A lot of gamers are, at least, familiar with Capcom’s Devil May Cry. The franchise is pretty beloved, except for that reboot one where Dante had dark hair and was, objectively, a piece of shit. In 2007, after the third instalment but before the fourth, our old friends at Madhouse started releasing an anime based off of the games. That’s right, the studio that brought us such adaptations as X-men, Metropolis, and FF Legend of the Crystals was behind this. Well, maybe this one isn’t a pile of garbage like those were. Well, except Metropolis. It was just sub-par.
We open with Morrison bringing Dante a job. Now, you might find yourself asking “who the hell is Morrison?” He’s an original character who basically exists to bring Dante work and, occasionally, drive him around. The job is simple, Dante just has to safely escort a young orphan girl to the estate of the deceased father she never met to claim her inheritance. Naturally, she’s being hunted by demons.
This is one of those anime where the underlying plot is pretty light and most episodes are just doing their own thing. Dante gets a job that somehow involves demons and then he goes out to slay them. In fact, the weakest part of the series is the big underlying plot. You get little snippets of it in quite a few episodes, but it ultimately involves a lot of contrivance and it’s just not very good in general. Even the ongoing stuff that’s meant to draw your attention to the fact that something is afoot is largely just dull and really obvious. To the point where it’s just “this again” after a few times. The episodes also have a general problem of trying way too hard to give happy endings. To the point where they can just go completely off the rails and not make much sense. There are quite a few episodes that set things up for sad or, at the very least, bitter-sweet endings and then pull happy ones out of their anuses. I guess I missed the memo about DMC being for small children who can’t process tragedy on account of the PEGI 16 ratings.
With that being said, a lot of the episodic scenarios are pretty interesting. Varied too. Yeah, you know that Dante is going to fight some demon, but there’s a lot of variation in what kinds of demons he’ll fight and how they’ll approach. Some of them use stealthy approaches or try to use guile, others prefer the direct approach. Some are after him specifically, others just happen to stumble upon him while going about their terrible business. And some of the scenarios are really intricate. The death poker game being a prime example.
The characters from the games, Dante, Trish & Lady are all portrayed pretty true to character. Which is more than a certain reboot managed. In terms of original characters, some of the ones Dante encounters on his missions are kind of interesting. Others are pretty mediocre. Then we have our reoccurring Ocs, Morrison & Patty. Morrison is a boring character. We don’t know why he’s bringing Dante jobs, how they met or anything beyond “he brings Dante jobs.” He’s pretty much on par with the plot coupon guy from your average PreCure series. And those can get by with it because they are actually for children. Then we have Patty. Have you ever wondered what Devil May Cry would be like if Dante had a slightly annoying child sidekick? No? Well, it’s not the best decision that Madhouse could have made. She spends a lot of time pestering Dante, having to be rescued and contributing virtually nothing.
The artwork is pretty decent. The characters look like themselves and Madhouse clearly made an effort to make the aesthetic look like DMC. The demon designs are generally pretty good as well. The trouble is that the action sequences themselves aren’t all that good. In a series that relies heavily on action sequences. A lot of the “big” Dante fights end very quickly without having much content. And a lot of the sequences focus heavily on scenes of Dante attacking while not showing, or barely showing, his opponent. It would’ve benefited from showing them striking at one another in the same frames a bit more, is what I’m saying. Oh, and expect a lot of deaths to go the blood fountain route. I guess demon blood streams are highly pressurised.
The series did get some good voice actors. We’ve got Morikawa Toshiyuki as Dante. Yes, Dante and Sephiroth are the same guy. We all suspected it given the resemblance. We’ve got Orikasa Fumiko and Tanaka Atsuko, both of whom are damn good actresses, as Lady and Trish respectively. Even the less interesting characters got some decent voices. The musical score by Hama Takeshi & Tsutsumi Hiroaki is pretty close to fantastic.
There isn’t any, really. The closest you’re going to get is Lady and Trish forming a friendship.
Devil May Cry is an anime that had some potential. After all, there’s a lot to work with from the games. Unfortunately, it’s held back by a dull underlying plot, trying too hard to provide happy endings, the slightly annoying child sidekick and mundane action sequences. Ultimately, I’d still say it’s all right but it certainly could have been better. My final rating is a 6/10. Next week we’ll continue video game month with a look at Street Fighter Alpha.