Devilman (2004 live-action film)
CONTENT WARNINGS: Violence, body horror, death, violence in a school, bullying.
SPOILER CONTENT: Spoilers for Devilman (1972 manga), Devilman (2004) and possible spoilers for Devilman Crybaby.
Hi! Welcome back to the DevilBlog! It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Mostly because I’ve been putting off actually having to write a review for Devilman (2004). AKA The live action Devilman movie, AKA the most universally hated adaptation of Devilman ever. I actually put off writing this review for so long that I forgot what happened in the movie and had to watch it a second time. Because of this, I got to watch both the sub and dub which I will get onto discussing later. Personally, I really enjoyed this movie and I don’t believe it deserves the hate it gets! It’s not the best movie ever, but it has a lot of really great ideas and takes a lot of brave risks! I commend them for that. Enough said, let's get onto the meat and potatoes.
Devilman was a live action, tokusatsu and CGI film directed by Hiroyuki Nasu. The film was originally slated for May 2004 to coincide with the release of the Cutie Honey live action film directed by the legendary Hideaki Anno. But due to difficulties with filming and reshoots, the film was delayed until October 2004. The film starred the young idol twin brothers Hisato and Yusuke Izaki in their film debut playing Akira and Ryo respectively. The actors were inexperienced and many people criticized their performance. But I find the idea to cast Akira and Ryo as twin brothers very fascinating. Casting idols to play these roles is also very funny to me, of course you’re going to use pretty boys.
So what was the movie about? Well it followed the basic plot of the manga. Akira is a wimp, he’s best friends with Ryo, Ryo causes him to become Devilman, Devilman fights some demons, then the apocalypse happens and Ryo betrays Akira, eventually killing him. But there were some pretty major changes. The film opens with a pretty cute flashback to childhood Akira and Ryo reading a book about demons. For some reason Ryo has an ugly old man gray bowl cut. I really like that this iteration portrays Akira and Ryo (as in our Ryo) as friends since childhood. We then have this pretty cool PS2 cutscene opening sequence and begin the story in the modern day with Akira and Ryo at their highschool track meet. After a few character introductions, Akira gets bullied by some delinquents, we hear about how weak and pathetic he is yada yada yada this is all stuff we know from the manga. Then suddenly we have a flashback to Ryo cutting off a dreadlocked art kid’s fingers with hedge clippers for apparently dissing Akira. This is the first indication we get of a very violent characterisation of Ryo. He gives off very heavy Light Yagami vibes, but not in a good way.
In comes MIKO!!! You know, the girl from the manga who shoplifts and develops acid tits! Miko is being horribly bullied by some girls when Miki comes to her rescue! She stands up for her and kicks the bullies asses like the total girlboss she is. Their relationship will be important later.
The first major change, and the first moment you begin to realize something isn’t right here is when Ryo drives Akira to his dad’s house and gives him the “my father died” speech. Except this time he gives Akira a bootleg oculus rift and we get to watch a cool exposition video from Professor Asuka himself, right before he turns into a demon on camera. Jumpscares in VR aren’t cool you asshole. Anyway Ryo takes him into Professor Asuka’s super cool secret laboratory for the Sabbath except… there isn’t any Sabbath. Instead there’s a meat room made of the Professor himself.
Anyway Akira gets splooged on by a giant demon sperm and the sperm turns him into Devilman. I feel like that would be a good doujin premise. Akira gets pounded into a mattress by Amon and absorbs his demonic power through his magic demon absorbing bussy. Ryo watches in silence from a chair in the corner of the room giving them both a Kubrick stare like the loser cuck he is. We’re getting off topic anyway following Akira’s transformation we get some delicious PS2 cutscene CGI action.Then Akira transforms into his half-devil state and the makeup is hideous. Also for some fucking reason the demonic cummies also turn Ryo into his Satan form and he floats in the sky all angelic and they have a homoerotic eyecontact moment. And then Ryo wishes Akira a happy birthday.
Anyway Akira gets a motorbike just like the one he rides in the Toei anime! He then gives Miki the “would you still love me if i was a
worm demon?” talk while Art Kid runs up to them from an immense distance. There is a fight scene and Akira gets to do the sickest backflips ever just like in my favorite Chinese cultivation dramas. As usual, Miki is totally turned on by this.
