“How to Summon Your Own Demon” sounds like something that, these days, could pass for an anime title, no? You have some either occult obsessed boy or girl summon a demon who always “happens” to be of the opposite gender, and then they start living together in either a heavily comedic fashion, a supernatural battle fashion, or if the mc is lucky, a sexy slice of life fashion. Realistically though, you have those setups, but what about a more traditional one? Devils and demons tend only to be a half step away from each other and anime they appear in tends to use one or the other, sometimes both, to paint some form of narrative. But what does a devil anime need, right? Summoning circles aside—which is something you rarely see anyway—the anime usually have some regular setup that allows demons and devils to just walk into our world and do their thing. So today, we thought for those who are new to anime, we would explore another genre of anime in hopes of guiding you in the right direction.
There Are Stereotypes
Oh no! A Cliched anime? Tell me it isn’t so! Anime lives and breathes around countless tropes in order to be able to tell us stories. Sure, a lot of them overlap, and honestly if you switched names and hairstyles, you could probably get a work or two past fans with little to no effort. However, demon anime really has sort of stretched across every genre. Sure, we have the typical demon anime with action and supernatural elements, and there are the fantasy ones was well, but demon anime can also be like we said where someone meets a devil, Satan himself, or devils, and then suddenly it’s like bam, everything is cool and they are helping the demon who is ignorant of the world and its ways as if it’s no big deal.
The strange or rather, unique thing about Japan is that Christianity and all other major world religions have only had a brief stint in Japan due to their own polytheistic religion blended with Buddhism being enforced for so long. Because of this, Japanese people are not losing their minds like a white family from say… Mississippi would be if a demon or the devil appeared in front of them. That is what makes these stories so unique, is that people rarely do lose their minds over this thing. Let’s take a look at a few series that really drive home the concept of a devil character in anime.
Ao no Exorcist (Blue Exorcist)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: Apr. 2011 - Oct 2011
The human world is not the only world out there. Assiah is the name of the human realm and Gehenna is the name of the devil world. A thin barrier separates the two worlds and demons are sometimes able to make it to the human realm. However, Satan is too powerful and always destroys whatever vessel he inhabits. So, he sends his children to be born into the human world to one day be vessels for his reach to extend to the human world. Rin and Yukio are two twin boys who happen to be the sons of satan. Yukio is an exceptional exorcist and works with an organization to regularly purge the human world of demons. His twin Rin, however, is a bit troubled and the truth has been hidden from him until one day when all of that comes to a screeching halt as Rin loses everything other than his brother to demons. Facing the truth that he is the son of Satan, Rin decides to become the best blue flamed exorcist there is and destroy Satan for ruining his happiness.
Ao no Exorcist sounds like something right out of The Exorcist. You have a character who is born and learns that he is the son of Satan and will become a vessel for his father to one day walk on Earth. Demons are everywhere in the series and it is laden with fights and plenty of supernatural action; just what you would expect from a demon anime. The heat is turned up further with the battles including the end of the season where everything reaches a zenith. As one would expect from a stereotype of devils, Rin has horns and the ability to make blue flames appear around him when he is ready to attack. Angels do not play as much of a role as one would expect in a series like this, but bar none, this series is an excellent, profound, and moving demon anime.
Ao no Exorcist Trailer:
- Episodes: 10
- Aired: Jan. 5, 2018
Akira Fudou is a good friend to some and a pain in the neck to others with his propensity to help everyone. This makes him a bit of a bleeding heart. However, naturally curious, he gets sucked in immediately when his genius friend Ryou asks him to help him investigate demons. He gets way in over his head when he realizes that Ryou has brought him to not only a demon summoning ground, but a demon feeding ground at that. Demons generally take over the body of the human they acquire and feed on other humans, but for some reason, Akira’s will is so strong, that he is actually able to take over the demon’s powers and thus, get powers of his own. Now, he is Devilman and he has the power to defeat the demons around him. Akira forgives and now works with Ryou to defeat evil and understand more about himself.
