Devilman: The Birth

Alt title: Devilman: Tanjou Hen

OVA (1 ep x 55 min)
3.383 out of 5 from 1,623 votes
Rank #8,719

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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StoryLions 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. AnimationEach 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. SoundVery 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?CharactersLiterally 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.OverallDevilman 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?

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