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"Demon Lord Dante" Vol. 3, Wherein Dante Agonizes, "What the 'HELL' is going on?"

Ah, Ryo! Back for more Devil-trouncing fun eh? Yes, Ryo Utsugi is back for a third round of “old school” action with all the blatant nudity, violence, and sexual situations that you’d expect from Go Nagai!

ImageMuch in the style (almost exactly, in fact) of Nagai’s Devilman, Ryo Utsugi has the ability to transform into a super powered demon and fight off legions of hideous monsters. This round of episodes starts off with the Four Demon kings entering the city for their “Devil Show,” which is actually just the violent slaughter of dozens of innocent bystanders to force Dante to do battle with them. This episode offers the best action of the three on this disc, as well as some good bits about God Squad member, Sosuke.

The next episode features the sexy demon Lamia, and her twisted nightmare world known as “Lamia’s Labyrinth.” Ryo’s sister Saori is sucked into it through her computer screen after visiting a website (Yeah….it doesn’t make much sense, but with devils and monsters running around, logic is long gone) and Lamia takes her to be the mother of one of her demon children. Medusa, who saves Saori, plays the hero in this episode much more then Dante. Ryo, not wanting to see any of his friends hurt, willingly transforms into Dante and takes the fight to Lamia and her cohorts, but what ensues is, well, not all that exciting. He soundly defeats the four demon kings anyway, though. This episode was, in my opinion, the weakest on the DVD. While I certainly have no complaints that Lamia and Medusa were given plenty of scantily clad screen time, the overall pace was just kind of boring, and the fight scene was rather uninspired. It gave off a general feeling of, “We gotta kill the bad guys just to advance the plot” and the heroes’ victory at the end didn’t seem as important as it should have.

The final episode on the disc delves further into the religious aspects than previous episodes had, spouting some things that Christians might cringe at. Though it has the least amount of action, this episode does wonders for the plot, helping to establish Dante’s and Medusa’s past. One million years ago, they were both lovers in the city of Sodom, and lived happily until the cruel and evil GOD (yeah, don’t ask) descended and ordered the citizens to sacrifice their lives so he could have a physical body. Dante, following orders from Satan, the oddly wise and kind leader of Sodom, takes off in a fighter plane in an attempt to defeat God.

The spin on the biblical story of the destruction of Sodom is original, but overall, this series is starting to seem like Evangelion, adding in unnecessary and certainly inflammatory religious elements that, while mildly interesting, detract from the action-oriented feel that a Go Nagai anime should have. The fighter plane and the other technological aspects of Sodom are understandable since Sodom was supposedly ahead of its time, but I have no idea why God is depicted as a gigantic, flaming ball with a lion’s face. I guess Demon Lord Dante‘s major flaw is that at times, it seems like it’s not sure what kind of show it wants to be: sci-fi, action, comedy, hentai, horror, or, um, theological. Genre bending is always a plus, but not when you end up with a show that does none of them well. Also, Dante suffers from, in my opinion, a rather poor animation budget and a cheesy musical score. The backgrounds are well drawn and the characters themselves all look great but there is so little movement that, at times, I felt as if I was watching a filmstrip, not an anime. Another small problem I have is that Ryo Utsugi is a completely unlikable character with no real interests aside from keeping his demon powers in check.

Extras on this DVD are the typical character profiles, trailers, and whatnot so nothing great there. All in all, Demon Lord Dante isn’t a bad show, it’s just nothing special. Its major strengths lie in the fact that it is a Go Nagai project after all so the women are absolutely gorgeous (sniffle, especially the dearly departed Lamia). Those of course, don’t make a great show, but if your criteria for anime are heavy helpings of girls, religious themes, or just some good blood-spewin’ mayhem, pick it up.

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