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Devilman: The Birth Review

by: sothis
April 16, 2005

story 3/10

Devilman: The Birth screenshot Lions and tigers and demons, oh my! I’m not sure where the roots of demonic horror come from in anime, but it seems like Devilman (the TV series, at least, made in the 70s) must be one of the first. Created by Go Nagai (of crappy anime fame such as Kekko Kamen, Plastic Little, and anything else with excessive nudity), Devilman is actually quite unique in the fact that it isn’t 100% ecchi. Admittedly, it’s quite a bit ecchi, but nothing like the other Go Nagai titles I’ve had the pleasure of watching.

The story is quite simple, so instead of describing it in detail I thought I’d bless your reading experience with a sothis haiku:

Demons go eat things
Kill fairies and dinosaurs
Now sleep in deep ice

Transform! Go Devilman!
Crush their heads, make their blood spill
See Miki’s panties.

The "story" of Devilman is quite segmented, since both parts of the OVA came out 7-8 years apart. The first is definitely the "better" of the two (though that doesn’t say much), and is focused on Akira being sucked into his destiny of becoming Devilman, with the help of his friend Ryo. It’s slow, plodding and boring, but still has a decent horror type feel to it. The end of the first episode is a bloodbath by all means, and starts to become very generic as far as the old "let’s kill all demons and watch their heads explode" idea. Part 2 picks up right after part 1, with a somewhat different looking Akira (due to the time between each part being made, I assume) still fighting as Devilman, facing new fun demon enemies. *Yawn*. Two major enemies are the subject of this part, and in general it feels like a bad version of Darkstalkers.

Devilman really has a lot of problems. First of all, the pacing is atrocious. The first episode is remotely interesting (even though the actual story bits are terrible), but is so slow that you don’t care anyways. The second episode feels nothing like the first, and alternates between heavy action and boring monologues. Secondly, although this might have been a unique concept at the time of Devilman TV’s creation, the whole "let’s have a demon fighting other demons" concept is really not that interesting or exciting, especially when the "badass" demon in question looks like a cross between a clown and a band member from Kiss. It also has no ending, and in general sucks more than a Hoover. I found almost nothing redeeming about Devilman whatsoever, except the mild humor that came from it being so bad it was slightly good, and of course, the most redeeming thing was the fact that it ended.

animation 5.5/10

Each of these episodes was made years apart, and the animation for both time frames is decent, but nothing spectacular. The first episode definitely shows its age, with character designs that look an awful lot like something Tezuka would have created. The second episode’s characters look a little more realistic and less old school, but still are fairly generic. The one character that gets a huge thumbs down from me is definitely Devilman himself who, as mentioned above, looks like a cross between a clown and someone from Kiss. I’m sorry, I just can’t take someone like that seriously.

A huge amount of blood and gore accompany both parts of Devilman, giving it a very hilarious feel, but not really in a good way. We see plenty of times where random fairy creatures or sea creatures are being eaten by demons, stabbed, or torn apart. It’s so excessive that it becomes comical, really. Massive amounts of nudity can also be found, both with the human characters and with the demons (mostly with the demons).

Fights are uninteresting and boring. Dialogue between characters is surprisingly choppy, with a great deal of the time showing the characters’ mouths staying totally closed (or open in a toothy grin) while a voice talks in the background! As in, they didn’t bother animating the faces. Wow. In general, the animation is decent for what it needed to be, but is nothing special.

sound 4/10

Very generic synthy music with very little to remember. Can’t say much more than that, since the music is almost completely forgettable. I will mention the dub, though. The US commercial release by Manga contains only the dub, and it’s not anything to shout about. Admittedly I’ve seen some dubs that are MUCH worse such as Dallos, but Devilman’s dub is still fairly bad on its own. It sounds scripted and forced, especially the profanity, and the tones of Ryo and Akira’s voices don’t seem to fit their ages. The voice of Devilman really takes the cake though, with a high pitched clown type voice that literally made me laugh out loud when I first heard it. It was almost like a cross between a pirate, a meth addict, and a clown. "EeeeeYAHHH I am Devilman AND I WILL DEESTROY YOUUUUUUU!" Wow. An honorable mention goes to one of the demons who had a southern accent and seriously just sounded ridiculous. What was Manga thinking when they chose this guy?

