Netflix’s ever-growing library of anime shows already boasts some titles that are throwbacks to older manga or anime works, and the latest, Akuma Kun, is of a similar kind. Adapted from the 1960 manga of the same name by Shigeru Mizuki, the show tells the story of Akuma Kun, a young prodigy who works as a paranormal investigator together with his half-human partner, Mephisto III. With a visual style that bears resemblance to old-school animation and an overall compelling story, Akuma Kun is an enjoyable show to catch on Netflix this week. It is to be noted that this article is entirely based on the Netflix presentation and not on the earlier works.
Plot Summary: What is the Netflix anime series about?
Akuma Kun begins with a brief introduction to our titular protagonist and his helpful but short-tempered partner, Mephisto. Akuma is a teenage boy with special powers to summon and capture demons, for he himself was raised by a demon. Mephisto, or Mephisto III, to be precise, is a half-human with some magical powers, which are not always very reliable. The youngsters run a detective agency of sorts, named Millenarianism Research Institute, where they take on various cases that involve demonic or any other supernatural occurrences and try to solve them in exchange for money. However, the duo rarely receives any cases and struggles to pay their ever-growing rent dues on time.
Luck turns for Akuma one day when a college student brings him a curious case in which two of her friends died at the same time despite being in two different locations. Akuma realizes that this might be the work of a demon, and he starts to investigate the matter. He does indeed find a demon lurking around the girl and her house, making it clear that she, too, is on the list of targets. As the boy looks into the matter with more scrutiny, he finds out about an unfortunate tale. The student who had approached him was actually a demon in the form of a young girl, for the girl had been mistakenly killed by her parents after a fight. The girl’s mother had then summoned a demon to take the daughter’s place, leading to this whole fiasco.
Following the solving of this case, Akuma and Mephisto III started to receive more such cases, which earned them some much-needed money. Many of these cases involve the dark desires of human beings, while some are not even related to the supernatural. Along with solving these demonic appearances in the human world, Akuma and Mephisto also learn more about their relationships with their respective fathers.
What do the cases reveal about Akuma?
While Akuma Kun features a number of supernatural cases, most unrelated to one another, these investigations are easily the best parts of the show. Along with the interest that it helps build, the cases also provide information about the protagonist, Akuma Kun. A characteristic feature of the young boy is his extremely sharp intelligence and the ability to often dupe his opponents with his wit. For example, in the very first case, Akuma releases a demon named Gremory from the body of the girl student who had given him the case. Akuma and Mephisto III are very well acquainted with Gremory, for the demon often tried to come close to the duo. This was due to the fact that Gremory wanted Akuma’s heart, quite literally, and would always perform helpful acts against the guarantee that the boy would let her rip out his heart.
A few episodes later, Akuma is approached by a famous filmmaker who wants to trace the hidden last work of his director friend, apparently in order to pay tribute to the man. Since there is no other way to find the film, Akuma appoints Gremory to trace it and bring it to him. The demon agrees on the condition that she will take his heart, but then she is ultimately duped by the protagonist at the end. When Gremory reminds Akuma of the agreement they had made, the boy reminds her that they had not really specified when Akuma would give his heart, meaning that he refuses to give it at the present time.
In another case, Akuma’s soft-mannered landlady, Sanae, is shocked to see her husband return after being missing for many years. It is soon revealed that the husband, a writer by profession, had been intending to write a groundbreaking film when his wife was pregnant with their daughter. Unable to achieve this dream, he had then asked for the help of a powerful demon who had agreed to help him write a brilliant film in exchange for claiming the daughter’s life. The man had agreed and had even started writing the film when the realization of the agreement hit him, and he went missing out of his shame. Now, when the husband returns, the demon appears as well, asking for its share of the deal, which is the life of the daughter, Mio. Akuma uses his wit to prove to the demon that the deal could not be completed since Sanae’s husband had not yet finished the film script, and so the demon had technically not fulfilled his promise.
Along with his supreme intelligence, Akuma’s lack of interest in saving lives or his overall disregard for the responsibility that rests on his shoulders because of the powers that he has, is also noteworthy. This aloofness and his efforts to keep all emotions and feelings away do come into play towards the end of the series. This disregard is perhaps seen the most in the case on the Easter Islands, in which a woman had killed her own daughter. The mother had been possessed by a demon, which then made her put fire to her own home, and Mephisto III pleads with Akuma to somehow put out the fire and save the woman. However, Akuma calmly accepts the woman’s death as fate, and he does not really do anything to save her, even though he probably could have.
Who is Strophaia?
The character named Strophaia first appears midway into the Akuma Kun series, when a mysterious red nail starts showing up at a number of crime scenes. The first time this nail is seen, it is placed into the forehead of a doll at a house where the resident had been killed. Although the object is not related to the murder, Akuma is obsessed with the nail as it seemingly reminds him of something from his past. The nail appears in the next murder as well, far away on the Easter Islands, and once more, it is not directly linked with the case either. Instead, the red nail is planted in each of the scenes by a different demon named Strophaia, who emerges in front of Akuma and refers to him as Aeshma. In Akuma Kun, demons of both good and bad intentions exist, as the partners, Mephisto III and also his father, Mephisto II, were both half-demons who used their powers to fight off evil demons that made their way into the human world. By this standard, Strophaia is extremely evil and one of the most powerful and intelligent demons in the entire series.