Akira goes to check on Art Guy (Ushuku) who is drawing by the seaside. They become friends after Art Guy apologizes for bullying him and also thanks him for saving him from Ryo. His art is also cool as heck. I would love to know who the artist for this character's sketches was.
Meanwhile there is a pervert stalking Miki.
ANYWAY SIRENE IS HERE and Akira (donning the stupid yellow shirt he wore in the Toei anime) has a violence boner. Meanwhile I have a regular boner for this portrayal of Sirene. This costume design is so beautiful. The Sirene fight happens and it’s really good!!! Like seriously good, both the live action and CGI portions are really well done. I have no comments. If you only watch one scene from the movie, watch the Sirene fight.
The end of the fight is another big alteration, as there is no merge with Caim. Caim is totally removed. Instead moments before the kill, Ryo turns up, bathed in white light and ends the fight off screen. This is a fascinating idea to me, that Ryo would step in and risk revealing his identity prematurely either consciously or subconsciously to kill Sirene to save Akira. It also reminds me of the forbidden chapter of the manga where Ryo stabs that guy with an umbrella.
In their conversation following the fight, Ryo discusses how Sirene wanted to see her lover, Amon one last time. In my opinion, the way he mentions this suggests that he sent Sirene to fight Akira to fulfill her wish before she died. I do love the idea of Satan caring about Sirene, even though so far I haven’t viewed any media that really supports that idea. Just me and my crazy headcanons.
Now we are at Monster Cafe! Akira eats a very cute chocolate parfait while our boys have a heart to heart conversation about the nature of demons and destiny. I want to draw Akira eating a choco parfait. Then Miki and Akira make out and a policeman eats a turtle.
Ushuku (Art Guy) takes the place of the unlucky person on Jinmen’s shell. I enjoyed how brave Ushuku was as he tells Akira it’s ok to kill him, and that he was so happy to be his friend. That bravery made Ushuku’s character stick with me and I’m sad he only appears in this movie. But also I think that brave act might have just been due to poor writing. Anyway, the Jinmen fight lasts a whopping 10 seconds as Akira One Punch Man’s the fuck out of him and we immediately move on. But not before Jinmen clues Akira in on Satan’s plan to wipe out humanity. More blatant Ryo is Satan foreshadowing (as if him turning into an angel wasn’t enough).
We are now entering the apocalypse! Miko’s demon reveal happens and it is BRUTAL. The bullies tear her clothing off to reveal her demon wounds?? (she shoots lasers out of them). Miki speaks so tenderly when she approaches her to comfort her, but Miko runs away before anything can happen. In the next scene, we are introduced to Susumu and he explains his fear of his mother to Miko. Oh I forgot to mention, Tare has been completely retconned and replaced with Susumu. Unlike the original Susumu’s Big Shock (where Susumu’s demonic parents eat him), freshly turned devilman Miko is there to save him. The relationship that continues between Susumu and Miko is by far the most interesting idea of this film. Susumu accepts Miko for who she is and the two run away together.
Akira and Miki go to church to pray for their love to last forever and Motherfucking Nagai is there. There’s a really great shot of Akira walking out of the church, away from Miki. It feels like he is drifting farther and farther away from her as the end of the world nears and their future together becomes less and less possible.
The next scene is possibly the greatest in the entire film (derogatory). Demons are pouring out of a random mansion and getting shot up by the anti demon corps. Akira and Ryo are there in the bushes and Ryo wants to join in and go full school shooter on them, but Akira stays behind. Only for, out of nowhere, a random demon to fumble the whole fucking thing and address Ryo by name (Satan) and beg him to help. You idiot. You fucking buffoon. You imbecile. This the dumbest possible way to reveal to Akira that his best friend is Satan. A butt dial. A fucking down trow. Oh my god. Ryo then does a barrel roll and duel wields machine guns on the anti demon corps. Does some gay little jumps. Prances around a bit. I fucking hate him.
And then a random Samoan man in a suit with a red bow tie saunters out of the mansion and is immediately killed. They shot him getting shot un-cut for like 20 seconds. I bet he had a real fun day on set.
