Go Nagai’s seminal manga concludes in its second English hardcover edition, Devilman: The Classic Collection Vol 2. Having read and reviewed Vol 1, I was curious to see how the original manga handled Devilman’s climactic and controversial ending.
I will say up front that this manga will only be of interest to those who have already watched and enjoyed Devilman Crybaby.
**Also, this review will contain spoilers.
As with the first volume, Devilman’s pacing is all over the place. If you thought that human society collapsed way too fast in the anime, it’s nothing compared to the zero-to-sixty escalation in the manga. The world just ends one morning and is thrown into total chaos. Frustratingly, this sudden apocalypse doesn’t yield any dynamic fight scenes or action set-pieces, but instead gives way to Ryo delivering endless amounts of expository dialogue.
The final battle between Akira and Satan, though properly motivated, is incredibly short and summarized by narration. For a clash of titans and a conclusion to this epic series, it’s unsatisfying.
Miki is still a badass! She’s a character whose fate is supposed to represent the death of hope. However, she goes down like a champ. There’s a fantastic sequence where Miki is uses kitchen knives and molotov cocktails to fight against an invading lynch mob. Akira’s final fight with Satan may have been lackluster, but Miki goes out in style.
The plot and themes of Devilman are still relevant, even nearly half a century after the manga’s original publication. The real hell is living in a world of war and unrest. The true demons are the fear and hatred within human hearts. Even Akira and Ryo’s short time-traveling adventure to the “Battle of Little Bighorn” serves to highlight how human nature is consistent throughout time, while also foreshadowing Miki’s death.
Akira fights a demon spider who never appeared in Devilman Crybaby. This demon is made from living spider-webs and sends spider-minions to mind-control Akira’s classmates.
Akira also teams up a with psychic Tibetan monks to fight demons. Don’t get your hopes up. The monks only show up for one scene and then are never seen again.
When she dies, Miki splits in half and turns into a mermaid. I still don’t know what the hell that is supposed to mean.
The works of Go Nagai hold up well enough over time to be considered classic. Devilman in particular strikes an emotional chord because of the obstacles the characters are facing. We are still living in a world where the flames of hatred and paranoia have been fanned by media, and peace can be shattered in seconds. However, I think readers and aspiring comic creators should take heart. If the adversities of Nagai’s time gave birth to a story as strong as Devilman, then there is hope that this current generation can turn their pain into meaningful art.
Look for Devilman: The Classic Collection at your local comic book shop.