Intro to Devilman, a Demonic Manga Masterwork

Intro to Devilman, a Demonic Manga Masterwork

Here’s my second lecture-style panel from this year’s Kumoricon. Again keep in mind this lacks the slideshow, delivery, and discussion time of the full panel.

Among the many manga by Go Nagai, this tale of a virtuous young man with demonic power stands apart with chilling art and poignant story. Since the 1970s, the Devilman universe has expanded with spinoffs and adaptations as well as influenced modern creators. There is a lot of Devilman-related media out there and it would be impossible for me to talk about everything, so I’m sticking to ones I consider important or noteworthy or just a personal favorite. It will be difficult, but spoilers will be kept to a minimum in this panel. One big spoiler in particular cannot be avoided, so I’ll only partially talk about it. If you’ve already read Devilman, you can probably guess what I’m talking about.

With all that in mind, first we will be briefly looking at how Devilman came to be. Devilman’s creator Go Nagai was born in 1945. He is 72 years old right now and still creating manga through his company Dynamic Production. In the late 1960s, he became infamous for his raunchy shounen manga Shameless School. It was actually one of the first manga serialized in Shounen Jump. He was only in his mid-20s at the time. Since then, he has gone onto create a ton of manga. Sexuality and violence are common throughout his work. He’s been extremely influential in the manga industry, but his works aren’t well known in the United States since they haven’t been licensed.

Before Devilman, Nagai explored demons and Christianity in manga for his fantasy story Mao Dante published in 1971. It follows a young man manipulated by cultists to become possessed by a demon, but the boy somehow takes over the consciousness of Dante the demon and becomes a monster. It’s a chilling manga with great art and some wild twists at the end. I recommend checking it out whether or not you like Devilman. Toei Animation was interested in making a TV anime version of Mao Dante around the time it was publishing. The TV anime industry was less than a decade old at the time. They called Nagai up and instead he offered to conceptualize a similar new series for them, which became Devilman.

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The Devilman manga was published a little while before the anime, but of course the anime was developed first. The 39 episodes aired from 1972 to 1973. Nagai gave Toei the concept of a young man named Akira possessing the power of a demon in order to fight demons as Devilman. The body of a demon, but the heart of a man. In the anime, the demon completely possess the boy and lives in his body. When weekly demons show up, he transforms into Devilman to fight them and protect his human girlfriend Miki. It’s somewhat of a superhero story, but I think of it as a monster romantic comedy too. The action seems tame now, but it was a big deal at the time. The violence and demonic element made it stand out, so it became very popular. I’ve honestly only seen a few episodes of this show since I’m more interested in Nagai’s version. For a long time this show was only floating around the Internet in Japanese with awkward English subtitles, but it’s now available on DVD with English subtitles by Discotek Media. Maybe I’ll get around to it someday.

The Devilman manga tells a story completely different from the anime version. It was published from 1972 to 1973 in Weekly Shounen Magazine and collected into five volumes. The manga has been republished in editions that rearrange the order of the original and add side stories to their chronological places. I think it’s easiest to just read the original edition. Even though it was published as weekly chapters, the volumes don’t mark where chapters begin or end and it reads more like an American graphic novel in that sense.

In 1986 Nagai self-published the first volume in English for the US, but that translation has been lost to time since it sold incredibly poorly. In the early 2000s Kodansha released every volume in bilingual Japanese and English editions, with English text in the word bubbles and Japanese in the gutters for Japanese ESL readers. Those books are out of print now and hard to come by. So the manga is pretty obscure in the US, but it will be coming to the US in English from Seven Seas Entertainment with translation by Zack Davisson! The first omnibus volume will be released on March 6th 2018, and the second and final sometime after.

