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Devilmanlady! Devilmanlady!
Reviewed by Mark Vallen Copyright. 2000
There 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 hooked. Based 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!

From 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. The 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 out the
source of her anguish.

The beast within
Jun has a secret.
Poor 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.

Jun-san 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.

Evil fights Evil.
That's 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.
Devilman 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.

There 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 Nagai.

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