These days it seems that if anything becomes popular in one medium it's going to appear in another. Movies turn into games, anime turns into movies, anime turns into games, and games turn into anime. That last one is what we're looking at today with the release of Devil May Cry: The Animated Series Complete Collection by FUNimation. Originally a part of the ADV Films brand back in the day, this one jumped ship and has found its way onto Blu-ray thanks to the good folks over at FUNimation. With the high definition anime market being slim pickings it's always a good thing to see a publisher support the format. With that in mind, is Devil May Cry really worth the plunge?
If you've played any of the four Devil May Cry games then I'm sure you're probably very interested in this title. The show answer to the question proposed above is "Yes, it's worth checking out", but it's not a resounding recommendation. The show has its flaws and it's not as solid of an interpretation of the franchise as one might hope. Sure it still kicks a lot of ass and many of the characters are familiar. There's just a sense that it doesn't quite live up to its fullest potential, and that's ultimately what keeps it from excelling.
The show opens up and introduces us to a crazy mixed up world where demons and humans seem to coexist for better or worse. There are demons that prey on humans, demons who love humans, and demons who pretend to be humans. Unfortunately that's really the only explanation we get regarding the plot of the series and if you're not too familiar with the franchise some things will be lost on you. Basically it's all set in the human world, there just happen to be devils living in it. Then again, it's not like there was much exposition about the world in the game series either, but I digress. Right from the get-go we're introduced to all around bad ass, Dante. He's a stylish to a fault machismo demon hunter whose tools of the trade are a sick looking sword and a pair of pistols. It's his personality that arguably sets the tone for the anime (and game as well).
Dante is the byproduct of an interspecies romance between a demon and a human female. He retains the best of both worlds and uses his abilities to help those in need, for a price. He attempts to run a legitimate business of being a monster slaying mercenary, but in all fairness it hardly pays the bills. Or, at least it might, but he isn't very good with money. He relies on a virtually useless agent and some acquaintances to find work, but in the meantime he has to baby sit some kid he rescued. This becomes a source of humor of sorts as the girl, Patty, is quite the polar opposite of Dante in every way.
More interesting than Patty is the introduction of Trish and Lady early on. Lady is a fellow devil hunter who is more or less Dante's equal in many regards, though most of the time she seems to have her own agenda. Trish on the other hand is essentially a physical clone of Dante's mother and is played off as such many times here. She is basically his age but nags him every now and then about his living habits. These two characters play nicely off Dante, but their relationship isn't enough to drive the series. What does keep this show going? Filler. Lots and lots of filler.
Aside from the occasional blip of a larger story scattered about, the entirety of Devil May Cry's twelve episodes is comprised of episodic stories. Something goes down, Dante is hired, and some demon winds up getting its ass kicked in the process. I'm not going to deny that it's fun for short bursts of action-oriented anime, but the story simply feels too shallow for its own good some times. With that being said I must admit that the show is incredibly sexy. The art direction is phenomenal and some of the fights here are truly brutal. Because of that I'd say this is a fun diversion if you appreciated the game series, but not nearly the full-blown, standalone anime it could have been.
Devil May Cry: The Animated Series is presented on Blu-ray with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio and has been enhanced for anamorphic playback. The disc comes with full 1080p support and AVC encoding. This is really my first time experiencing anime on the Blu-ray format, and dare I say that I was really impressed. The amount of noise is minimized, the resolution is all around sharper, colors seem crisper and more vibrant, and the offers some nice rich blacks and shadows. I have seen the standard definition release for this show and this is by far the better presentation. There is still a fine layer of grain and some ghosting within the image in parts, but all in all this Blu-ray is a nice feather in FUNimation's cap.
While most anime shows on standard DVDs come with English 5.1 and Japanese 2.0, the Blu-ray release for Devil May Cry hits with Dolby True HD 5.1 tracks for both languages. The quality far surpasses what you'd usually get from anime in terms of clarity and all around sharpness of sound. The presence on the soundstage is quite adept as well and the rear channels are used with a good level of efficiency. I wasn't really blown away at any point, but some of the fights in this show truly come to life now and then. English subtitles are included as well.
An original Japanese interview with Toshiyuki Morikawa (Dante) is included as well as clean animations and some trailers. There's also a slew of content from the game such as seven cut scenes, an E3 preview, Tokyo Game Show preview, trailers, and some footage of Devil May Cry 4 (which has already been available for some time now). Only the interview feature is really worth while here, but the rest are all welcome additions. Any and all bonus features are presented with 480p resolution and 2.0 stereo output.
Devil May Cry isn't a completely solid experience and it's certainly not one that stands out based upon the strength of its storytelling. This is a barebones action affair with a heavy dose of cool, plenty of style, and a solid roster of characters that play well with each other. If you're looking for more than that, then you haven't played the games because that's what the franchise is really all about. In that regard this show is a great success, however, when judging the anime for what it is the best I can give this release is a regular old recommendation. Devil May Cry is fun at times, and a guilty pleasure, but hardly anything more than that.