This is one of the first animes I ever saw and considering it’s themes it’s clear to me now that when I began my anime journey this anime in particular probably had a profound effect on my young mind for both good and bad reasons.
So here’s my review for
Although my review will mainly focus on these two OVA’s / movies, I feel at the end of my review I should give my short take on a couple of related spin-offs / sequels in the same universe.
Trivia / Info
Devilman is based on a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Go Nagai which originally started as an earlier anime adaptation of the concept of Nagai's previous manga series, Demon Lord Dante. Devilman also had a 39 episode anime series developed by Toei in 1972 and Nagai began Devilman as a manga in Kodansha's Weekly Shōnen Magazine barely a month before the anime series started in 1972.
A video game based on Devilman was released for the Famicom by Namco in 1989. Bandai also released a game based on Devilman for the Sony PlayStation and the Microsoft Windows 98 OS Along with several of Nagai's other creations.
Movie I: The Birth
Akira Fudou is your typical kind hearted high school student. He looks after cute little bunny rabbits while at school and has a nice girl friend (not dating) that he lives with since his parents are away on an excavation in the South Pole.
One day while walking home from school Ryo, an old friend from Akira’s childhood turns up out of the blue and demands that Akira follow him as he has something very important to discuss with him.
After Akira agrees to hear him out Ryo starts to explain the horrifying details of what had recently become of his father who was a scientist.
Ryo’s father seemed to have gone mad after investigating the existence of demons.
At this point I should mention this first movie is somewot slow placed while the foundation of the story is being laid down. It’s a bit of a drag but stick with it as things start to spice up soon enough.
Ryo takes Akira back to his father’s study where a lot of his research is being kept. Here Akira gets to actually SEE some of the crazy revelations Ryo’s father had discovered.
After that, all hell breaks loose…..why…because due to their snooping around with demon research / artefact’s, they get the attention of actual demons who start to chase them down.
So after some more entertaining chase / demon encounters Ryo & Akira come to the realisation that the world will soon become exposed to the threat of a global demon outbreak…..so the question is what can they do to stop it…
Well that’s the best part which I am not going to spoil for you…let’s just say it involves performing a certain ritual that includes alcohol, debauchery and violence.
Since the name of the this anime is Devilman its obvious at some point someone or something will become the Devilman….and no surprise to anyone who has seen the cover art who it’s going to be.
So after DEVILMAN IS BORN true insanity ensues and Holy Shit the last 10 minutes of this anime is hardcore violence at its best.
So..in summary the first half of this anime is mostly explanation and build up for the last 15 minutes of pure awesomeness…..It was kinda worth the wait but sadly just after it starts getting really interesting its over……and at the time I watched this there was no way for me to know there was a part II so I was like Goddamn it I wanna know what happens next!
Then luckily 2 weeks later (at the time around 1994) on Channel 4 part two was broadcast.
Movie II: Siren – The Demon Bird
Okay remember how the first movie had a lot of explanation and build up for the last 10 minutes of that movie…well this movie does not follow that formula since the groundwork has already been laid….it just gets straight to the point.
This movie to me feels like tree separate action sequences crammed into one movie. The first involving a demon who lures Akira into his hideaway just to torture him with a horrifying revelation about his parents. Second is an ambush attack at home targeting the family that is providing Akira with his temporary accommodation. Then lastly the movies core focus is on the Demon Bird Silene (pronucened differently) who wants to kill Devilman and also make an example out of demons who choose to meld with humans. Actually about 50% of this movie focuses on the bitter grudge match between Devilman and Silene and it turns out to be a fight to the death!
Considering how many things happen in this movie I’d say the overall pacing is fantastic and the action scenes are very entertaining. When it does eventually slow down a little it’s usually for some minor character development otherwise it’s pretty much action packed.
Near the end of the movie it’s unclear who will come out on top…I mean it looks like Devilman will get the last laugh…but how it actually turns out is actually quite interesting. Everyone I know who has watched this movie really like s the ending in particular. It’s a cool one indeed!
Keeping in mind this is late 80’s animation The animation for the first movie was pretty decent…I mean the character designs looked a bit cutesy at first but when the demons get involved things change quite dramatically.
The standout thing in the first movie to me is the weird opening sequence, the return to the weird opening sequence in the middle of the movie and the super gory action sequence at the end.
The second movie was made a couple years after the first and things look a lot better. The anime on a whole has a MUCH darker tone and where Akira previously looked like a sweet kid he now looks like a pumped up thug ready to pound anyone that gets in his way.
With both movies the really cool thing in Devilman was the demon character designs. They really looked like morphed, spliced animal creatures…which really feels creepy…I mean to this day Ginman is one of the most disturbing Demons I’ve EVER seen in an anime. If someone did a live action Ginman costume / CGI effect I would be vomiting all goddamn day, I swear!
Anyway, compared to today’s level the animation is pretty average but I think it still aged pretty over the years regardless.
I like the background music in Devilman…its got a melancholy feel to it. The English dub is really comical to me but not in a bad way…I mean, re-watching these titles now I can understand why some people may find it korny but overall I think it works out very well. Devilman in particular say’s some really funny shite when he’s killing demons…certainly not the sweet boy Akira he was before.
