Saturday, February 6, 2010
Abandon all hope, ye who enter here...
I first heard about the animated version of Dante's Inferno by the purest accident. I was doing a web search and saw a link for the trailer. I watched it and was blown away! But that was nothing compared to watching the actual anime. This anime will stand as one of best features ever created.
EA tapped six of the best directors in anime to bring one of the greatest literary works of all time to life. It may have started as a mere companion piece to EA's video game, but through the talents of each director, The Animated Epic has surpassed a mere video game tie-in and become a classic itself.
The animation is nothing less than top-notch. Each of the six segments is distinct & masterfully drawn, yet they all blend virtually seamlessly to convey the power of Dante's Inferno with awe-inspiring style. Granted, the anime makes a great deal of departures from it's literary namesake. The original work was more contemplative with Dante's journey slowly opening an awareness of Dante's sins through conversations with damned souls in the nine circles and the memories these talks awaken in Dante. This adapation, however, has an exponential increase in overt violence as it focusses more on the actions Dante takes throughout his sojourn in hell and the battles he must overcome, creating demons and fights that lend themselves to a video game, but aren't part of the original poem. However, the core themes Aligheri presented in the original work still hold strong in this adaptation: Dante's recognition of his own personal sins, his eventual acceptance of his own part in causing the plight of Beatrice, the power of true repentance, and giving oneself over to will of God. These themes play a great part in the events of the anime.
The voice acting was incredible. I have to give much props to Graham McTavish who voiced Dante. It can get tiresome hearing someone yell over and over again during the course of a movie. (See Braveheart) Yet, McTavish never went over the top and kept me interested in all Dante had to say. That being said, the one who stole the show was Steve Blum, who voiced Lucifer. He put charm, anger, resentment, love, hate, and fear all in one voice. Always interesting, always powerful. The man could have read the phone book and made it compelling. It went beyond acting. In fact, I would not be surprised if he had actually been channeling the fallen angel itself.
Literary scholars and die-hard fans of Aligheri's work will find much to disect in this anime, but I see it as a fantastic introduction to the original work. Like the movie Se7en did for the seven deadly sins, The Animated Epic is a great way to introduce the themes and basic points of the original poem. A powerful first step towards further understanding Dante's Divine Comedy.
If you want to watch an all out, no holds barred, heavy-duty anime, pick up Dante's Inferno: The Animated Epic. You'll have a good time.