Demon Lord Dante (Maō Dante) is a 1971 manga by Go Nagai. Remakes of the manga were released in 1994 and 2002. A 13-episode anime was released in 2002. Unfortunately, the animation of that series was extremely poor, the story was filled with plot holes, and to make it worse, the English dubbed version was dreadful at best.
The story is about a boy named Ryo Utsugi who, after a series of nightmares, eventually encounters a powerful demon named Dante in the Himalayas. After being eaten by said demon, Dante is consumed by Ryo's memories, allowing his mind to be taken over. Ryo learns from Dante and Medusa that God, the current ruler of Earth, is actually an evil alien invader who conquered the planet and subjugated its people, turning the rebels into demons. The rest of the story focuses on Ryo's life as he battles against God while learning the true nature of the Angels, the Demons, and Dante himself.
In spite of what others may have claimed, the anime adaptation is indeed very true to the source material (as the manga was literally only three volumes long) with only a few minor changes. The anime adds a lot of extra material to meet the thirteen episode limit such as filler set in between scenes from the manga, adding some anime original characters, making connections which weren't really shown nor mentioned in the manga (such as the leader of God's Will being Ryo Utsugi's adoptive father) and writing a conclusion for the story.
Many themes from Demon Lord Dante recur in other works by Nagai, including Devilman and Devilman Lady. In fact, Devilman came into being because Toei producers became interested in Dante and asked Nagai for a similar yet more marketable series. The much Lighter and Softer Mazinger Z also borrows from the designs of Dante and his fighter jet (for the titular Super Robot) and God (for the Emperor of Darkness).
- Advanced Ancient Humans: A million years ago, humanity was already advanced in high-tech. The kingdom of Sodom was actually the capital of humanity and the most high-tech of all. That is, until God destroyed it.
- Ascended Extra: Pretty much everyone besides Ryo Utsugi from the original manga is given a greater focus in the newer works.
- Adaptational Badass:
- Six of the Satanists in the manga were demons in the anime.
- In Neo Mao Dante: Kosuke Utsugi, Ryo’s Father, is the archangel Uriel.
- Adaptational Dye-Job:
- In the colored editions of the first manga Medusa’s hair was blue, in the anime her hair was red.
- In Neo Mao Dante Ryo has an odd lock of white hair.
- Adaptation Name Change: Ryou's sister, Saori, has her name changed to Aya in Neo Maou Dante 2002. She also has a different hair style.
- Aerith and Bob: The demons have names like Beelzebub, Gusion and Medusa, but also names like Dante and Pico.
- Arc Words: “What is god, what is the devil?”
- Battle of the Still Frames: The majority of the anime's action sequences were this.
- Big Bad: God is the alien invader who conquered Earth in the past and turned the survivors into demons, and he seeks to stop Ryo and Dante from taking the world back.
- Crapsack World: It might not be as bad as the one from Devilman, but is still pretty bad. And it get worse as the Apocalypse starts.
- Decoy Protagonist: Played with. Since the beginning, Ryo Utsugi was essentially set up to be this as Dante takes over his body with Ryo's memories taking over Dante. However, it is revealed at the end of the manga/anime Ryo Utsugi is the reincarnation of Dante's human self created right before God imprisoned him inside Cocytus making Ryo essentially both a decoy and the real protagonist at the same time.
- Eye Beams: Dante starts using these out of nowhere in the last episode.
- Fanservice: This is written by Go Nagai, so it's expected to pop out here and there.
- Fan Disservice: This is written by Go Nagai, so this is also expected to pop up.
- Horsemen of the Apocalypse: the Four Demon Kings.
- Gecko Ending: As the manga only ran for three volumes and ended up with No Ending, more or less half of the anime is original, including the second part and conclusion.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Ironically, most demons get this treatment, especially Medusa.
- Hijacking Cthulhu: The title demon tricks Ryo into freeing it, then rewards the boy by eating him. But somehow, Ryo's personality survives this, taking over Dante's body and displacing its previous human identity Judas Iscariot .
- Hot-Blooded Sideburns: Subverted. Ryo, while having sideburns, actually starts out more half-boiled until he encounters Dante.
- Light Is Not Good: God speaks to his followers via a pillar of light.
- Subverted in the last episode when Dante starts glowing golden after having been endowed with the powers of his fallen demon friends.
- Lighter and Softer: The anime, ironically, is this compared to Devilman. While the latter is set in a Crapsack World where the only truly good person is the main character, Dante's world is not as bad with one of the few downsides being that the modern day humans are actually just apes that inhabit pieces of God's essence, making them essentially God. It is still a pretty dark and violent series, tough.
- As the anime progresses, it would seem that this would be remedied. Sort of, but not in the way you would think; after God regains the ectoplasm that he had planted into the apes, modern humanity starts reverting back into the mind of said apes and start killing eachother which, while still dark, tosses out the Humans Are the Real Monsters trope that Devilman established.
- Lost in Translation: Official subs have... questionable quality. Prime example is calling Beelzebub "Veil Zebub". His demon form is even a giant fly.
- Male Gaze: Comes up during Fanservice parts. Shower scenes come to mind.
- More Deadly Than the Male: In both the anime and Neo Mao Dante, Eve both lasted longer and came closer to killing Dante than Adam, it might help that she has always had Dante’s sister in her forehead.
- Named by the Adaptation: In Neo Mao Dante, Dante and Medusa are given the surnames Luther and Gorgon respectively.
- Six of the Satanist from the manga were identified as Ura, Pico, Carne, Gusion, Sameal and Professor Veil Zebub
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Dante and Medusa are combinations between dinosaurs, mechas, humans and even God's pure power. Typical cooking, right?
- Nipple and Dimed: Zig-zagged in the manga. The sacrified girl was drawn with nipples, but Medusa was not.
- The Power of Love: In the final episode Ryou and Saori's mutual love destroys the Big Bad. Subverted in that it also seeminglynote destroys the world, kills everyone else, and puts them in the roles of Adam and Eve of the new world.
- Rape as Drama: While it was never shown on screen, one can guess how Lamia impregnated dozens of kidnapped women in her dimension/lair. Scene with them hanging down naked and pregnant from her nets.
- Satan: One of the sealed Demon Lords. He's actually a pretty nice guy.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: The opening is an upbeat rock song named "Release Your Mind" which totally contrast the dark, apocalyptic mood of the series.