Overall sound is pretty decent…compared to the original Jap language it’s a bit spicier which still works out well enough.
Devilman has an extremely small cast, which works in its favour. There’s pretty much Akira / Devilman, Ryo, Miki (barely) and the various demons Akira and Ryo have to face.
For such a short anime I think the characters are developed well enough…In particular you get good foundation for Akira’s character which is the most important thing.
Another surprising thing about these movies are that the demons are quite cunning and not just your typical stock throw-aways. Particularly in the second movie most of the demons have a connection with Akira’s demon counterpart and often comment on how surprised they are by the fact that how the demon (Amon) has joined forces with a human (well that’s not exactly correct but I don’t wanna spoil anything for newcomers).
I enjoy this anime on two levels, the first being nostalgia. I remember how confused and weird I felt about rooting for a demon to succeed…..this was way before the more recently accepted anti-hero culture we are surrounded by today and add to that I came from a Christian upbringing, this title really shook me up
The second level is more superficial…it’s in the action / violence that these titles deliver. It’s pretty hardcore, barebone and enjoyable to watch.
It’s yet another short, fun and crazy ride that I have enjoyed for many years and still find it of a high standard even after all this time.
Value / Final Thoughts
Over time Demon protagonist’s have become more common place in movies (like hellboy) and especially in anime, to name a few: Hellsing, Vampire hunter D, Inu Yasha, the cast of Saiyuki, Chrono from Chrono Crusade etc. So Devilman kinda loses the shock value it had around the original time it was made.
But like I said before, being very young and coming from a Christian upbringing made this anime quite the shell-shocker.
I was hesitant to write this review at first as I felt a lot of my praise for it would come down to my own nostalgia but after re-watching it recently with some friends I am now reassured it is actually a quality title that still holds up to this very day
It’s nice to know many people do consider these titles to be cult classics
Surprisingly though I found more reviews for both the Devilman OVA’s on IMDB than on various dedicated anime sites….hmmm I wonder why that is....saying all that though it does seem like the manga is vastly more popular than the anime – which after I have recently read myself is certainly understandable.
So now I have a weird triple rating for this anime which goes as follows
Devilman: The Birth: Solid B
Devilman: Siren - The Demon Bird: First Class
But even though separately they have different ratings when you buy the DVD they are together on one disc and as such they are in my Hall of Fame.
I know I know it’s messy but combined they are like one long movie that is in my top 5 of overall anime OVA’s.
Made in the year 2000 this is actually a sequel to the Devilman II anime so it should have been called Devilman III: Apocalypse BUT i’m glad they did not for many many reasons I won’t go into. Firstly this movie took way too long to come out and the tone just feels radically different than the first two movies. Although I did not like the direction this took I agree it makes sense in terms of storyline…that is until you get a stupid open ended climax which DOES NOT FOLLOW THE ENDING IN THE ORIGINAL MANGA!....I mean what the hell where they thinking?!? The manga’s ending was absolutely PERFECT and would have made the Devilman saga a perfect trilogy but no they had to go and majorlymess it up didn’t they…..jeez
So in conclusion…I would say read the manga over this unjustified attempt to wrap things up….which it does not even do! After waiting almost ten years for the finale it’s a total fucking waste of time….so yeah read the manga instead!
Okay so after all my bitching I will give it a Watchablerating due to the fact it was nice to see some of the mangas story done right
Yes you read it right the first time it’s called Devilman Lady…I think they kept the Devilman in there just to draw in fans of the original show but obviously I think most people would have preferred Devil Lady….But anyhow
*Edit: Oh okay upon investigation they did change it to Devil Lady in some other countries….well whatever
This is a completely different story with a female protagonist…Now I’m not going to review this simply because it was just not really interesting to me…I didn’t hate it but it was just kinda weird and moody for no real reason. Yes Akira makes an appearance somewhere near the end but even he seems like a different character…it’s just a totally different story…..A VERY weird one at that….I’d give it an Acquired Taste / Watchable– one for the Go Nagai fans
This anime is pretty bad…I mean it was the prototype for Devilman and a VERY bad one at that…I remember buying this in excitement years ago thinking it would be like Devilman…well it’s like Devilman’s retarded cousin if you ask me. Only watch this if you’re a true blue fanboy / girl …Period! Low Acquired taste / Not Feelin This
Uhmmm…well if you’ve seen how korny the old speed racer anime is or the old Spiderman cartoon are then you’ve pretty much got the idea. On the upside it is one of Japan’s oldest anime TV series so that’s pretty interesting…other than that…not for me….Not Feelin This
Violence Jack…related to Devilman…how? Well there are some characters from Devilman in this show and if you read the manga you will see there is a DIRECT relation between Devilman and Violence Jack that I will not spoil for ya…Another crazy Violent Anime…more of a Watchable title for me though.
So with all that i'm done for now - I think ill end this by saying i would really only recommend the first two OVA's everything else in the universe is just very Hit & Miss.