Demon Lord Dante Vol.2: Dante Rages Review
Dante has resurrected and the war between man and the demons is finally about to the start – first stop: Tokyo. At first the Satanists are delighted to see that their old ruler looks as awesome and powerful as ever, but they soon realise that something is awry. It seems Ryo Utsugi’s consciousness has actually taken control over the demon lord’s body and now the behemoth stuck in the centre of the capital is completely overwhelmed by the speed with which his entire existence has been irrevocably altered. However, when the military arrive on the scene and unhesitatingly start their attack, it’s only a matter of time before the demon lord’s basest urges come boiling to the forefront of Utsugi’s merged pysche….
Now this is what shows like Demon Lord Dante is all about, just but a big hairy monster in the middle of a densely populated area and let them rip things up – the only problem here is that the series is so retro that the action looks extremely mild and stilted in comparison to contemporary shows. However the hokey dramatics and cheesy dialogue haven’t lost a beat and pretty much save the day here, particularly during the battle with Zenon the “Beast King” in episode five, which features many desperately unwitty put downs and shifting of allegiances because for some reason both monsters seem to be confused about what side they’re supposed to be on, but just as it appears that Dante has been ripped apart he suddenly appears out of nowhere to best his opponent. This act just defies any logic, one second Dante has been chopped into pieces, the next he seems to have teleported behind Zenon and delivered the final blow. The only explanation we’re given is the gloating Dante does after Zenon asks how he managed to survive his deadliest attack: “Fool! It’s easy with Dante’s hundreds of powers!” I’m not sure how many of the hundred he had to use to pull that one off, but Zenon’s convinced, he replies, “I see! Well done Dante. Go for it! You might be able to defeat God” – which is the kind of advice that makes one wonder why they have friends in the first place, the last time I looked up the word God in the dictionary it was followed by a long string of words with the prefix: omni in front of them, but hey maybe I could be wrong and a demon with just a few hundred special powers – none of which presumably include the ability to shave – could take on the great almighty himself.
We’ll have to wait for that fight though because volume two sees the introduction of a new enemy for Dante to face off against in the form of the Four Demon Kings, based loosely on the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, who for once are quite well designed and generally look quite menacing, mind you this also mean they’re quite boring in comparison to the likes of Zenon. What’s most intriguing about their introduction is that they’re not working for the Satanists, but the Children of God who are working directly under God’s orders, so there’s a definite moral ambiguity from the supposed good guys of the story here. Conversely the Satanists are shown in a much kinder light across these three episodes, they’ve put the nasty rituals behind them and exhibited mercy in their handling of Zenon, now they’re shown as victims of Christian propaganda and when their backstory gets fleshed out more and more it’s becoming clear who the real protagonists of Demon Lord Dante are. It’s just a shame their lord has chosen to resurrect in the form of a temperamental teenager because most of the volume is centred around Ryo’s internal conflict over whether he’s man or monster, good or evil and this isn’t exactly riveting stuff, particularly given his tendency to just lie about in bed all day. So, while the three episodes on volume two are certainly an improvement over the first four, they’re up and down like a yo-yo, torn between the increase in action and some wonderfully camp stylisations and the rather wishy-washy nature of its lead character. If by volume three they can maintain the nonsensical monster battles and actually flesh out Ryo beyond that of a stereotypically moody adolescent then we could really see Demon Lord Dante come into its own as popcorn entertainment. For now though it still falls far short of the genres best.
While I have tried my best not to reveal too much about each episode in these synopses, please bare in mind that the second episode and onwards may feature spoilers for the episodes prior.
Episode 5. Fate: Dante rages in the streets of Tokyo and the army try to take him down with every weapon in their arsenal yet fail miserably. Unfortunately for them, Ryo is struggling to control Dante’s innate bloodlust and succumbs to his desires to lay waste upon the city, but when the traitorous beast king, Zenon arrives to kill his old friend, the stage is set for a giant battle within the streets of the capital.
Episode 6. Herald: Ryo has returned home but is still having a hard time coming to terms with his transformation into a fully-fledged monster and becomes more withdrawn from his family than ever. Perhaps this is just as well, because Ryo’s father, Kosuke is stepping up his organisation’s efforts to rid the world of demons once and for all – starting with lord Dante. Matters only get worse when God contacts him directly to advise him that the best way to kill a powerful demon is to use another powerful demon, and so the Children of God should unleash the Four Demon Kings from their eternal prison to destroy the Demon Lord once and for all – regardless of the human casualties this will undoubtedly incur.
Episode 7. Encounter: In an attempt to regain a sense of control over his own destiny, Ryo decides to investigate the parting words of Zenon about Sodom and Gomorrah, however what he discovers about the fate of these two ancient cities only serves to further confuse the youngster as to which side he should be fighting on. Meanwhile Sosuke is also suffering from a crisis of faith in his cause when he discovers that the Children of God are not only using the Four Demon Kings in their war against the Satanists, but they’re also breeding their own race of genetically engineered monsters.
Presented in the original 4:3 ratio the episodes on volume two have a slightly more colourful feel to them in comparison to the first volume, but Geneon’s transfer this time round is almost identical. Colors are solid with some very infrequent bleeding across the outlines of characters, the image is a little dark but contrast is decent and generally compression is very strong, which just minor mosquito noise around fine areas and some noise in the greyer shades. However, this time round the Edge Enhancement seems a little stronger (only a little) and with the introduction of the red SX creature in episode 06 we also see the introduction of dot crawl in the image, appearing around its finer edges.
Now here’s a definite departure from volume one. As always we have the choice of Japanese/English DD2.0 Surround, but this time round the English dub is mixed properly with dialogue emanating from the correct channel that each scene dictates. There’s also a general decrease in volume levels on both tracks but the English dub still remains louder than its Japanese counterpart, resulting in weaker dynamics. Whichever track you chose though you will have no problems with them I’m sure, dialogue is clean and audible, the bass has kick – lending weight to the action sequences, and there’s some ambient use of the rears during the city battle scenes.
Optional English subtitles are present with no spelling or grammatical errors I can recall.
The main feature on this disc is a very short interview with Manga writer Go Nagai. Running for just under five minutes, Nagai is an enthusiastic and polite interviewee whose rapid delivery helps him cover a range of subjects like his opinions on the Anime adaptations of his work, a discussion of the concepts behind Demon Lord Dante and a general retrospective look at his career so far – starting all the way back from his humble beginning. Note that throughout the interview the questions fired at him are displayed as burned in subtitles In Japanese, the removable English subtitles sit above this Japanese text and remain clear and readable.
Aside from this we have the usual: Highlights Montages for Episodes 7,8,9 & 10 (Japanese only with no subs), Character Profiles and finally trailers for Dokkoida!?, IkkiTousen and Gungrave.
A protracted Tokyo warpath sequence and lots of ridiculous, camp dialogue helps make volume two of Demon Lord Dante worthwhile, but the show’s story and character are still too mediocre to recommend Dante to anyone but the most enthusiastic monster Anime fan. Geneon’s standards haven’t changed much either, volume two has a pretty good DVD presentation and a neat little extra in the form of that Nagai interview, a shame it’s so short.