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by Mark Vallen © Copyright. 2000
is a lot of anime both contemporary and classic that has
gotten my attention, but I want to make a few comments
about one of my all time favorites... Go Nagai's dark
fantasy series, DEVILMAN LADY. Well known for fabulous
creations like MAZINGER, GETTER ROBOT, and CUTEY HONEY,
Nagai-sama broke new ground with the spin-off of his DEVILMAN
tale of terror. I instantly became a fan of the DEVILMAN
LADY series when I saw the original sketches and paintings
Go Nagai had created of his characters. I almost gasped
in delight when I gazed upon the powerfully dark imagery.
The paintings were enigmatic, mystifying, strange, and
gloomy... full of demons and a beautiful woman painfully
transforming into something hideous. The city a somber
trap of steel and glass... a shadowy backdrop of some
incomprehensible struggle between good and evil. I was
on my love of Nagai's fantastic drawings and paintings,
I began to collect cels from the DEVILMAN LADY anime and
my obsession deepened. When I saw episodes of this marvelously
scary psycho drama anime there was no turning back for
me. DEVILMAN LADY is simply one
of the BEST things I've ever seen!
the opening credits of the anime with its foreboding Gothic
music to the ending visuals of the leading Lady in silhouette
transforming into a demon... this production is a relentlessly
unnerving tale bent upon forever annihilating your perception
of anime being the realm of super cuteness and easy laughter.
In fact, there isn't a single humorous moment in the entire
series. It wants only one thing, to perturb and upset
you, to make your skin crawl... and it succeeds.
story involves one gorgeous young fashion model named
Jun Fudo (pictured at left from the manga, and below from
the anime), who begins to feel there is something terribly
wrong with her life... but can't quite explain or figure
source of her anguish.
Jun-san is beset with terrible visions and a feeling that
she is constantly being watched. She flits nervously from
one situation to the next, uneasy and troubled. Soon things
are made clear to Jun-san when a mysterious Woman named
Asuka Ran enters her life. Asuka forcefully makes Jun-san
confront herself, and the unfortunate model comes to a
terrifying realization about her true self... that she
is not human at all. Asuka belongs to a secret organization
called the "Human Alliance." Their desperate mission is
to stop the advancing "Beast Progression" that transforms
people into demonic entities. The Human Alliance is making
little headway, but discovers that certain demons can
be used to defeat their own kind. Asuka's
task is to find such a demon hiding in the body of a human...
and she finds her prey residing in Jun Fudo.
is made to do the bidding of the Human Alliance, but she
has little choice. A demonic army is slowly engulfing
the world and it's Jun-san's destiny to annihilate the
hell spawn. Every fan of anime is familiar with characters
undergoing magical transformations... but I'm certain
few of you have seen anything like this! The metamorphoses
of the lovely and sweet Jun-san into a fierce monstrosity
conjures up a thousand years of Satan as represented in
Western art. The batwing-like appendages on Jun-san's
head and her long pointed tail will bring out an ancient
dread in the viewer... yet, the demon side is not entirely
repulsive or hostile to humankind.
the essence of the story... but the genius is in the telling.
Devilman Lady successfully avoids the stale cliches associated
with the horror genre and instead delivers a walloping
blow to your sense of well being through careful editing
and artfully composed scenes. Yes... "over the top" monsters,
bloodletting and graphic violence abound... but at it's
core Devilman Lady is story driven... it is the drama
of a monster imbued with human compassion. Technically,
the animation in Devilman Lady dazzles. It is straightforward
and naturalistic in it's approach, but at certain moments
it comes at you in a full throttle attack that leaves
you breathless. It revels in it's Gothic tempermeant so
ripe with gloom, panic, and trepidation. Supporting this
aura of discomposure and woe is a soundtrack equally laden
with disquietude, it's the stuff of nightmares.
Lady manages not to be pop horror kitsch, it skirts around
that pitfall and instead burrows it's way into your mind...
refusing to let go. While you've long forgotten the latest
bloated Hollywood tripe attempting to pawn itself off
as a horror flic... Devilman Lady will still be haunting
you with it's peculiar and twisted vision. This masterwork
from Go Nagai also comes off as being very Japanese. Though
placed in a contemporary setting and utilizing the Western
personification of supreme evil and unrighteousness...
Devilman Lady still draws considerable power from Japan's
own ancient folklore of demons and fiends. For this old
fan of science fiction and horror films, Devilman Lady
was deeply satisfying and its earned a place on my list
of anime favorites.
is a world of difference between the DEVILMAN LADY manga
and anime. The manga, while beautifully drawn... is filled
with sex and violence of the most extreme graphic nature,
this is most definitely NOT a comic meant for children!
The anime on the other hand is milder, and though free
of the manga's excesses, it is STILL not fare meant for
kiddies or the faint hearted. I've viewed the recent DEVILMAN
movie, AMON APOCALYPSE, and was left drained by it's hyper-violence
and mind numbing gore. While DEVILMAN (shown at right),
is the artist's life's work and favored creation... it
is DEVILMAN LADY that has made me an ardent fan of Go