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You’re Being Summoned, Azazel Complete Collection Anime DVD Review

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You're Being Summoned Azazel CoverIt’s not easy being a summoned demon.

What They Say:
Have a stalker you just can’t shake? Fear your spouse is being unfaithful? You might consider hiring Akutabe, a detective who summons demons to do his dirty work. While his methods might seem unorthodox, he always gets results. However, as powerful as Akutabe is, manipulating demons is a delicate art. His new part-time employee Sakuma, a young college girl, doesn’t get to spend too much time exploring the finer points of controlling demons before Akutabe forces her into a demonic contract with Azazel. Azazel is lazy, lustful, and depraved… Everything you’d expect a demon to be. Sakuma needs to keep Azazel on a tight leash, but to do that, she may have to dabble in a little depravity herself.

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language only and it’s done in stereo, but at a higher than usual 384kbps. The series is one that works the forward soundstage in a rather simple way, but it has so many effects, dialogue bits and other cues that it really keeps things moving and it feels like a very busy piece. That keeps the whole thing alive as it uses the forward soundstage well as it bounces all over the place with the demonic action and the effects from that. There’s not a lot in the way of depth with the show, but that’s not something that’s really a big deal here as it’s all gag driven. Dialogue itself is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions.

Video:
Originally airing in 2011 and 2013 for the two seasons, the transfer for this show is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. It runs for twenty-six episodes and is split across three discs since it’s just a 13 minute or so episode runtime. Animated by Production IG, the series is one that works like a lot of gag comedy series do in that it’s not hugely detailed but it works the range well with what it does as there’s some good backgrounds and the character animation has some really good moments to it, but it’s not what you would consider high end animation. But it’s really well done with the rougher style that it wants to do. The transfer captures the look of it well with its somewhat bland color palette and darker tone overall, so it’s not a show that stands out in a big way but comes across solidly enough.

Packaging:
The packaging for this release comes in a standard sized DVD keepcase that has a hinge inside to hold two of the three discs while the third is against the back interior wall. he front cover makes it clear what the look and design of the show is like as it’s filled with all the cutesy devils set against a bland yellow hued background. The cast list does bring in our two main human characters as well, but it’s all about Azazel in the center – though I’m glad that Moloch gets a great bit of positioning here. The logo is kept to the lower right and it looks cute enough, but I’m surprised we don’t get a breakdown of the episode cunt on the front cover or mentioning that it has two seasons in it. The back cover goes for a white background with some red blood dripping down from the top. The main focus here is on Akutabe and Sakuma together with their grimoire while Azazel and Beelzebub are hovering around Sakuma’s ankles. There’s a good selection of shots from the show, though again it paints a bit of a murkier picture, and the premise is covered well enough as are the extras. No show related inserts are included with the release nor is there a reversible cover.

Menu:
The menu design for this series works off of the back of the packaging for its theme as we get three white backgrounds across each disc with blood red dripping down from the top. Each disc provides a different look at different demons, such as Azazel on the first, where it’s a big and almost overpowering piece because of the nature of it on a larger screen. The left side provides the basic navigation, which is quick and easy to use, as well as the logo which looks pretty good here. The discs set the tone fairly well overall and with it being solidly functional with no issues and changing things up a little bit on each disc, it’s certainly well done,

Extras:
The extras for this release are fairly standard for the most part, but I also really like that we get some limited liner notes that explains several of the gags in the show. Series like this really do need those from time to time so I’m glad to have them here. In addition to that we get some promotional videos from its broadcast run as well as the clean opening and closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga by Yasuhisa Kubo that’s called Yondemasuyo, Azazel-san, You’re Being Summoned, Azazel is a twenty-six episode that was produced by Production I.G. back in 2011 and with a second season in 2013. While not a short-form show like the three minute series out there, this one clocks in at about twelve or thirteen minutes an episode without a firm runtime for each episode that’s the same across the board. With a gag comedy like this where it’s kind of abusive in its own way, this is definitely the better runtime to go with because the gags don’t get run into the ground – even when it carries over for more than one episode. Production IG tends to work on a wide range of shows and they definitely have a good bit of fun with it here, though it’s certainly one that’s going with a simpler visual approach overall as well.

