Demon Lord Dante Vol.4: Dante Reigns Review
After the revelation about the tragic fate of Sodom and Gomorrah, Medusa has another bombshell to divulge – after God destroyed the Earth’s original human race he split into millions of separate entities that conjoined with the planets apes to evolve into the current human race. So in other words, Mankind itself is the very enemy Ryo must destroy to regain the Demon’s freedom. With this horrible realization Dante’s memories come flooding back to the fore and now finally, Ryo Utsugi must say goodbye to his human family and prepare for the final showdown with God and the destruction of Mankind. But in order to stand a chance against the all-powerful evil deity, the Demons need to resurrect another old friend – Satan the Wise!
Good old Demon Lord Dante, it never lets you down when it comes to completely off-the-wall and ridiculous plot developments. There’s quite a few across these last three episodes, but the main revelation in the synopsis above is an absolute gem: almost every single character in the series is in fact just part of the primary antagonist without them actually realizing it! It’s the kind of plot twist that makes you grateful that the characterization throughout the season has been so slight to begin with, because if I’d have cared one iota for the characters I would of felt a little robbed by the personality switcheroo that occurs in episode eleven. Yet, because they never felt like fully realized characters it was a lot easier to accept these twists and even admire to some degree the writer’s attempts to subvert Christian ideology in general, but something tells me the ultra rightwing Christian groups that like to lambaste any show with even the slightest bit of sex, swearing and violence will have an apoplectic fit at the blasphemous nature of Dante’s story – also of course, the sex, swearing and violence.
Absurdity of the writing aside though, episode eleven is every bit as good as its predecessor on volume two. These two episodes laid out all the cards onto the table, resulting in numerous epiphanies for the characters, first for Dante and then for the humans surrounding him. Saori learns that she’s related to Ryo by blood, so that means she’s no longer in danger of getting locked up for wanting to jump him every time he waves those super sexy fluffy chops in her direction. Kosuke learns not only that he’d been harboring his enemy all this time, but that God is also a total git and the squinty-eyed swordsman, Sosuke, decides to make a proper stand against the Children of God once and for all (but not that he needs two eyes to do this). Unfortunately, the human characters don’t go any further than that because by the end of the first episode on volume four, the final battle between the demons and God is ready to start and that means all the souls fly back to the source!
The confrontation itself is pretty long and reasonably entertaining, although the retro animation means the action feels very simplistic and static throughout. Plus every single Anime battle cliché in the book is thrown in at some point or the other, particularly the old “one character jumping in to take the killer blow for another”, which happens so many times I lost count. We also get introduced to a new character half way through in the form of Demon Lord Satan, who certainly looks the part but unfortunately does bugger all beside standing still and revealing a little bit of plot and character exposition. In fact he’s so inert they probably only assigned one animator to his movements, which are almost solely lip and head based. In comparison, the other newcomers – the various monsters God transforms into to battle the demons are suitably physical and they also allow God some gloat time so that he can deliver a few camp, cackling speeches explaining why the Demons have no chance against him – that is until the inevitable happy ending that is so sickeningly mushy that it can only be described as passable at best.
And that is the end of Demon Lord Dante. Considering it came from the mind of one the great Manga writers it’s surprising just how poor the writing was at times, and I’m sure the more bizarre plot developments in the second half of the season could be down to the fact that Go Nagai never got to finish the original Manga, but despite its many weaknesses I have to say I rather enjoyed Demon Lord Dante at times – mostly because I was laughing at it, granted, but it felt good to sit and watch such an unashamedly old-fashioned show.
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 11. Saori: After traveling back to the present time with Medusa, Dante’s memories finally return to Ryo Utsugi. Mankind is the enemy he must now face and the first thing he needs to do is cut all ties to the Utsugi family. This of course breaks Saori’s heart, but when God appears before Kosuke to announce that he’s taking the doctor’s daughter away for the battle against the demons, it seems that her troubles are only just beginning.
Episode 12. Quagmire: As God prepares the ultimate weapon against the Demons, his enemy are busy developing a battle strategy to ensure victory over this evil overseer. Their only hope is to awaken Demon Lord Satan and his personal army of demons, but this is easier said than done because after the fall of Dante two thousand years prior, Satan was left defenseless against God and sealed himself away inside a parallel dimension so dangerous that not even his all-powerful enemy dared to enter.
Episode 13. Consummation: The arrival of Satan helped destroy the Adam and Eve dragon, but in its place a far more terrible monster has arisen and in one horrendous demonstration of its power, Satan’s army is completely obliterated. This is God’s ultimate weapon and as Dante faces off against this terrifying foe, he soon realizes that it’s not just the monster’s super-powers that make it such a difficult opponent to fight. Could this be the end of the Demon’s war effort?
You know the drill by now, Geneon’s standards haven’t dropped or improved much across each volume, so as usual we have a 4:3 presentation that handles the old-fashioned style of Dante reasonably well. The colour scheme may be bland but is handled reasonably well with deep, clean shades when needed - although dot crawl consistently rears its ugly head when it comes to Medusa’s red hair or Dante’s red crown. Contrast is good and brightness remains a bit low, but thankfully volume four hasn’t had much in the way of the black fog censorship applied to it – just the one scene with very tame nudity and a gory arm dismemberment have been obscured.
Japanese/English DD2.0 are present, which both deliver clean, audible dialogue, solid bass reproduction and some ambient use of the surround channels to help boost the rather static action sequences.
Optional English subtitles are present with no spelling or grammatical errors I can recall.
The extras have been dwindling with each subsequent volume, so it won’t come as a surprise to see that all Geneon have included this time is Character Profiles and trailers for Gungrave, Burn-Up Scramble, and PopoTan.
Volume four delivers a mediocre conclusion to a rather mediocre series. Demon Lord Dante is a show I’d only recommend to hard core Go Nagai fans or anyone who likes to have a giggle at overblown dramatics. The series may have fallen foul of completely unnecessary censorship, but considering that the uncensored material wasn’t particularly provocative in the first place, I fail to see how Demon Lord Dante could’ve had any merits as an exploitation piece in its untouched form. So, while Geneon should have acquired an uncut source, I think it would be a stretch to say their DVD presentation has ruined the series in any way.