Based off of a relatively popular video game, Devil May Cry was made for viewers who appreciate pointlessly gory escapist fiction. The basic concept is fascinating: a universe where demons physically manifest and interact with a 19 century world that happens to contain modern day weapons.
The series follows Dante, the protagonist, and his miscellaneous adventures as a “the demon hunter.” He runs a detective/hired gun business office called “Devil May Cry.” His background is a haunting mystery to any viewer unaccustomed to the mythos; the premise of his existence relying on the term “Nephilim,” meaning the spawn of a demon and human.
Dante travels the world, taking only demon-related jobs. Eventually, his parentage comes to the forefront glazed over by one episode in the last half of the season.
As the protagonist, Dante is the only likable and semi-relatable character in the entire series. Every other character has little to no depth or builds on the previous characterization of the game.
The villain depends on a master plan excusable for a video game yet inexcusable for any self-respecting narrative: getting enough power to destroy/ control the world. This does not insult anyone’s intelligence as most of the narrative aspects are consistently inconsistent, and the morals are tacked on at the end or horseshoed in. The best example would be the last episode where Dante waxes poetically about souls at the end of the last battle, which is pure comedic gold.
Half of the season is a string of short stories happening consecutively in the same universe. The style of narration often uses someone other than Dante to see him in a new perspective. The narrator is usually as nearly an excusable character as Dante is a deep and interesting one.
From an analytical perspective, the overarching narrative is poorly plotted, but other than sloppy plotting the entertainment value is high.
Ironically, Devil May Cry does not have the expected issues when it comes to its battle scenes. All are well-choreographed, utilizing both the swordsmanship and gunmanship of Dante. None seem out of place.
Every fight has a natural plot progression, and the most characterization happens in these scenes, especially narration about Dante’s character depth. The battles scenes allude to the heightened reality of this literary universe, mostly having every stab wound produce at least three pints of blood, but the viewer comes to an understanding that in this universe, it takes more to kill a demon than a human being. Having a supernatural hybrid also excuses Dante from seemingly every injury.
Devil May Cry has 12 episodes, one opening, and one ending. Most of the music is unmemorable. The exceptions being the track behind most fight scenes and the ending song. The music does not add any special ambience that the visual atmosphere does not already portray. None of the tracks have any special literary context, which is no surprise as the lack of literary aspects is blinding, especially after Un-go.
There are many aspects that add to the entertainment value: the previously-stated, well-paced action sequences, the clever and sarcastic humor and Dante’s witty banter with every character that he comes in contact with.
The first episode was a very interesting disclaimer about the maturity level of the content. With the introduction of a child character, Dante attempts to censor all the innocence-shattering truth about the world from little Patty. In this episode, there is only one instance of cursing and very restrained or censored fights until the last fight. From this point on, there is no sheltering: numerous curse words and passionately, gory fights galore.
FUNIMATION dubbed Devil May Cry, but this seems to a little low for their standards. Due to the lack of narrative aspects to draw inference and context, it is hard to imagine a better dubbing. The voice acting was all played straight, enhancing the suspense of belief. Patty embodies the annoying little girl voice and Dante’s voice has a nuanced dry sarcasm that becomes more meaning after each episode.
Overall, Devil May Cry would have been an awesome escapist fiction anime, if I had not watched with analytical glasses. The attempt at making this a deep and probing story is entertaining in it of itself, but it requires a little research to truly appreciate the mythos and characters.
By Kimberly Joy Ward