Devilman (Manga) Volume 5 FINALE Review

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Rating: 9/10

Plot: As humans continue to be pitted against each other and the anti-demon forces mowing down any and all suspicious people in their path, it seems like Akira’s biggest threat isn’t the demons but a majority of humanity. When Satan finally shows his face, and hope for humanity seems at it’s dimmest, can the devilman army rise up and save what’s left?

Breakdown: Well, just…wow. That was incredible…and massively depressing.

In this volume, our finale, Akira’s devil identity has been revealed on live television by Ryo, who has recently come to realize that he’s been Satan all along. Miki’s family eventually understands his plight, but tells him to leave in order to help protect the family from the anti-demon forces who may attack them for harboring a demon.

Despite him immediately leaving, the anti-demon forces storm the Makimura house and take Miki’s parents. They eventually torture, dismember and kill both of them before Devilman has a chance to save them.

Back at the Makimura household, a huge group of people are enraged that the anti-demon forces left Miki and Tare alone when they’re probably demons as well. They attack the household and despite a great effort by Miki and one of the thugs who has allied with Akira, all three of them end up getting horribly murdered by them. Miki in particular is made out to be an example, and her corpse is dismembered and placed outside the house on pikes.

Devilman is horrified by how far humanity has fallen and completely loses his drive to save any of them since they’re all lost in his eyes. However, there’s one person he still wishes to protect – Miki. When he returns to the Makimura house and finds his beloved murdered outside, he loses all hope and only wishes to take down the one who started it all.

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20 years later, humankind reaches extinction. The earth is in ruin, and only devilmen and demons remain. After a long and hard battle…..

Akira fails. He dies in the aftermath of the final battle, and Ryo sadly recants his tale to Akira’s body without realizing he is dead. Once he realizes that the man who was his best friend, the man he fell in love with, is dead, he mourns his loss as an army of angels comes to exterminate the last of the demons from the earth.

See what I mean? In the end…it was all for naught. Humanity went to hell before going extinct, the devilmen lost, Akira died, Satan and his army took over and it wasn’t even a victory for them because in the end Ryo/Satan feels like he made a big mistake and lost the only person he really cared about in the process, and the demons still end up losing in the very end.

One could say it’s a bit of a happy ending because if the angels arrived to take out the demons, there might be some plan to revitalize the earth and humanity, but in the end it’s a very dim finale.

I will say that Ryo’s reveal as Satan was really not what I expected at all. I always assumed he was taken over by Satan during the Black Sabbath, but he was actually Satan for his entire life. He assumed the identity of Ryo Asuka, who was the technical first victim of the demon apocalypse, and had his memories erased by one of his henchmen in order to truly immerse himself in humanity and understand them in order to fully defeat them. His falling in love with Akira is also what prevented him from getting killed by the demons on one occasion.

If there are a few things I feel this finale did wrong, though some of this is because I read the first volume of Amon before this.

Miko amounted to nothing. She doesn’t appear in this volume at all. Some weird-haired devilman speaks with Akira a few times, but really no other named devilmen appear which is really weird considering the devilman army is a huge part of this story. In addition, it really seemed like they were starting something with Miko in the previous volume but just forgot about her, which is a damn shame because she seemed like she’d be an awesome character.

Dosuroku didn’t do much either. In fact, I have no clue what happened to him. Akira calls him ‘Roky’ once and he entrusted him with the knowledge that he was a devilman, which implies they became good friends, but he disappears and is never even seen dying. I mean, considering all of humanity was wiped out in the 20 Year War, it can be safely assumed that he quickly died, but I would’ve liked to have seen something come of his character.

Despite Miki not being annoying for the first time in ever (except stupidly saying she won’t fight the army of people charging her house with torches and weapons intending on killing her and her little brother. I understand why, but come on. Look where you are, take in the situation and toss a molly.) and even being a little kickass, her relationship with Akira just wasn’t done well enough for me to give two shits about her dying.

