Devilman (1972 manga)

CONTENT WARNINGS: Violence, body horror, death, major character death, child death, animal death, torture, war, genocide, nudity, sexual content, religious themes, drug use, underage drinking/drug use. I rate this series T for Teen. While this is a story about the end of the world, the limited artwork and age of the piece make it quite tame compared to todays standards.

SPOILER CONTENT: No spoilers in the first review! But for every review after this you must have read at least the original Devilman manga (or have watched Devilman Crybaby back in 2018). Either is fine.

Hi!!! Welcome to the first installment of the DevilBlog! We’re starting off with the obvious choice: Devilman (the manga, 1972). So let's just jump into it [insert drawing of me as phillip defranco]

This is a re read for me, I’m enjoyed it via Seven Sea’s gorgeous hardback Classic Collection. The books themselves are quite lovely. The paper and ink are really high quality, resulting in striking black and white contrasts. The colour pages are just to die for. However, there are some very notable (and kind of odd) alterations Seven Seas made to the story, which I will discuss more at the end of the blog. While I suggest you read the fan translation for the full Devilman experience, these books are a lovely collectors item and great for any casual fan as well.

Onto the actual manga!

Akira Fudo is a bit of a crybaby. He’s a bookworm and a softie. But after his bestie Ryo Asuka comes to pick him up from school after a month MIA and takes him to a rave in his dad’s basement his whole life gets turned upside down as he becomes DEVILMAN!!!!!
The 1972 manga often gets ripped on for its bizarre facial expressions and Ryo’s habit of just blurting out random shit. But honestly? The art is actually really good. Once you get past the occasional funny face you realize that Nagai is very skilled at page layouts and creating suspenseful, stressful situations. As you get further in his talent for portraying indescribable emotions becomes apparent. With such a simple art style he can convey what words can’t.
Without spoiling any fun stuff for newcomers (why are you reading this if you haven’t consumed a single deviled man? How are you only just now finding out about devilman through my shithole website?) The characters are by far the most important part of the series.

Akira Fudo is a sweetheart who cares for his friends and family with his entire heart. He loves humanity and would do anything to protect them. He keeps faith in his loved ones until the very end, and even then he still wants to try to understand them.

Miki Makamura, Akira’s friend who’s family he is currently living with, is kind of a badass. She’s sassy, she’s a little bit perverted, and she takes no shit from no one. She’s a great contrast to Akira. Miki is a fearless human, ready to get into a fight at a moment's notice despite being powerless. While Akira is a crybaby devil, the strongest weapon at mankind's disposal with an aversion to violence.

Ryo Asuka is the original pretty-light-hair-gay-boy-who-is-absolutely-insane-and-ruins-your-life. I joke about him being unhinged, but a lot of that comes from Nagai’s odd facial expressions in the beginning of the manga. It’s difficult to pin down his personality. He’s Akira’s best friend and guide. He wants to be in control and help Akira save humanity, but he also depends on Akira for his own comfort and sanity.
I think something that drew me a lot to his character as a teenager was his internal conflict and confusion at his identity. Feeling like an alien, like you aren’t a real person was a very relatable struggle for me. It kind of still is.

Another character I want to highlight is Sirene the Harpy. Her arc always sticks with me. The love she feels for Amon, the fear she feels at fighting Devilman. Much like how Devilman’s story is a story of love, Sirene’s short story is also one of love.

Re-reading this I was surprised at how many little details I’d forgotten, and how much of the series I’d taken for granted. You can see Devilman’s influence, especially in its depiction of the apocalypse, in so many modern anime. The most obvious that comes to mind is of course Evangelion. The betrayal, the sorrow, the raw animalistic depictions of love and hate. There’s a reason this manga has stuck with so many people for so long.

It’s also quite shocking how relevant Devilman’s message still is today. Even more so in recent years. Devilman is a story about war and mistrust. About the potential evil every person has inside of them when controlled by fear. But unlike most stories whose message is “whooowa humans were the real demons all along. We’re the virus!!!!!1!!111!!!” Devilman is also a story of hope. Hope to understand your mistakes and make things right.

This isn't really much of a review. But that’s mainly because everything that can be said about the 1972 manga has already been said a bajillion times in a bajillion better ways than anything I could ever write. Just go read it. Do it. Now. It’ll only take a few hours. It’s collected into two large volumes and it’s not a particularly dialogue heavy series. A lot of pages are taken up by atmospheric spreads or fight scenes with sparring dialogue. Which is good because I hate reading.

What can I say? It's the blueprint for the Devilman franchise as we know it today. Because of this, I’ll be using it as the flat line for my review of the coming series. Everyone please put your hands together for the debut of the patented, one-of-a-kind, DevilScale!!!!

5/5 Ryos

It’s great! I had fun! You laugh, get angry, you get sad! It’s difficult to put down.

2/5 Mikis

It carries itself well. Everything is in its place. It starts out silly and gets progressively more serious. The majority of the fuckery occurs at the very beginning and quickly peters out.

5/5 Akiras

If you only read 1 piece of Devilman media, it should be this one.

And that’s it! Thanks so much for reading, and if you made it this far and haven’t read the manga yet, what are you waiting for??? Go do it!! Now!! Next time we’ll be going over Shin Devilman which was included split up throughout The Classic Collection print. So Stay tuned~