Let’s finally get into the plot and characters of Devilman. We’re introduced to our hero Akira Fudou right at the beginning. He’s a wimpy high school boy who can’t stand up for himself. When a gang of delinquents bully him, his friend Miki Makimura has to defend him. Akira has been living at Miki’s house ever since his parents moved for business, so the bullies tease them about being a couple. They’re definitely not a couple since Akira is too much of a wimp to make a move. Miki can’t take the whole gang on by herself, and the situation turns for the worse. Just then another friend of Akira’s named Ryo Asuka shows up saying he has something to discuss with him. He whips out a shotgun and saves Akira and Miki from the bullies, then Akira ditches Miki to hear what Ryo wants from him. What a gentleman.

devilman_01_138Ryo uses some conspiracy theory logic to explain to Akira that demons are real. He figured out that his archeologist father was possessed by a demon when his personality changed to that of a violent monster. His father was actually researching demons and left all the findings to Ryo before he became possessed and killed himself. In Devilman, demons are violent and destructive creatures that can merge with and take on the properties of anything, which leads to the body horror seen in the series. They can even merge with and take over the consciousness of humans, like with Ryo’s father. Demons had been trapped under ice since the age of dinosaurs, but have started escaping and possessing humans. So apparently if we don’t prevent climate change, we could face a demon apocalypse. Akira doesn’t take the news well and thinks Ryo has lost his mind, but their deep bond convinces him to take his friend seriously. Ryo proposes that because Akira has a pure and good soul, a demon can’t possess him. Instead, Akira could harness the power to protect humanity from demons. Ryo’s knowledge of demons and Akira’s pure heart together are the only hope to save the world.

Ryo hatches a strange plan to get Akira possessed: he rounds up a bunch of hippies to have a dance party in his basement, offers them drugs, then breaks out a fight. Akira is understandably scared and unsure. Ryo believes the debauchery and violence will attract demons, and it turns out he’s right. Everyone starts getting possessed by demons, including Akira. They just so happen to get Akira possessed by an extremely powerful demon named Amon and he becomes Devilman. He’s so strong he slaughters all the demons at the party. After the brawl he finds Ryo unconscious, but not possessed.

Unlike the anime, Akira stays in control of his body. Demonic possession makes his body more muscular and his personality more aggressive. He also gains permanent eyeliner. With his newfound strength he can defend himself from bullies without even transforming into Devilman. Miki becomes attracted to the new and improved Akira, but he doesn’t pursue her back since he’s still a pure wimp inside. The strength and sexual attention he receives makes Devilman a masculine power fantasy for Akira and for the young men the manga was aimed at. From then on, demons seek out Devilman to avenge Amon and the manga focuses on the monster battles for a while. The demons challenge Akira’s decision to become Devilman since his loved ones are often put in danger. He manages to defeat them all as he discovers new powers like flight, telepathy, and most importantly extendable eyebrows.

devilman_01_187As you can see by now, Devilman has a particular art style. Personally I find the art very charming and sometimes beautiful. Nagai uses thick lines, round shapes, and high contrast. His style looks kind of goofy considering Devilman is a horror and action story. The manga does have its silly moments, whether they’re intentional and or not. The “my father died!” page from volume one is famous for something that should be dramatic coming across as stilted and funny instead, but this page on the right when Akira becomes possessed is also from volume one. It’s quite cinematic. Nagai is amazing at panel and page composition. As I was putting this presentation together I realized how many Devilman pages don’t have any dialog, which lets the art speak for itself.

But Nagai really shows off his imagination with monster designs and gore. He was at the forefront of making manga for children more violent with works like Devilman. His swirly shapes and high contrast actually work to make his art disturbing and haunting, rather than comedic. He always draw blood as a big splatter too.

This seems as good as time as any to acknowledge that Devilman contains a lot of violence against women, including demons that resemble women with monstrous breasts and pelvises. Of course the story has violence all over, but there’s more emphasis when it’s against women with longer panel sequences or entire pages. The violence is also often sexualized since the women are naked. It makes me unhappy, but this manga has more redeeming aspects than others I can think of.

