And so we arrive at the last of the new the Jump Start titles (pretty small batch with only two this time), Devilyman. I have no idea what to think about this one. All I can hope is that it can answer this question positively: Is it good?
Devilyman #1 (Viz Media)
Written and Drawn By: Kentaro Fukuda
Translated By: Kinami Watabe
Our story is about a Devil Salaryman (basically a person who works for a corporation whose income is salary-based) by the name of Madogiwa. He comes from a place called the Devil Kingdom where he basically works for a business that is all about selling contracts. Humans sign contracts to gain certain powers in exchange for half the money they make in any job in their life. Madogiwa has been in the business for forty years and he’s about to get fired unless he can bring in one billion yen. However, his latest client, a seven year old named Aeru Taira, may be the perfect person to net him the cash, especially when he has the perfect power to use for blackmailing people.
Devilyman is perhaps one of the most unique titles I’ve seen to come out of Jump Start by far. Stuff like Straighten Up and Cyborg Roggy have their own unique feel to them as well, but they’re not completely different or wholly original since they are familiar stories with their own fun spins on them (like Straighten Up being a high school sports series but about dancing instead of regular sports). Devilyman has the template of a buddy comedy, but it’s such an odd and unique buddy team up between a devil and a little kid who uses their powers to scam people; it definitely makes the book a standout in Weekly Shonen Jump at the very least.
What kind of corporate devil are you?! Of course you have the kid sign it!
Despite all this — I did not particularly find Devilyman to be all that enjoyable or even funny. It could be that the timing is off, maybe some of the gags didn’t resonate with me, or maybe even some of the jokes feel obvious or could be seen coming a mile away — it just didn’t do much to me. The comedy isn’t aggressively bad though, so it’s not a frustrating or annoying read like Nurse Hitomi’s Monster Infirmary or even Sex Criminals at points. There’s that at least.
As a first chapter though, the manga does succeed. It does a good job of introducing both Madogiwa and Aeru, giving you a good idea of who they are and how different they are in their beliefs and goals. While you get some decent background Madogiwa to start with, you don’t learn much about who Aeru is. That is fine though, since it gives the kid an air of mystery (what his deal is and why he is the way he is, which looks to be addressed in the next chapter). We get some rules about how devils and their business system works, like how people can’t see them unless they are bad (bad people are the best to make evil deals with after all) or how each devil has their own unique power to sell. It’s quite well done in that regard and even if you do not find the humor all that good, I’m sure the story and what has been presented will at least get your attention.
In regards to the Fukuda’s story and artwork, they’re both reasonably good. The pacing and story structure are fine and the dialogue is alright, though unremarkable (I can’t say I found any of the lines or exchanges funny or memorable personally). The characterization is decently handled like I said, with the manga letting you get to know both characters rather well. With the art, the most noticeable and memorable part of it is the way that characters are portrayed. Only Aeru has anything resembling a manga-ish look to him (in the eyes and hair department), while everyone else has a far uglier and odder look to them, especially in their faces. It definitely gives the manga a bit more visually different edge to it in some areas.
Is It Good?
Devilyman #1 is honestly not a manga for me, since I wasn’t personally able to get into its sense of humor or even the characters themselves (they’re defined well enough, but I didn’t care much for them). However, I do see how this would be appealing to the right audience and perhaps the humor would be more to their taste than mine. Plus, the unique feel that the series possesses definitely gives it a potentially memorable edge over a lot of the series currently being put out in Weekly Shonen Jump. Ultimately, all I can say is to give it a read and see how you feel about it.