Demonbane is an anime based on a visual novel series. The series was directed by Hidetoshi Yoshida and was produced by WOWOW. The anime aired in Japan from May 18-August 17, 2006. As of this writing, Crunchyroll holds the North American license for Demonbane.
This is another series that I watched the first episode of years ago and never picked back up again. I’m starting to go through as many of the series that I watched this way as possible in an attempt to start clearing out this anime viewing backlog that has developed over the past decade or so.
Daijuji Kurou is the main character of the Demonbane, and he’s a broke detective who receives an offer from a member of one of the most respected families in Arkham City. His assignment is to look for a grimoire, and the young woman hiring him pays an impressive sum for the assignment. As Daijuji searches for the grimoire, he comes across a strange bookstore that he’s never seen before. He meets the mysterious proprietor, who gives him a prediction that his life will change drastically.
After he leaves the store, Daijuji sees a young woman being chased by a group called Black Lodge. She falls from the sky and uses magic to protect herself. Unfortunately, she uses too much of her power and becomes weak. Daijuji takes the young woman with him but they are pursued by Black Lodge. The young woman is named Al Azif, and she is a grimoire in human form. Al uses her power to make a contract with Daijuji, which bestows powerful magic onto him. Why was it not surprising when it turns out a kiss is used to make the contract?
In addition to making the contract with Daijuji, Al also activates Demonbane, a mecha known as a Deus Machina, to combat Black Lodge. It turns out that Demonbane belongs to Ruri, the young woman who hired Daijuji to find the grimoire. Ruri isn’t entirely happy about this development, since Demonbane is a memento of her grandfather, but when Black Lodge is constantly attacking in order to get their hands on Al, Ruri has to relent to Daijuji and Al using the mecha to protect not just Al, but Ruri’s own interests as well.
Over the course of the 12 episodes, we are introduced to several minions from Black Lodge. To be honest, most of them are rather goofy characters. And it’s not only their mannerisms and actions, it’s also emphasized through the decisions that were made for casting these characters’ voices. The higher ups in Black Lodge are much more sophisticated, but it turns out that there’s not much loyalty toward Master Therion, the head of Black Lodge.
As the series progresses, we see a relationship develop between Daijuji and Al Azif. However, there is a section of Episode Five (which starts out at a hot spring and then moves to another island), where something very uncomfortable happens between the two of them. Yes, Daijuji may have been under the influence of some weird gas but watching him start to sexually assault Al was kind of uncomfortable to watch. There are various bits of fanservice spread throughout the series, although the fanservice is at its worst during Episode Five (especially the portion that takes place at the hot spring).
Demonbane attempts to combine mecha and magic, and to be honest, I’m not entirely convinced that this combination works as well as it could. I’m not against combining mecha and magic, because I have appreciated other series that have used this approach, but I just feel that Demonbane‘s attempt at it just doesn’t work well.
Another thing that bothered me about Demonbane is how it ends. During the last two or three episodes, it keeps seeming like Daijuji and Al have defeated the “final boss,” but then a new plot twist occurs that reveals that there’s still another enemy to go. Honestly, it felt like the writer(s) were trying too hard to keep upping the ante in order to reach the climax of the series. And the conclusion of the series left me feeling rather “meh.” I was like, “I invested my time to watch all 12 episodes of the series, and this is how it ends?”
It doesn’t help that, at least to me, the animation felt like it was on the weak side. With all the mecha that appears in the series, attempts were made to incorporate CG into the animation. Unfortunately, the CG doesn’t look terribly impressive, even for the time period the series was originally released in, and the CG just stands out way too much from everything else. Also, the character designs and animation look terribly dated and haven’t aged well over the last 15+ years since the anime was released. When I first started watching Demonbane, I thought it looked like an anime that would have come out sometime between 2001 and 2003, so I was quite surprised to discover that it was actually released in 2006.
I don’t want to sound like I’m totally dragging this series, so I will mention a positive for it. That positive is the casting of the various characters. None of the voice actors sounded miscast for their characters, and they manage to take this mediocre material and put their all into it. Even though I may not have been impressed with the animation or the overall story, the thing that kept me watching the series was the voice acting.
To be honest, I think that Demonbane is going to have the strongest appeal to viewers who are already familiar with the original visual novel series. It seems that, at least for me, since I had no familiarity with the visual novel, and I didn’t really connect much with the characters in the series by the end, that I didn’t find much enjoyment while watching Demonbane. But maybe that’s just me.
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