Devilman: Demon Bird Sirène (1990)

An Anime OVA

It has been an insanely long time since I watched the first Devilman OVA based on the classic manga by Go Nagai, and one of my bookmarks in my drafts on here has been this very review for YEARS. I was doing a themed week for Devilman, and had plenty for content without watching this movie. That first film was plagued with either the worst or greatest dub ever put onto a Japanese cartoon depending on how one looks at it – so I was interested to see where this sequel stands in that department. For those that enjoyed the fairly recent Netflix hit, Devilman Crybaby, this OVA is pretty similar in a lot of ways, just older and not directed as well in pretty much any way.

“Demons exist and their power is beyond what humans can fathom. In fact they are so strong that humans do not stand a chance against them in a fight. The only thing strong enough to defeat a demon is another demon and it is trough this logic that Ryo Asuka hatches the plan to have his good-hearted friend Akira Fudo possessed by a demon. If a person is of pure of heart then he might be able to control the demon that posses him and thereby acquire power equal to a demon. After raising some hell in a club the plan works and Akira is possessed by the powerful demon known as Amon. Now Akira is humanities sole champion of justice against the hidden demon menace that has plagued humanity since the dawn of time.”

The first OVA film concentrated on setting up the character of Akira and his relationships with side-characters, so this film has more time to play around and have a string of serious action scenes. At it’s core, the entire points of Devilman are horror and seeing him fight demons, so this film does both in spades. It’s basically three sections from the manga animated as a teaser for those that would buy the books.

Firstly, we have the infamous battle with Jinmen, a grotesque demonic turtle that consumes its victims and adds their faces to a trophy case of a shell on his back. These twisted corpses writhe in pain and cry for salvation not realizing they have already died, including Akira’s own mother. Next up is a demonic attack on the family giving him temporary accommodation due to his house and family being gone. Finally, a battle with Demon Bird Sirène, perhaps one of his most notorious foes and the “main event” of this whole production takes up the majority of the end of the film. Be prepared as Sirène gets pronounced “Shiranu” for some reason in this film, which is weird.

If I had any hope for a better dub, that was immediately squashed the moment Jinmen spoke with the voice of what I can only describe as an “evil old prospector”. It was a bold choice for the actor involved, and I’m not sure he stuck the landing. There wasn’t as many laughably poorly timed music cues or weird pauses in the dialog this time around, so it wasn’t as side-splittingly hilarious, but some of that was still present. I generally enjoy dubs over subs for many reasons I won’t debate on here as it’s an eternal anime debate that has annoyed me for decades now. I will say though, dubs like the ones made from what ever studio this one was produced in are perfect examples of why that argument even happens.

For 1990 this has solid animation and slick fight scenes. The quality is better than what you would have seen in any TV series of the time, and looks marginally better than its predecessor. There is a third OVA that is technically a sequel to these called Amon: The Apocalypse of Devilman that tells a version of the final act of the story, albeit produced some ten years later and pumped full of WAY more violence and gore. I may sit down and watch that at some point, but I wish they would have fleshed the story out here instead.

Speaking of content, it would be negligent for me to not mention this movie is full of blood, gore, and nudity so have the kids sit this one out.

Devilman: Demon Bird Sirène is definitely an anime of it’s time – it’s violent, in your face, and existed solely as a commercial to get people interested in buying manga. It’s one of those shows that I’m sure got published in English due to said content as a way to emphasize the 1990’s marketing for anime as this renegade near X-rated haven for cartoons THAT AINT NO MICKEY MOUSE. It’s in no way bad, and in a way is a pretty good representation of that time period, but it’s also kind of vapid, short of gratuitous. If you are into classic anime, it’s worth a watch, but if you are new to Devilman, I’d recommend the Netflix show instead.

You can watch this film at the link below – WARNING, it is not for kiddos.


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