As can be guessed, Strophaia is linked to Akuma’s past, and in this context, more about the protagonist’s origin is revealed. The name Akuma Kun is actually a title given to a supremely powerful prodigy of good intentions who comes every ten thousand years to fight against evil forces. Before the time of our protagonist Akuma, whose real name is Ichiro, his father, Shingo, had served as the Akuma Kun, and since the arrival of the protagonist, Shingo mostly stays away at a castle known as the Invisible School, which exists in a different world. During his time, Shingo, or Akuma I, fought an evil demon referred to as the Angel and chained him in order to ensure that the villain could not spread any more terror in the future. But many years later, the Angel had managed to get Strophaia, also a very powerful demon, to do its bidding and try to get him freed from the chains holding him. It is possible that Strophaia is a different form, or body, of the Angel himself, since the demon could not himself break the chains but still made all efforts to set him loose.
Back in the past, Shingo had stumbled upon Strophaia trying to convince a young boy to pull out the nail that controlled all the chains holding the Angel in place. The conniving demon told the boy how human suffering could be ended and all desires fulfilled if the nail was removed, and the young boy was about to perform the action as well. However, Shingo reached the place and stopped this travesty in time, for the young boy would have turned evil forever had he pulled the nail out and set the Angel free. Protecting the boy, who was called Aeshma at the time, from the evil influence of Strophaia, Shingo had adopted him and gave him the new identity of Ichiro. The good demon then raised the young boy to be a skilled supernatural detective, and with time, Ichiro became the next Akuma Kun. The reason behind Akuma’s often unbothered attitude, even at the cost of human lives, and his intense thirst for knowledge, even at the expense of great danger, is that he has a suppressed evil side to him as well.
At present, Strophaia emerges in the human world and tries to convince Akuma to spread chaos and evil. He throws interesting and gory cases at the detective to get him interested in his way of thinking. Later on, Strophaia holds Shingo captive at the Invisible School, and the fact that Akuma does not have the best relationship with his adoptive father also helps. The teenager Akuma does not approve of Shingo’s plan to help establish the Millennium Kingdom, which is basically a peaceful world where humans and demons co-exist. The boy does have love and respect for his father, but he does not show immediate encouragement in saving the demon from the evil Strophaia’s captivity.
What happens to Akuma and Shingo at the end?
After remembering all the cherishing memories that he had spent with his adoptive father, Shingo, Akuma decides to finally help the man escape from the evil demon’s grasp. He finds a special gun loaded with Maleficia Holy Water that can be used to defeat demons of lesser power and tries to find a way to fight Strophaia. Akuma once again takes the help of Gremory in this matter, and the demon goes to Satan to find a solution to this problem. Akuma learns from a scroll sent by Satan that the only way to defeat the evil demon would be to turn himself into a demon, and he heads towards the Invisible School. The scroll also mentions how Strophaia can be hurt when he is inside the body of a human being.
At the Invisible School, Akuma shoots down a demon disguised as Shingo, as the real Shingo lies heavily hurt inside the castle. Akuma tries to use the same gun against Strophaia, but it has no effect since the powerful demon can only be defeated with a magical object known as the Flute of Solomon. The demon needs to be tied down in one place first, and Mephisto III steps up to this role, distracting Strophaia, and as a result, he turns into a demon himself. Akuma shoots the demonic Mephisto III, as the partner had intended to happen, before realizing that there is a direct connection between the Flute of Solomon and his own emotions. The Flute of Solomon could only be controlled by the current Akuma Kun, but ever since his childhood, Ichiro has failed to play the instrument, despite being chosen as the current Akuma Kun.
With every close member, like Shingo and Mephisto III, that Akuma loses, the Flute of Solomon keeps shattering into pieces. But now Akuma realizes that he must use his innermost emotions, which the boy had always hidden in life, to play the instrument and defeat Strophaia. As soon as Akuma tries to use the instrument with all his heart, the Flute of Solomon plays a beautiful tune that destroys Strophaia and revives both Mephisto III and Shingo. All the characters leave the Invisible School and return to their home, where a hearty meal is prepared by Akuma and Mephisto III, and Shingo, Mephisto II, and his wife, Etsuko, are invited to the celebration.
Akuma Kun‘s ending presents a last twist, when the demon Gremory suddenly appears and stabs Akuma before ripping his heart out. Gremory had always desired to eat Akuma’s heart, and before the last battle, she had agreed to go seek help from Satan in exchange for Akuma promising to give her his heart, literally. In the end, Gremory returns to only take the heart as payment. However, in the very last scene, Akuma looks up at the demon with a grin on his face, suggesting that his intelligence and wit must have tricked the demon once again.