Devilman Crybaby is on this list for a lot of reasons, but it shocked the anime world when it debuted for how compellingly and interestingly a story it told. You are immediately shown scenes that can only be described as depraved beyond all measure as you dive in meaning that you are not only surprised at what you see, but you also are learning more and more with each passing moment. The devils here are summoned in a more traditional, and biblical if you will, fashion by having a scene full of human depravity; sex, drugs, alcohol, carnal nature uninhibited, and more. This leads to the devils being able to hop into the bodies of humans. They then are able to cause havoc. As Akira learns more and more about what these devils are, the revelation will be all that much more shocking to him. Not to mention, too, they all have strange bodies and fantastic powers.
Devilman Crybaby PV:
A Hard Left
Like we mentioned in the intro, you do not necessarily need to have a serious, action-packed anime like Ao no Exorcist or Devilman Crybaby. Sometimes, it’s more fun to kick back, have a laugh, and watch as demons, devils, or even Satan himself, tries to make sense of the world around him. More often than not though, this ends up being something where they make a fool of themselves much to the delight of the viewer. However, this puts us in this weird paradoxical situation where the viewer is to enjoy the growth of this demon or Satan in the human world. Something we would not do in real life, but in anime, it seems alright. Let’s take a look at two staples of this kind of demon anime.
Hataraku Maou-sama! (The Devil is a Part-Timer!)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: Apr. 2013 - Jun. 2013
Satan is making his move on a land in order to conquer it with his numerous allies and armies. However, he was not powerful enough, and with his back up against the wall, he does what any demon would do and flees through a portal to regroup. He and Alsiel, a general, land in the human realm but are stranded! They cannot seem to get back to where they were, and speaking of, they cannot even go back to Hell! They are stuck! So, Satan tries to make the best of it and goes by Sadao Maou. He even gets a job to cover expenses while in this world and to survive. Sadao ends up working at MgRonald’s and suddenly realizes that there is something in this world that can be conquered: the corporate ladder! All he needs to do is make customers happy and satisfied and he will be set! Meeting after resolving their issues, Emi helps spur him along even further. Order up!
So there are a few plot holes we should mention right away, namely being that Satan can speak Japanese no problem despite being from another dimension. He also fails to use his powers to make himself wealthy. In the meantime though, he is Satan in this world as he tries to come to grasps with this strange new world and their customs in Japan. He makes us laugh over and over again as Emi tries to help him while he just densely crashes through everything. Somehow, it does manage to go well most of the time, but Emi sure has lost of explaining to do as well. For a lighter take on demon anime, Hataraku Maou-sama! is a must.
The Devil is a Part-Timer! Trailer
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Jan 2017 - Mar 2017
Gabriel has come to Earth tasked with the mission of studying humans so that she can become a full-fledged angel. This kind of goes her way until one day, she accidentally clicks a game and becomes sucked into it. No longer caring about earth, Gabriel, or Gabe, is lazy, rude, messy, and a shut-in. Heck, she even calls herself a fallen angel. This drives her devil classmate Vignette nuts. She tries her hardest to get Gabriel back on track despite the fact that Vignette is a demon and the natural enemy of angels. Pile that on with Satanichia another demon who is playing with half a deck of cards at best, and Raphiel, a terrifyingly sadistic angel who is not that far off from Gabriel, and you have a surefire recipe for comedy. Gabriel DropOut follows this group of unlikely friends as they live in the human world.
This too takes a very lighthearted approach to the concept of demons and even introduces angels as well. While yes, the series does center around Gabriel, Vignette and Satanichia are both front and center with her leading to hilarious situations every time. Vignette is too straight-laced and a goody two shoes meaning that she struggles incredibly to do bad things as is her mission. Meanwhile, Satanichia has so much misplaced confidence that it’s hilarious watching the other characters set her up while she thinks that she has the upper hand. Watch out for the cockroach blurs and the floating panties though! If you want a good laugh that also looks at how angels and devils could be reincarnated as Japanese girls, then run, don’t walk to this comedy masterpiece from 2017.
Gabriel DropOut PV
These are just some of the suggestions that we have for you if you find yourself new to anime and want to explore where demons can be in anime. If you want to take it seriously, then you have good starting points with two shows, and if you want to see it in a less cookie cutter format, you have two more. Of course, there are a litany of other series like Inuyasha, Devil May Cry, Black Butler, Claymore, Berserk, Blood Lad, Beelzebub, High School DxD, and more. Sometimes though, having a starting point helps. If you have any more that you think would be great here or want to see more, then be sure to let us know in the comments. Till next time!