Devilman (1987) Review


Devil man, – Devil man – calling Devil man
running in my head yeah
Devil man, – Devil man – calling Devil man 
running in my head yeah

Okay, yeah: that quote isn’t from the 1987 Umanosuke Iida written and directed anime adaptation of Go Nagai’s seminal manga series, Devilman, it’s from the White Zombie track Super-Charger Heaven.  As a song, it’s silly, bombastic,  outrageous, cartoony, and totally awesome.  Just like the film Devilman.

Screenshot 2016-03-05 10.55.58
I guess this is how the dinosaurs became extinct – no asteroid, just plain, simple, fairy-angel-thing nuclear apocalypse.

I have to confess: I haven’t watched many anime films in my day.  My anime education began with Ninja Scroll, Akira, and Ghost in the Shell, and mostly ended there.  So, please forgive any historical ignorance or lack of understanding on my part if you’re more well versed in the field than I am.

Anyway, back to the discussion at hand: Devilman is one weird, wild ride.  The film opens on a prehistoric dinosaur and monster populated Earth, if most dinosaurs were Freudian sexual nightmares.  It’s essentially a bloody monster brawl orgy 24-7 down there.  The scene ends with some kind of fairy/angel thing scouring at least part of the Earth using some kind of nuclear-like weapon.  Things just get more disjointed and weird from there.  My best attempt at a plot synopsis: the Earth is infected with demons who typically remain in hiding.  Average teen Akira Fudo has his world turned upside down when his old friend Ryo Asuka shows up and tells him about the insidious threat of demons, and recruits him to help in the fight against them.

Screenshot 2016-03-05 11.09.46

I’ll be honest: Devilman is a mess.  Events happen seemingly at random, characters disappear, and if there’s a plot, I didn’t recognize it as such.  It’s also pretty kick-ass.  It has badass demons and monsters, blood, cool atmosphere, and a killer soundtrack.  I love exploitation and odd films, and this certainly fits in that ignoble group.  It’s proudly outrageous, and although I’m sure most of it’s problems stem from attempting to adapt a long manga series, Umanosuke Iida, when struck with problems of continuity or coherence, seems to have thrown up his hands, made some cool images, and moved on.  The animation is beautiful, and the designs are awesome and strange.

Screenshot 2016-03-05 11.27.30

I think I loved Devilman.  It’s not a good film, but it is outrageous, bizarre, fun, badass, and bloody, and that’s good enough for me.


One thought on “Devilman (1987) Review

  1. If I’ve learned anything from my limited exposure to anime it’s that you don’t need anything remotely resembling a plot in order to flash around a lot of boobs, blood and internal organs.

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