Aug 14, 2016
This manga is a great extension of the original Devilman and provides some definitive answers that were desperately needed. It follows an all-new cast of protagonists who must deal with the threat of a demonic invasion. The characters include a cult of satanists, an evil tree salesman who turns into a demonic tree and a shark who grows out of a woman's stomach. The tone of this manga nails it for the most part, consistently dark and brooding, while having moments of lighter human comedy.
Go Nagai's art in this manga is a massive improvement. The humans no longer resemble a wacky cartoon, but are
finely drawn, delicate and this makes their transformations into demons have impact. There are segments of this manga that are simply fantastic, such as the whole sequence in Hell that may be one of the best Go Nagai sequences. This manga focuses strongly on the disturbing aspects of the demons, if you're into body horror you'll love this aspect.
There are many one-shot villains who are fairly enjoyable, though don't measure up at all to Jinmen or Sirene due to lack of development. This is one of the sourer points of the story as despite having fun designs the villains tend to get a single chapter, are quickly dispatched and those who get longer than that feel sidelined compared to the returning villains from the first manga. While it is very nice to get some development on those characters, this manga ends up feeling as though it adds little of its own in terms of characters. However, it does fix many of the plot holes and does a great job of expanding the lore.
The fights are still lacking however, if they can be called that. The best Go Nagai gets out of the fights is one character shooting an energy beam or doing a flashy attack that usually wins the fight or fails, happening about 5 times in the whole manga, to give an idea of their simplicity. Mostly conflicts are resolved by a deus ex machina or bashing the two characters together like action figures until one is the winner.
The main character, Jun, is put through the ringer of abuse of all kinds. This is handled both more tactfully and at the same time, very crudely when Jun is constantly raped, as is the second protagonist. However Jun is more developed and three-dimensional than her male predecessor, overall the characterization is a big improvement. There are some interesting characters such as the disturbing swimming rival to Jun, the family at the center of the satanist cult and a dumbass who thinks he's the real Dante. One sequence I feel best describes the middle part of the manga is a paranoid demon hunter who unknowingly becomes a demon and slowly comes to this realization while hunting down protagonist demons who are themselves hunting the evil ones. Segments such as this and Hell are more successful alluding to philosophy than the original Devilman and I'm surprised how underrated this manga is compared to that one.
Lore is a huge part of the appeal in Devilman Lady, as this manga develops practically everything introduced in Devilman. This includes explaining the afterlife and the hierarchy of both the God and Satan sides. This is a crucial chapter in the franchise to explain the overarching conflict that defines this series. This is a must read if you liked the original Devilman, to make sense of the ending and get some closure on the story, especially when it brings back so many old characters. I've read plenty of other Devilman mangas and this one is far and away the best. (Most of the others just seem terrible.)
The big problem in this manga is the ridiculous ending. Like the original Devilman, Lady has a massive series of plot twists that spoil what the plot had set up to that point. In fact, the new protagonists are completely invalidated in a way that defies description. If you think about what this manga adds to the lore, it basically changes one thing, and you wouldn't lose anything from centering the story around Devilman in Hell. Is it a cop out? Is it a subversion? Go Nagai's writing transcends these labels. One thing's for sure, it is not good.
I did enjoy Devilman Lady and the ending was not enough to completely spoil the experience. The tone and atmosphere is well executed, but the pacing is pretty scattershot. The new villains just aren't as memorable as the couple of good ones in the original. It's a shame as with development in the middle part of the manga, dedicating 2+ chapters to these one shot villains instead of always ending it in 1, these could've been elevated from seeming like filler segments. As most of the enjoyment comes its relation to Devilman, it's mandatory to have read that first.
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