characters 4/10

Literally the only character that interested me was Akira, because he definitely has two sides once he’s merged with Devilman. By himself, he’s sweet, caring, and a bit naïve. When Devilman comes into play, he becomes lecherous and flirty (especially with Miki, his pseudo girlfriend). Even so, his character was almost as boring and unexciting as all the others. There’s Ryo, his friend with a troubled past that somehow knows what needs to happen as far as Devilman is concerned. There’s Miki, the pseudo girlfriend who is terribly whiny, and there’s a cast of demons who we really don’t care about in one way or another. The entire OVA was a big yawn-fest, and the characters don’t really help spice things up a bit. Do we care what happens to any of them? Well, no, not really.

overall 3.5/10

Devilman is bad, really bad. If you are looking for something that fits in the vein of generic horror, this is definitely for you. Just keep in mind the pacing sucks, the characters are boring, the music is uneventful and the animation is nothing more than average. Also, if you are afraid of clowns, Devilman might scare you, so keep that in mind. Truly a waste of almost two hours of my life. I rated Devilman a 3.5 only because there were some mild aspects of the show I enjoyed (such as the "oh my god it’s so bad it might be a little good"’ factor). Seriously, why waste your time on this?

Anime Info

  • OVA (1 ep x 55 min)
  • 1987

Since the beginning of time bloodthirsty demons have devoured the weak and innocent, but for centuries they have been preserved in ice deep beneath the surface of the Earth where they can harm no man. Now, in the present, the demons have begun to awaken, and only one with a virtuous heart can stop them and save mankind. For young Akira, this means merging with a fierce demon and becoming Devilman, the creature who must destroy all demons in its path. With only his ally and friend Ryo to stand beside him, can Akira take on his fate and save the world?


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About the Author

sothis's avatar

sothis

My fav genres include sci fi and horror, but you'll find a lot of obscure reviews from me too, given I watch a ton to add to the database. My new reviews are written a lot better than my old ones, so when in doubt, sort by date! ^_^ Enjoy, and I welcome any and all feedback.

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comments

AkiraFudo avatar AkiraFudo
Jul 31, 2013

I think you really just dont like Go Nagai, i mean firstly yes he made Kekko Kamen, but it was not 100% ecchi it was comedy, however not only did he make Kekko Kamen but he created the ecchi genre, you also fail to mention his other famous works like Mazinger or Cutie Honey, which inspierd works like Sailor Moon, Gundam and essentially the Mecha genre, and Devilman inspireing works spreading from Evangelon to Beserk to Darkstalkers. There was only a three year gap between the two films and i could understand it being a bit slow and the story being bad depending entirely on either watching the dub or the subbed version, and theres a good reason for it to be slow as i builds up a lot of tension waiting for Akira to transform and what do you mean it has no ending? you mean because the series was never finished? To say the animation wasnt that good is also quite a foolish thing to say, considering it was mostly done by Studio GIBLI animators, and the designs really dont resemble Tezuka at all, nearly everything demon in Devilman is about body horror, you could argue that the origonal manga resembled Tezukas style, but that was done when Nagai was first starting out and all Devilman stuff afterwards is far less cartoonish, in the first OVA there are only 4 scenes with demons and the blood and gore is only in two of them, and the only time its incredibly violent is in the final scene. The fights are hardly unintresting, for both OVAs the tension is done very well before hand, and the fight scenes are incredibly imaginatie, also you say you watched the dubbed version so to say that they didnt animate them at the same time they spoke is kinda dumb, but i will agree with you as both of the dubs are considerd the worst ever done, due to the fact it changes story gets rid of the origonal music and kills so mutch tension. You rush over the charecters saying that there is no real development at all, butconsidering the demons are only in 4 scenes in the first one and the rest of it is build up to the end, i really have to disagree, especially with Miki and Ryo, also your statement on the demons makes little sense only six of them are ever named and out of that only four of them are important to the plot, and they all have differnt personalitys.

I realise i have gone on for a while but your review feels unresearched, very biast and it honestly feels like you made a fair bit of it up.

Gamera avatar Gamera
Dec 25, 2011

The OVA is pretty bad, but I gave it 4/5 stars because I am extremely biased. It's one of those anime that is so terrible that you can't help but enjoy it. 

Neane1993 avatar Neane1993
Nov 21, 2011

You just don't like Go Nagai. Without him, most of what anime is would not exist.

zerotaku avatar zerotaku
Aug 26, 2010

I think Devilman is great. Of course, the manga is much better then any of the shows.

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