Most people familiar with the PS2 catalogue of games will have heard of Devil May Cry. With three very popular games released and a fourth one in the works, I wasn’t surprised to see they decided to make a manga out of it.
This first volume, titled “Code: 1 – Dante”, initiates the events leading up to the story in the third game, which is set before the original PS2 game. The prologue opens up with a classic story of a world divided by darkness (the domain of demons) and light (the domain of mortals). As the forces of darkness tried to conquer the forces of light, a demon champion called Sparda, rose up in the name of the mortals to defend them. Along the way, he sired two half demon / half human sons; Dante and Vergil, and it’s with them that the main story revolves. What follows is a clichéd plot by the forces of evil to try and open a seal to allow the demons to rule over the mortal realm and somehow Dante and Vergil are the keys to allow this to happen.
Our main guy here is Dante. He’s your archetypal anti-hero with *a lot* of emotional baggage and a bit of a chip. The private investigations business he runs, invariably leads him into numerous encounters with demons, who just so happen to sit quite nicely with his ‘shoot-first, ask questions later…maybe’ approach to life. (Lucky that!)
As clichéd as the story is, I actually quite like it. I think it’s got a fair amount of scope to go down different paths. Add some fierce gun-play along with some demons and there’s certainly plenty of potential for the action to entertain.
My problem though is that as a character, Dante is so one-dimensional and comes out with such ridiculous one-liners that, well, it’s just so unbelievable. (yes, MORE unbelievable than a half demon / half human demon hunter). For example; in response to a demon rabbit asking to buy an amulet he wears, Dante replies "And I want a smaller dick. I guess we’re both assed out, huh?". Or as a demonic girl tries to eviscerate his jugular shouting "I will suck you dry!", he returns with "Damn. Any other time, a chick tellin' me that would be a good thing"..... Seriously, who talks like that? I keep reading it and expecting Shaft to jump out from a bush and shout “Daaamn right!!”
Am I being too tough? Maybe, but I expect better in a script than this. Translated or otherwise!
My other main issue is that when the script fails you, you turn to the artwork and while it succeeds beautifully in places, in others it’s miserably poor. A lot of the action panels are impossibly hard to follow and there’s not a lot of depth in most of the scenes. It’s a shame because there are moments of real talent but it just snaps in and out too frequently to hold the illusion.
Ultimately then, There’s a reasonable story in there somewhere but you have to battle through 16-year old American trash talk and a kaleidoscope of images that often don’t make sense.
A pity really.