Fudo Jun is a school teacher having dreams of uncontrollable urges of violence. She takes the school tennis team on a trip where they are attacked by demons. To try and save the girls and herself she ends up unleashing Devilman Lady.
Before starting this series, it's necessary to have read Mao Dante and the original 1972 Devilman manga as several events in Devilman Lady ties in with the stories of the mentioned manga. That being said, Devilman Lady is very well written but has very grotesque sexual content and this series is not for the easily disturbed. If you choose to stick around with it, certain rewards are appearances of Devilman, Demon Lord Dante and several other characters while offering a dark yet ambiguous insight on morality.
The story begins with our leading lady, Jun Fudo, having a nightmare of her former career as a Olympian
swimmer. We learn that she developed murderous tendencies due to losing in the Olympics so to avoid these vile thoughts Jun then becomes a teacher. It is during a field trip where her origin as Devilman Lady commences as her students are being eaten and violated by Devil Beasts. Jun herself is a victim of sexual abuse who then becomes a demon to save her students. Appearing at the scene is the organization known as The Human Alliance who have been hunting down Devil Beasts in secret. A member of this organization becomes Jun's friend being named Ran Asuka. After some exposition, Jun begins her journey as Devilman Lady and seeks to provide safety for humanity by killing Devil Beasts.
Most of the series is very episodic but manages to be filled with great characterization as Jun is constantly questioning her violent actions as she is potentially evil as the beasts she hunts. Most short stories have a sense of tragedy as in this current world any human suffering grief or seeking vices has the potential of becoming a Devil Beast which often leads with a sad back story as to why they let their souls be consumed by evil. This conflict tends to affect Jun's idea of heroism as she tries to save their souls but often ends in failure, thus questioning the separation between good and evil. This is further expanded in later chapters as more Devil Beasts are being formed along with the appearance of Devil Men (beasts who fight for justice).
This is where the series picks up on the previous message in the Devilman manga which explained the evils of men and the need for anti-war. In Devilman Lady, the message follows a similar meaning but a very different presentation. As an example, Devilman Lady is losing sight of her humanity and believes herself to no longer be human. When she sees Devil Men executing Devil Beasts she thinks to herself "Are we killing our own kind?" This type of mentality is what makes the series interesting as a better phrase to sum up the story is "Who Watches The Watchmen?" Most of the "heroes" we encounter gradually become corrupt or eventually lose sight of their initial goal of protecting humanity. A greater emphasis of this story theme are its final chapters where the series takes a "Devilman route" which Armageddon is on the rise, especially with the prophecy of the revival of Demon Lord Dante.
Aside from the conflict of good vs evil, Devilman Lady also offers a few homages to Go Nagai's previous manga but most specifically Devilman. During the middle of the story, the setting is changed to Hell which offers the appearance of multiple Devilman characters including Devilman himself. These few chapters add an extra layer to Devilman's character as we see him a bit more mature on the subject matter of corruption and offering words of encouragement to Jun Fudo.
Go Nagai's art work in this series feels grand, especially in the scenes depicting Hell. Most of his character designs are more muscular and three-dimensional but still retains his gritty and frightening style he's known for. In my opinion, this manga may be Go Nagai's best in visual appeal and the same can almost be said about the writing. My real disapproval of this series is the ending as it comes off as very out of character and inconclusive. I will not spoil the ending but I'm certain that this finale could have gone in a different direction. Upon further thought there are some unresolved events that don't get a proper resolution.
Regardless of the questionable ending, Devilman Lady certainly captures the same feel as the original Devilman to the point where I would consider Devilman Lady as a sequel. It's definitely worth reading although one must be prepared for several uncomfortable scenes of sexual content as its very close of being a hentai about demons(imagine a more explicit version of Berserk). Devilman Lady dives into the mental struggle of heroes pursing justice and the sins they commit to justify their actions. The series is very episodic but contains plenty of scenarios to fully express its story and does it splendidly.
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.