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Even though his art may be crude, Nagai did a lot of creative and experimental things in Devilman. This page comes from the iconic fight with the demon bird Silene in volume two. I somehow managed to find a page from this long fight where you can’t see her boobs. Her fight stands out since Nagai drew the subjects dynamically reaching out of their panels a lot during it. Silene lends herself to this artistic direction since she has a wide wingspan and long limbs she can shoot off like rockets.

Nagai says that he fell into a trance as he worked on Devilman (spoilers at link). He started with the concept and characters, but did not have an ending in mind. It’s fun to read a story not knowing what will happen when the author didn’t know either. The story took form as it was written and Nagai found himself surprised by the developments he depicted. A lot of this process involved the character of Ryo (spoilers at link again). Nagai looked at Ryo’s behavior and concluded not only was Ryo in love with Akira, but the two friends would become each other’s greatest enemies. He accidentally wrote one of the best love stories of all time, if you ask me.

I think Devilman is a testament to how you can create something great without having it all planned out. That’s not to say Nagai didn’t work hard, since he actually considers Devilman the manga he put the most effort into. He even abandoned two manga he was publishing to focus more on Devilman. He set out to make his magnum opus and it shows. The writing isn’t without its weaknesses, though. Sometimes the story is messy or things come out silly, but the weirdness is half the fun of Devilman. It wouldn’t be the same without lines like “oh, this? It’s laced with drugs.”

As the story goes on, stakes become higher. More and more civilians become possessed by demons who wreak havoc. With human bodies, demons have access to weapons of mass destruction. Demons pop up all over the world, but they cannot be distinguished from regular humans. Akira worries over his secret identity as Devilman being exposed to Miki and he questions his own humanity. Tensions grow between humans and demons, as well as between fellow humans. Akira and Ryo become enemies over ideological disagreements. Ryo calls fear the weak point of humanity: humans cannot trust one another and resort to violence. It may be cliché, but Devilman suggests that humans may be just as monstrous as the demons they fear.

Nagai himself calls Devilman an anti-war story (spoilers at link). In his words, “there is no justice in war, any war, nor is there any justification for human beings killing one another. Devilman carries a message of warning, as we step toward a bright future.” That’s quite poignant for a creator whose works feature gratuitous violence. Keep in mind he was born only a few days after World War II ended and grew up in post-war Japan. According to Nagai, in the war metaphor the possession and transformation of humans into demons represents taking up murder weapons and going to war. Because demons possess them indiscriminately, it represents the military draft.

I don’t want to spoil the rest of Devilman because it has an amazing twist and powerful ending. Even with its flaws, I consider it a masterpiece and definitely Nagai’s best work. I highly recommend reading it, especially just in time for Halloween. If you read it with the war metaphor in mind, meanings will emerge. For now I will say, perhaps Akira represents a person who enlists in the military with good intentions but finds himself in over his head. The story begins as a masculine power fantasy, but it does not end that way. It turns out the world is a lot more complicated than it seemed.

Since Devilman ended in 1973, Nagai hasn’t stopped revisiting it. This has created a vast fictional universe. We’ll be looking at some spinoff manga I consider closest to the core of the Devilman universe. They roughly go in an order it makes sense to read them in, rather than publication order.

The first spinoff was Shin Devilman in 1979, six years after the original ended. The title means New Devilman in English. It takes place in the middle of the original Devilman story, which makes it a midquel, but it will only make sense to read it after the original. In the late 1990s, three chapters were translated to English and digitally colored to be sold as comic issues in the US. I don’t know why they thought that was a good idea since as you know, it’s a spinoff. It sold poorly, but you can still find the issues floating around for sale on the Internet.

