Go Nagai is a man in the manga industry that has made a huge impact in my life. Without him, I wouldn’t even want to strive to be a talented individual in the comic book industry, as well as a online writer. For he has shown me that talent, passion, and ambition can lead not only to huge success, but also contribution.
Go Nagai’s work has made a huge impact so much that without him, anime and manga (and some other stuff outside of Japan) would not be what it is right now. Some examples of his work are Demon Lord Dante, Devilman, Cutie Honey, Mazinger Z, Violence Jack, Devil Lady, and Shameless School. Devilman, Cutie Honey, Shameless School, and Mazinger Z have contributed greatly to the culture of Japan.
Shameless School is the first manga to feature erotic (but not pornographic) content (which is a genre that’s now called Ecchi). Mazinger Z is the very first mecha story to have a pilot operate a giant mech from the inside (which would lead to other popular and successful mecha franchises such as Gundam, Neon Genesis Evangelion, and Pacific Rim just to name a few).
Cutie Honey is the first manga in the Magical Girl genre that invented extended transformation sequences (which is the reason why Sailor Moon and Kill La Kill exist and why they are what they are), and It’s also the first shonen manga to have a female protagonist.
Devilman is a superhero horror manga that despite it’s shocking content at the time of it being published (gore, nudity, demons, apocalyptic scenario, and religious themes) it was a huge success that would go on to inspire other manga just like it (examples of this are Kentaro Miura’s Berserk, Kouta Hirano’s Hellsing, Hitoshi Iwaaki’s Parasyte, and Kazushi Hagiwara’s Bastard).
Go Nagai collaborated with another manga creator named Ken Ishikawa to create a mecha series called Getter Robo. Just like Mazinger Z, Getter Robo contributed to the mecha genre as it’s the very first mecha series to have machines combine together to create a giant robot.
I’ll even go as far as to say that Getter Robo inspired Voltron, Power Rangers, and Transformers because of this.
Despite the fact that Go Nagai’s work has made a enormous contribution to Japanese culture, he has received controversy from the PTA (Parent Teacher Association) at the time. Since his work was made during the 1960’s-1970’s the PTA was mad at him for including graphic violence, sexual content, and other mature themes in his manga as during the 1960’s-1970’s, that kind of stuff was never featured in any other manga before. Which is the reason why the PTA was offended to see Go Nagai’s manga feature that material for the first time.
Despite the controversy, Go Nagai never gave up, and he continued to do what he loved despite the PTA’s complaints (he even made a manga called The Abashiri Family as a harsh response to the PTA as that manga featured a lot of inappropriate content in it).
Go Nagai’s other manga Demon Lord Dante is controversial because the story of it is that God is an alien invader that takes over the Earth, and destroys futuristic utopia depictions of Sodom and Gomorrah. It also portrays Satan, Satanists, and demons as being good, while God and his followers are portrayed as being evil.
Now with all the info about Go Nagai that I have said, your all probably wondering why he as inspired me. Go Nagai has inspired me because not only do I love his writing and artwork (I really want to be a good writer like he is in the future), but also his fascinating metaphors that some of his manga has, and that he is ambitious and never afraid to tell stories he wants to tell. Devilman is a metaphor as it’s a anti-war story. It’s an anti-war story because of the idea of demons merging with humans against their will is symbolic to when back then (and even now in some places in the world), some people were drafted into the army (meaning they were forced to be soldiers). And the part of the story were a supporting character dies was to show the end of peace. Go Nagai even explains that Devilman is a work of anti-war when he said “There is no justice in war, any war. Nor is there any justification for humans being killed by one another. Devilman carries a message of warning, as we step toward a bright future.”
Much later in his career, Go Nagai made a manga that lasted all the way from 1997-2000 called Devilman Lady (or as I like to call it by it’s English title; Devil Lady) as that manga features beings called Devilbeasts which are humans that mutant into demonic looking animals. The reason why some people become Devilbeasts is because they want to satisfy their hunger, their desire for power, their lust, and many other things. The first volume of Devil Lady even gives a fascinating theory that because of this, the Devilbeasts are the next stage of human evolution. The reason why I find this fascinating is because I understood it as being a metaphor for what will become of humanity in the future as humans tend to have their own desires that will cause them to change in a bad way, and the Devilbeasts being wild hideous savage monsters that were once normal humans is a metaphor of humanity’s desires ruining itself. While Go Nagai himself has never claimed the Devilbeasts to be a metaphor for humanity’s change (at least to my knowledge), I was able to understand that it was. I’ve also come to theorize that some people turning into Devilbeasts in Devil Lady could also have been influenced by the legend behind the Wendigo in which that monster is the result of some humans having the desire to consume human flesh, or they just become too filled by their own greed and other evil actions.
Go Nagai was inspired by Playboy Magazine, Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, the Venus de Milo statue, and the Lost World by Osamu Tezuka (the creator of Astro Boy).
Despite the popularity of Go Nagai (and his work), none of his manga have been officially translated and sold in English. The only way to read some of his manga in English is to go to scanalation sites that have some of his manga translated into English (which is what I did in order to read some of his manga). However, thanks to a company called Seven Seas Entertainment, that’s about to change for the best.
Go Nagai is to manga and anime, what Stan Lee, Todd Mcfarlane, Warren Ellis, Mark Millar, Walter Simonson, Brian Michael Bendis, Bill Finger, Bob Kane, Joe Simon, Frank Miller, Neal Adams, Alan Moore, Alex Ross, George Perez, Neil Gaiman, Kevin Eastman, Jim Shooter, Michael Turner, Steve Ditko, Jerry Siegel, Jack Kirby, Bob Layton, Dennis O’Neil, John Byrne, Joe Shuster, Marv Wolfman, Will Eisner, Mark Waid, and Howard Chaykin are to American comics because just like Go Nagai, all the other individuals that I just mentioned have made brilliant contributions to the comic book industry that will always be remembered and not forgotten.
I’ll go as far as to say that without Go Nagai, we wouldn’t have famous manga/anime franchises such as Dragon Ball, One Piece, Attack on Titan, Bleach, Naruto, Ghost in the Shell, The Seven Deadly Sins, Trigun, Soul Eater, Akira, Ninja Scroll, and Full Metal Alchemist. Your all probably wondering what is my favorite manga that Go Nagai has made. The answer to that question is none other than the 1972-1973 five volume manga series Devilman.
The reason why Devilman is my all time favorite manga from Go Nagai is because I said so. I’m just kidding. The reason why Devilman is my favorite Go Nagai manga is because I love it’s complex, metaphorical, and ambitious storytelling, it’s outstanding artwork, it’s perfect blend of dark, violent, light hearted, and depressing tones, it’s plot twists, and the amazing impact it made to the manga/anime industry.
To me, Devilman will always be remembered as one of (if not) the best example of literature that I have ever read in my life. And so for all that, Go Nagai (and his manga series Devilman) have truly inspired me to be just as talented, passionate, and ambitious as he is. Go Nagai, I thank you for inspiring me. Your work will never be forgotten. Instead, it will always be remembered by both me, and the whole world.