Devilman (1972) is a ★★☆☆☆︱Not My Devilman

If you are already an established fan of the Devilman franchise, be warned, this series does not follow the narrative of the original story… at all. You should go into this story expecting more of a monster-of-the-week, “Kamen Rider”-like story, as opposed to a philosophical look at the dichotomy between good and evil. This show has not aged very well, and perhaps, is far too zany for its own good!

⚠️ This review of Devilman (1972) will contain light spoilers ⚠️

—Story/Characters

Synopsis: Devilman features Akira Fudō, a shy and timid teenager who has gone mountain climbing in the Himalayas with his father. While in the middle of the expedition, both father and son are killed in a tragic accident. Akira’s body is found and possessed by the demon soldier Devilman, who uses his new human form as a disguise in order to fulfill his mission of causing chaos on Earth in order to pave the way for a demonic invasion of the planet.

This is the fifth installment of the Devilman series that I consumed in a long list: the first was Devilman: Tanjō Hen (“The Birth”), second was Yochō Sirene-hen (“The Demon Bird”), third was CB Chara Go Nagai World, and the fourth was reading the original manga. So, by the time that I ordered the Discotek release of this series off of eBay, I was already entrenched in the franchise! I didn’t really know what to expect from the cover, Devilman looks less like a monster and more like a man wearing a stag-beetle helmet with kabuki make-up… but the answer is: goofy, it is plain absurdity, this show is not a Devilman series at all, but more like what ※”Space Black Knight” is to “Mobile Suit Gundam”!

※ “Space Black Knight” is a bootleg rip-off of the original Gundam series, where a cheaply rendered version of Char Aznable gets unmasked and is actually Amuro Ray. I would suggest looking into it, if you want a quick laugh.

Akira Fudō doesn’t undergo much of a life-altering change in this iteration, he just demon whips the followers of Ghandi! Yes, this is something that actually happens. If there’s a positive development to any given character, it would be to Miki Makimura — in other versions of the story, there is small moments of playful banter between her and Akira, but this series showcases her “comic strip”-like frivolousness and that was refreshing to see. We only see her transform into an Olive (“Popeye”) in the manga, so it’s refreshing to see her be a part of Akira’s life in a more meaningful way. Which reminds me, the most pivotal character in the manga, Ryō Asuka, does NOT exist in this anime!

The episodic writing varies from episode to episode, sometimes it can be entertaining (in a trippy way) and other times, it’s just boring and monotonous, tacking a poorly rendered “filler” monster at the end of each segment. The designs that aren’t lifted from Nagai’s manga usually look really corny! For example, in Episode 21 — Devilman battles a demon that looks like a red color variant of the Michelin “Tire Man”! Believe me, there are some really stupid-looking monster designs in this! There also doesn’t seem to be a consistent continuity with what Devilman’s utility belt does, Akira will shout “Devil Beam” and the command will account for several different attacks! It doesn’t make any sense, at all!

There’s a new character that becomes a reoccurring (love interest?) third wheel to Akira and Miki’s budding romance! She’s a demon named Lala, and while her voice is very cute, she was entirely useless to the story. It felt like she only existed to be a complete idiot and get in the way of their pre-established love affair. It wasn’t a very well orchestrated plot point, but nothing in the story really has any staying power after a single episode. Even as an obsessed “Devilman” fan, it was difficult to immerse myself in any of it, I think I mostly zoned out when things hadn’t gone completely bananas because (aside from more of a focus on Miki Makimura) none of the characters were the ones that I had grown to love; everything seemed to have been modeled to fit a televised time slot, rather than do anything in the story justice!

