Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Me and the Devilman Blues: A Personal Retrospective, pt. 2

 

It would be another couple of years before I encountered Devilman again, at the dealers' room of a smaller anime convention that was just a short drive from my house. Halloween was fast approaching, and I was really caught up in the ghoulish spirit, so I was looking around for any scary anime or manga. I was beginning to lose hope until I found six individual DVDs, all colored blood-red with pictures of grotesque demons on the side covers, bound together by a single rubber band. The first, and only visible, cover showed me that it was a TV series called, "Go Nagai's The Devil Lady". After reading that, it didn't take me long to realize the visual similarities between the feral-looking demon on the cover and the original image of Devilman that I remembered from when I was little. At that point, there was no way I could resist buying it.


I watched all twenty-six episodes of The Devil Lady over the course of a few weeks, and I came to the conclusion that while the writing wasn't exactly great, it had everything that I expected from my original image of Devilman: lots of violence, tons of gore, terrifying creatures of the night, and a demonic hero that fights for humanity. Unfortunately, the plot was so forgettable that it didn't really leave any lasting impact on me, or my overall impression of Devilman. At this point, it seemed as though nothing would.

Another couple of years pass, and I'm in my second year of college. One of my big obsessions at the time was the Getter Robo series, which was written by Ken Ishikawa, one of Go Nagai's assistants at his company, Dynamic Productions. Originally, I was reading English-translated scans of the comics off of a website, but one day, I just decided to download them so I could access them more easily on my computer. I went to the translators' website, where they had a list of other Dynamic Pro series' they had finished working on posted on the side. My eyes instantly widened when I saw that one of the comics they had finished translating was the original Devilman. Suddenly entranced, I downloaded all five books and started reading them.


I was immediately hooked upon finishing the first volume, which managed to do a very good job building its world, introducing its main characters, and delivering a surprisingly suspenseful origin story for our hero. These were all things that I wish The Devil Lady had been able to do when I was watching it. The second volume introduced its first named villains, who managed to provide the protagonist with an actual challenge, and with it, a very solid story. I really liked how everything was shaping up.

The final three volumes, though, were the ones that cemented the story's status as a masterpiece, to me. I don't want to give anything away, but the story arc contained in these last volumes not only really tugs at the heartstrings (one friend told me she couldn't stop crying while reading the last volume), but also provides some very interesting commentary on human nature, showing how on some level, we're all inherently prone to fear and violence.


If you haven't yet read this amazing work of pop art, make some time to do it. At only five volumes, I guarantee that you won't regret a single second of it. Just to give you an idea, the impact that it had when it debuted in Japan was very similar to the impact Watchmen had on the English-speaking comic world. It was violent, emotional, and rife with social commentary, which is why it has continued to garner seemingly endless amounts of reprints, remakes, and sequels over the last forty years. It's a hell of a good time!

Now it's time you all payed the devil his due...

4 comments:

  1. These are the guys who translated the original Devilman. You can download it for free from their website. I really hope you'll all give it a shot

    http://getterrobo.blogspot.com/

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  2. You should give the Devilman Lady manga a try. It's completely different from the anime as this one is actually drawn and written by Go Nagai. Nagai doesn't direct anime, but either draw mangas or come up with concepts for anime. The Devilman Lady anime (licensed as Devil Lady) was written by Chiaki J Konaka and directed by Toshiki Hirano. Anime licenses of Go Nagai anime always have this "Go Nagai presents" title going on, which is kinda misleading in my opinion as there are always loads of differences between his manga and the anime adaptations.

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    1. I have read the Devilman Lady manga, and I liked it. It's been a pretty long time since I was first introduced to Go Nagai's work, and I've read quite a bit that he's written, translated or not, so I feel comfortable in saying that I'm familiar with his style. Like I said earlier, I still wasn't very familiar with Devilman as a franchise or as a story, so the Devil Lady TV adaptation was a just negative early impression that I was able to shrug off later as I further immersed myself into this world.

      As for "Go Nagai Presents", from what I see it was only ADV Films that used that as a prefix on any adaptations of Dynamic Pro stories that they released. It didn't matter how accurate they were, or even if they were based on Nagai's work (like Getter Robo Armageddon, which was based on stories by Ken Ishikawa).

      Thanks for the info, though, and it's always cool to hear from another Go Nagai fan.

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  3. Devilman is one of my Favorite Horror Mangas and the Anime adaptation was beautifully gruesome and tragic! ╮(╯▽╰)╭��

    ~ Ureshii ☺ Rei �� Koneko ⊙ω⊙

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