Shin Devilman (1979)

CONTENT WARNINGS: Violence, body horror, death, anti semitism, Adolf Hitler, slaughter of Native American people, nudity, rape

SPOILER CONTENT: Spoilers for Shin Devilman and Devilman (1972 manga).

Hi again!!! Welcome to the second installment of the DevilBlog!! Today’s review is of the previously discussed Shin Devilman (1979).

Shin Devilman was the first official Devilman spin off/sequel following the manga. It follows Akira and Ryo at some point in the middle of their canon journey taking some time off to go time traveling. Ryo suddenly develops time travel powers, as well as the ability to smell demons. The manga very much focusses on Ryo and takes on a more episodic, lighthearted tone. It’s also preeeetty racist and antisemetic, but don’t let that put you off. (Contender for the worst sentence I’ve ever written? Perhaps.) It’s also fucking hilarious. And very homoerotic. Coming in at only 1 volume with 5 chapters it’s also a very quick read. Lemme break it down for you.

The story begins with Akira wandering around outside at night for no apparent reason and explaining to you, the reader, the story of Devilman so far (that he, Akira Fudo is Devilman and is working with his old pal Ryo Asuka to fight demons). It turns out he is actually on his way to said old pal’s house, where he jumps though his bedroom window and proceeds to fight a giant worm that has come to attack Ryo in his sleep. Ryo crumples to the ground, clutching his head in agony for Akira to come to his aid. But his comforts are in vain as they suddenly time travel to Vienna in May, 1913. Ryo in his stripey jammies and Akira in full himbo form are then jumpscared by some really, really, really bad Jewish hook-nose caricatures. They then hang out with this really nice and totally non-suspicious young painter named Adolf and can’t find anything demonic or possibly historically important happening so they leave :)
It turns out that the Jewish fellows that sweet, young, nondescript-last-name Adolf was having sell his paintings are actually demons. Their purpose was to… make him hate Jewish people and do what Hitler is best known for. Ryo never catches on to this and just lets it happen. They never even realize they just spoke to Hitler. They go “huh I wonder what was up with that Adolf guy” and homoerotically time travel right on out of there.

In chapter 2 Akira goes on to save Joan of Arc from some demons. Joan mistakes devilman for an angel which is pretty cute. There’s not much to speak about in this chapter as it’s very short. It’s not about Ryo making Hitler hate the Jews so it’s automatically less memorable than what came before.

In chapter 3 however, things ramp up again with our boys quickly becoming slaves after the Spartan ship they were on is shot down by bazookas. Finally freed from their pajamas, in this chapter they wear both some very cool spartan armor and also loincloths! I wonder where their original clothes ended up? Anyway, back to the bazookas. The “goddess” Nike is giving out modern weapons to the ancient people of Samothrace. This is obviously a (very funny) problem and Akira jumps into auction to stop her.
The real interesting part of this story begins when Nike reveals that she was actually Amon’s lover before he merged with Akira. Nike apparently resembles Miki, throwing in the possibility that the reason Akira loves Miki is because of Amon inside of him yearning for Nike. I don’t know how canon Shin Devilman is considered to be, but that is a SUPER cool idea to me. Not to worry though as Ryo teleports in to chop Nike’s head off with a sword before she can kiss Akira again. Yet another win for the gays.
This is also the reason the real Nike of Samothrace doesn’t have a head or arms. After having her head cut off she turns to stone in a similar way to Sirene and Kaim in the original manga. I guess just having a statue break apart over time was too boring.

But you won’t be bored for long as in chapter 4 our boys homoerotically time traveling again. This time they arrive in Paris, France not too long before a certain fashionable queen is scheduled to exit stage left. Ryo is able to (I assume) steal some clothes for them to wear while Akira is out cold. Can you imagine how funny it would be if they had to do this whole Marie Antionette arc in loincloths? Anyway SOMEHOW they manage to sneak into the Palace of Versailles. And peep on Marie Antonnete in her private room. Marie is possessed by a demon living in her heart, so our boys blue-skadoo on in there as well to chase it out. This is where we get the iconic scene of the boys flying naked through space and hugging each other as if letting go will mean certain death (and honestly it probably would). The end of the chapter is rather anticlimactic sadly as they chase the demon out and Marie gets the chop as she did in real world history. Life moves on.