Father Nagai reads the newspaper and some random guy gets killed by some sumo. Lots of totally incomprehensible stuff happens. It’s literally just white noise at this point.
In this film, Mr Makimura works at an ag research center. Akira and Mr Makimura have a heart to heart conversation and Akira admits that he is a demon. Even so, Mr Makimura accepts Akira for who he is and vows to stand by him. Another just wonderful and heartfelt scene. This film has so many great ideas and stand alone scenes I need to stress that. After all the bizarre garbage I just told you about I need you to understand that this movie is actually good.
Anyway Akira fights some cops and Ryo is revealed to be a cop himself. Even more shocking than the Satan reveal. See, him being a cop is how you know he’s evil. Anyway forget about that edgelord twink we won’t be seeing him for a while.
We return to Miko and Susumu on the run from the demon corps and trying to survive. They wind up at the Makimuras where Miko begs for sanctuary for the still human Susumo. Miki invites the both of them in and the Makimuras accept them with open arms.
This next scene is one of my favorites and is the best single scene in the entire film (genuine). Miko wakes up in the night and sneaks away to do something. When Miki finds her, she is frantically trying to cover up her demonic markings with makeup. When she is caught, Miko is ashamed, but Miki assures her it’s ok. Miki does her makeup, applying her lipstick in the most intimate and loving scene. Miko looks in the mirror and she feels beautiful for the first time in a long time. I love this scene. Miko is just a teenage girl like any other, but her body has changed in ways she can’t control. It’s not her own anymore. The shame and disgust and dysmorphia she must feel is immense, but Miki still accepts her. All of her. Miko is still the same beautiful girl in her eyes. Miki and Miko shippers, come get your food.
The Makimuras are reported to the demon corps, and Miko and Susumo are forced to go on the run once again. But not before they are given the provisions they need to survive. And as a parting gift, Miki gives Miko the lipstick they shared. As soon as Miko and Susumo are gone, the demon core burst in and attack the family. To save his family, Akira transforms and turns himself in. Miki laments that they will never see each other again, but she doesn’t judge his appearance. She still loves him. The characterisation of Miki loving Akira (and Miko) despite any change that could happen in him makes my heart soar. She deserves so much more. This portrayal of Miki had a great balance between her being an unhinged horny teen and also a loving and perfect little angel. I love Miki so much T0T
Then Akira is carried away on a weird crucifixion sex rack on the back of a trust.
Then the scene you’ve all been waiting for, THE MAKIMURAS GET FUCKING SLAUGHTERRRRRED AYOOOO WOMP WOMP WOMP
The creepy stalker Miki had that I mentioned earlier actually tries to stop the mob! A very odd and interesting detail that I wish more had been done with. The final stand at the Makimura’s household is also done incredibly well. Shocking, heart wrenching and genuinely difficult to watch.
Meanwhile Miko and Susumo are still on the run. All of these scenes are filmed wonderfully. I wish I knew more about film to describe how much I like their parts. The entire movie should have been about them. Miko grows butterfly wings and slaughters the demon corps with a samurai sword after they mistake her for an angel. She is ruthless and beautiful and will do anything to protect her precious Susumo.
Anyway, Professional wrestler, kickboxer, MMA fighter and American football player Bob Sapp turns into a demon on live TV. He also looks like he had a lot of fun on set. His smile is very cute :)
Akira returns from the Demon Killing Facility to find the remains of the Makimuras and in both the Japanese and English dub he lets out the most feeble bitch ass little screams that make the moment of claiming Miki’s seavered head really lame and stupid. How could you fuck that up? You were doing so well! This is why you don’t hire teen idols to act.
Akira carries Miki’s head to the church they discussed their future in. He places her head upon the altar. In the place they should have exchanged their vows. And he sobs.
Then Ryo shows up in the ugliest ill-fitting off-white suit I’ve ever seen. He looks like a kid trying on his dad’s clothes. They argue, and then Ryo confesses his love. If only Akira will join him on the side of demons. And we all know how this goes, final showdown time baby!