This manga is pretty silly. Suddenly, Akira and Ryo fall into a time hole and are transported to famous historical events. They visit Austria on the brink of World War II, the Siege of Orleans, Ancient Greece, the French Revolution, and the Battle of Little Bighorn. Nagai’s interest in war is apparent in these choices. And what do you know, demons are there and Devilman has to stop them. Unfortunately some of the historical events are handled extremely poorly. For example, it’s pretty offensive to wipe away blame from General Custer and his soldiers by saying they just killed Native Americans “because they were possessed by demons.” I’d say it’s worth reading despite those issues, and it’s so short anyway. The character moments between Akira and Ryo are fun and interesting, especially since Nagai made Ryo being in love with Akira more apparent here. This manga seems like insignificant stories, but overall it’s actually important for introducing flexibility of time and space to the Devilman universe.

Next we have Neo Devilman from 1999 and 2000, which is actually an anthology of chapters by various artists. From here on out you can assume these manga haven’t been licensed. Some chapters are done by Nagai himself, but most are by other artists. Unsurprisingly, the chapters are a mixed bag. Most of them are about civilians during the demon apocalypse. A lot of them are grotesquely erotic with no substance. For example Yoshikazu Yasuhiko is a great artist, but that’s all his chapter amounts to. However, some of the chapters are well worth reading. The chapters by Nagai are obviously a highlight. His art is more polished than it was in the 1970s, but still has personality. My favorite is of his is one that juxtaposes Ryo and Akira’s carefree past with their apocalyptic future.

The chapter by Shinichi Hiromoto has some of the best art. If you’ve seen the anime movie Hells, he’s the creator of the manga it was based on. His thin lines and jagged shapes are very different from Nagai’s art. His chapter looks at some demon characters before they formally appear in Devilman. One chapter is by Hitoshi Iwaaki, the creator of the manga and anime Parasyte. His work in body horror lends itself to the demons in Devilman. His chapter follows a young man who can’t wrap his head around the fact demons exist and the world is ending. My personal favorite is by Kazuko Yumeno. I fell in love with her storytelling and art through this chapter, but sadly couldn’t find more manga by her. Her chapter follows one of Akira’s classmates who has a crush on him. When she gets possessed by a demon, the demon is confused by feelings of desire for Devilman.

Around the same time as Neo Devilman, there was also Amon: The Dark Side of Devilman from 1999 to 2004. It is part prequel and part midquel to the original Devilman. It’s a hard manga to talk about since it involves spoilers, but I felt like it should be mentioned. The story is credited to Nagai, but it was drawn by the artist Yuu Kinutani. It’s interesting to see Nagai’s storytelling through another artist for once. He has a much more detailed style with heavy shading. I get an H. R. Giger vibe from it. Kinutani draws a lot of clusters, like scales and feathers, and a lot of disturbing melting and slime.

Volumes one, five, and six make up the midquel during the last volumes of Devilman. A single episode OVA, titled Amon: The Apocalypse of Devilman, which loosely adapts the first volume of Amon also exists. The manga explores the idea that the demon Amon was capable of regaining consciousness and when Akira was so traumatized by a spoiler event, he took over his body for once. The manga also depicts some other events that weren’t detailed in Devilman and spotlights some minor human characters. Volumes two, three, and four make up the prequel that looks at the world of demons long before humans. It explores the backstories of characters like Amon and Silene. So of course the prequel and midquel are tied together by the character of Amon, but they’re also tied together by a very important spoiler character. Like I said, this manga is hard to talk about without getting into spoilers. It’s also a very uncomfortable and creepy manga, but I appreciate it because it’s a rare look at minor characters and the world of demons before humans. The ending is also important to understanding the multiplicity of the whole Devilman universe.

This multiplicity includes alternate universes, like Devilman Grimoire by Rui Takato from 2012 to 2013. This manga retells the original story of Devilman, but with Miki as a witch who transforms Akira into Amon through a magical ritual. This will be the first Devilman manga available in the US since the 1990s, with volume one coming in October 2017 from Seven Seas Entertainment. In lieu of the original manga, it is a pretty good idea to bring over a retelling rather than a confusing sequel.

