Unlike most memorial services, these movie buffs are mourning the fact this movie was created.
It was an exciting time back in 2004. A small group of Harvard students launched their new website Facebook and the Dave Matthews Band was in hot water for dumping 360 kilograms (800 pounds) of human excrement onto 100 people aboard a sightseeing boat in Chicago.
And speaking of huge piles of crap, it was also the year the live-action movie version of the long-running anime and manga franchise Devilman was set to be released. Fans of the series’ pull-no-punches approach to graphic violence and eroticism, as well as the manga’s particularly brutal ending, had high hopes for an equally groundbreaking cinematic experience.
Remember this was in 2004, five years before Dragonball Evolution would bum out the entire world and 11 years before the Attack on Titan films would rival its mediocrity. It was also only a few years after films like Spiderman and X-Men really opened doors for what comic book movies could become.
And so, manga and anime fans were much less jaded back then and still had hope that a live-action version of anything would pan out. At least they did until details of the screenplay and production began to emerge and small ripples of panic began coursing through Devilman fans which grew to full waves of fear once the trailers started coming out.
Devilman‘s potential audience took issue with the wooden acting displayed and was overwhelming disappointed by character Sirene’s more conservative costume…in that she wore a costume at all since she’s pretty much a demon in the form of a completely naked woman in the manga.
The angry comments flooding into the movie’s official website caused the production to slow down and take a look at what it might be doing wrong. Then, after a delay of half a year, it was finally released on 9 October, 2004.
Those months retooling didn’t work though as Devilman tanked in spectacular fashion, critics and viewers alike trashed it saying that it not only let fans of the original down, but people who’d never even heard of Devilman before would be thoroughly bored by its copious amounts of kitsch. It was and still is largely considered one of the worst Japanese movies of all time.
And so, this year on 9 October people gather in spirit to remember this tragedy and hope that it never happens again.
▼ “12th Annual Memorial Service for the Live Action Devilman; For the kids who never knew the live action Devilman”
#実写版デビルマン12周忌 デビルマン実写版を知らない子供達へ https://t.co/xGW9B7qI9S—
中谷GOD (@p6ckw) October 09, 2016
▼ It is now 12AD (After Devilman)
A.D.(After Devilman)12年 #実写版デビルマン12周忌—
(@td2sk) October 10, 2016
▼ “Back when the movie came out, a certain movie magazine ran an article about ‘filmmakers we want to die’ and [Devilman’s director] Hiroyuki Nasu was at the top of the list. At the time it was just a joke, but no one could laugh when he actually did die the following year.”
あらいぐま (@araiguma430) October 09, 2016
▼ “Everyone, let’s mark the 12th year since the release of the live action Devilman. Damn this anniversary. I think I will press ahead and watch it with the commentary from 1 p.m. Okay, you become a demon too…”
というわけで皆さん、本日で実写版デビルマン公開12年を迎えます。このアニバーサリーを呪って、僕も午後13時から実写版デビルマン実況を敢行したく思います。さあ、おまえもデーモンになれ…… #実写版デビルマン12周忌 https://t.co/O4tOEBIWjo—
こいつぁゴールデンだぜ (@aizen_423) October 08, 2016
Of course hoping for industry improvements hasn’t worked as bad live-action films based on manga and anime have been regularly spat out by Japanese studios, but Devilman a special low point. Anytime the stench of a terrible adaptation crosses our noses, you can always count on someone online giving it the dubious honor of “it’s still better than Devilman.”
By the way, although the hashtag calls this the 12-year memorial service, it is actually the 13th since Buddhist tradition counts the year of death as “year-one.” Although memorial services’ frequency can vary from region to region, the next Devilman memorial will likely be held in 2020. Also, in 2036 Devilman will have finally completely ascended to the spirit realm only to visit during the Obon season when Japanese people will make eggplant horses for it.