She was incredibly annoying for a majority of the series, Akira treated her like crap several times and they just never shared any really good moments of connection. Near the middle of this volume, they share a nice embrace, but that’s it. The romance just wasn’t handled well enough for me to really care when she died.

In fact, I was way more impacted by Tare’s death. That poor kid didn’t deserve to go out that way.

The ending also leaves a few notes to really think about. Did Akira’s cause really matter in the end? Humanity proved to be just as selfish, fearful and vile as Satan believed they were from the start. Men, women, children, babies; all of them mercilessly murdered by humans and demons alike.

You could also say that the ending is perpetuating the lesson that Satan learned. God wished to destroy the demons because they were violent and evil beings, and Satan wished to destroy humanity because he thought the same of them. When the angels arrived to supposedly wipe out the demons yet again, could this start the cycle again? If humanity is restored, is it just damned to another massacre at the hands of something else?

Despite the dark ending, I am actually perfectly content with it. Sometimes you need a story with deeply tragic ending. Not all stories can end happily. Not all heroes can save the day. We may escape into media like this to get the happy endings we’ll never have, but sometimes the sad endings can really make you appreciate the good endings; both in fiction and real life.

Devilman is an awesome series, and while it does have its problems it is still a really great read. It’s not for those without a stomach for gore or dark and tragic tones, but it’s still a great manga that I’d fully recommend.

ENTIRE SERIES RATING: Based on an average of all of the volumes, Devilman gets a final rating of 8/10

Final notes: I really loved this one shot of the people who attack the Makimura household, It’s purposely drawn erratically and colored in sloppily in order to give them people a monster-like look.

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Recommended Audience: There’s still plenty of gore around every corner, and a graphic small child death. A couple of instances of nudity, no sex, minor swearing, dark tones. 17+

….Previous Volume

Spectral Force Review

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Rating: 1.5/10

Plot:
Once upon a time, in a place called Neverland (Peter Pan’s calling his lawyers) there was…..uhhh….an angel getting crucified…..A demon army….a sword….a war…..a princess…some guy named Chick….The end?

Breakdown: Have you ever watched something that you actually put effort into paying attention to, yet it’s like the show itself didn’t want you to watch it? That’s Spectral Force.

Spectral Force is based on a PS1 game of the same name. I’ve never played said game, but if you’re a fan, this may be more for you. However, I hope the game is a lot better than this anime, because nothing whatsoever interested me here. The only reason I watched all of it is because it’s only two episodes long.

This show isn’t even laughably bad. I can’t find anything to really rant about. It’s just awful in all of the bad ways.

The art and animation are pretty bad. The actual art itself is passable, but the animation is cheap and the CGI is horrendous. And I mean horrendous. The character designs, barring maybe Chick, aren’t very memorable, and the demon extras look as generic as they come with most of them looking like walking skeletons.

The editing is also awful. Transitions and cuts are so jarring and confusing that it makes is seem like it wasn’t even done being edited.

Let’s move on to the story….Story….right…Ummm…Errr, demons run the earth I think, some demon king dies and the demon princess is left to lead the demon army while the humans try to take over. Or something. I’ll give it a couple of points for having a flipped version of a cliché story, but it’s still pretty cliché. Who thought just from my completely half-assed plot summary that this story was cliché?

Oh and let me spoil the ending….nothing happens. Hiro, the princess, meets another demon named Jaddo who turns out to be her brother who apparently was banished because his father thought him ether too powerful or too ‘evil’ to stay in the royal line (?? I mean….they’re demons) Something happens and the big fight never happens.

The elves (yeah there are elves and, surprise, there’s nothing that differentiates them from the human-looking demons) come to help the demons and it just kinda ends….I don’t even know where Jaddo went or why he left the battle or why the battle ended. There are several characters that appear and seem to be established but have no information given about them.

