ADV Films presents
The Devil Lady #3: The Strengthening (1992)
Lan Asuka: Do you think she could be happy, living like that?
Jun Fudou: Because she's not human...- Kaoru Shimamura, Junko Iwao
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 nudity, horror violence, mature themes)
Run Time: 01h:36m:32s
Release Date: 2003-04-01
DVD ReviewThe third disc in Go Nagai's The Devil Lady brings us to the halfway point in the series, which continues its great gothic mood as the story of a high class fashion model, Jun Fudou, who possesses the Beast gene, a trait which allows her to transform into a Devilman. It is only her tenuous hold on her humanity that separates her from the beasts the Human Alliance calls on her to destroy, people completely consumed by the Beast Progression. Four more episodes are presented here, as the story continues to unfold.
A four-year-old girl becomes the center of attention in the opener. The sole survivor of an apartment fire, burned on seventy percent of her body, and unable to speak, the girl is taken to the HA hospital for observation. Ran has her suspicions about the child, whose wounds are healing at a remarkable rate, and whose reaction to flame creates a sign she may carry the Beast gene. Jun is horrified at the thought, believing that even if it is true, that the girl must have some humanity intact, and that she can be brought back, but will her motherly instincts betray her?
With the media becoming more of a problem, Ran is under pressure to keep the Alliance's mission as discreet as possible. A department store still recovering from a scandal the previous year becomes the scene for a series of disappearances, and the Human Alliance is called in when a Beast is suspected to be on the premises. A grisly discovery proves the threat is real, but Jun and Ran have differing ideas on the appropriate course of action, as the tension between them grows. Meanwhile, Kazumi's reluctant curiosity is being piqued by a reporter bent on exposing Jun's secret.
Jun's dreams become increasingly violent, foretelling a day when humans are no longer in existence. Jason's return proves unsettling, as he doesn't share Jun's optimism that the beasts can be quelled, instead urging her to follow her passions and enjoy her killing. Another beast is on the prowl, whose trademark is leaving people's faces dessicated, and Jun is called in to deal with it. As a result, and much to Jason's delight, he uncovers one of the mysteries of the Giga Effect.
When a young girl's dying remarks indicate she was held captive by a beast, Jun is dispatched to locate it, but discovers a lair of perverse horror in the process. A woman invites Jun into her home, where she is drugged, and set as prey for the monster. This installment has the most phallic symbolism seen yet, as a new sexual nature of the Beast Progression is brought into light.
The Devil Lady elevates the concept of the monster-of-the-week format, but its decidedly adult themes, fused with grotesque and disturbing imagery, work on a more mature level. Not surprising for a Go Nagai work, there is a strong sexual undercurrent present. The writing is excellent, as each episode manages to approach the story from a slightly different angle, maintaining interest and without feeling contrived. There is an overall plot coming to light, in an effective, yet subtle manner, as bits and pieces of the puzzle emerge. Throughout these episodes, Jun's struggle with her situation continues to evolve. She is both determined to remain human, but is growing comfortable with her Beast state as well, knowing full well the two shouldn't coexist, but hoping that those she comes across also share that shred of humanity that can redeem them. The characters are all gaining some depth, the true motives of the Human Alliance are not fully apparent yet, and new characters add to the mystery of where the series is headed. One thing is certain, this show has my full attention, and is fast becoming one of my favorite series of the year.
Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: Image quality remains consistent with the rest of the series, conveying the dark atmosphere of the show very well. Colors are somewhat muted, and come across well, and the large fields of black that make for the style of the presentation are solid and deep. There is minimal aliasing, and a few minor source defects. The look is intentionally grainy and slightly on the soft side, giving a cinematic feel.
Image Transfer Grade: B+
|DS 2.0||Japanese, English||no|
Audio Transfer Review: The audio for this series continues to be well done, in both Japanese and English dub. The soundstage is fittingly utilized with appropriate directional cues. The dramatic musical score heightens the mood, with dialogue being clear and well defined. Nothing to complain about here.
Audio Transfer Grade: A-
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Crying Freeman, Ushio & Tora, Getter Robo, Noir, Rune Soldier, Samurai X: Reflection
- Clean opening and closing animation
Menus are the same as the first two discs with a thematically correct bloodstain as the selection indicator, however this does obscure the current selection.
The trailers section contains Crying Freeman, Ushio & Tora, Getter Robo, Noir, Rune Soldier, and Samurai X: Reflection.
Our review copy didn't include them, but there are apparently some monster trading cards that come with the disc.
Extras Grade: C+
Final CommentsThe Devil Lady continues to excel in its dark, horror styling, as the story of the Beast Progression unfolds. The mood is eerie, greatly enhanced by the score, as the mysteries surrounding the Beasts begin to come to light. Recommended for mature audiences.
Jeff Ulmer 2003-04-08