Follow TV Tropes


Anime / Devilman

Go To
The hero of justice, Devilman.

Devilman is an anime based on the manga Devilman by Go Nagai. Aired from 1972 to 1973 on Tokyo's NET (now TV Asahi) and affiliated stations across Japan, it premiered shortly after the manga's beginning and was produced roughly at the same time, but its story deviated completely from the start and only portrayed Devilman in a very vague light. Masaki Tsuji, a well-known screenwriter and novelist and a fan of Nagai's work, worked with him to adapt the storyline for television. The series was fairly popular in its day (its highest-rated episode rated 15.5%) but was soon overshadowed by the anime version of Nagai's Mazinger Z, which premiered late the same year on rival channel Fuji Television.

A scientist and his son are killed while mountain climbing in the Himalayas. Their deaths presage the awakening of the Demon Tribe, a race of beings of darkness who were frozen in ice a long time ago and who now plan to start a demonic invasion of the human world. However, unbeknownst to them, one of their own kind has betrayed them. After taking the boy's body as a disguise and moving with a human family, the demon falls in love with the family's young daughter, Miki Makimura, and turns back to his mission to cause death and destruction on Earth. Now turned into the heroic demon Devilman, he will protect her from many demons sent to destroy them.

Perhaps due to a combination of its themes and its age, the Devilman TV series is not as well known outside Japan as later iterations of the franchise, as its only TV broadcast in the West was in Italy (where it achieved great popularity) during the 1980s. It is now available in the United States in a subtitled-only release from Discotek Media.

Surprisingly, there is another Devilman manga penned by Mitsuru Hiruta using the anime as the basis of the story, but with slight differences (Akira being Spared By Adaptation for example), and generally Bloodier and Gorier despite its Lighter and Softer premise.

Examples of:

