Go Nagai DEVILMAN  “Go to hell, you mortals!”

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A conclusion

 This can be called “a masterpiece with such a very strong poison” that a sensitive person would fall down and go to bed. It’s introduced abroad and many spin-offs and remakes are published. If you would like to read a philosophical or literary comic I recommend this straight from the heart, if you don’t mind if this makes you despair of human including yourself.

A conversation with Tatsuo Mino

(This is based on a situation that a fictional person Tatsuo Mino, who likes gym-training and ramen, asked naniwa-t4e about this book and he answers)

“This is a well-known comic, isn’t it? I’ve heard that title.”

Yes. It’s been about 50 years since it had been published in 1972. (As of 2023)

“Is it a story of a human who had turned into a demon and fights other demons?”

You’re right. Strictly speaking, in comic the main character Akira Fudo gets demon’s body and supernatural power on his own will to protect the human race. He mentally is still a human. On the other hand, in an animation broadcasted in the same period a demon conquers Akira Fudo physically and mentally, but he leaves and fights all other demons because he fell in love with Miki Makimura.

“The way how Akira is differs between them. Well, about this comic I’ve heard ‘traumatic’ ‘depressive’ ‘grotesque’ ‘the mysterious ending’.”

Yes, you know this is famous as the top-class traumatic or depressive comic. But, not only that but also a comic with a very serious theme.

“I hesitate to read it a little but it interests me, so will you please tell me about ‘Devilman’? My client, who is a bookworm, may have read it.”

Sure, what shall I tell you about it?

“Well, please tell me its summary.”

Akira Fudo, who lives off Makimura’s family for some reasons, hears from his dearest friend Ryo Asuka demons have start invading the human race secretly. They try combining demons to protect human and only Akira succeeds. This is the birth of a devilman, which have a demon’s body and human’s heart. The devilman wards off demons which come over.

All of a sudden people become monsters and die one after another. It’s a Kamikaze attack by demons. They try combining human random to give them fear rather than to kill them. But it also causes births of devilmen other than Akira. He makes up his mind to unite devilmen army.

On the other hand, Special demon hunting team has been started as a last resort against demons. And Professor Rainuma, a Nobel Prize holder, announced. “Demons are what the human race has become. Persons frustrated to the society changed themselves to fulfill their hopes. Destroy them to destroy demons!” This caused wars and internal insurrections wherever human is. Akira’s sense of danger rises up and he tries to build a network among devilmen all over the world in secret.

Then Ryo appears on TV and deceives people “Demons can combine human whenever they like. My dearest friend, Akira Fudo had been. People next to you also may. Kill it before it kills you!”, without mentioning a difficult condition for demon to combine a human. Suspicion to each other among people has reached to the top. Mr. and Mrs. Makimura has been arrested by Special demon hunting team. To save them Akira attacked the team with devilmen army….

“Why is this called ‘traumatic comic’ ‘depressive’ ‘grotesque’? ”

 A very famous traumatic episode is a fight VS Jimmen. Jimmen, a demon which has a shape like a turtle, preyed Akira’ friend Sacchan and called up Akira. He turned red and transformed into a devilman. But Jimmen showed Sacchan’s face on its back…On Jimmen’s back loomed faces of its victims and they still had their consciousness.

 It’s not all. Till the middle stage this is nothing more than a wonderful horror comic, but after a sudden telling by Akira Fudo the story shows ugliness of human being with no mercy. “Go to hell, you mortals!” cries Akira who fell into despair of human. Reading this, I can’t help agreeing with him.

“Is there any heart-warming episode at least?”

 This is a episode with humor rather than a heart-warming one. Akira was attacked by bad boys and won them all and Miki Makimura described it “It’s like seeing a yakuza movie for free!”. But this is a episode before the middle stage….

“Why has it been read for such a long time though it is very depressive and grotesque?”

“Because it is interesting”, I think that’s all. Unrefined but dynamic pictures, grandeur world-building as if it’s Apocalypse, powerful story-telling which forces readers to turn pages, the mystery of a light sphere, no-mercy-bringing the human’s ugliness to light, the last scene which can be interpreted in many ways. It was also broadcasted as a TV animation in the same period, today it’s called Media-mix-strategy, I think this works a lot. But above all, its attraction has been keeping it being read for such a long time. Go Nagai’s other work VIOLENCE JACK describes people’s drama around the mysterious big guy Violence Jack in Kanto area which was so devasted by a massive earthquake that its restoration went so much slowly, abondoned by the goverment, and became a lawless zone. As well as VIOLENCE JACK it’s the most important work of Go Nagai’s.

“Oh, why is it? ”

 That’s something to look forward to, haha!

“Haha, ok. Well, how did you think of DEVILMAN? ”

 In my childhood I’ve read it and my view of life had completely changed. It showed me how human beings ugly, mean, and weak are, and how terrible mass psychology is. But it fascinated me including this point and still now I love it.
There are other works, a short story ONI and an unfinished long story A MIDNIGHT SOLDIER which show the ugliness of human. They are also masterpieces but DEVILMAN is unparalleled due to its tragicness, strong visuals of demons, and an epic scale, I think.

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