—Technical

Luna’s Favorite Works by Each Respective Creator = ✅

Tomoharu Katsumata (director), notable works:

  • Anderson Dōwa: Ningyo-hime ✅
  • Captain Future
  • Cutey Honey ✅
  • Dai Yamato Zero-gō
  • Daikū Maryū Gaiking
  • Daisōgen to Hakuba (“The Princess and the White Horse”)
  • Entaku no Kishi Monogatari: Moero Arthur
  • Ginga Nagareboshi Gin
  • Hashire Melos
  • Kagayake! Yūjō no V Sign
  • Magnerobo Ga-Keen
  • Mazinger Z ✅
  • Nagagutsu Sanjūshi
  • Ningen Kakumei
  • Saint Seiya: Meiō Hades (series)
  • Saleryman Kintarō
  • Uchū Senkan Yamato: Kanketsu-hen (“Space Battleship Yamato: The Final Chapter”)
  • UFO Robo Grendizer
  • Waga Seishun no Arcadia (“My Youth in Arcadia”)
  • Yamato yo Towa ni (“Be Forever Yamato”)
  • Yukiguni no Ōji-sama
  • Yume Senshi Wingman

Commentary: I grew up watching “Anderson Dōwa: Ningyo-hime”, a.k.a. the anime version of “The Little Mermaid”, so I have a sense of nostalgia for Mr. Katsumata’s work! From what I’ve seen in “Cutey Honey” and “Waga Seishun no Arcadia”, his biggest problem is nailing the pacing and keeping plots from feeling tiring and repetitive, which is why his directing on a shorter project like “Anderson Dōwa: Ningyo-hime” may have been more optimal with his style of composition! I would say that the screenplay was okay, the scriptwriting is probably what plummeted this series down to the level of awful for me!

Good Seiyū Work = ✅

Really Enjoyed the Seiyū’s Performance = ✅ ✅

One of Luna’s Favorite Performances OF ALL TIME = ✅ ✅ ✅

Ryō’ichi Tanaka as Akira Fudō (or “Devilman”), notable roles:

  • Amon, CB Chara Go Nagai World ✅✅
  • Rō Kaioshin and Dr. Briefs, Dragon Ball Kai and Dragon Ball Super
  • Cancer Death Mask, Saint Seiya ✅✅✅
  • Rocky Andrew, Taiyō no Kiba Dagram
  • Kentarō Takaoka, Tiger Mask (1969) and Tiger Mask W (2016) ✅

Commentary: Mr. Tanaka makes Akira Fudō seem like less of a friendly wimp, before his fusion with the spirit of “Devilman” and more of a harsh, mecha pilot protagonist — since, he emits the same kind of energy as Koji Kabuto in the first “Mazinger Z” cartoon! He’s incredibly talented at what he does, and I love him as Cancer Death Mask in “Saint Seiya”! Incredible work!

Sumi Sakai as Miki Makimura, notable roles:

  • Midori Hayakawa, Attack No. 1
  • Yukihime, Dororon Enma-kun ✅✅

Commentary: Ms. Sakai voices Miki in a way that is, so far, my favorite iteration of her! She’s stubborn, gutsy, and on the spicy side! The spiritual progenitor to characters like Frau Bō (“Mobile Suit Gundam”) and Akane Tendō (“Ranma ½”), she did a wonderful job as both Miki Makimura and the original Yukihime (“Dororon Enma-kun”)! Great job!

Hiroshi Matsuoka as Demon General Zannin, notable roles:

  • Zenmaijikake (“Gizmo”), Anime Oyako Gekijō and Personal Computer Travel Tanteidan
  • Geronimo Jr. (“005”), Cyborg 009 (1968)
  • Muten-Rōshi (“Master Rōshi”), Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball GT ✅✅✅
  • Jam Oji-san (“Uncle Jam”), Sore Ike! Anpanman (series)

Commentary: Mr. Matsuoka as Demon General Zannin is one of the more memorable roles in the series! He has such a ghastly eminence! I have only ever heard him in the Japanese dub of “Dragon Ball Z” as Master Rōshi, but he was superb in this show, too! Rest in peace, Mr. Matsuoka, your presence will be greatly missed!

