is the last one, in which Dante got impaled by his own sword and had to get a tearful pep talk from Patty. Being able to fight after getting impaled like that only proves that Dante is basically indestructible - and it's not really that exciting watching an indestructible person fight. As much as people complain about shows like Naruto and Bleach, in which the characters are constantly almost defeated by opponents, only to find the strength to beat them (except for the rare and shocking times when characters actually die), those shows still manage to get me at the edge of my seat, wondering whether my favorite characters will make it, even though I already know they probably will. This show couldn't accomplish that kind of tension. The final battle was too little, too late.

Speaking of the final battle, I couldn't believe the writers tried to stuff a world-ending story into the last three episodes of the series. That was pretty lame. No, introducing Patty early on in the series cannot be considered build-up for those last three episodes. As far as the viewer is concerned, Patty is probably little more than some random blond orphan - there was not even a hint, until those final episodes, that she was actually part of a larger story. Actually, there wasn't much of a hint that there was a larger story, period.

About the only thing this series had going for it was the short stories it was mostly made up of. Unfortunately, even those weren't all that interesting. There are enough works out there with that kind of format that none of these stories really stood out. The best one, I think, was the one involving casino - the ending of that one was actually kind of clever and showed a tremendous amount of trust on Dante's part, because he would have lost against that demon if it hadn't been for his friends.

Overall, this show kind of stank. If it had been more than 12 episodes, I wouldn't have finished it, and if I owned it I would now be considering selling it. The video game might still be fun, though. The opening credits for this show promise coolness and angst - the actual show is just mediocre.


Watch-alikes and Read-alikes:
  • Descendants of Darkness (manga) by Yoko Matsushita; Descendants of Darkness (anime TV series) - I don't recommend the manga as much as the anime - although the manga is better in some ways than the anime, its lack of an ending (the series has never been finished, as far as I know) is pretty jarring. This is one that those who'd like another series with supernatural elements, fairly self-contained stories, and a lot of action might want to try.
  • Strait Jacket (anime OVA) - This is even gorier than Devil May Cry and also features people whose job it is to kill hideous monsters. In this case, the hideous monsters are former humans who were warped by the same toxic magic (or whatever) that those who are sent to kill them wield. The main character reminds me a bit of Dante.
  • Hellsing (anime TV series) - This is based on a manga series. Like Dante, Alucard also hunts and kills what is basically his own kind - in this case, vampires. The artwork is a bit rough at times, and I'm still not entirely clear about the ending, but the show practically oozes cool.
  • Resident Evil (live action movie) - For those who'd like something based on a video game, this might be a good one to try. It's got lots of action and lots of atmosphere. A deadly virus escapes in a secret facility, turning any staff exposed to it into zombies. The facility goes into lock-down, an elite team is sent in to clean up the mess, a woman named Alice who has lost her memory must survive and figure out why she was in the facility in the first place.
  • Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children (CGI animation, movie) - Yet another one based on a video game. It's been a while since I've seen this one, but I remember the CGI animation and voice acting being pretty good and the story okay, considering I've never played any of the game and therefore missed out on a LOT of backstory. There are also some fun battles.

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