Year Released: 2015
Running Time: OVA, 3 episodes, 26-38 minutes
Rating/Recommended Audience: TV-14
Related Films/Series: Cyborg 009, Cyborg 009: Monster Wars, Cyborg 009 (1968 TV Series), Cyborg 009 (1979), Cyborg 009: Legend of the Super Vortex, Cyborg 009 (2001), 009 Re: Cyborg, Cyborg 009: Call of Justice, Devilman, Amon: The Apocalypse of Devilman, Devil Lady, Mazinger Z Vs. Devilman, CB Chara Nagai Go World, Violence Jack, Devilman Crybaby
For Fans Of: Shin Getter Robo Vs. New Getter Robo, Zetman, Giant Robo, Tenjho Tenge, Bleach, Alien Vs Predator
-The English dub was used for the review.
-Familiarity with Cyborg 009 and/or Devilman is needed to watch this crossover.
-Director Jun Kawagoe has directed works from both Shotaro Ishinomori and Go Nagai prior to this OVA. He directed the 2001 Cyborg 009 remake as far as Ishinomori works are concerned while he directed 3 different Getter Robo series in the 90s and 00s, Kotetsushin Jeeg, and Mazinkaiser SKL when it comes to Nagai’s creations.
-Go Nagai is considered to be the inventor of the Super Robot genre. He used to draw backgrounds for Ishinomori’s Cyborg 009 manga and wanted to collaborate on a story together, but his mentor/supervisor died.
-Shotaro Ishinomori created the first android superhero with 8 Man which is older than Cyborg 009 and Kikaider. Also, did you know he’s the creator of Super Sentai which is the same series that was adapted worldwide as Power Rangers?
-Speaking of Power Rangers…one of them does the English dub voice of Cyborg 009 himself. It’s none other than Johnny Yong Bosch AKA Adam, the 2nd Black Ranger.
I never expected to do a review like this anytime soon, but it involves something I don’t go out of my way to encounter. That would be crossovers. Yes, the coalescence of different universes together in one universe can be a fan’s dream. I’m not going to lie: I’ve been a fan of games such as Marvel Vs. Capcom or to a lesser extent King of Fighters even though only one of those game series has the characters part of the same universe. After searching for random newer anime series, I decided to check out this crossover between some franchises from renowned anime/manga creators Shotaro Ishinomori and Go Nagai.
Cyborg 009 Vs. Devilman is a crossover that deals with a threat that affects characters of both franchises. After the 00 team and Devilman fight off some enemies in their respective situations, there’s a new threat with demons and some new cyborgs working together as they wreak havoc on the population. Cyborg 009 and Devilman do fight each other initially out of a big misunderstanding, but they have to work together to defend humanity against this new coalition where demonic energy and science are combined to raze Japan.
It’s been a while since I’ve seen anything related to Cyborg 009 (my last experience was the 2001 remake when it was on Cartoon Network) or Devilman, but the first episode does give a glimpse into what both franchises are about. The 00 team from the former are multinational cyborg superheroes with various powers defending earth while Devilman is the transformed form of a Japanese high schooler named Akira Fudo who is able to transform into a hellish anti-hero to combat against demons like some mix between Spawn, Ghost Rider, and The Hulk. It’s good to establish the main protagonists and what they’re personalities are like. The fight scenes were very good even though they get quite bloody especially on Devilman’s side (hey, this IS something involving Go Nagai, you know). Even if you didn’t know about either anime series, the plot is very easy to follow and you’ll get great action sequences.
