I am by no means a horror expert, and even less so a j-horror expert, but I think things like Devilman better exemplify the kind of horror that Lovecraft worked in. So much western “cosmic horror” concentrates on the “cosmic” aspect and just insert a bunch of squamous tentacled horrors and call it “Lovecraftian”. But the horror aspect of Lovecraft was always about a terrible truth about the world that will destroy humanity and humanity being powerless to stop it; indeed, the greatest mercy in Lovecraft is ignorance and, barring that, being destroyed first so that you’re spared a majority of the horror.
(I apologise in advance for my forthcoming abuse of “scare quotes”.)
I don’t think the fact that this was the kind of horror Lovecraft wrote and the fact that he was a deeply bigoted, fearful man are unrelated. The essence of the reactionary world view is that the “dark”, “savage” corners of the Earth are not only scary but existentially dangerous. That the role of civilization is not too elevate people in general but, rather, to make the world safe for the"civilized". Civilizing the savage is a nice side effect if possible, but only if they’re properly grateful.
This is why reactionary power fantasy hinges so completely on “seeing the world as it is” and amassing limitless power and security in the face of that truth. See Death Wish, The Punisher and badge/troop fucking in general.
It’s why the reactionary isn’t horrified by a cops shooting people who are not threats: it’s a dangerous world, he reached for his waist, they ignored instructions the kill was justified less civilization succumb to savagery.
Money (or Bitcoin), walls, guns, “facts” about “biology”, security; they all serve to soothe the existential fear of the reactionary and any call to give those up in the spirit of social justice are immediately suspect. Indeed, progressivism is “obviously” suicidal because it vilifies the generational fight for survival and invites “savagery” in.
The flip side of that power fantasy is reactionary horror: that no matter how clear eyed you are to the “facts”, no matter how much power you accumulate, it won’t be enough. That you will still fail, you will still be consumed by the terrible truths of the universe.
That is the horror of Devilman. The culmination of which isn’t the destruction of the Earth (which the last episode concerns itself with and is largely just numbing Devilman fan service) but the violation of the sacred virgin Miki by actual spear shaking, hooting savages despite Akira’s great power and conviction.
That it why I think it’s so simultaneously thrilling and troubling. It starts by showing the impending doom germinating in the dark corners of civilization; the young indulging in sex, drugs and general hedonism. Later, it is revealed that Ryo literally coming from the dark heart of the jungle. The danger presented by the demons is infiltration and their way in is through the immorality and dissatisfaction of the civilized. There is no subtext. That is the politics of Devilman.
That Devilman fails and humanity is destroyed isn’t a subversion of the reactionary worldview, it’s just genre flavor.
The show is gorgeous and thrilling and transgressive in a way but I’m surprised I haven’t seen more ambivalence. Am I way off in the weeds in this?