Nagai himself led the story and art for Devilman Lady from 1997 to 2000. Oh boy, where to begin with this manga. Basically, it begins as a retelling of Devilman with woman versions of the main characters, but over the course of 17 volumes it becomes so much more. Instead of Akira Fudou, the main character is teacher named Jun Fudou. On a camping trip a bunch of demons attack her students, and she discovers she can transform into a monster to protect them. She joins an organization investigating the demons and meets a psychic named Ran Asuka. Ran notices Jun resembles the fictional character Devilman and declares her “Devilman Lady.” What an awkward title. As the manga goes on, Jun and Ran suspect they are part of a much bigger picture. The manga seems like a reboot, but is more like a sequel.

Everything in the original Devilman is cranked up to eleven for Devilman Lady: the length, the violence, the nudity, the sexual content, the religious references, and more. The story goes off the rails in ways I can’t describe without spoilers. Unfortunately, I think the art was a downgrade. It’s so polished it lacks the experimental fun of the original Devilman art. This manga also contains a ton of rape, which makes it very unpleasant and exhausting to read. I honestly can’t bear to read this whole manga, so I’ve only read the highlights. I recommend other people do the same because despite its problems, the ending is worth knowing. I don’t know what it is about Devilman, but the endings always satisfy me no matter how weird they get. And the ending of Devilman Lady is very weird, but great at the same time. Obviously it would be spoilers to say more, so just trust me. An anime adaptation of Devilman Lady from 1998 also exists, but it doesn’t have the same ending so what’s the point?

For over a decade Devilman Lady was the end to the main Devilman storyline, until Nagai started a new manga called Devilman Saga in 2014. It begins when Yuuki Fudou, the CEO of a robotics company, gets a job offer from a mysterious company and leaves his newlywed bride Miki to go to California. The company reveals an ancient mural and armor they believe belonged to demons. Then Yuuki reunites with his childhood friend Ryo Asuka, who proposes that Yuuki could harness the power of the demon armor for the greater good. While Yuuki won’t because he’s a pacifist, other characters find themselves compelled to don the armor. I’m very intrigued by this manga. Its place in the Devilman universe is unclear at the moment, but Nagai says it will be the final chapter of Devilman and I look forward to reading it to the end.

Next we’ll look back at the various screen adaptations of Devilman manga. In the 1980s, Nagai himself proposed making a new anime adaptation of Devilman. Umanosuke Iida, an animator from the brand new Studio Ghibli, leapt at the chance to direct and script an adaptation of one of his favorite manga. He later went on to direct the Hellsing anime. The 50 minute OVA had a budget of over one million dollars and more staff from Studio Ghibli like animators Yoshinori Kanada, Kazuo Komatsubara, and Shinji Ootsuka and color designer Michiyo Yasuda. There was a plan for Oh Production to adapt each of the five volumes into an OVA, and the first of those was Devilman: The Birth in 1987. It was dubbed into English and released on VHS by Manga Entertainment in the mid-1990s. The dub of this OVA was my introduction to Devilman because it’s known for being hilariously bad. There’s a lot of awkward acting and gratuitous swearing, but I love it. The strange humor of the dub just adds to the strangeness of Devilman.

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The OVA adapts the first volume of the manga. The changes to the story are pretty minor or just build on what was in the original. As an adaptation it’s interesting because the staff already knew the whole story of the manga and could use that hindsight to their advantage. They can emphasize story elements that become important down the line or make the story more consistent. For example, the OVA doesn’t begin with Akira but with a look at the ancient age of demons based on a manga side story. Then it shows modern people on an arctic expedition killed by demons. The OVA establishes the fantasy world of Devilman first, then moves onto Akira. His introduction is expanded with him protecting the school’s last class pet rabbit from delinquents no matter how much they attack him. The OVA gives him more of backbone than in the manga, but better establishes his virtuous soul willing to save others. Sadly, this change means Miki doesn’t get to show off her tough side.

