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ADV Films presents
The Devil Lady #1: The Awakening (1998)

"Beasts are beasts. They call to one another with the blood they shed."
- Lan Asuka (Kaoru Shimamura)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: January 05, 2003

Stars: Junko Iwao, Kaoru Shimanu, Kazusa Murei, Shawn Sides, Siān Rees-Cleland, Camilla Chen
Other Stars: Takumi Yamazaki, Megumi Ogata, Britton Baker, Laura Bussinger
Director: Toshiki Hirano

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (17+ for violence, nudity, mature situations)
Run Time: 02h:00m:07s
Release Date: January 07, 2003
UPC: 702727024122
Genre: anime


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- BB+A- C

DVD Review

ADV follows their previous Getter Robo and New Cutey Honey releases with another entry from the Go Nagai catalogue. The Devil Lady is an offshoot of Nagai's original, and defining series, Devilman, which first appeared in manga form in 1972, and soon thereafter a TV series. After a pair of Devilman OVAs in 1987 and 1990, the author revisited his creation from a female perspective, while changing the setting to present day. The result was Devilman Lady, released in manga form in 1997 and for television in 1998, which has been Americanized for this release as The Devil Lady.

Beautiful young Jun Fudo became a popular high fashion model after moving to Tokyo. In her early twenties, she lives a glamorous life and is idolized by many, including her teenaged friend Kazumi Takiura, but recently has been feeling unsettled, as if someone is constantly watching her. One day, on her way to the subway, Jun catches sight of a blonde-haired woman, whose stare is piercing. Later that night the woman reappears, introducing herself as Ran Asuka, and beckoning Jun to accompany her. Inexplicably drawn to this woman, she complies, and is taken to a remote warehouse where Ran has a surprise in store. Within its walls awaits a demon beast, and as the creature attacks Jun, she undergoes a transformation into a beast herself. Overcome in this new and hideous state, she rips the demon beast apart. The next morning, she hopes that it was all just a nightmare, but the shredded clothes in her washroom reveal the truth.

Ran is a member of the Human Alliance, a secret organization charged with stopping the "beast progression" that is taking hold of humans. These beasts have lost the connection to their human souls, and can only be defeated by another beast still maintaining their humanity, a devilman. Jun becomes the Human Alliance's unwitting tool in the fight against the demons, but she has a hard time reconciling her true nature. With each new encounter she realizes who she really is, disturbed by what is happening to her. Oblivious to what her friend is enduring, Kazumi doesn't understand Jun's sudden aloofness. As a puppet for the Human Alliance, Jun can't resist her calling, but those in the beast world feel her betrayal, and set out to destroy the new devilman by targeting those she loves. When Kazumi's parents are slaughtered by a demon beast, she decides to move in with Jun, who she knows will look after her, but Jun is afraid to let Kazumi know her secret.

The Devil Lady is a dark and stylish series, seeped in a gothic feel accentuated by its musical score. Although basically a devil-beast-of-the-week format, the show does a good job in its presentation, which keeps it interesting. The setup is slow but well paced, and exposition is handled methodically and naturally, drawing the viewer into the world of its characters. In true Go Nagai style, this series is not for the squeamish, there is plenty of violence and blood spattering, nudity is frequent, and while there is little overt sexuality (a marked change from the manga version), there is a strong lesbian undercurrent present throughout. The design will be a love it or hate it affair, but I find it quite appealing. So far, The Devil Lady has my interest, and is a nice diversion from romantic comedies or giant robots. It won't be for everyone, but the moody atmosphere, prolific action, and decent story and character development are quite entertaining.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: The image quality here is very good overall. The color palette is fairly muted by design, and this is conveyed nicely with minimal bleed, though may be a little undersaturated in the reds in places. The look is a bit soft, visible grain is well presented, and noise isn't a problem even for such a dark show. Contrast is good, aliasing infrequent, and there are no signs of digital enhancement. A few minor blemishes here and there, but nothing unexpected. A solid presentation.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Japanese, Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: A solid stereo mix is available in original Japanese or English dub. The soundtstage is utilized well with appropriate directionality and ambience. Toshiyuko Watanabe's excellent score is dynamic and well defined, adding greatly to the character and mood. The Japanese track seems just a touch fuller sounding, but dialogue on either track is clear and distinct, and not technical issues were noted.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 5 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Dai-Guard, Wild Arms, Excel Saga,Getter Robo, Cutey Honey, Steel Angel Kurumi
Packaging: Alpha
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Clean opening and closing credits
  2. Art gallery
  3. Pack-in extras
Extras Review: Extras are pretty standard, with the show's trailer, plus clean opening (English title version) and closing credits, and a four image art gallery. Menus are fairly simple, but use a thematically correct bloodstain as the selection indicator, however this obscures the current selection. Unfortunately, there are a few gramatical errors in the subtitle track, such as using "they're" for "their" or "to" for "too" which is unexpected for ADV.

The trailers section contains Dai-Guard, Wild Arms, Excel Saga,Getter Robo, Cutey Honey and Steel Angel Kurumi.

Although our review copy didn't include them, there are apparently four monster trading cards that come with the disc.

Extras Grade: C

 

Final Comments

The first installment of The Devil Lady introduces us to its characters, and sets the dark and gothic mood for this stylish Go Nagai series, which is greatly enhanced by its tense soundtrack. Plenty of blood spilling, lots of action, and an emerging plot mark the five episodes presented here. Beasts beware, The Devil Lady is coming!

 


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