Movie Follow-up to the Anime Series
High school student Akira Fudo receives a sudden visit from an old friend named Ryo. He reveals to Akira that demons do exist and they plan on wiping out mankind. After going through his fathers research. Ryo learns the only way to have a chance against the demons is to become one. Together, they go through a bloody ritual in an attempt to become a demon. However, there's a possibility that they may not become mentally strong enough to control the demon after possession, and they may share the fate of Ryo's father. -summary
Go Nagai has always been one of those anime directors that I took most of his serious works with a grain of salt; Devilman being one of them, and I have to admit that this is one anime that gets worse each time I revisit it, and in all honesty I'm done with it. Released during the years 1987 and 1990, Devilman is a brutal 4 episode OVA meshed into 2 episodes; The Birth and Demon Bird. It's also based on the manga that enjoyed a short run. The anime is pretty much a gory action filled bloodfest that can, and more than likely will satisfy most action oriented anime fans. It's very over the top in the graphic action, in which I never had a problem with.
The first quarter, in which I do have a problem with (among other portions), spends a lot of time giving some background. There's absolutely nothing wrong with setting the foundation for the story, but there's definitely something wrong with bad pacing. I find the writing to be too tedious, and there was just way too much time wasted on stare downs and close ups. I can imagine someone mentioning that was a form of character development, but these guys personalities and the seriousness of the situations were already established. This was pure time wasting drivel through very bad writing and nothing more. The writers were clearly trying to squeeze water out of a rock for the sake of filling up a time slot, and there are plenty of moments like these too. Character interactions are another issue... a serious issue at that, but I believe it's the horrendous English voice acting that does them in. There's a lot of forced cursing and incredibly cheesy lines that caused me to roll my eyes so many times, that they became exhausted because of the work out. I can't think of an anime right now during that time period, where most of the characters were so damn dull and this goes for the villains as well. Sadly, there's no Japanese sub, but I doubt it would have been that much better, since the poor pacing would have still poked out its ugly head.
The plot pretty much follows Akira dealing with his new powers, and engaging in one battle after the other. The second half begins to pick up when he becomes the hunted, and this results in an attack on his friends. Outside of the battles that take place, there's really nothing here to go crazy about.
Contradicting storytelling is always a pet peeve for me. In the beginning, it's mentioned that the only way to fight and kill the demons is by becoming one. But they manage to kill one with a shotgun and injure others with weapon fire. Then why become a demon for? Get a bunch of weapons and blast away then.
I will give the OVA its credit though. The character designs are imaginative for the demons, and you can see where anime like Berserk got its influence. Visually, it's pretty good and the animation still holds up. I liked the fully graphic action scenes and transformations of humans into demons. The anime's horror elements would have been a lot stronger had the soundtrack been more on the creepy side. The soundtrack is excellent I will admit, but felt out of place in some areas.
I'll also mention that besides the action, there was a thought provoking theme in regards to human over-population, and the way it was brought into the story was brilliant. However, it's not enough to consider this a work of art. The ending is ok at best and the small issues are answered. But the ending came too sudden and has that unfinished feeling. Some people felt the series should have been longer. I thought the same thing until Go Nagai took another crack with Devil Lady, which was suppose to be the sequel. I'll just say that series could have been a lot better.
Overall, some hail Devilman as a classic, in which, plenty of folks have this habit to throw that stamp on every old-school bloody anime title. I don't feel the same way; I need more than blood and guts to satisfy me. Strong story and decent characters never hurt an anime of any length. Don't believe me, go watch Battle Angel because it accomplished those things in a much shorter length. Devilman has a 120 minute run time.
-Lots of action, cool character designs and animation
-Awful voice acting, weak music score, non engaging character interactions
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Movie Follow-up to the Anime Series
Director: Hayao Miyazaki; Release Date: April 15, 2003