Lady Death: The Motion Picture
Sometimes being a fan of American comic books has its perks. While I was never able to truly enjoy a Lady Death comic up until a few years ago, I knew of the character long before, but never really "got her" until I was finally able to sit down and watch this feature length film. And man, it was awesome!
Lady Death is the powerful tale of a young woman named Hope whose life literally "goes straight to Hell" after she learns she is the daughter of none other than the fallen angel himself, Lucifer. When the rest of the village learns of her blasphemous lineage, the Inquisition sets out to burn Hope at the stake. With her faith shaken, Hope mistakenly accepts an offer of eternal life in the underworld and finds out the cold harsh truth that daddy isn't going to offer her eternal life, he just wants his little girl to rule Hell by his side.
Hope rejects his offer and is thrust out the window and into the River Styx far below. Hope awakens on the river's banks to only to come face to face with a pair of wolves. It is here that her true power is unleashed--a power linked to her very faith in God--and makes quick work of the Nameless Wolves. Hope soon meets up with a powerful warrior known as Cremator and begins the long and arduous training that transforms her from the frail Hope into the busty vixen known as Lady Death.
Obviously, Lady Death is not actually anime; it does however come from ADV--a company that more than knows anime--and it is one release that has been bought up a lot of discussion ever since it was announced over two years ago. I actually put the Lady Death DVD into my player without any preconceived notions on what to expect. I just wanted to be entertained, and I was more than just entertained...I was enthralled. The first act in Fifteenth Century Sweden was a tad slow, but the moment the series shifted fully into Hell, the entire tone and passing of the movie changed.
It is also worth noting that the atmosphere seen in the film would have been nothing if not for the amazing backgrounds seen in this feature. Hell is presented in much the same way that it was in Neil Gaiman's The Sandman, where Hell is not actually a place of fire and brimstone, but one of despair and bleakness. Lucifer's cathedral atop the tree of knowledge is by far the most striking area in the film with the towering thrown being worth a freeze frame or two alone just to take in fully.
While not stacked, the DVD does feature some enjoyable extras. First up are two "Visions of Hell" featurettes--one dedicated to the evolution of the characters and the other to the background designs--and a half-hour making of documentary entitled "Animating Death". This documentary primarily spotlights three of the key animators at Sunmin as they talk about their hopes for the feature and the actual content, but it also has a few words by Andrew Orjuela about how the look of the comic was preserved for the feature.
Audio wise, the movie was made for North American audiences, so the film only contains an English 5.1 soundtrack, but it is of a considerable higher quality than a normal ADV production as it is obvious that the film was drawn to match the English dialogue. Fear not though, Christine Auten's menacing, yet passionate performance as Lady Death does more than carry the film, it makes the film.
All things said though, Lady Death may not have been produced in Japan, but it is still a worthy title for any comic book fan's DVD library.