Devilman: The Demon Bird

vlcsnap-00001

Introduction

Devilman: The Demon Bird (デビルマン 妖鳥シレーヌ編) is the sequel to The Birth (デビルマン 誕生編) and it is the second of the three Devilman OVAs I wish to review. [1] Bolder than its ancestor when it comes to violence, action oriented and with improved animation, it is a worthy telling of Fudo Akira’s adventures.

The article is full of spoilers, so be warned.

Chapter One: The Tragic Mask of Death

The main difference between The Demon Bird and its prequel, The Birth, is that while the latter had to introduce the story’s premise and its characters to the viewers, the former gets straight to the point. The short introduction includes Akira leaving the Makimura residence after a mysterious phone call and then wander the city in search of the demon who called him, Jinmen. The sequence has some flaws, such as Akira mysteriously knowing where to find Jinmen without any specific clue (can turtle demons use phones?). One thing I love about this scene is the coolness that surrounds Akira -he really looks much sexier with his new manly looks than he did as a cute little student in The Birth.

2

Jinmen is introduced to the story much earlier in The Demon Bird than in the original manga. There is an important change of protagonists, with Akira’s mother being now the victim in Jinmen’s shell of human faces instead of young Sachiko. That makes the drama much more intense for obvious reasons [1] and it fills a plot hole (what happened to Akira’s parents) that was left unexplained in The Birth.

The battle itself is more of a mental conflict than a physical one, so it involves a great deal of discussion and insights in Akira’s thoughts. This way the viewer is introduced to a new hero, a brave young man who can overcome not only physical, but also mental obstacles to victory.

Chapter Two: Curses and Misfortune

The discussion between Ryo and Akira where the idea of natural balance is analyzed, introduces us to the philosophical aspect [2] of the story. Then we have a sequence that is pretty much an alternative version of One Summer Day [3] which is an incredibly smart way to introduce people who have not read the manga to various themes of Devilman, such as Ryo’s hostility towards Miki, Akira’s fear of seeing Miki dead, etc. Had more OVAs been produced, those parts would be incredibly helpful to understanding the truly important aspects of the story; since that never happened, they seem to be there just to fill up time.

3

Then we get back to Akira, who wakes up from a nightmare and finds himself alone with Miki. It was a smart move on the behalf of the producers to ignore the Makimura family and instead focus on the main couple. Their interaction can be pretty comical, as one would expect from two teenagers, but it is quite clear that those two share a mutual attraction to one another.

During the next few minutes we see Miki preparing to get a shower while Geruma secretly waits for its chance to attack. Thankfully, the music never lets the viewer forget that this is a horror anime and so Miki’s nudity doesn’t feel like cheap fanservice. Even though the battle with Aguwel and Geruma provides us with lots of action, one must admit that they’d be much weaker without two key elements; Kenji Kawai’s soundtrack and Hayami Show’s great performance as Akira; he sounds angry and crazy at the same time, exactly the way a fighter who enjoys bloodshed would.

Chapter Three: What Insects are Capable of

I could conclude this review by describing the battle between Akira and Siren with one word: awesome. I am confident that, had I grown up in the 1970s as a fan Go Nagai’s manga, I would have gone delirious to watch this fight animated. There are many additions to the original version (i.e. Siren’s ability to teleport and throw beams, the destruction of an airplane); the whole sequence has been extended to such a degree that one would expect it to have many weak points. Yet, the result is flawless; the music, the consistent change of pace, the insults and the screams between the two demons, the amazing animation, everything fits together. This is one of the best fights I have ever watched in anime, even by modern standards.

4

The only weakness lies in the introduction of two new characters, Kaimu and Zenon. The former is very important to that chapter of Devilman and his appearance would not bother someone who has read the manga, but those who first came in contact with the Devilman franchise by watching the OVAs surely questioned his sudden, unexplained introduction. As for the latter, if I had not read the manga I’d be simply dumbfounded as to who the heck Lord Zenon is. It’d be useful if there was some additional information for both characters, but unfortunately that will remain but a wish.

Conclusion

vlcsnap-00108

The Demon Bird is another incredible Devilman movie. More upbeat than its predecessor and equally powerful. Saying that “it is a great shame that the world never witnessed a third OVA” is an understatement. Judging from the results in The Birth and The Demon Bird, I believe that had the OVAs completed the story, Devilman as a franchise would still be popular and no one would underestimate it in comparison to other classics (i.e. Jojo’s Bizzare Adventure, Hokuto no Ken, Berserk, etc.) that to a great extent own their success to that of Devilman. That doesn’t mean that these two OVAs are not a must for every anime fan, especially for those who enjoy horror and bloodshed. It’s just that it hurts to think, to imagine what more could there be, the priceless chapters we have yet to see animated.

Footnotes

[1] I think most people who suffer way more for seeing their mother deformed onto a demon’s body, then having to kill him along with the demon, than they would if the same thing happened to a friend.

[2] Taken from a 2007 interview of Go Nagai:

Q: Do you often deal with social and political issues in your comics? Has Devilman, for example, a “political” ending?
A: No, I don’t, I prefer to avoid a political connotation for my manga. I might be misunderstood and I’d risk to offend anyone. Devilman does not have a political ending. I just wanted to underline human stupidity.

That is why I say “philosophical”, not “political” aspect of the story.

[3] An eighteen page side story to the original manga.

Advertisements

5 thoughts on “Devilman: The Demon Bird

  1. Pingback: Devilman: The Birth (Umanosuke Iida, 1987) and Devilman: Demon Bird Sirene (Umanosuke Iida, 1990) – Make Mine Criterion!

  2. According to a 1997 interview with Go Nagai, there were plans for a third OVA to cover the Armageddon chapter, but it was canned because of the ¥120m budget.

    Like

  3. well devilman ova 3 was made but it was known as amon

    there was supposed to be atleast 4 ovas of devilman
    and amon
    Apocalypse of Devilman

    was supposed to be for last as the 4th ova

    but unfortunatley the directors were having a silly heated argument

    and the ova series went on hiatus
    they finally made a new devilman 3rd ova sequel in 1999
    which is amon the apocalypse of devilman(the final chapter of the devilman ova series)

    however amon the apocalypse of devilman

    was supposed to be the fourth ova sequel not as a 3rd sequel….

    they were about to start off with the spider demons in the 3rd ova but unfortuantly they lost the script to it..so they had no choice to scrap it…and they had to do amon the apoclaypse of devilman ova chapter ep 3 ova sequel instead which is why some fans hated it…….

    Like

    • That’s not accurate. Amon: Apocalypse of the Devilman is based on the manga Amon: Darkside of Devilman, not the original manga like the first two OVAs. I think that even the studi and staff are completely different.

      Like

Take your pen and write your story, co-traveler~

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s