The first episode on this disc, “Death Poker,” finds Dante in a somewhat demonic Casino Royale affair, stuck in a game of poker in an effort to rid a client’s loved one of “the itch”: You know, that ol’ howlin’ call back to the table that turns normal people into gambling fiends. As it turns out, there might actually be a fiend at this table—a gambler from Hell that takes the lives of his opponents. It inevitably becomes Dante’s duty to root out this evil and turn it into the type of unrecognizable mush for which he’s famous.
In its final hours, Devil May Cry still manages to remain faithful to its source material, right down to the nonchalance of its hero and black-n-white slobbering villainy of its fiends. Though there hasn’t been much in the course of the series that managed to make things any more ridiculous than Dante sliding around his office mowing down demons with a slice of pizza in his mouth in the beginning of Devil May Cry 3, the tone is a nice balance of what we got in the first three games. The added bonus here is that you don’t need to play a couple of mediocre sequels just to enjoy the good ones, as the short duration of this show has allowed for an impressively steady level of quality.
The length also seems to have been a boon for the animation. Madhouse does a fine job of keeping things simple without looking cheap, saving the really destructive salvos for action sequences. Director Shin Itagaki (Black Cat) must play DMC like I do, because there’s a lot of rapid-fire pistol action keeping enemies afloat as they drain out like suspended fountain statues; Dante doesn’t mess with the sword as much as one would think. The violence is typically a quick and gory affair that we rarely linger on, keeping in step with Dante’s tendency toward indifference. Hell, there’s always a demon to kill somewhere else.
Nothing plays out “final volume” style until the last two episodes on the disc. Tasked with protecting a mysterious pendant, Dante quickly finds out why the stone is so highly coveted in the demon world. As the final key to unlocking the seal on the powerful demon Abigail, this elaborate piece of jewelry might just end up bringing about the End Times if it falls into the wrong hands.
Devil May Cry never gets close to wearing out its welcome, and this is mostly thanks to the colorful, if not so deep, characters. Your mileage may vary depending on familiarity with the games, but the appeal is definitely there in generous amounts. Throw in the young girl Patty and you’ve got the anime equivalent of a game that actually pulls off an enjoyable escort mission.
Though it’s disappointing to see the end come so quickly, it’s also nice to have another fresh series that doesn’t linger around the party after everyone else has emptied their Dixie cups and cleared out. There isn’t exactly a huge stable of truly enjoyable videogame-to-anime adaptations out there, so anyone even remotely interested in these characters should give the entire series a spin.
Available: October 7th, 2008