The premise of the series is straightforward enough as it’s just a launching point to things. The show revolves around a demon named Azazel, who is summoned to Earth at all sorts of times by the demon user Akutabe. Akutabe is a detective that uses demons in order to deal with the problems of his clients, such as sending Azazel to break up a husband and his mistress. Akutabe is able to do this by having control over the grimoire that works for a particular family line of demons and the designated demon of that family is the one that has to answer the summons. The dangerous part is that there are various levels of angels out there in the world too and they have to fill quota for their rather cruel and despotic god by finding the grimoires and returning them to heaven, which causes said demon to die. Suffice to say there are pitfalls to being a demon, but also the advantage as outside of the grimoire death, there’s not much that can kill a demon.

Azazel suffers under the torment of Akutabe well enough, though we see back in the demon world that he has the potential to be a really big leader there if he set himself to it. But he’s just intent on enjoying some of the simple life in the human world, when he’s not being abused or doing chores around the office. The office situation gets a bit more complicated with the arrival of Sakuma, a university student who applied for a part time job and ends up taking on most of the work over the course of the two shows. Enough so that Akutabe really becomes a background character, which isn’t a bad thing as Sakuma is a bit more reactive and less prone to slicing up Azazel. Not that Sakuma doesn’t abuse the hell out of him as well. Sakuma’s interactions with others also helps to keep things moving as she actually does talk and deal with them, whereas Akutabe is all business all the time.

With the comedic nature of the show as its primary piece, and it really is just that and little else, it moves quickly from gag to gag with some twisted things along the way due to the various demons. Azazel’s abilities revolve around lewdness and other perverted things while Beelzebub’s powers of divulgence can cause people to reveal all sorts of things, including causing them to defecate as well. Which he promptly cleans up, though we get plenty of instances of poop being left everywhere. My favorite demon is Moloch though, who looks like a cute stuffed animal bull. He’s pretty much voiceless through a lot of this and he’s just simple in many ways, but he becomes the butt of a lot of jokes in the first season until he’s killed and his younger and more violent brother takes over for the family line. Moloch just delights me. Unlike Undine, who is the whole mermaid type demon that is absolutely in love with Akutabe and does everything she can to get closer to him and win him over. She’s a very fast talker and hyper violent in a very comical way. She has a number of stories across the two seasons and she’s definitely a whole lot of fun in a very quirky way. With her desire to be married, that’s a big driver for things and it does lead to a lot of humor as others get caught up in it all.

With comedy series, they can definitely be harder to really deal with in expressing what it’s about. The gags here are the quick and fast types and it really does work the range from crude with some sexual aspects to some outlandish violence with a lot of blood everywhere. There’s plenty of referential pieces to pop culture and general cultural gags as well that are familiar to most anime fans on some level. With its more simplistic design through the demons, it has a rough and raw feeling that definitely works in its favor, almost making it feel like an independent low budget show in some ways that’s taking the risks that others won’t. And it does play it in a way that separates itself from the cleaner and more familiar comedies out there. IT has more in common with some of the short-form shows because of it, which is a good thing.

In Summary:
You’re Being Summoned, Azazel is a fairly fun show overall, though it’s one that I wouldn’t recommend marathoning as it’ll pretty much overwhelm after awhile and blur. There’s a lot of really fun comedy with some rough stuff here that will delight fans that enjoy some of the strong off color shows similar to the old Ping Pong show and others of that nature. It’s one that works well enough for me, but I can see it appealing more if I was watching it in smaller doses during a regular broadcast. Azazel is definitely a bit more narrow of an approach for fans, it’s not one that will hit a wide audience, but for fans of it there’s plenty to get drawn into here and enjoy because it takes the risks, even if they don’t always pan out. With the amount of material and the price of it, it’s definitely a show worth taking a risk if this kind of humor is appealing to you.

Features:
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Promotional Videos, Liner Notes

Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-

Released By: Lucky Penny Entertainment
Release Date: February 3rd, 2015
MSRP: $39.99
Running Time: 338 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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