The story of Shin Devilman is supposed to take place between the second and third volume of the original Devilman series. Here we have Akria and Ryo who mysteriously manage to travel in time. Where they discover the have been sent back to dispatch demons that are invading history to end humanity. They visit several time periods including pre-World War Vienna, ancient Greece, France during the Hundred Years' War, Rococo period France, and wild west America. The end of this series also includes a new epilogue for the Devilman series.
When you're creating a sequel to a previous work that has "New" or "Shin" in the title, you're normally setting a high bar for yourself. Shin Megami Tensei spawned a fantastic franchise that completely eclipsed its first few Megami Tensei games. New Super Mario Bros rejuvenated Mario's side-scrolling series and sold 30 million copies, and spawned a ton of sequels. There's probably some more examples but I don't feel like recalling them.
But then there's Shin Devilman. The title may suggest something like a reboot, or a re-imagining, or a sequel. But instead of vastly expanding the Devilman universe, Shin Devilman goes for a more scaled-back
approach. It confines itself to taking place in between volumes 2 & 3 of the original series.
The basic premise is that Akira and Ryo keep jumping around to various periods in time to defeat some demons trying to alter history. Although there's still blood and dismemberment, the whole thing feels a bit more lighthearted then the original Devilman manga. There's even a little bit of homoeroticism squeezed in, which is always a nice touch. Each chapter has its own little exposition, climax, and conclusion, and it all happens in a span of 36 pages for each one.
If you weren't satisfied with how the Devilman manga ended, then Shin Devilman's got you covered. The last chapter features an alternate take on the ending, for what that's worth.
So overall, Shin Devilman isn't groundbreaking in any way, shape, or form, but it's a short spinoff that plays it very safe. The whole thing's only 5 chapters, so in the time it took you to read this review, you could have finished a chapter. If you're hungering for more Devilman, you could do much worse then this.
To my surprise, Hitler showed up at one point! I guess I'll have to add that to my List of Anime Hitlers, right below Persona 2.
The original Devilman manga is certainly a tough to follow, it's one of the strongest works of Go Nagai from the 70s. With the high exceptions that one might have concerning new matriel, shin Devilman manages to be both underwhelming in comparisan to it's progenitor and what it set out to deliver.
As far the premise goes, it's no different from any other educational episode of a children's cartoon, except with the requisite violence and nudity that one would expect from a Go nagai manga. All of the tropes of this kind of set up are accounted for, be it the forced interactions with historical figures
or the detours just to see key events in history. There in lies the problem, it dosen't feel like a Devilman story, the only element that feels remotely adult about it is the gore, and even then it lacks any of the impact and horror that the original manga used to such great effect.
Beyond that the story is lazy told, with Ryo's latent powers seeming to be excuse to advance the narrative without having to think of a logical reason to string events together. The story itself moves on too brisk of a pace to give any depth to the narrative. There needed to be more breathing room to flesh out these conflicts, as it is we are just given a introductory paragraph then thrown into a setting with barely developed characters before being thrown into the next the period. Interesting concepts that could have lead to compelling character interactions are instead left coming as shallow before being thrown by the wayside just to keep up the breakneck pace.
The conclussion is equally underwhelming, there is no build up or rise tension throughout the story rather Ryo and Akira do the basically the same thing they did four other times until it just ends anticlimactically without gratification.
Art wise it's about where you would expect to be for a Go Nagai of this era. Character designs are simplistic and often have exaggerated features, while it might come across as dated when it comparison to modern works for it's time it's certainly serviceable. The biggest improvement over the original Devilman manga is the backgrounds, more often than not they were barely ever present so it's good to see Go Nagai went through the effort of putting them in as it helps heighen mood the various settings.
Shin Devilman is everything I didn't want it to be, instead contributing anything to the mythos or bridging any major gaps in it's parent story we have a painfully forgettable romp that only laundering around for five chapters before puttering out. Bottomline I'd say this is a avoidable entry in the Devilman frachise.