Go Nagai Invented Everything We Love About Anime

by Tito W. James

With the release and overall positive reception of Devilman Crybaby, Western audiences are being introduced to the works of Go Nagai for the first time. Go Nagai is not only the creator of Devilman, but also pioneered many of the tropes and stylistic choices that affect Anime and Manga to this day.

Here are some of his most influential manga:

Mazinger Z

Go Nagai was the first manga artist to depict a hero piloting a giant robotic suit, thus creating the mecha genre. Super Robots have become a symbol for Anime, Manga, and Japan itself. We wouldn’t have giant robot fights without Go Nagai.

Cutie Honey

Cutie Honey is one of the first magical-girl protagonists to have a transformation sequence where her clothes fly off as she spins around. It’s a bizarre trope that’s stuck around.

Shameless School (Harenchi Gakuen) 

Go Nagai created the ecchi genre by including soft-core erotic elements in his kids-centered manga. Parents and teachers alike lambasted his work and his character. The inclusion of sex and sexuality in media has always been a hot topic. However, if boundaries are not pushed we miss out on potential for artistic expression. So if you’re a fan of “fan-service” you owe it to Go Nagai.

Devilman

This dark and political horror series was a change in tone for Go Nagai, who had previously only done comedy manga. The subject matter was so shocking and violent that it has been censored in the early anime adaptations. The original Devilman Anime lacks the manga’s emotional punch and the dialogue is laughably bad.

This deconstruction of the super-powered character has inspired generations of anime creators from the makers of Neon Genesis Evangelion to Magical Girl Madoka. It is wonderful that Go Nagai’s Devilman has finally been faithfully adapted and I look forward to seeing more of his work on Western shores in the future.

Tito W. James

Tito W. James writes action adventure comics for all ages that juxtapose creepy content with beautiful imagery. He is the mastermind behind CROSSBONE JONES and GANGSTERS VS GATORS. Tito’s goal is to create comics that capture the bombastic fun of old comics with the emotional resonance of new ones. ​