So you’ve just read the original Devilman manga? Good job! I hope you enjoyed it! Now you may be wondering “what’s all this other tat?” There are so many Devilman manga out there scattered across over 50 years. What’s canon? What isn’t canon but still worth reading?
Well, I just spend a month reading nothing but Devilman content, so let me help you out there!
Devilman (by Hiruta Mitsuru)
Starting off on a hilarious note, we got Devilman. A manga based on the anime that was based on the manga. This is Street Fighter: The Movie for Saturn and Playstation all over again.
The first Devilman anime was more of a superhero story with a Devilman theme on it. It told its own, original story that shared some commonalities with the source material, but was mostly incomparable. Hiruta’s manga is an adaptation of that anime. It takes some of the more memorable villain-of-the-week stories and brings them to manga, albeit with some details cut for time. A few chapters are also completely new, starring never-before-seen characters.
It’s alright if you don’t want to watch the whole 39-episode anime, but there isn’t much of an overarching narrative and the art is thoroughly mediocre.
A small selection of bonus chapters written and illustrated by Go Nagai himself. These were added to some releases of the Devilman manga, even though they have a different artstyle and don’t contribute much to the story. Each chapter sees Akira and Ryo venture to a different historical time period, where demons are trying to interfere with human history.
These stories are varied and flesh out the protagonists some more, but they also feel inconsequential. One story sees the duo arrive in France, where the liberate Joan of Arc from demons who would persecute her in a sham trial. A heroic effort indeed, were it not for the fact that Joan still gets captured and persecuted by England right after anyhow. It’s weird, but certainly not unenjoyable.
Basically an anthology release of mini-stories contributed by a number of different mangaka. Some of these take the opportunity to further flesh out side-characters, whereas others tell isolated stories. The quality of these wavers from chapter to chapter. Some are interesting expansions on the Devilman lore that are now considered canon. Others are shallow rehashes of stories from the original.
I didn’t enjoy Neo Devilman much on the whole. Even the better stories feel like they water down the impact of the source material.
Demon Knight / Akuma Kishi
An alternate origin story for the world of Devilman. In a time far before humanity, a mystical land is beset upon by demons. The greatest champions of this mighty empire are tasked with subjugating the invaders, but soon realize that this mission may be doomed from the outset.
Demon Knight is a fascinating take on the lore that provides novel backstories for all the familiar characters. The art is absolutely splendid. Especially when compared to the more aged look of the actual Devilman manga. While it’s unclear just how canon this story is, it’s very much worth reading if you enjoyed the original and want to see what else Go Nagai had in mind for it.
A silly parody manga by Go Nagai. Akira is inexplicably classmates with Sirene, who is here reimagined as a cute but absurdly lewd school girl. She is also still very much a bird person. Sirene-chan has a weird, naughty sense of humor in line with other Nagai parodies such as Dororon Enbi-chan or Heisei Harenchi Gakuen. It won’t appeal to everyone, but that’s fine for such a short spin-off.
Sirene the Birth
A short 1-chapter origin story for Sirene, published in Go-Chan Magazine in 2007. While not essential, it reveals who Sirene was before transforming and what happened with her. In doing so it provides an interesting (and elaborate) backstory to one of the franchise’s most beloved villains.
Devilman Gaiden: Ningen Senki
A newly-released manga that has yet to be translated. Go Nagai is credited as the author, but art is supposedly provided by Fujihiko Hosono. More info will be added when I get my hands on it.
Amon: The Darkside of Devilman
Amon is a reimagining of the Devilman story that came out around the turn of the millennium. This version of the story is even more violent than the original. It taps into that late-90s edge that was also prevalent in OVA releases of the time. Fittingly, Amon was adapted into an OVA of its own.
While the story arts out very derivative, it eventually branches out into all-new territory. A post-war future where earth is once again the domain of demons. It feels more like a dark fantasy story, with some admittedly stellar art to back that up. Artist Yuu Kinutani also worked on Violence Jack 20xx, incidentally.
Unfortunately, the story never quite grabbed me. It plainly recycles too much from the source material and I don’t particularly care for the grimdark changes done to the characters. If that’s right up your alley, then it may still be worth checking out. As for the OVA, it only covers part of the first volume. Basically not extending beyond what was already covered in the original Devilman manga. It has its qualities, but won’t offer much new and feels unfinished.
Technically a tie-in to Darkside of Devilman, but it can be perfectly enjoyed on its own. Strange Days doesn’t even really touch on the portions of its parent story that are actually new.