The characters are standard old-school shonen fair which isn’t surprising given the source material of both properties. Both Joe Shimamura/Cyborg 009 and Akira Fudo/Devilman have a burning sense of justice in them although 009 is a much calmer individual. They’re heroic enough that they’re likable, but don’t expect them to be huge three-dimensional characters. I will admit that it got a bit confusing with the rest of the 00 team giving how big their membership is. The other 00s that get some focus are Jet/002, Francoise/003, and Ivan/001 in terms of having some impact on the story. Yes, Great/007 does have some comedic elements like getting drunk in Roppongi, but he does have a cool power with transforming into different subjects and materials. The other Devilman characters are a bit bland though. There’s Ryo who’s a demon hunter with a rifle that Akira lives with, but I never got that much of a personality read from him. Miki is someone who I thought had potential early on with her slapping some muggers around, but she ends up being the main damsel in distress when she’s captured in the second episode. With all of the updated character designs to reflect modern times (and with Pyunma/008 looking WAY more politically correct compared to his manga origins), you would think they would change up some of Nagai’s sexist habits as a writer, but that wasn’t always the case here. Sigh. The original characters such as the high teen 00s and the demons are typical. Eva/0015 is a cut-and-copy mysterious transfer student who obviously has a connection with the bad guys and I found her character to be cliche and too similar to 003 in terms of them being both blonde cyborg psychics, for example.
The animation is above average which I didn’t mind too much. They obviously used most of the budget on the fight scenes which are impressive though. There’s a mix of gory horror action with some slick sci-fi/superhero showdowns thrown in for good measure that could please fans of Marvel, DC, and even anime fans not too familiar with Ishinomori or Nagai’s portfolio. The biggest hindrance would be the mediocre CGI that was used to make the 00s ship Dolphin. It looked outdated and I’ve seen anime series a decade ago that were on par or better in terms of the CGI department. The 2D animation is quite serviceable even though there are a couple of shortcuts taken here and there, but one would have to look close. Even though this doesn’t affect the show per se, I did think it was interesting with the ending credits sequence using panels from the original manga series of both properties. What I found to be quite funny was that there were a couple of parts where the pages had a red filter while several pages are flipping which totally looked like Marvel Studio’s intro on all their movies.
Because it’s a crossover, don’t expect anything to be canon for either Cyborg 009 or Devilman, but the plot is way more simplistic than it comes across. There are some cliched elements to anime crossovers like having original characters that correspond to both universes, a basic “save the world” plot, and a scene involving a misunderstanding that leads to an epic fight. I predicted several of those elements especially the arc with Eva and her brother Seth/0018. By the way, the other high teen 00s are named Edward, Cain, and Abel. With the exception of Edward/0014, all of them are named after characters in the Judeo-Christian tradition, but they are poorly referenced. Even one of the demons is named Lilith. Say what you will about Evangelion using religious imagery and naming, but at least most of it tied into the characters and stories despite being pretentious about it. A little research goes a long way, people. Another issue I had with the plot was the very beginning with 009’s first fight against Apollon. The fight is impressive, but it barely gets mentioned and there’s a very flimsy connection between that fight and the rest of the OVA. This may make more sense in other Cyborg 009 media, but it’s lost on me.
Cyborg 009 Vs. Devilman will certainly please fans of both franchises, but the casual viewer will have some reservations in watching this three-episode nostalgia trip. The production is competent even though the emphasis is on the fight scenes. The main protagonists are competent, but some of the secondary characters are either underdeveloped or feel more like plot devices to keep the story going. The plot is extremely basic, yet it has a habit of making it look edgier than what it already is. The music is quite good with JAM Project providing both themes that really fit the aesthetics of the anime series. However, I thought this was a shallow crossover than lent itself to being an average watch.
Adjustable Point System:
Add 2-3 points if you’re a Cyborg 009 and/or a Devilman fan
Add 2 points if you really care about fights in anime
Subtract 1 point if you hate gory action sequences
-Great action sequences
-Fun action-packed theme songs
-Decent lead protagonists
-Damsel in Distress syndrome with Miki
-Plot holes and dropped storylines
-Shallow “save the world” plot
Final Score: 5/10 points
Content Warning: If you remember the 2001 Cyborg 009 remake that aired on the original incarnation of Toonami, I’m going to warn you that this is way more violent than that. The fights get very bloody with demons and robots losing limbs, getting stabbed, shot, bitten off, and sliced up in over-the-top fashion. There are some nightmarish sequences with the demons like the first one that Devilman fights that is this giant turtle-esque creature that ate some people off-screen and the faces of his victims are still “alive” and screaming on his shell. Lilith is certainly a villain that won’t be in a kid’s show anytime ever since she’s naked and her breasts contain eyes and mouths instead of nipples whenever her long hair isn’t covering her chest. Definitely for older audiences.
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