  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Devilman's character design underwent deep changes in order to make him look more like a conventional tokusatsu hero and less of a monster. Aside from the new red and green color scheme, he was given human legs with shoe-shaped feet and no tail instead of his clawed, satyr-like hairy legs; his wings were turned into plane fins; he lost his serrated teeth for a more humanlike face; and he wore black trunks instead of going around naked.
  • Adaptational Badass:
    • As Satan doesn't exist in this version, Zennon is the leader of the Demon Tribe.
    • Devilman himself has many powers in this version over his manga self, his giant transformation standing out.
    • Miki herself: not only she survives this time, but one of the reasons Devilman falls with him is because, when he was acting as "Akira turned into a bully" dishing punches around and whipping random dudes with a belt, Miki found herself fed up with him and stopped him. Akira-as-Devilman is instantly smitten with a plucky, kind, beautiful girl willing to call out the strongest warrior of the Demon Tribe and starts thinking that humanity can't be that bad.
  • Adaptational Modesty: Sirene is given a dress whereas she is completely nude in the manga.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: In the manga, Devilman is a Blood Knight that doesn't care about collateral damage, and he often causes city-wide destruction that kills hundreds of people. Here, not only cares about Miki and her family's well-being, but other people who are often cauht in the crossfire on his war against demons.
  • Adaptational Villainy: The lead, as according to Nagai this series is a full Evil Versus Evil instead of the Grey-and-Grey Morality it was in the manga.
  • Adapted Out: Many characters, but more notably Ryo Asuka/Satan himself.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Devilman gives a small eulogy to Ebain after she gets strangled to death by disembodied hands.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The Italian dub (1983) has a different theme song from the original, which was used for both opening and closing.
    • However, despite a completely different music and wording, the meaning is the same: a quick recap of who is Devilman, what he wanted to do and how love and kindness redeemed him.
  • Always Save the Girl: In contrast with the original manga where Miki dies and Devilman Akira loses faith in humanity to fight only for his Devilmen army, the series has Akira solely focused in protecting Miki and not much else; needless to say she survives.
  • Arc Villain: The series has several arc villains over the course of the series: Iwao Himura, plus the Demon Generals Zannin, Muzan and Marshall Lacock.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Instead of just horrendous demons clashing against Devilman in dark scenarios as seen in the manga, the series often had giant monsters randomly attacking a nearby building. For this reason, Akira was given extra powers for this adaptation: not only could he transform into Devilman but he could also transform into a Giant Devilman to fend off these monsters.
  • Bad Boss: While it's easy to tell Zennon is one, his dragon Xannon actually shows said trope's better. If you fail him, he will murder you without batting an eye.
  • Big Bad: Demon Lord Zenon, as in the manga, is the leader of the demon army, and is the one sending out minions after Akira/Devilman to punish him for defecting. He is also the sole leader as Satan is Adapted Out.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The final episode ends not only with Miki still alive, but with a (somewhat) tender moment between her and Akira, in which Miki tells him she still likes him even though she saw him transform, and Akira tells her he loves her. However, as the ending theme song plays, the narrator informs us in no uncertain terms that Akira's trials are not over, and he has many more demons left to fight.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: While the manga has large amounts of blood, violence, and body count, the anime, despite being more of a kids' show, still has a pretty high body count and gruesome deaths.
  • Bowdlerise: Despite its violent nature and body count, the series is less violent than in the manga.
  • Brick Joke: After Lala misinterprets Akira saying, thinking death will cure her idiocy, she literally tries to kill herself or trying to get killed. After she dies from being mortally wounded by Magdora's lava powers, she tells Devilman in spirit that her idiocy has been cured and he solemnly says "Is that so?"
  • Brought to You by the Letter "S": Akira wears a t-shirt with an A insignia.
  • Composite Character: Although Zennon retains his true form from the manga, his shadowed form makes him look like the eponymous Demon Lord Dante.
  • Canon Foreigner. Iwao Himura, Lala and many other demons.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Miki. The series introduces a romantic rival for Miki in the form of Lala, the Silver Demon.
    • Akira is also a Crazy Jealous Guy when other guys flirt with Miki, especially earlier in the show, and will often react violently to this.
  • Darker and Edgier:
    • While the show is Lighter and Softer than the manga in most other respects, TV Devilman's origin story is surprisingly darker than in the manga. In the manga Akira merges with a demon, gaining its powers and the ability to transform at will. In the anime, a demon kills Akira and enters his body, essentially stealing his identity. For the rest of the show, Akira is just a disguise that a demon wears. Not even Miki knows the secret until the final episode (and even then, she doesn't quite understand, thinking the demon God changed Akira into Devilman). An alternate interpretation can be applied where Akira is Devilman's host (in a similar manner to hosts in the Ultra Series and other popular Tokusatsu shows of the same decade) but this still doesn't avoid the fact that he's at the very least a (mostly?) dead man walking.
    • The episode in which Akira goes to Tibet where they witness a funeral where dead bodies are fed to vultures. The Demon Bera restores the dead man's body and begins to slaughter everyone in the village. Not even children, save Tare, are safe from death.
  • Death Seeker: Played for Laughs with Lala, who takes Akira's advice way too literally, thinking death can cure her idiocy, and tries to get all suicidal.
  • Desperately Craves Affection: In one of the funniest scenes of the series, as Miki is riding to school on the back of Akira's motorcycle and saying "Good morning" to everyone she sees, Lala tries to get Akira's attention by running alongside of them and saying "Good morning" repeatedly. Akira responds by speeding up to get away from her.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Episode three, when Akira gives a group of classmates a severe beating with his belt for allegedly leering at Miki (they weren't; they were only crushing on her from a distance and Miki didn't even notice). When he's hauled into the principal's office, Akira declares his intention was to kill the boys, and probably would have if Miki hadn't stepped in.