The final chapter is actually the most notable one. I don’t see a lot of people ever discuss The Demon of Little Bighorn, and when I do it’s usually criticizing the depiction of Native Americans. Apart from depicting a brutal slaughter of native peoples, I personally can’t comment on the depiction of the both fictional and real native characters as I have no experience or affiliation with native american culture. I do suspect Native American culture has similar views towards fictionalizations of their ancestors as Maori. As in, it’s generally seen as disrespectful. But again I could be wrong and I have no affiliation with Native American culture.
So we’ll move on from that to the story itself! This story gives us a VERY interesting look into the manga Ryo’s character. His feelings about peace, his love of animals, his romantic feelings towards Akira and his surprisingly complex feelings towards humans.
Akira and Ryo are living with the Cheyenne tribe, who have kindly taken them in after they suddenly fell from the sky. The two love living there, especially Ryo. He loves the Cheyenne people and their way of life. Though he is made fun of for being unable to kill animals. This detail I find very interesting, as Ryo in media beyond the manga is often depicted as hating all life, when that isn’t the case at all. Ryo loves animals and nature.
Another interesting event is Ryo and Akira becoming friends with Sitting Bull’s little sister, Tiana. Tiana has a crush on Ryo, and although Ryo acknowledges it, he admits he can’t return it. Akira however is very attracted to Tiana. Ryo is unapologetically depicted as a homosexual man in love with Akira in this story. As opposed to the cop out excuse in the original manga of “it’s the female half of him who is in love with Akira”. He even attempts to admit to Akira that he’s not interested in women, but Akira doesn’t understand his confession at all.
The story comes to a climax as the Battle of Little Bighorn occurs. The 7th Cavalry are shown brutally massacring Cheyenne women and children while our boys are out hunting. When they realize this is the date of the historical event they race back to protect their newfound home, but they are too late. They find the body of Tiana, murdered and raped, and fly into a rage. Akira goes off to return the favor to the 7th cavalry while Ryo presumably stays behind, and the story ends.
I find this ending so interesting. Ryo was shown really loving other humans in this story, only for it to be ripped away from him again by a different group of humans. Sometimes I wonder if this experience could have pushed him towards giving up on humanity altogether. If they had been able to stop the massacre and change history, would he have ever gone back? Would he have decided to follow his divine destined path after all? Could the kindness of the Cheyenne people have changed him? Made him more human? It’s a fun thing to think about, but the historical fuckery does get in the way a little bit. Still, the characterisation of Ryo as kind, shy and animal loving is a very sweet one. I wish he had been able to stay that way, hanging out with his dumb bestie forever.

There is one last final scene in Shin Devilman. This is a recap of all of Akira’s memories of the original manga, and of his memories of Miki. As he takes her head to be buried in a modest grave, and meets Ryo one last time as men before their battle. It’s a very beautiful and sad scene. I like it a lot. They are both shown to be full of anger, sadness and regret. If only they could do it all over again…

Despite the horrible racial stereotyping, Shin Devilman is a lot of fun. I really love the characterisation of Ryo and Akira here as their personalities are ramped up to 100. Akira is so dumb and sweet, he’s a textbook himbo in this one. And Ryo is incredibly openly in love with his himboism.
This first story is what makes Shin Devilman the most infamous in the West. And there is good reason for that as the idea of Jewish people being demons is pretty antisemetic to put it lightly. But I would still tentatively recommend this spin off, as you can skip the first chapter entirely and not really miss anything if it is too upsetting for you. Or you can simply laugh at the horrible writing and absurdity of Ryo making Hitler hate the Jews. Like how was that written seriously oh my god. I will never recover. I’m not saying being antisemetic is funny by the way, I don’t mean it like that. I’m laughing at the total absurdity of it. Sometimes when something is so insane there’s nothing you can do but laugh, and the Devilman Hitler story is one of those things.

5/5 Ryos

I had a great time reading this. It’s funny, it’s stupid and it’s totally off the rails. It’s also Ryo-centric, which is always a plus in my book.

4/5 Mikis


2/5 Akiras

I would like to be able to recommend this, but anti semitism makes it kinda hard to. Not to mention I have no idea if the Native American stuff was handled well or not. It’s a bit of a read at your own risk kinda thing.

I had fun! You might not, but that’s ok! Thanks so much for reading the second installment of the DevilBlog. I look forward to seeing you next time with uh… Either the OVAs or the live action movie idk which one I’m gonna watch first.