The OVA is designed in a way to focus on Akira being pulled into the horrific world of demons by Ryo. The fantasy world was shown to the audience first, then they watch Akira discover it rather than discover it through him. When Ryo shows up, Akira stares at him like he’s entranced. Staring at someone and suddenly realizing “oh of course, it’s my old friend Ryo” comes out awkward, but I think they were going for something tense and mysterious. The color scheme of the OVA gradually changes as it goes on to represent the descent to darkness. The colors start bright and even at Akira’s school, then darker when Ryo explains demons are real. As they plunge to the basement, the background fades completely into solid black. The dance party scenes bring back color, with harsh solid black shading. I love this OVA and highly recommend it because it looks amazing and it’s lots of fun. It’s a good starting point for getting into Devilman or just fun to watch around Halloween.

The second OVA was released three years later by the same staff and studio. It adapts the second volume of the manga and part of the third volume. The title Devilman: The Demon Bird refers to Silene, the antagonist of the OVA. This was also dubbed by Manga Entertainment in the 1990s, still with awkward delivery and edgy swearing but now with more puns. If The Birth focuses on Akira’s descent into the world of demons, The Demon Bird focuses on his newfound demonic strength. The OVA opens with a battle between Akira and a demon named Jinmen from the third manga volume. The addition of this battle adds to the amount of powerful demons Akira can now defeat to emphasize his strength. Then he goes on to battle Silene and her minions. Silene is one of Nagai’s favorite characters, so he was happy to see her animated in all her glory. Be warned this OVA has a lot of boobs on screen and if someone sees you watching it, they will think you’re watching porn. The Demon Bird has the same great animation as The Birth. It doesn’t play with color as much, but it always looks great. Unfortunately, this was the last of the adaptations by Oh Production and many of the staff members have passed away since the turn of the millennium.

Since then there’s even been a live action Devilman movie, but… nobody likes it. It was actually voted one of the worst Japanese movies of 2004, by fans of the manga or otherwise. I may own it on DVD (available with English subtitles and English dub!), but I have to agree that it’s a bad movie. But for one thing, it tries to cram five volumes of content into one movie and it just comes out messy and awkward. It also takes itself seriously when half of the appeal of Devilman is how melodramatic it is. Then there’s just strange decisions like casting twins as Akira and Ryo, but the characters aren’t treated like twins within the film. It’s weird. The bland CG doesn’t help.

There’s so much more Devilman media I could talk about it. There’s been crossovers, video games, toys, and even toilet paper with manga pages printed on it. We only have time to look at a few.

In 1973, the same year Devilman ended, Nagai started a new manga called Violence Jack. As you can guess from the title, it’s very violent. I couldn’t decide if this one should go under spinoffs, but here we go. It takes place in a post-apocalyptic Japan where people are divided into the weak and the strong. It’s mostly known in the US its for extremely graphic OVA adaptations. In the manga, a few characters from Devilman show up early on with no explanation, but the connection to Devilman doesn’t become apparent until the very end. You could call it a sequel, but more like a part of the sprawling universe of Devilman.

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Devilman had an anime crossover with Violence Jack in the form of CB Chara Go Nagai World in 1991. This three episode OVA was the last Devilman project by the Oh Production staff. It’s a love letter to and crossover between three manga by Go Nagai: Devilman, Mazinger Z, and Violence Jack. All three episodes are all available in one package from Distotek Media. The first episode takes place in the Devilman universe, but the characters are aware they exist in a work of fiction. Akira, Ryo, and Miki realize to their horror they’re in a dimension where they have chibi bodies. They go on a journey to return to their own dimension, but instead find themselves in a chibi Mazinger Z universe in the second episode. In the third episode they travel to the chibi Violence Jack universe. It’s super fun and cute, with references to the manga as well as OVAs. I highly recommend watching it if you like Devilman, but know that it contains big spoilers for all the manga involved.

