Disgaea, The Complete Series – DVD Review

Review by: Clive Owen

Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $39.98 US
Running Time: 300 minutes
Genre: Comedy/Action
Rating: TV PG
Release Date: Available Now

Sorry, but this one is not as much fun as the games, dood.

As die hard gamers ourselves, the Disgaea gaming franchise has been one of our personal favorites around the office as are the Prinny spin-offs on the PSP. So we say this as a fan of Disgaea that The Complete Series collection of the anime might have all our favorite characters but it manages to be one of the biggest disappointments.

The Complete Series of Disgaea is one of the last Geneon releases that might have been missed the first time around but now FUNimation brings us all 12-episodes of the series based on the characters from the game. In this series we find a cute girl with tiny wings by the name of Flonne looking for none other than the Overlord of the Netherworld. While she might look adorable, Flonne just so happens to be an assassin sent by the Celestials as their Angel trainee. She stumbles upon a part of the castle only to fall into the castle’s dump. It is there that she encounters a casket with the Overlord’s seal on it.

As it turns out, the casket contained the sleeping heir to the Overlord’s throne. He is Laharl, a selfish demon who thinks everyone should bow down to him and recognize him as the new Overlord since he will take the life of his own father to obtain the title. While he talks big, Laharl has a weakness and that is the talk of love, which Flonne seems to be obsessed with in a big way. Flonne ends up following Laharl on his quest to overthrow his father when they run into Laharl’s subordinate, the female demon named Etna who commands an army of penguin-like creatures called Prinnies.

It is Etna who informs Laharl that the young prince has been asleep for two years and since then his father, King Krichevskoy is dead … apparently from choking on a dumpling. So now Laharl goes on a quest to obtain a Tome that will secure his place in the throne as new Overlord. This isn’t going to be easy because there are demons who are all fighting for the title as well. On top of that, Earth has sent three heroes to destroy the demon Overlord. We meet the incredibly cheesy Captain Gordon along with the sexy Jennifer and their “Lost in Space”-inspired robot, Thursday.

On their journey, Laharl begins to change a little and even though he still remains nothing more than a brat he does come to change thanks to Flonne. Meanwhile, we learn that Etna is not the loyal follower that she says she is as we come to learn a big secret about her and the fact that Laharl’s slumber was caused by a poison. We also find out that Laharl might even have a little sister who just doesn’t quite convince Laharl … although she does know a few things about him and his father.

Besides zany characters like Captain Gordon, we are also introduced to the dashing demon Vyers who considers himself a Dark Adonis. While both these clichéd characters add some humor to the series, it is the Prinnies that steal the show. Despite the fact that they get kicked around by Etna, they’re loyal servants who sound like tiny surfers who had way too much coffee. In one episode, the Prinnies go on strike in a hilarious way and in another episode there’s a Prinny coup d’état that includes a massive Prinny mech.

It would have been great if the series concentrated on Flonne and Laharl’s relationship since her presence does play a hand in changing Laharl’s personality a tiny bit. It is because of her that he shows mercy to one opponent and it is because of her friendship with him that Flonne gets in trouble with the Celestial Angels.

Sadly, the story feels so disconnected to the final outcome that you’ll find it unmemorable and oftentimes not as funny as one would expect in a series that is suppose to be a comedy-action show. There are a few laughs to be had and most of them come from the Prinnies or Captain Gordon or sometimes even a sly joke here or there from the trio. The best and most interesting part comes in the final few episodes like the two-part story that has Earth invading the Netherworld as Laharl and Captain Gordon work together to save the Netherworld itself.

There’s also an emotional moment in the last few episodes of the series that shows us that the series really could have been better if it had followed the same exciting feel of these last episodes. This all feels like a missed opportunity for Disgaea fans and anime lovers alike. Even the animation isn’t inspiring or even adds to the humor, although the Prinny mech is a riot.

Unfortunately, The Complete Series of Disgaea is a completely forgettable anime series with only a small number of truly funny moments. Yes, it’s great to see the games’ colorful cast and the Prinnies are a real hoot but the story is weak and the comedy is on the tame side so what we have here is a missed opportunity that should have been a lot better than this. Sorry, dood, but there’s not enough here to really recommend even to fans of the series of games.

DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN

MOVIE/EPISODES: C-
Awakened from his two-year poison-induced sleep by a cute Angel Trainee named Flonne, the young demon Laharl sets out to claim his Overlord of the Netherworld title now that his father is dead. Joined by his subordinate, Etna, the three must deal with other demons, the 37th Defender of Earth and an army of Prinnies.

VIDEO QUALITY: B
The series looks good in FUNimation’s hands and that’s a very good thing but the animation won’t wow you even if you’re familiar with the games or the characters. There are some great visual effects in the later episodes that make you wish there were more like it in the earlier episodes. There’s just something about a whole island filled with Prinnies that will put a smile on your face.

AUDIO QUALITY: B+
The score tips its hat to the wonderful music of the Disgaea video games and the opening and closing theme songs aren’t bad at all. The Japanese voice cast does a good job with the characters while the English dub has a few standout performances from the likes of Michelle Ruff and Barbara Goodson.

EXTRAS: B+
The second disc holds all the extras such as the original Japanese promo for the series, textless opening and closing theme songs as well as a few FUNimation trailers. There’s even the video game trailer for Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice. However, the best feature is the four-part Special Talk feature that has an interview with voice actors Sohei Niikawa and Kaori Mizuhashi that’s short but worth a viewing.

OVERALL: C-
Disgaea has all the makings of an excellent comedy anime series based on the games but what we have here feels like a failed attempt to do justice to the games while giving us an anime that is just as fun. Yes, there are a few good laughs to be had and the series does get interesting in the later episodes but they

Review copy provided by FUNimation Entertainment

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