Shin Devilman (Manga) Review

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Plot: Akira and Ryou are suddenly thrust through various points in time where they’re tasked with defeating a demon in each time period that is set on ruining the timelines.

Breakdown: It’s a Devilman/Doctor Who crossover! 😀

……………………..No, it’s not. *sigh* I can dream.

This is a series of kinda short stories in that they are indeed separate stories but there’s the main theme and characters of Devilman/Akira and Ryou keeping them all together, and they’re still technically part of the canon in the Devilman series.

This…is kinda an odd duck. I never expected Devilman to be in this type of manga, yet here we are. Devilman and Ryou traveling through time fighting time stream hating demons. There are five stories in all spanning across numerous time periods and locations, so let’s just plow through them all real quick.

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Story 1: Late Spring in Vienna – So, believe it or not, the first story is actually the oddest of the bunch. The first chapter involves them going to pre-war Vienna where they detect the faint scent of a demon around an artist and his distributor. For those who are already making internal connections here, yes, it is what you’re thinking, but oh it is a lot crazier than that.

The distributor shows a sold painting of a woman that the artist fell in love with but lost her to an army captain. Despite the distributor being very much money hungry, the artist cares more about putting tender care and detail into his paintings. Akira and Ryou decide to leave, resigned to the fact that a demon’s not around. They later follow the artist and the distributor to a huge house where the scent of demons gets stronger. The painting from before is being sold to the head of this house, despite the artist’s desire to keep it. His distributor, however, will have none of that and hands it over.

The head of the house accidentally gives them too much money, and while the distributor is more than happy to keep the extra, the artist finds it to be a mistake and runs back to return the money. As he enters the house, he sees the man, Schultz, slashing at the picture in front of his long lost lover. Schultz states that her husband died on the battlefield and that she’s now his somehow. He relishes in the supposed fact that the artist has given up on her entirely, the proof being that he sold the painting of her.

He bursts into the room in an outrage and finds that Schultz is actually a fire demon, who promptly burns up his love, Stephanie. Devilman rushes into the scene and destroys the demon. The artist watches on as the house burns to the ground. As his distributor, Mr. Harnisch, runs to ensure that he’s alright, the artists yells at him to stay away and says that he hates all of ‘his kind’ and that he’ll dedicate his life to eradicating all of the Jews….

For all of you playing along at home, the correct answer is: Adolf Hitler.

Yup, the artist in this story is Adolf Hitler, and while he had already shown a disliking of Jewish people before this whole thing happened, the story makes it out like the main reason behind the mass genocide of Jewish people was that his first love was killed by a Jewish fire demon. A Jewish fire demon…..a Jewish fire demon. Oh manga. The things you make me type.

So, I just have all sorts of questions right now. Let’s start with the main plot of this whole side story. Why time travel of all things? Time travel is so touchy of a plot thread since it just causes so many plot holes and continuity errors that it’s a nightmare to deal with. This story in itself is causing plot holes. So does that mean, since Devilman saved Hitler, that leaving him there would’ve killed Hitler and kept the holocaust from happening? Did Devilman just inadvertently cause the holocaust? Did Devilman really have any impact on the events of that day since the time that they were in at the start seemed to have experienced WWII?

Also, it’s not like it’s some surprise as to who it is either. Unlike what I did here, the manga gives the artist’s name right at the start, though they don’t divulge that his last name is Hitler until the very end. Gee, an artist in pre-war Vienna who dislikes Jewish people and has the first name of Adolf. Golly gee, who could he really be?

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Story 2: Jeanne D’arc in Hell – Next chapter, we learn that Ryou, unknowingly utilizing his satanic powers, is the one making them travel through time in order to, I suppose, combat time traveling demons that are trying to mess up history. This time, Devilman goes to France where Jeanne D’arc is trying to end the hundred years war. Demons decide to kidnap her from the battlefield and bring her to hell where she’s put on trial for her sins. The sins in question being trying to end war, which the demons find to be beneficial to humanity in regards to progress, and hearing voices, which they claim are really demonic and not heavenly.

She’s saved by Devilman and continues her quest, though the chapter ends on a rather somber note as it reminds us that shortly after this event she was arrested and put on trial for being a witch (though, technically, the charges were heresy and repeated instances of cross-dressing.) and that she was found guilty and burned at the stake. Would’ve been a little better to also add that there was a retrial later which not only found her innocent, but found that the previous trial was not conducted justly and the person who convicted her was implicated with heresy for his biased view on the trial. But then again this is Devilman, wouldn’t want to have any happy-ish endings.

