"I'm *@%#$! DEVIL MAN!"
Animation gone wild! Devil Man is based on "the classic Manga of Go Nagai." I guess that means that someone made this up, and now it's been made into a Japanese cartoon. I know very little about this type of animation, though I have seen Pokémon a few times, so I at least know that much (which is basically nothing). Devil Man is on DVD with two volume, including "The Birth" and "Demon Bird" from Manga Video.
Facts of the Case
In mild-mannered Tokyo, a boy by the name of Akira (is it me, or is that the name of every Asian character in these cartoons?) has had his life turned upside down. First he finds his parents are missing, than a bunch of his pet rabbits are killed. To top things off, his best friend Ryo Asuka lets him in on a little secret: Ryo's Dad apparently was possessed by demons and killed himself, leaving a legacy of evil and destruction that only Akira can stop. Why Akira? Because he has the power to become…DEVIL MAN! Devil man has the strength and brute of a demon, yet the softness and soul of a human. Yes, Devil Man is a ladies' man as well.
It all gets more complicated, including involving Akira's girlfriend Miki, who is attacked by a water-demon named Gelmar (translation: cheap water colors), plus Ryo running around acting cool and swearing a lot. Did I also forget to mention a naked woman with big breasts who spits blood?
Will Devil Man prevail? Will Ryo and Akira stop the demons? Can you believe that a creature in the first volume actually has a devilish, slobbering face where her vagina should be?
Hot damn, those Asian animators are a strange lot. Devil Man is the weirdest cartoon I've ever seen (and yes, I saw Cool World). Little did I know that when I started watching this I would be subjected to imagery so intense that it would make Stephen King squirm.
Certainly if you're in the market for some strange stuff, Devil Man delivers. Where else can you see a naked woman's breasts turn into man-eating monsters, complete with tentacles and sharp incisors? Well, actually my junior year prom date had this same handicap, but that's a scary and altogether more terrifying story than Devil Man. I can only assume that the people who created this stuff are either A.) sexually repressed, B.) mentally insane, or C.) heading to Hollywood, as they have a successful career in front of them.
Devil Man has the typical animation that you've come to enjoy from these types of shows. It looks great, but movement-wise it is like a slug. Half of the time the characters don't even move their mouths when they talk. The fights consist of everyone getting their heads ripped open or their arms pulled off. This is gratuitous violence at its worst. I loved every minute of it. This DVD makes The Texas Chainsaw Massacre look like "Mr. Roger's Neighborhood." There were some strange people at wok on this cartoon. Folks, I'm gonna say it one more time for those who missed it the first time: heroin is not, I repeat NOT a substitute for coffee.
Devil Man is presented in full frame, which I am assuming was how it was shot. Picture was very clear with minimal grain or dirt. Colors were bright with blacks being solid. For what it is and what you'll need, this transfer works fine.
Audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround. Rear speakers were utilized somewhat, with most of the sound coming from the front speakers. The audio was clear of hiss with effects, music, and dialogue being well mixed. Nothing spectacular, but better 5.1 than a mono or 2.0 mix, right?
Supplements include a very short biography on Go Nagai (creator of Devil Man), a "Manga 2000" promo reel, a photo gallery with images and paintings of Devil Man and the creatures that inhabit his world, a full frame Devil Man trailer, a web link page to the Manga website, and a fan club trailer (which is just passing images of other animated titles from Manga Video).
The Rebuttal Witnesses
This type of animation tends to have limitations. It seems that there are often a lot of pauses when characters do everyday tasks, such as…oh, say…jump, kick, talk, punch or attack. One character will fly through the air for what seems to be 65 hours. What's up with that? I'm sorry, I wasn't aware that the laws of time and space didn't apply to anyone living on the eastern side of the globe.
The storyline is very weird, and sometimes hard to follow. Or, it may just be that it's so "out there" that it just doesn't make a lot of sense. Maybe the creator of this needs to sit down and watch Crimes Of The Heart and just chill for a while. I have the feeling he's got more tension and frustration built up inside of him than Pauley Shore trying to land a new movie deal.
The voice-over actors are also pretty lame. I imagine that the writers were like Catholic schoolgirls writing this, giggling every time they put the word "fuck" in the script (which seems to pop up every other word). When used in something like Pulp Fiction or Goodfellas, it has impact. In Devil Man, abusing salty language is the equivalent of the writers screaming out "look at us, we used a naughty word. Aren't we bad boys and girls? Tee-hee-hee-hee!"
Than again, what do you expect from a DVD that's cover looks like a physical manifestation of Charles Manson's id?
Maybe worth a look as a rental just for it's strange look, otherwise I can't really recommend this unless you're a big fan of animation. The transfer is fair, the audio fair, the episodes bizarre.
Umm…if I find this guilty I have the feeling the next victim of "Devil Man" is going to be Judge Hirisoko Naugle. I'm gonna go with a hung jury for now…case dismissed!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Manga Video
• Theatrical Trailer
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