The Devil Lady
Fudo Jun is a beautiful supermodel that is idolized by many. She also has a dark secret that not even she knows about at first, for within her veins run the genes that hold the next step in the evolution of mankind: the same blood as the beastlike super humans that terrorize the city. Unlike the rest of them, though, Jun has managed to hold a tenuous grip onto her humanity, and she is recruited by the mysterious Asuka Ran, member of a secret organization within the government, aimed at controlling, if not eliminating, these berserk destroyers of mankind. Jun, as the Devil Lady, must now exterminate her own kind, but how much longer can she keep her sanity in a situation she never chose in the first place?
I belong thoroughly in the non-Go Nagai fan category. His original series tend to be far too dark and violent for my tastes, and while The Devil Lady would normally fall into those criteria, I actually found myself enjoying this series, where I hadn't enjoyed previous installments of his work, even though I'd been a bit dubious at first impression with the original title. Devilman Lady? Sounds like a bit of contradictory English to me, right up there with Cutey Honey. (Then again, I like that show too.)
Don't let the silly original name fool you, as The Devil Lady is every bit as serious as many works of this genre can be, and it's got about enough action to satisfy fans of Go Nagai's other works. From the simply awe-inspiringly gothic intro sequence (the opening music's a nice touch) to the buckets of gore and the over-the-top monsters-of-the-day, Devil Lady is intense, and furious when it counts, but unlike others (say, Abashiri Family), it takes the time to be introspective and self-searching, and the characters and plot don't fall so far beneath the weight of the action that they're forgotten.
I liked the fact that Jun actually questions her own existence as Devilman Lady, rather than merely accepting it and bathing in gore like so many other action superheroes (though I'm using that term loosely in this case). She manages to even attempt to continue her normal life, when she isn't in the least bit normal. The fact that the monsters-of-the-day often just happen to be personally involved with her in some way is also a nice touch - you wonder what ties them all together, rather than just being some externally random thing like the daily villains in other action series.
That's not to say that Devil Lady doesn't occasionally wallow in cheese. The thoroughly unbelievable "Suddenly I'm GODZILLA SIZE!" battles in several episodes just made me cringe. Also, there's the "monster-as-physical-manifestation-of-sin" angle that gets a bit extreme. (Of course, the monster designs themselves are extreme, too, but that's the genre for you.) Fortunately, the well-written material just doesn't let this get so out of hand that you're compelled to throw food at the screen, and though the animation style isn't exactly top of the line for the '90s, it's not archaic, either, and it suffices. Go Nagai's never been about gloss, anyway.
Oh, and kudos to the character designers for -not- making Fudo Jun look like a man. (This is actually a very serious beef I have with most Go Nagai series.)
Though not the best that anime can offer (frankly, very little in this genre stands in this reviewer's opinion), Devil Lady is a solidly entertaining and surprisingly smart action series that sacrifices the "I'm-all-powerful-watch-me-kick-ass!" cliche of Nagai's other works for serious suspense and characterization. Anime fans wanting more action and gore than anything else will probably be disappointed, as though Devil Lady has slicker moves, better fight sequences, and generally looks a lot better than her male brethren, the time actually spent on action is a lot shorter. But for the action enthusiast who wants more meat in the plot than dashed across the screen, Devil Lady is the show for you.
The main premise is a bit too corny to let this be classic material, but it's a good anime series nonetheless. Add one star if you can forgive the occasional silliness of the premise and concentrate on the human drama behind the series. — Carlos Ross
Recommended Audience: Yet another show I'd be less than enthusiastic about recommending to younger audiences. (Bwah.) Gory, violent, and intense, Devil Lady has limbs ripped off and blood (or ichor) sprayed throughout the various fight scenes. A fair bit of nudity, too, though nothing explicit. Not for the squeamish or pacifist, though not as bad as other Go Nagai series. Besides, there are too many talky/thinky bits for anyone younger than high school age to really sit through it anyway.
Version(s) Viewed: digital source
Review Status: Partial (10/26)
The Devil Lady © 1998 Go Nagai / Dynamic Planning • MBS • UNIVERSAL MUSIC • TMS
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