  • Dramatic Irony: In the manga, Ryo has Akira possess Amon to obtain his powers to destroy all the demons and to protect humans. He ends up betraying humanity after Miki's parents were murdered by Demon Hunters, as well as Miki and his friends dying from a lynch mob. In this series, Devilman kills Akira to possess his body on Zenon's orders to destroy humanity so demons can rule Earth. He ends up betraying the demons after having fallen for Miki and decided to protect humanity.
  • Dumb Blonde: Lala is the biggest idiot in the universe that both the good and bad guys comment on it.
  • Evil Counterpart: Devilman's own is the Demon God, who performs "miracles". Said miracles involving summoning sharks, dinosaurs, and other disasters. His attacks are identical to Devilman, but replace "Devil" with "God".
  • Fanservice: While it's considerably toned down to only show human female characters in underwear (including Miki herself), one female demon does show a nipple, but considering the context (Devilman whipping her on how to cure Miki), it falls into Fan Disservice territory.
  • Fighting Your Friend: Devilman is forced to kill his friend Dagon who is forced to fight him despite seeing that Humans Are Special.
  • Ghibli Hills: The late Kazuo Komatsubara was the character designer for this series as well as the OVA adaptation 15 years later. He'd later work on Nausicaš of the Valley of the Wind in the same capacity.
  • The Great Serpent: A gigantic demon snake large enough to chomp on Devilman shows up in the original anime's OP.
  • Humans Are Special: How Devilman views humanity after meeting Miki.
  • Japanese Delinquents: Akira's attitude veers into this territory ever since Devilman killed the original Akira. Miki then has to step in and slap him before he goes too far.
    • Mixed with Values Dissonance, if not outright Blue-and-Orange Morality: the Demon Tribe lives by a strict "Might makes right" ruleset, enough to consider acceptable for tribesmen slaughter themselves to choose who's the strongest and most able to carry a certain mission. Until Miki calls him out, he can't even understand what's the harm in his action. He's the strongest among his now human peers, he has the right to put them in line or even kill them if he sees fit.
  • Lighter and Softer: The series in comparison with the manga. Lots of changes to the story were made, the violence and nudity were considerably toned down, lots of comic relief was included, and most of the characters who died at the end of the manga are still alive in the last episode, which also has a Bitter Sweet Ending instead of the tragic conclusion of the manga - Akira and Miki are safe, as are most of the other main characters, but Zennon is still very much alive and has plenty of demons left at his disposal.
  • Love Redeems: Part of the reasons every demon wants Devilman dead. Since he fell in love with Miki, the demons, especially Zenon, consider him a traitor.
  • Malaproper: Lala.
    Lala: [to Aurora] You think I'll trust you just because you're my friend? You're just looking for an opening so you can attack me! I know that! I may be a windhead, but I know that much! ... No, not wind. Breeze? No, not that. Air? What sort of brain am I? What was it again? Hey Aurora, tell me... [gets blasted by Aurora]
  • Ms. Fanservice: Lala. Occasionally Miki too, although in both cases they're never seen in anything less than undergarments or swimsuits. Miki gets a few Bathtub Scenes, but nothing explicit is shown.
  • Monster of the Week: Each episode has Zennon summon his minions who boasts their skills to defeat Devilman, only to die by his hand.
  • Murderous Mannequin: Adal is the main villain of Episode 19. He's a demonic spider who takes possession of mannequins as if they were marionettes. Adal's mannequins can (drastically) shapeshift into a human's appearance, although their shadows don't change along, and have an identity separate from the demon. For years, Adal's been replacing people in key positions with his mannequins, but they all burn up when Devilman kills him.
  • Named by the Adaptation: Inverted. In the manga, Akira's fused demon has the name of Amon, but in the anime, he's simply Devilman
  • Non-Serial Movie: Mazinger Z vs. Devilman has both Toei versions of both characters, but several demons that appear in the anime (and thus die as a Monster of the Week) appear here. Most notable of these demons a Silene.
  • Precocious Crush: Tare-chan, in episode 18, develops a crush on a bewitchingly beautiful teenage girl named Mayako. Miki is horrified when Tare declares that Mayako is "his girl" and that "age doesn't matter when it comes to love." Mayako is really the demon Megu, and after Devilman kills her, Tare is very depressed that "Mayako" has disappeared and he'll never see her again.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss:
    • At least in this series, Miki Makimura may be the original Tsundere. In the first episode alone, she slaps Akira across the face twice for getting out of line, and later begs his forgiveness and hugs him joyfully after he forgives her.
    • Miki's best friend, Chiyako, shows signs of this as well toward her crush, Todaiji.
  • Spared By Adaptation: Miki.
  • The Cameo: 1972 Devilman made a cameo appearance on TV that same year in an episode of Mahou Tsukai Chappy, a magical-girl anime also produced by Toei. Akira and Miki, or people strongly resembling them, have also made cameos in other Go Nagai anime such as Cutie Honey.
    • An episode of Devilman also features a girl strongly resembling Sayaka from Mazinger Z.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Lala. So much so that she giggles and acts cutesy even while her demon BFF, Aurora, is talking about how dumb she is right in front of her.
    Aurora: But Lala was also unnaturally stupid for a demon.
    Lala: What flattery! You're making me blush!
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Lala's final moments is when she also realizes Humans Are Special, and that she was able to learn love. She sadly dies in the late part of the series.
  • Vocal Evolution: In the TV series pilot, Miki is voiced by Rihoko Yoshida, one of the most in-demand voice actresses of the '70s and '80s. The series ultimately gave the role to Sumie Sakai, who is primarily known for live-action work but also has a handful of voice roles to her credit of which her Go Nagai roles - Miki and Yukiko-hime in [1] - are the best known.

Alternative Title(s): Devilman 1972