The Devil Lady
Don't be fooled, this isn't just Devilman with a sex change. Although I can't deny my curiosity for such a concept, this series deserves to be treated as a separately from Go Nagai's most celebrated work. The most obvious difference is the shift from a male to a female lead. Taking the place of the teenage Akira Fudo is the slightly older Jun Fudo (no relation as far I'm aware), a fashion model who lives alone in her Tokyo flat. She is soon confronted by a blonde-haired woman who tells Jun of her fate, that she has demon blood flowing through her veins. Distraught by Ran's claims she nevertheless follows her to a warehouse, only to find it empty except for a man tied up with chains. Unbeknownst to Jun, this man also has the demon gene. Watching in terror as the man transforms in to a wolf-beast, she has no option but to defend herself. An eerie glow in Jun's eye sparks a transformation in to the Devil Lady, and the two are soon fighting.
This is Jun's rude awakening to her 'other half'. While the human half wouldn't say boo to a ghost, her demon half would rip it's arms off, eat them and drink it's blood to wash it all down. This is the first real difference between Devilman and The Devil Lady. As with Jun, Akira was a shy, modest young man before he melded with the demon Amon, after which he became a brash, hardy individual with greatly increased physical powers, even in human form. Jun is blessed with Image 1 of 3. Click to enlarge
Image 1 of 3. Click to enlarge
Jun isn't the only character to have changed. Ran Asuka, the female alter-ego of Devilman's Ryo is no longer a lone wolf fighting the demon hordes, she belongs to much larger organisation who are fully aware that demons exist, and have recruited Jun in an effort to combat them. She still performs the same basic functions, but to what extent their similarities continue is yet to be seen.
A third major character, Kazumi Takiura is a high-school friend of Jun and aspiring model herself. This is a similar role to that of Miki in the original OVA, a character that the Devil Lady must protect. Strangely, she also plays the love interest, as did Miki to Akira. The first hint of a lesbian affair comes when a demon threatens to attack her 'lover'. At first bemused, Jun soon realises who the demon was talking about. This is hammered home in a later episode, when Kazumi moves in to the flat with Jun. Not wishing to sleep on the floor, Kazumi suggests they should get a double bed as two singles would not fit in such a tiny room. It is unclear if her advances are genuine, or if Jun is simply reading Image 2 of 3. Click to enlarge
Image 2 of 3. Click to enlarge
As a huge fan of the Devilman OVAs and Go Nagai's work in general I was a little disappointed by the action scenes. They were not terrible by any means, and they certainly retained the kind of high-energy attitude of their male counterparts, but they lacked the length, variety and excitement. Most fights are over in a few punches, and none of them really lingered in my memory as they did with Devil Man.
The Devil Lady is clearly a different beast (excuse the pun) to both the Devilman OVAs and the Devilman Lady manga from which this series is derived. Since I last reviewed this series on import I've been lucky enough to get my hands on a few volumes of the original Japanese language manga. It is typical Go Nagai, with demons, rape and all. In this version Jun is a head-strong school teacher who can look after herself, there is no Kazumi character and almost every fight starts or ends with demon rape. The absence of any such sexual violence from the animated series will be a great relief to many, but the decision to change the character designs so drastically is odd, especially considering the fanatical nature of Go Nagai's fanbase.
The plot is not dissimilar to the manga, but many details, characters and situations have been altered, Image 3 of 3. Click to enlarge
Image 3 of 3. Click to enlarge
More of a concern to fans will be the change of art style. Long gone are Go Nagai's pointed noses, flowing hair and groovy sideburns. In their place comes a more contemporary and probably more commercially viable art style. That's not to say that this new style is unattractive, far from it, but it is a shame to loose such a unique facet of his work.
Still, this new, arguably more realistic style does fit in with the atmosphere. A high percentage of scenes take place at night, down the grubby back alleys, deserted office buildings and grimy sewers. Complementing the setting are the characters, none of which play the comic relief. At times the series is in danger of becoming depressing, but mostly stays the right side of atmospheric. This due in part to the great music, which is used to great effect with it's slow, throbbing beats that reminded me of Angel Cop's better moments.
Despite my criticisms I found myself enjoying The Devil Lady. As a Go Nagai fan the series is a great disappointment because it really isn't his work despite the title claiming otherwise (the full title is Go Nagai's The Devil Lady). Overlook this and you'll find a decent horror story with some good action. A must for Devilman collectors, if only because this will be your first chance to see a Devilman story from start to finish in English.
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