Strange Days is set during the story of Devilman and follows the members of a band. The band members are themselves Devilmen protecting the locals from actual demons. But as humanity learns that demons exist, that distinction is quickly lost on the very people the band had previously protected. Now that they are themselves the target of anti-demon squads, the band becomes torn between staying loyal to mankind or siding with the demons anyway.
I do like Strange Days, but it is very weird that its protagonists are basically copies of Ryo and Akira. Especially later on when they actually meet the original’s protagonists and fights besides them. A turn that feels incredibly fanfiction-adjacent. I wish it was more original in that regard, but I do like the premise of reimagining Devilman with a rock band twist.
Author Rui Takatou took all the best bits of every incarnation of Devilman and reassembled it into a thrilling shounen action series with a mostly-original story. The basic premise of Akira fusing with the demon Amon to protect mankind is there, but everything else is very different. Instead of Ryo, Akira teams up with Miki to fight the demons, just to name an example.
All these changes provide a fresh experience to long-time fans, while at the same time featuring references and homages to the series’ history all over. It is the ultimate way to celebrate such a long-standing franchise. Its story is gripping and the characters—reimagined and new faces alike—were very interesting. All backed up by a cool new artstyle which takes the franchise’s penchant for sex and violence to new levels.
You do get more out of Devilman Grimoire the more invested in the series you already are. If you go into it having only seen Crybaby or the OVA series, or having only read the original manga, that’s still fine. You’ll only miss out on a bunch of hype moments and cute references that only make sense if you read everything.
Devilman vs Hades
Set after the events of the original manga, Devilman vs Hades takes Akira into the afterlife. The Greek variety, to be exact. Desperate to be reunited with Miki in death, Akira demands that the powers that be revive her. If they refuse, he’ll have to get coercive.
While an interesting premise, I found Devilman vs Hades hard to get into. The pacing is weird, with all the forces of hell being overcome mostly off-screen in a matter of seconds. Akira then starts working his way through revived versions of his famous rivals, with fights that don’t quite live up to the gravitas of their original encounters. During all this, it’s consistently unclear where we are and what the state of humanity even is. And where the hell is Satan anyway?
This manga is also an arduous cross-over story with the Mazinger franchise. Kind of like Devilman vs Mazinger, but working with the manga canon as opposed to their anime counterparts. Having not read Mazinger, I got terribly little out of this. Though the art is admittedly cool and there are moments that shine in isolation.
A futuristic reimagining of the Devilman story, kinda like Shin Cutey Honey. Full review is pending.
It’s Devilman… but with a girl!
I kid of course. That’s grossly underselling Devil Lady. It’s a spin-off manga that written and illustrated by Nagai himself, which began in 1997 and ran for a solid 3 years. Midway through its run an anime adaptation began as well, which we reviewed just earlier this week.
The story follows Jun Fudo, a woman who is forcibly transformed into a devilman by a mysterious organization. She becomes their attack dog, fighting demons on the organization’s behalf wherever they pop up. All while her personal life and relations are strictly regulated. The anime and manga do differ quite a lot. In the anime Jun is a fashion model who is kidnapped, whereas in the manga she is a teacher whose students are slaughtered by demons. Both versions retain the unfair treatment of Jun however, as well as the numerous yuri influences.
Devil Lady is an intense story which benefits from not trying to replace Devilman itself. The two coexist as different tales within the same canon. I will say, however, that it’s a shame how Devil Lady loses its chance at being a more serious, female-oriented story. The manga is rape-tastic to say the least and leans heavily on Jun’s sex appeal, even when she’s transformed. Meanwhile the anime is written by Chiaki Konaka, so that’s a surefire pass as well.
Toushin Devilman / Saint Fighter Devilman
Oh this one’s really fun. Toushin Devilman is written and illustrated by Yoshihiro Iwamoto, who previously did a bunch of Megaman manga, as well as the manga version of Mushrambo. His version of Devilman is another unique take on the universe. This time starring all-new characters.
This story revolves around a good-hearted dude named Kei. When the evil Zennon declares his intent to wipe out humanity, Kei meets a wounded Amon and tries to help him. As thanks, Amon fuses with Kei; turning him into a Devilman. With this newfound power, Kei resolves to protect humanity.
Toushin Devilman has a charming 90s shounen aesthetic. The characters are stylishly overdesigned and the action, while still gore-y, is a lot less intense. The story is also nowhere near as dark, which makes this a unique entry in the series. I thought that was very refreshing.