In 2010 Nagai started a semi-autobiographical manga called Gekiman. The first arc was six volumes chronicling his work on Devilman. He doesn’t draw himself as the creator of Devilman, but a character named Geki Nagai. Gekiman has a lot of insight to his creative process, and it’s worth a look even if you can’t read Japanese because half the manga is just redrawn pages from the original Devilman. They strike a good balance between Nagai’s older and newer artwork.

Finally we’ve reached the latest Devilman media, an OVA crossover with Cyborg 009 from 2015 currently streaming on Netflix in Japanese and English. It’s actually a sore spot for most Devilman fans because it was released instead of an anime adaptation. Back in the summer of 2015, a new Devilman anime was announced and everyone was excited to see the manga fully animated. At the same time, a new Cyborg 009 anime was announced. Only later it was revealed they were actually the same crossover project. I love both these series, but couldn’t help feeling disappointed. The main characters of Devilman were updated with modern anime designs, which is fun, but for some reason the minor characters keep their 1970s designs. The OVA opens on a scene from the original manga that recreates the aesthetic by going black and white, in a cool tribute to the classic art. The crossover plot for the rest of the OVA leans more to the Cyborg 009 side, which is also disappointing to Devilman fans.

As for upcoming projects, things are finally looking up with Devilman Crybaby. An anime adaptation of the entire original manga will be coming to Netflix in the spring of 2018, directed by Masaaki Yuasa and written by Ichiro Okouchi. I can’t begin to express how excited I am to see one of the best conclusions in manga finally brought to life by Yuasa, one of most artistic minds in animation. Okouchi is more polarizing, but I believe he’s ideal for a story of friends driven to conflict by war considering he wrote Code Geass. Crybaby won’t simply be an anime aired in Japan and streamed after exclusively on US Netflix like Little Witch Academia, but a Netflix original project released all at once. This will allow nudity and gore like the OVAs, but most importantly I hope to see the “it’s laced with drugs” scene since they won’t have to follow the law against minors smoking on Japanese television. But really, I’m looking forward to it so much and you should be too.

Devilman is a famous and influential manga, so of course a lot of creators like it. Some people may create their manga not even aware of Devilman’s impact on the industry. In the words of Guillermo del Toro, “we all steal from Go Nagai!” Here are some manga and anime that the creators have explicitly said were influenced by it.

  • Berserk by Kentaro Miura. It follows a man named Guts seeking revenge against evil gods in a medieval fantasy world. Miura is a big fan of Nagai. Knowing that, it’s easy to see the influence of Devilman on the story, particularly the parallels between Guts and Griffith and Akira and Ryo.
  • X by CLAMP. It involves two groups of super humans fighting whether the earth or humankind should be saved from the coming apocalypse. CLAMP was inspired by many sources for writing about the apocalypse, including Nagai. It’s no secret they’re fans of Devilman since they created doujinshi for it in the 1990s. I can’t help seeing the influence of Devilman Lady on their manga Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles too.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion. It’s about kids piloting robots to save the world from aliens, but also not actually about that at all. The influence seems to extend to the modern Rebuild of Evangelion films too, not just the original television series. The director Hideaki Anno has also directed an adaptation of Nagai’s Cutey Honey.

All these works have religion, gore, violence, the apocalypse, and the hero’s loved one becoming an enemy in common with Devilman. However, they all incorporate these elements to tell very different stories. If you like Devilman, I recommend checking out these works or if you like these, I recommend reading Devilman. But I hope I’ve convinced you to read it already.

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4 thoughts on “Intro to Devilman, a Demonic Manga Masterwork

  1. I’ve only heard mention of Devilman here and there over the years and always meant to take a deeper look into the series. This was a fantastic article and I think I might track down this to read now 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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