â€œThe Birth of Devilmanâ€
After a glimpse of the chaotic demon world of centuries past, the story fast forwards to a few years ago. A research team in the arctic become caught in an earthquake. Strange beasts escape the crumbling ice and tear the researchers to pieces. Now the story moves to the present, where cowardly high school student, Akira Fudou, is leaving school with his friend, Miki, whom he has been staying with ever since his parents were killed in the arctic. On their way home, Akira is surprised by his old friend, Ryou, whom he hasnâ€™t seen in years. Ryou is darker than before and tells Akira to follow him. On the way back to Ryouâ€™s place, Ryou tells Akira the story of how his father went crazy, tried to kill him and then set himself on fire. Akira isnâ€™t sure what to make of this until Ryou shows him the truth.
Ryouâ€™s father had been a researcher of ancient civilizations and discovered a helmet carved centuries before mankind existed. By putting the helmet on, one is given a glimpse of the demon world and instantly becomes a target to the evil creatures from beyond. It seems that the demons were frozen during the ice age, but shifting climates have begun to set them free. Ryou entrusts Akira, his closest friend, with the burden of defeating the oncoming hordes of demons. Akira reluctantly accepts the offer, and no sooner does he agree, the pair are attacked by a troop of hideous monsters. The two narrowly defeat the creatures and escape to the sub-basement of Ryouâ€™s mansion. Ryou explains to Akira that the only way to stand a chance against the demons is to merge with them. Demons routinely possess human beings, such as Ryouâ€™s father, but if a human beingâ€™s will can overpower a demonâ€™s, than that human would have access to all of its power.
Ryou and Akira then enter a heavy metal rave party which Ryou refers to as a â€œBlack Sabbathâ€, the purpose of which is to conjure up some demons. Sure enough, the demons begin possessing the party-goers and a swarm of monsters encroach on the two remaining humans. Before he can escape, Akira is possessed by the demon Amon. Akiraâ€™s will wins-out and the pair merge to become the all-powerful Devilman. Devilman makes short work of the monsters, though by the battleâ€™s end, discovers Ryou is badly injured.
Thoughts: Devilmanâ€™s origin is the stuff of legend. It reminds me quite a bit of Todd McFarlaneâ€™s Spawn, though in reality, it predates Spawn by a number of decades. The animation in this first OVA is gorgeous, with lots of detail to environments and fluid character movement. Ryouâ€™s mansion is like something out of Resident Evil, a very eerie and creepy place. And, of course, there is plenty of Go Nagai-craziness. The demons are as vicious, bizarre and outrageously over-the-top as usual; all in the most offensive ways possible. Youâ€™ve got the gratuitous female demons with piranha vaginas and snapping turtle-tits as well as plenty of giant octopuses, spiders and a plethora of other terrible grotesqueries. While this first OVA really only serves as an origin story, itâ€™s utterly magnificent, setting up one of the best anti-heroes in comic book history.
â€The Evil Bird: Sireneâ€
After combining with Amon, Akira is now a much darker, more sinister person. He receives a mysterious call from a demonic force deep within the sewers and goes to investigate. He discovers the monstrous turtle-demon, Jinmin. Jinmin is the creature who killed Akiraâ€™s mother in the arctic, and whenever Jinmin eats a human, their face bonds to his shell. Akira overcomes his fear of killing his mother, knowing that she is in torment as a part of Jinminâ€™s shell, and transforms to Devilman. After a brief skirmish, Devilman slays Jinmin.
Back at Mikiâ€™s home, Akira heads to bed while Miki takes a bath. Sirene, Amonâ€™s lover in the demon world, arrives to exact revenge on Akira for merging with her beloved. She sends the demons Aguwel and Gelmar to attack Akira, Miki and her family. Akira manages to save Mikiâ€™s family and kill the two demons. However, in the process, he becomes overconfident and Sirene swoops in for the attack. She takes Akira prisoner and flies off with him, determined to carve him into a hundred pieces. Ryou, still in the hospital after the Black Sabbath, telepathically senses Akiraâ€™s danger and heads to his aid. Ryou arrives in time to blast Sirene in the chest with his shotgun; the blast causing her to lose her grip on Akira.
