Film Review: Devilman – The Birth (1991)

 

SYNOPSIS:

Part of the charm of anime is the fractured storytelling, the disjointed style, which is often a result of trying to fit everything from the manga (Japanese comic book) into the movie. Devilman, for example, opens in a wooded paradise where beautiful and naked fairy women fly about and are then attacked by dinosaurs and demons, until a six-armed fairy warrior shoots down explosive balls of light at the demons. Cut to explorers in the caves of Antarctica, not quite surviving a cave-in and the appearance of a demon. Dissolve to rabbits in a hutch that have been killed. What’s going on? It’s hard to say, but it sure is interesting.

REVIEW:

DevilMan is a Japanese manga series that has gone on to span 39 episodes. This entry was part of a 2 part release titled vol 1 and vol 2. The release has been repackaged and renamed a few times since its creation, but “birth” is the first in the series.

A teenager named Akira Fudo is living his normal life, dealing with bullies and just trying to stay pure and honest. He is befriended by a girl, Miki Makimura who forms a close relationship with him also concerned for his being pushed around by bullies. It is when Ryo Asuka comes back into Akira’s life that things really take a turn for the bizarre and supernatural. Though as the film begins we are brought into the early world of the devils.

This world of the devils is a violent and cruel world that only seems to exist on the survival of the fittest and a constant environment of evil, consumption and confrontation. This world is explained as being created and existing way before humans roamed the earth and the first occupants for that matter. Angelic fairy beings are consumed and killed only to find revolt in the metamorphosizing of their bodies with other creatures. The transformation equips them with powers and features that are able to stand up to against lethal predators. Though as they are consumed in violence they too becomes devils of different phases and sizes. It simply is a world of chaos and constant confrontations.

Ryo asks for Akira’s assistance when he explains that his father tried to kill him and instead took his own life per gasoline and fire. His father a famous archaeologist had discovered “something” when on an Alaskan expedition. This something laid dormant in a deep pit he fell into. This thing, an artificial object is a mask or statue sort of piece that resembles a devils head. Upon wearing it, the wearer gets to see into the world’s past when devils roamed the land. These devils have the ability to possess and control humans at will. Tyo explains that Akira must merge with one and allow possession in order for the the demon to take him over and fight back against these beasts.

He agrees but only after doing battle against a few of them who have emerged from the underground sectors of the mansion. These things morph, transform and assume various organic shapes with the sole purpose to kill or eat their prey.

“To fight a demon, one must become a demon” – Akira is taken to a club that is a prime area for demon possession. The demons look for folks who have abandoned reason so that they can take their bodies over. When Akira is taken over he holds on to reason and becomes “Devilman” staying in control enough to fight back and use his new form to conquer other demons.

This first entry called “the Birth” is a great introduction to the devil man world. There is plenty of violence, blood, and carnage that is backed by a smattering of strange beasts and battles. Horror fans will love the variety of monsters, cartoon gore and craziness that takes place on screen as each of these things seems to pop out of nowhere. Devil man kicks major ass with the prime purpose being to kick ass and kill demons. You can’t go wrong with that combination.

Fans of the Spawn will make some minor connections that role down similar paths. The logic at times is a bit muddled but the thing about these shows is that the creators spend plenty of time on dialog to really spell out the plot and direction that things are headed in. As a first, this one will open the door for several more bad ass episodes. The show runs an hour long and is usually marked as “for adults” only due to the level of violence. The show was written and illustrated by Go Nagai

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