I can give it a couple of other points for the music because it was actually pretty good, but felt more suited for a video game.

The characters are all forgettable as that thing you forgot a few minutes ago and they’re all basic stereotypes except maybe Chick who’s only memorable in the slightest for having a dumb name and being a glasses-boy with guns.

The only other light spot is the princess’s fake arm, which looks awesome, but it’s doesn’t do much so eh.

The acting, Japanese version, is also blech to okay.

Bottomline:
Ever wanted to know what it’s like to slip into a coma? Watch this. If you like entertainment, watch something else.

Additional Information and Notes: Spectral Force was produced by Idea Factory and it’s licensed in the US by ADV films. It was written and directed by Yoshiteru Satou

Episodes: 2

Year: 1998-1999

Recommended Audience: Surprisingly, for an anime that basically glorifies demons to an extent, there’s not much violence here. There is a semi-graphic crucifixion of an angel that seems to have no bearing on the plot. No nudity, no sex, not even swearing. 10+

Episode One-Derland (Cartoon Edition) Angel’s Friends

Plot: Raf is an aspiring guardian angel working at the organization for both angels and guardian devils called VETO. Both angels and devils are assigned to a human during one of many moments in a human’s life when they have a choice between good and evil (Or, to be honest, good and slightly bad.) During this time, angels and devils take turns trying to lure the human to the side of good or evil without directly interfering with their lives or the specific turns of one or the other. Raf’s been assigned to a boy named Andrew with his guardian devil being the cunning Sulfus.

Breakdown: This is an Italian cartoon heavily inspired by magical girl anime. It stars a girl named Raf, though several other angels will come to join her later. Raf is a guardian angel in training who has recently started her work at VETO. Neither angels nor devils can be seen by humans unless they transform first, which is where the magical girl influence really comes into play because they really love the transformation sequences. Angels and devils cannot influence a human at the same time. They must take turns. To determine who goes first, the angel and devil go through a challenge in a room that can create any challenge that they come up with. Whoever is selected as second is left to wait to see if the first person fails to have their chance to swoop in and try their hand. They may not interfere in the situation while it is the first person’s turn.

This episode did a pretty good job of establishing our main character, the world they live in, how their jobs work, the antagonist and even teased a big baddy along with a looming omen which is the star mark left on the hands of Raf and Sulfus when they touched hands during the challenge as angels and devils are not allowed to make contact.

Raf herself is a very likable character. She’s responsible, she’s very optimistic, works hard and wants desperately to help the people she’s assigned to. However, it’s also shown that she’s a bit naïve, overly nice to a fault and has difficulty with the not-interfering part of her job.

Sulfus is very much a typical bully so far, though. He mostly just picks on Raf and tricks her while doing his job with a smug smile on his face. I have a feeling he’ll get more interesting as time goes on, but we’ll see.

Art and Animation: ….Ech. The art is passable but really rough. The line art just gets so sloppy sometimes. The colors are bright and eye-catching, though. The animation is horrid, however. It’s a very cheap Flash animation effect that looks like the animation for Sixteen only a lot sloppier. On that note, the lip-syncing is some of the worst I’ve ever seen. I don’t know exactly who dubbed this as the only information I found on the English version is that it’s owned by NBC, but the lips hardly ever matched the words in the least, and sometimes they were talking without the lips even moving!

Voices: So far so good. I see a few 4Kids alum on here like Lisa Ortiz and Dan Green. Despite never ever ever matching the lips, the voices are pretty decent.

Music: As poppy and girly as you’d imagine. From all I’ve seen, people are not fans of the songs and I don’t blame them. While I’ve heard a lot worse, the OP goes on for too long and they’re just generic girly pop songs.

Bottomline: I am a sucker for magical girl shows, I will admit. Plus this series has a really interesting and solid premise. It’s a bit kiddy, really seeming aimed at young children, but that’s okay. If they can keep the story interesting, then it’s worth sitting through the ech-tastic visuals. A nice surprise.