Akira transforms into Devilman at last and engages Sirene in a drag-out brawl which takes them from Tokyo and all the way into the depths of the woods. After a lengthy battle, Devilman impales Sirene with her own severed claw, mortally wounding her. Sirene summons aid from her commander, Lord Zanon. Zanon sends a horde of demons to keep Devilman busy while Sirene merges with another demon, the powerful Kaimu. The Sirene-Kaimu fusion makes short work of Devilman, defeating him in battle. However, before they can deliver the finishing blow, Sirene succumbs to her wounds and dies.
Thoughts: This OVA serves mostly as a single, huge brawl between Devilman and Sirene, and honestly, itâ€™s one of my favorite animated fight scenes of all-time. The battle between the two is beautifully animated, with animation that truly outdoes the previous OVA. The fight-itself is completely brutal, with characters losing limbs and gushing blood all over the place. The beginning with Jinmin is a great character moment, adding balance to Akiraâ€™s new ultra-violent personality, proving heâ€™s not totally evil. Sirene is one of the most recognizable villains from the Devilman mythos and has appeared in just about every incarnation of Devilman, from the original TV series, to the “Mazinger Z vs. Devilmanâ€ film and even into the live-action movie. This is by far her best appearance, though. While the first OVA was primarily a set-up story, this one gives the audience plenty of Devilman action from start to finish.
â€Amon: Apocalypse of Devilmanâ€
Akira and his human-demon hybrid friends, Meeko and Yumi, are finishing off another successful demon hunt when Ryou appears on national television. Ryou reveals the presence of demons to the world and uses footage from the Black Sabbath to out Akira as Devilman. The news sends Japan into total chaos, as demons crawl out of the woodwork and humans begin turning on one-another, fearing others are demons in disguise. Mikiâ€™s family is the target of an angry mob due to their relationship with Akira, and Miki is decapitated. Akira races to Mikiâ€™s house but arrives too late. In a fit of rage, Akira slaughters the angry mob.
Meeko and Yumi arrive to deliver news that a high-ranking demon, Seiros, has begun attacking humanity. Seiros then shows up, having followed Meeko and Yumi, and challenges Akira. Akira, so distraught over the death of Miki, loses control of his body to Amon. Amon, now free from human control, goes berserk and slaughters Seirosâ€™ forces. He then devours Akiraâ€™s friend, Yumi. Seiros and Amon engage in battle, but Seiros is seriously outmatched. Amon kills Seiros with little effort, then heads off to track down Satan.
Amon finds Satan, who is in reality, Ryou. Ryou had planned Akiraâ€™s bonding with Amon from the start as a means to cause the Apocalypse. Amon, not fond of being used, attempts to attack Satan but is caught off guard when Satan awakens Akiraâ€™s consciousness within Amon. Amon and Devilman do battle within Akiraâ€™s mind. Devilman takes a pounding and is quickly defeated by Amon. Akiraâ€™s mind drifts to his memories of Miki. Mikiâ€™s spirit makes one last gesture of love to Akira before moving on. Devilman awakens, reinvigorated by Mikiâ€™s spirit. Devilman trashes Amon and regains control of his body. However, itâ€™s far too late, as most of civilization has been completely destroyed. While investigating the ruins of Tokyo, Akira crosses paths with Ryou. The two stare at each other for a time and then move on.
Thoughts: I only have one qualm with this OVA, and that is that it skips a bit too much material between the last episode and now. The fight with Zanon is completely skipped, as are the origins for Meeko and Yumi. So, as a result, anyone who hasnâ€™t read the manga or at least read about it are going to be a fair bit confused. Additionally, Meekoâ€™s and Yumiâ€™s characters suffer without any background history. Aside from that, this is a great chapter in the trilogy. This was made many years after the last installment, and as such, tastes in animation styles had changed greatly in Japan. The characters are recognizable, but much more modern in appearance. Basically, more â€œ90sâ€ than â€œ80sâ€. The animation-itself is gorgeous and the fight scenes are some of the most epic in the series. I never get tired of seeing Amon hurl a train at Seiros. This is also quite a bit darker than the previous installments, with humanity basically nuking itself out of existence and, well, Amon eating a child. That part may be hard to watch for the faint of heart. Itâ€™s a shame they didnâ€™t make it all the way to the very end: Devilmanâ€™s final battle with Satan. But even without that bit of closure this makes a fine concluding chapter to the trilogy. Hopefully, one day, weâ€™ll see that last fight animated.