The final showdown is really bad. Like it is really not very good. If the Sirene fight was the coolest PS2 cutscene you ever watched on YouTube at 240p at the public library after school in 2009, the Satan showdown is like the worst bargain bin PS2 cutscene you saw at your shady 23yo cousin’s house while his underage girlfriend babysat you. There are some good effects here and there, and I really liked the addition of Satan crying a single tear before delivering the final blow. But those could not save this fight alone. Also Satan doesn't have tits so whats the fucking point.
At the very end scene, Ryo and Akira have an interesting conversation. Ryo begs Akira to live and Akira tells him that it’s going to be ok. Then he dies with a smile on his face. Ryo laughs at this, but his laugh slowly turns to sobs. Together they stare at the moon. It’s all over. That’s it folks. Shows over.
But wait a damn minute! There’s one last scene! Miko and Susumu have somehow survived. Together they hold Miki’s lipstick and stand up to walk into the future together. Humanity has survived! I really like this ending, even though it’s totally nonsensical. I like that Miko and Susumu could survive, a human child and a devilman girl, due to the kindness of people around them. While I do dislike the idea of anyone surviving after the final fight, these two are the best possible candidates to survive
Devilman (2004) has so many great ideas. I enjoyed so many parts of this film. The issue is that so many of them are very poorly executed. The biggest flaw this movie faces is its format. Trying to squeeze the entirety of Devilman, as well as an entirely new subplot into only two hours is impossible. But they tried damn hard. But not all hope is lost for the cool unique ideas in this film, as many of them appear to have been repurposed in Devilman Crybaby. Most significantly is the childhood flashbacks of Akira and Ryo, the addition of track running, Ryo being edgy as fuck and Miko and Miki’s relationship. There are probably more similarities as well, but I haven’t seen Crybaby since it aired, so I do not remember.
So if this review piqued your interest on the deeper ideas of Devilman, I would highly suggest ignoring this movie and going and watching Devilman Crybaby. However, if you are interested in ridiculous 2000s Japanese action films I would totally recommend this film! I would describe Devilman (2004) as a version of Tokyo Gore Police that you could bring home to your parents. It’s just as stupid, the effects are just as hilarious, but it’s far less over the top with its use of blood and guts (there is also no nudity which is another reason why you should just watch Devilman Crybaby). I would also suggest this movie to anyone who finished Devilman Crybaby and came out of it a massive Miki/Miko shipper. Finally, I suggest this movie to any rabbid Devilman fan who wants to put something stupid on at a drinking party with their friends. I initially watched this film at my graduation afterparty with my friends and it was an excellent time. The majority of them were already Devilman fans to some degree, so there was a lot of hooting and hollering over the bizarre changes and situations. And anyone can laugh at Akira getting attacked by a giant sperm if they’re immature enough.
If you do choose to brave this film, there’s an age old question that must be asked. Sub or dub? Unless you have hearing or other impairments, I would actually say watch the dub! For two reasons.
- The dub is really fucking funny. Like it’s quite poorly acted, which leads to a lot of really funny moments and scenes. The dub script follows the sub very closely, so I can assure you that all of the fucked up lines are actually from the sub. They just acted even worse for your ironic enjoyment.
- The dub has significantly better sound mixing??? The original Japanese sub has many moments where sound effects that should be there were just… Never added. This is most noticeable in non CGI fist fight scenes, where punching and kicking effects are just straight up never added. There is also a significant lack of footsteps or any kind of grunting/moaning effects where they would have been better suited. The dub however corrects a lot of these issues. Especially with punch effects and grunting. It’s a subtle change, but it makes the experience a lot more polished.
But yeah! That’s it! I enjoyed Devilman (2004) and I also admitted to being a Crybaby enjoyer. So I expect a mass unfollowing of my website and several angry emails in my inbox in the 48 hours following my posting of this blog. It’s ok. I admit to having bad taste. Somebody has to be the bottom feeder who will watch anything with enormous tits and ultraviolence in it and that someone is me. At least I don’t watch highschool harem romcoms.
See you all next time!
I really enjoyed it! For both genuine and ironic purposes. But there’s something about mixing genuinely good, so bad it's good and straight up bad into one 2 hour long experience that is just draining.
There was so much extremely good! But also so much what the fuck! They neutralize each other.
You honestly should just watch Devilman Crybaby instead.
TO BE CONTINUED!!!