Recommended Audience: E for everyone!

Haibane Renmei Review

Rating: 9/10

Plot: A town surrounded by walls that cannot be passed. Beings with white wings born from giant cocoons with no memory of who they were before they emerged. Named for the dreams that they have while inside of the cocoon, destined to one day leave the confines of the walls surrounding their city on an occasion called the Day of Flight. Some bound to sin that makes their wings a charcoal black, there to remain until they are forgiven of their sins.

This is the story of the Haibane.

Breakdown: I had heard of this anime before, and it’s never gotten anything but good word-of-mouth from what I’ve seen, so I was really excited to watch it. I wasn’t disappointed as this is a beautiful anime with a great story, wonderful and original plot, amazing scenery and awesome characters.

A new Haibane is born from a recently sprouted cocoon. She is named Rakka for ‘Falling’ after revealing that her dream was of falling through the sky. The series follows her and her new friends in a place where many Haibane live called the Old Home.

While much of the series is rather lighthearted, following Rakka as she learns to be a Haibane and find her place in the community, the rest of the series gets slightly dark once one of the characters realizes it is their Day of Flight. It’s made even darker when one of the characters becomes sin-bound.

One ‘bad’ aspect about this series may be that it’s a little confusing. Much of the story is left up to interpretation, but I’ve heard the most commonly accepted theory of this show is that the Haibane are actually spirits, perhaps ‘reborn’ spirits, that are trapped in purgatory for one reason or another.

To be honest, though, this doesn’t entirely make sense as the town is also populated by regular people who aren’t Haibane. Their Day of Flight is really them going off to heaven. Those who are sin-bound are said to be spirits of those who have committed suicide in their past life (Which does make sense to the characters who are sin-bound once you realize their cocoon dreams.)

They have great difficulty obtaining their Day of Flight, and if they’re not forgiven before their Day of Flight comes, they either stay in Purgatory forever or they go off to hell, I couldn’t really interpret that well. The person loses their wings and halos and are forced to live away from the society within the town, but that can still be interpreted as hell. We never see it, so I can’t be certain.

Also, slight detail, but I love the holiday that they made up for the new year. That seems like such a fun tradition.

Art and Animation: The art and animation are wonderful and the scenery is beautiful. It’s very unique while not being too far in your face with stylization, and everything is animated and colored in such a way that seems really genuine and real. The character design work is also done by the writer, Yoshitoshi ABe. You may recognize his style from other anime such as Serial Experiments Lain and Welcome to the NHK.

Music: The music is gentle and great with both the OP and the ED being fitting and beautiful to listen to. The ED sounds like a gentle lullaby.

Voice Acting: Japanese – The voice acting was wonderful. Everyone was very fitting in their roles, they acted amazingly and I can’t think of anyone who was subpar.

Bottomline: I really did love this anime. It was a refreshing change of pace from what I’ve been watching, and I can’t think of anything that I’d change about it. I fully recommend it.

Additional Information and Notes: This anime was based on a doujinshi, but the interesting thing is that, unlike most shows where the manga inspires and then builds upon the anime, the exact opposite is true here. The doujinshi started, the anime came quickly thereafter and the manga never concluded while the anime did.

The writer of Haibane Renmei is Yoshitoshi ABe, and yes the B is capitalized. It’s meant to be a throwback to his old pen name which was AB. He was also the author of the original doujinshi, so it’s really just the series shifting from one medium to another instead of being a downright adaptation.

The director of this series is Tomokazu Tokoro, who is known for directing Hellsing Ultimate and NieA 7….He also did some work on White Album…..

Habane Renmei was produced by Radix and is currently licensed in the US by Funimation.

Episodes: 13

Year: 2002

Recommended Audience: While there’s nothing inherently objectionable in this series, some of the tones are really dark, especially when we get to the middle, and the story may be a bit heavy for younger viewers to understand. 10+