Kōsei Tomita as Gelge, notable roles:

  • Daemon Abashiri, Abashiri Ikka
  • Dr. Hell, CB Chara Go Nagai World, Mazinger Z, and Mazinkaiser ✅✅
  • Danbei Hayami, Cutey Honey ✅
  • Jirokichi Suzuki, Detective Conan ✅✅
  • Doraemon, Doraemon (1973) ✅
  • Professor Saotome, Getter Robo
  • Ayanoroji Mashumaro, Hana no Kakarichō
  • Bakabon no Papa, Heisei Tensai Bakabon
  • Oyaji Hige, in every Osamu Tezuka adaptation ✅✅✅
  • Doctor Watson, Meitantei Holmes (“Sherlock Hound”) ✅✅
  • Sniff, Mūmin
  • Hakka Don, SF Saiyūki Starzinger
  • Yohei Hayami, Shinkai no Kantai: Submarine 707
  • Bouleuse Gotho, Sōkō Kihei Votoms
  • Gandal, UFO Robo Grendizer
  • Dr. Oedo and Tamaga, Wakusei Robo Danguard Ace

Commentary: Mr. Tomita’s role of a bumbling lackey fits well with other characters that he’s played: Dr. Hell (“Mazinger Z”) and Danbei Hayami (“Cutey Honey”) being a couple of prime examples! His roles range from incompetent crony, to doddering old man, to reticent sidekick! Mr. Tomita had a very expressive voice to fit with his lively, cartoonish roles! Rest in peace, Mr. Tomita, your voice will be missed!

Hidekatsu Shibata as Zenon, notable roles:

  • King Enma, Dororon Enma-kun ✅
  • Igneel and Narrator, Fairy Tail ✅✅
  • Geese Howard, Fatal Fury: Legend of the Hungry Wolf
  • King Bradley, Fullmetal Alchemist (2003) and Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood ✅✅✅
  • Backbeard, Gegege no Kitarō (1985) and Gegege no Kitarō (2007)
  • Gregor von Muckenberger, Ginga Eiyū Densetsu ✅
  • Bill, Ginga Nagareboshi Gin
  • Count Mecha, Ginga Tetsudō 999 ✅✅
  • Baron Ashura, Mazinger Z (1972) and Mazinkaiser ✅✅
  • Degwin Sodo Zabi, Mobile Suit Gundam (movie) ✅✅
  • Hiruzen Sarutobi, Naruto ✅
  • Monkey D. Dragon and Calgara, One Piece
  • Guilty, Saint Seiya ✅✅✅
  • Mars, Saint Seiya Omega ✅✅✅
  • Ching Tao, Shaman King
  • Daitetsu Minase, Super Robot Wars OG (series)
  • General Hengel, Tentai Senshi Sunred
  • Mr. X, Tiger Mask (1969) and Tiger Mask W (2016) ✅✅
  • Captain Dan, Wakusei Robo Danguard Ace

Commentary: Mr. Shibata has a legendary villain voice, this man’s timbre can shake the temerity of any weak-spirited mortal! That’s just how much of a prolific actor this guy is! I would compare his role as the main demon (“Zenon”) to his performances as King Enma (“Dororon Enma-kun”) and Baron Ashura (“Mazinger Z”)… such a godly rendition of the Zenon character is wasted on such a silly show! I’m waiting for there to be a tit-for-tat retelling of the “Devilman” story with this version of Zenon incorporated into the script! That would be incredible! Amazing performance!

This show is really defective, when compared to the source material. I may have enjoyed it more if I wasn’t already so invested in the manga and those beautifully animated OVA adaptations! The 1972 adaptation deracinates the story of any of the original solemnity and catharsis on morality, and how human history can repeat itself, and strips the marrow so much that it makes the original ※”Casshern” series look like the best anime ever made, by comparison! Devilman (1972) gets a 3/10!

※ I really did like the original “Casshern” (1972) series, but I rated it a 6/10.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Published by eggheadluna

H.E. Rodgers is the author of the Juniper's Tree series, also known as the 真柏Project. MyAnimeList: https://myanimelist.net/profile/Egghe... Twitter: https://twitter.com/EggheadLuna #真柏Project #JunipersTree

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