#1 Devilman modernized
Beginning publication in 2012, Devilman Grimoire was released to celebrate the franchise’s 40th anniversary. It was illustrated by Rui Takato, who was given free reign to apply his own style and flourishes to the original story. The results are amazing.
Right out of the gate, Devilman Grimoire impresses with its artstyle. Devilman may have been a classic, but you certainly notice its age nowadays. A lot of the art was basic or looked borderline goofy, made “worse” by the bizarre dialogue that often accompanied it. Mr. Takato isn’t exactly a manga superstar, but he does have a lot of experience and a much smoother artstyle. The result is a manga that will be much more palatable to today’s audiences.
#2 All-new story
Devilman Grimoire is not a retelling of the classic manga, but a new story that draws from the original’s mythos. A new story that isn’t afraid to make some bold alterations.
This new story reintroduces us to Miki Makimura and Akira Fudo. In this tale, Miki is a bit of a dork who claims that she is actually a powerful witch. This is all silly fun, until one day a spell of hers ends up working. Strange creatures appear and proceed to downsize Miki’s group of friends. Just as their lives seem forfeit, Miki performs one more spell. She summons the demon warrior Amon and binds him to Akira, turning Akira into a human-demon hybrid; a Devilman!
It’s a great opening that illustrates Grimoire‘s approach going forward. Major story events still happen. Akira still becomes one with Amon, demons still seek to eradicate mankind, and Akira must face off against the iconic villains. The context and road to these events is entirely different though. I was genuinely caught off guard by this and that was awesome. It felt like getting to experience the world of Devilman for the first time all over again, as I had no clue what to expect anymore.
As the story develops, it becomes incredibly gripping. The stakes are high, the characters fascinating, and it hits all the right emotional strings. Weeks after reading it, it was still occupying my thoughts on a daily basis.
#3 Celebration of the series’ history
For all its changes to the storyline, I feel it’s important to note that Devilman Grimoire does have plenty of fanservice. Not just in the lewd sense either, but also as a celebration of the franchise’s history. Celebration that isn’t limited to just Devilman the 1972 manga either.
Devilman Grimoire is filled to the brim with details that reference damn-near every incarnation of the franchise. The original manga, the 1972 anime and spin-off based on it, the OVAS, Shin Devilman is there, Devil Lady, it’s all included. Every vaguely important character/demon makes a comeback and somehow this all feels entirely natural within the new story.
Not gonna lie, this triggers my inner fanboy so bad. It makes me want to rant for hours about all the amazing little shout-outs. Like they bring back Nike from Shin Devilman! The time-traveling demoness that handed out machine guns to ancient Greek warriors. Or how about the chapter 0 prologue starring Illuge? I am 90% sure this got added in just so Illuge is the first demon we ever get to see, as was the case in the original Devilman. It’s such a silly detail, but fans will appreciate seeing it (and many other details like it) represented all over.
#4 Justice for Miki
Miki Makimura is in many ways the real star of Devilman Grimoire. In most versions of the story, she is a love interest detached from the actual plot. The one person that Akira wants to protect above all else. Even though she (and the rest of humanity) remain oblivious to the existence of demons.
While Devilman Grimoire retains the romantic tensions between the two, Miki is much more central to the plot this time around. Hell, she is the catalyst for the entire story. She summons Amon and convinces him to fight for humanity. Now that she’s not kept in the dark about what’s going on, Miki develops into a proper sidekick. Scratch that, she is actually so involved in the plot that it’s Akira who feels like the helper now.
I love this version of Miki. She is cool and funny and unique, while also capturing the appeals of the original character.
#5 Doubling down on sex and violence
While I was pleased that the original Devilman manga could still be shocking today, it’s undeniable that some of its impact has waned. Today’s audiences are used to nudity in their manga and the occasional brutal death. Thus it’s up to Devilman Grimoire to up the ante once again.
Violence is given even more of a spotlight and depicted with sinister levels of detail. Right from the start you get to appreciate eyes being gouged out and organs spilling all over the floor. When bodies are torn apart you get to see bits of ripped tissue clinging on to no avail. Many deaths are also presented as especially cruel. Like in the picture above where a girl is barely clinging to conscience as she is being eaten alive. There is plenty of that to go around, as well as a few fates worse than death.
Takato Rui’s experience with erotica also takes the fanservice to new levels. Characters look far sexier than their 1970s counterparts and nudity is even more frequent now. Even if that nudity is often horrific rather than tantalizing. This even includes actual sex scenes that go far beyond what most anime and manga would ever dare.
#6 Closure for individual characters
If I had to name a flaw in the original Devilman, it would be that it lacks closure. So many characters and story threads are introduced, only to then vanish without much explanation. Like what in the world happens with puffurle? She is introduced as Amon’s right-hand among the Devilmen, gets a few lines of dialogue, and then never shows up again.
Just like with its references, Devilman Grimoire is careful about addressing these details. Characters don’t just die off-screen or vanish from plot now. Even tiny bit part players get proper resolutions to their stories. You get to find out what happens to Puffurle and Dr. Rainume doesn’t just vanish from the plot anymore. A lot of the time their ultimate fate is horrific, but at least now you know. And probably get to enjoy the spectacle.