We’re approaching 50 years since the debut of Go Nagai’s Devilman. Considered by the manga creator himself to be his magnum opus, the series changes quite a bit in every iteration. But there’s one version in particular that’s especially different: the original TV series.
Made alongside the manga, the two versions had some key alterations between them. If you’ve only seen DEVILMAN crybaby, seeing what this older show looked like would likely be a heck of a system shock. Here, out of many, are three ways that 1972 TV series differs from the general canon.
Akira Fudo Is a Whole Other Dude
One of the central aspects of Devilman is that Akira Fudo — gentle-hearted crybaby — can actually tame the demon he is forced to absorb. Or at least, that’s the way it is in almost every iteration. In the original anime, Akira isn’t even remotely human: he’s a full-on demon in deep cover.
Rather than enduring demonic possession at the Sabbath, the original anime’s Akira straight-up dies while on an expedition with his dad. A demon warrior, literally named “Devilman,” inhabits Akira’s body in order to sow chaos throughout the human race. But that “taming” is still present: the non-Akira falls for childhood friend Miki, and slowly becomes more human as the show progresses. By the end, he is a caring, willing defender of humanity.
100% Less Ryo
Other than Akira himself, one of the core characters of Devilman is Ryo Asuka. The old friend of Akira’s is the one who kicks everything off. And while Go Nagai himself might not have had Asuka’s story fully fleshed out from the start, it’s now an essential part of series lore. Except for the original TV series, where there just isn’t a Ryo Asuka at all.
You’ll see Akira’s other friends and foes, or at least some of them. But the entire Ryo story has been expunged, along with the killing of Akira Prime. How does that play out? Well, largely episodic. There’s more focus on Akira and Miki’s relationship, and we meet completely new characters. For example…
Lala. Just Lala.
We’re all familiar with anime-only characters, and what a twist they put on an otherwise familiar character group. Devilman had Lala: a fellow demon considered to be a great beauty, but a complete airhead. Once an enemy of Devilman’s, she got it into her head that he was madly in love with her, but to shy to say so. Once he’s fully settled in as Akira and clearly has a thing for Miki, Lala arrives to wreck things up.
Lala fits the more Saturday Morning Cartoon vibe of the original TV anime. For better or for worse, you’ll never see her anywhere else. For our part, we kind of love her… while admitting she isn’t especially competent.
What other Devilman discrepancies have you see across the series? And, thanks to those, which versions are your favorite?