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Story 3: The Beautiful Goddess of War: Nike of Samothrace – The next chapter is a bit intriguing. The goddess of victory, Nike, is giving modern weapons to an army in ancient Samothrace, allowing them to easily take down their enemies in hopes of taking over Greece. Akira combats her when she ‘reveals’ that she’s actually Amon’s long lost lover and coaxes him into remembering her, proving their love by stating that he fell for a human who looked like her while he was in his human form. Devilman basically falls for it, but Ryou breaks him free of her ‘spell’ and lops off her arms and head with a sword, leaving a famous statue of her also without its arms or legs.

I guess it’s intentional that we not know if she really was telling the truth or not. Devilman still seems to harbor feelings for her after her death since he clutches her head with a somber look; also like he does with Miki later on. It’s possible that Ryou’s more Satan-y side took over for a bit and killed her for the sake of either keeping Amon for himself or protecting him legitimately. *shrug*

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Story 4: The Bewitching Queen of Versailles – In France, Ryou and Akira travel to just before the French Revolution where they learn Marie Antoinette is being controlled by a demon who is planning on forcing the armies of her native Austria to completely overpower the French revolutionaries and take over Europe. They go inside her heart and beat the demon and the chapter ends with both the demon and Marie Antoinette getting beheaded……Pretty lackluster story, to be honest.

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Story 5: The Demon of Little Bighorn – The final chapter starts out with Ryou and Akira kicking back as a part of the Cheyenne Native American tribe. They’re particularly close with the chief of the tribe, Crazy Horse, and his little sister Tiana, who has shown to be quite smitten with Ryou, though he states that he has no interest in girls and even nearly confesses his attraction to Akira.

They go off to do some hunting and fishing for a while and Crazy Horse prepares for a meeting with the Sioux tribe to join forces against General Custer and the 7th cavalry.

As Ryou and Akira fish and hunt, they discuss the odd fact that they’ve been in this time period for quite some time (maybe a few weeks or months) yet no demon has attacked. Just as they ponder that, we discover that General Custer and his troops were possessed by demons and have executed a sneak attack on the Cheyenne tribe as Crazy Horse and his men were meeting with Sitting Bull and the Sioux. They viciously slaughter the villagers with guns and swords and are gone before Ryou and Akira put the pieces together. They find Tiana raped and murdered, and Akira, in a deep rage, slaughters all of the 7th cavalry, and history supposedly embellishes the story saying the Native Americans were the ones to beat them.

Now you must be wondering, ‘Hey, that’s the final chapter? How do they get home? Does beating demons through time five different times really just end everything?’ Well, the answer is……..

I have no friggin’ clue.

Immediately after the end of the Battle at Little Big Horn, we cut to Akira walking through what seems like a burning desolate wasteland of an earth while carrying a suitcase. He remembers various battles from the past, but mostly he remembers his time with Miki. He continues to walk and remember her before he halts and opens the case. It contains Miki’s severed head, which just raises all sorts of questions as to where and when we are right now. I’m almost entirely certain this manga started before Miki’s death.

He buries Miki’s head and gives her a cross as a headstone before Ryou calls him over. Akira walks past him through the destroyed earth and we end.

What….the….hell…

What was the point of all that? Seriously, what was the point? Despite bringing us to various points in time and space, the main plot stays the same. A demon is going to do something that threatens something that is supposed to happen in history. Devilman beats the demon with absolutely no problem and they jump to another point in time and space to do the exact same thing. Wash, rinse, repeat.

They try to bring more Devilman-y things to it like saying Nike was Amon’s lover, but that went no where and those instances are few and far between.

And what was that ending? Was that hell? They looked like they were still on earth. The earth’s destroyed yet Ryou’s not in his Satan form? Akira’s not dead? How did they get back? I know Ryou was the one sending them through time because demons were infiltrating time but why were demons infiltrating time if Ryou/Satan is the one calling the shots with the demons? He told them to go through time and screw it up just to go back in time and fix everything? Did the demons give up after five tries or were the rest of the demons in the time stream in the cavalry at Little Big Horn?

Bottomline: I don’t want to say that this manga’s a waste of time……but I’m pretty much gonna. Really the only story worth reading is the first one because Hitler and Jewish fire demons…..Just…you have to actually read it to believe it. If the other stories had been as baffling as that one, I could’ve gotten into it more. But like I said, it’s really just historic stories with Devilman V. Demon shoved in there somewhere. They bond with some people through time, but it’s hard to establish any sort of true connection in a 40-60 page chapter. I never really felt bored reading these stories, but they just don’t bring much to the table, Devilman-wise.

Additional Information and Notes: Shin Devilman was written by Go Nagai and Hiroshi Nagai (under the pen name Hiroshi Kouenji), illustrated by Go Nagai and published by Shougaku Sannensei.

Chapters: 5

Year: 1979

Rating: 4/10

Recommended Audience: Being Devilman, there’s still plenty of gore and several instances of nudity. There’s also an implied rape and kinda an implied shot of a silhouetted closeup sex shot, if that even was a sex shot and not just kissing. The final chapter in particular is just a huge blood bath. 16+

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