Monday, September 2, 2013

Devilman: A Theodicy


If you think comic books or cartoons are just for children, then please, for God’s sake, don’t let your kid ever watch or read Devilman. Devilman is a work strictly for adults, and for thinking adults. If you are narrow minded, you’re probably going to walk away thinking it’s satanic or some nonsense. So, what exactly is Devilman? Devilman is a manga (basically a Japanese comic book) written by Go Nagai all the way back in 1972. There are also two movies that were produced in the 80’s that animate chunks of the original manga.

Devilman centers on the young Akira Fudo, who becomes aware of the existence of demons. Due to his pure heart, he not only survives a possession, but takes control of the most powerful demon in existence, Amon, and thus becomes Devilman. Devilman fights to protect mankind and the girl he loves, Miki. Sadly, after waging war on the demonic hordes, Miki is actually murdered by fearful humans in retaliation for her relationship with Akira. Seeing his beloved’s head on a pike, Devilman becomes enraged and kills the mob. With no one left to protect, he begins his final battle with Satan, who while dormant, was his childhood friend, Ryo.

After the Earth is destroyed in their battle, Satan stands victorious over a dying Akira. He tells Akira that he loves him. He details the origins of demons, explaining that God created them, but hated what he had made. Satan, then an angel, believed this to be unjust of God and sided with the demons. However, Satan realizes that he was just as wrong as God for trying to destroy humans.

Of course, I just outlined the whole plot, but it serves my next point. There are very few Japanese works that rival Devilman’s drama. Devilman is about the tragedy of life. Not only is this great storytelling, but it’s very interesting from a theodicy point of view. Of course, Christians believe God to be good, and that Satan is evil, but why do we believe that? Have we forgotten Epicurus’ problem of evil, "Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?" Basically, is God a villain or a fool?

Devilman answers in the former, that God is evil. What is forgotten, I think, is that there is another option. That God loves us, and in His love, He has given us free will. Free will is the ability to choose good or evil. Or rather, to obey God or not to obey Him. You see, God knows our tears, but He isn’t deaf to our pleas. If everything was perfect, and we never had a choice, yes there would be no physical pain, but there wouldn’t be any true love in the universe. You have to have choice to have love; it can’t be forced. So, when humanity chose to defy God in Genesis, God made a choice, too (If God doesn’t have free will as well then He’s just a force of nature, not a personal being). God chose to love us, and love us unconditionally. He could and should have left us to wallow in our own filth and misery, but for no other reason than He loves us, He decided to offer redemption through His son, Jesus.

The cross is the perfect answer to the problem of evil. It’s poetry in motion. It’s divine love. So, while I really like Devilman as art, I do believe the philosophical content it brings up is flawed. Still, it’s one hell of a story.  


2 comments:

  1. this is good man ... sounds like a crazy story. but i think you went to good place with it ... we have a choice, and in order for love to be real, we must have this choice. good stuff man. my favorite line "it's one hell of a story." clever.

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