Does this mean I don’t consider it a masterpiece? Yes, which is a pity because it could’ve been the defining anime of this decade forever remembered, a revolutionary classic. But before I tackle that, let me lay it all out.
Akira Fudo is informed by his best friend Ryou Asuka that the demons will revive and reclaim the world from the humans. As the humans do not stand a chance against the supernatural power of the demons, Ryou suggests fusing with a demon. Akira becomes Devilman, with the power of a demon and the heart of a human.
I’ve never watched or read anything of the Devilman universe, though I do know it is a classic, so I went into this series without knowing much. Though I already knew about Satan because Twitter exploded with fanart and spoilers related to that, but at least the rest didn’t get spoiled 😹
This series is definitely experimental and successful in using colors and distortion to transmit emotions. The art style is hit or miss, I’m looking at you legs from the knee down, but largely a hit for me. Even the colors and effects are beautiful, it’s a visual feast, and the OST is good.
I didn’t have issues with the series being bizarre, it’s not even the most bizarre or experimental series I’ve seen (looking at you SoulTaker), and it’s great seeing director’s and artists explore again in this medium.
I must say it was strange seeing the character Miki because they basically copied Hitomi Kanzaki’s design, down to her running. If you don’t believe me, here is Hitomi.
And here is Miki.
If Escaflowne got remaked this is exactly how I see her looking, since the movie style would be harder to animate on a weekly series. And no, I know the design isn’t unique, but I couldn’t shake off every time I saw Miki on screen, so I’m talking about it.
I’m diverging, let’s get back on track.
It pains me potential squandered, it’s what hurts the most tbh. I can see how great this series could’ve been, it could’ve been the Evangelion or Madoka of this decade. But it isn’t and I don’t think it’ll be remembered in a few years. Right now there’s all the hype, but once it dies down, a lot of watchers will have moved on.
I must applaud Netflix for greenlitting this series, and in fact I wish older series got remakes or given a new spin. No reason to not bring these classic stories to new audiences, in fact it could convert a lot of casual watchers, like Devilman did.
Now I must say why I think it could’ve been better and let me just warn you it might not be for the reasons you expect.
I didn’t have issues with the themes or subjects matter, in fact it’s refreshing to see blood, violence, gore and nudity in an animated series targeted at the general public. I suspect this is because GoT has done such a huge splash with those elements that this was the reason Devilman got greenlit.
The issue this series has been what most of the animes of these last 2-3 years have had, too short for a season to properly explore with time and depth. I’ve never experience such a rushed story, to the point a lot of it was sped through and you’d have to watch the show key by key to notice not only the details, but story related details.
That is not okay in my book, a lot of the time I was in a state of confusion over what was happening, why characters were doing what they were doing, the sheer speed was to the point the series is convoluted because there’s no explanations or time to digest or notice important points.
This severely diminishes my investment and while I found some episodes incredibly great, 9 is a masterpiece by all rights I got chills and was shocked to the core, it straight dived into the ending and left me feeling just meh. And not because it is nihilistic or depressing, but because I wanted to be more invested.
If this series had been given 25 episodes or at least 15, I would’ve bawled my eyes at that ending. Which was strong and made me sad, but it could’ve been soul-destroying given the space to build tension and a deeper relation with the characters.
As it is, I must say I didn’t give much of a fuck to 99% of the characters, nor could I tell them apart because everything happened at light speed.
A lot also went over my head and I wonder if it’s because I’m dumb and inattentive or because this series is targeting Devilman fans. Maybe a mix of both is the correct answer because I did a bit of research after the ending, and Devilman was made with an anti-war message, back when there was fear of WW3 happening, there’s also the back story of God and Satan which wasn’t covered and I’m not familiar with.
After that I understood the ending, but if you have to Google to understand because you don’t know all the pieces to the puzzle doesn’t that mean the message wasn’t delivered complete? I’m sure many dislike or hate this series for various reasons, but it’d be a pity if it is because the series is confusing from not having the full understanding of it.
That said, I consider this a weak series as it is, and though I can envision and idealize the story with all parts properly built to disgest, the end product isn’t what is in my mind. So safe to say I’m terribly disappointed after all the fanfare, but respect what it has done and can see it paving the way for other classic remakes that get treated better and with more episodes to do it justice.
I’ll also give it one thing: it’s made me want to go and experience the original source material and the other adaptations so I can better understand.