Normally, I’m not one for intense, sexual, gore-fest series – either for animated or live-action shows. I had heard about the graphic content before I started watching this one, but after seeing it pop up on my social media feed, I was curious. For a new show, it had an old-school look mixed with a modern style that I found interesting.
I wasn’t glued to the show because I had gone numb to all the death and sex (well, part of that was true), but there was something else I still can’t fully put to words, even after completing it. While I find myself wanting to forget, while still remembering it, the story of “Devilman Crybaby” is compelling, in that it brings to life humanity’s overall frailty and mixes it with our own, personal devils.
The story surrounds a variety of characters. The two main ones are Akira Fudo, a teenage crybaby who lives with Miki Makimura and her family; and Ryo Asuka, Akira’s friend and genius who discovers the existence of devils after his professor dies.
Ryo takes Akira to a nightclub and starts spilling blood, which attracts devils of all kinds, including the one Akira is empowered by: His pure heart and intentions keep him from being completely possessed and instead allow him to wield the devil’s power. The two then set off to rid the world of devils, but Ryo’s intentions go astray the deeper they get into their exploits, which leads Akira to question their alliance.
As noted, there is sex in all forms; violence, from victims being shot to bodies being ripped apart; and intensity, from defeating a bad guy to apocalyptic settings and moods where people jump off buildings at gunpoint. The transition from normal, everyday life to this onslaught is quick, tragic, and somewhere between inhumane and Darwinian survival of the fittest. Even from the beginning, most of the episodes cover a darker side of reality filled with drugs, rape, and misconduct of all natures.
Yet, in small moments there is some joy, some light, and some hope, such as two people becoming friends, strangers helping others after realizing their mistakes, Akira’s interactions with Miki and her family, and even in the last episode where Ryo and Akira share a conversation. The series encompasses a world writhing in the darkness, but still maintaining hope and light until the end.
One important thing to note is that the series is an adaptation of the “Devilman” manga series produced in the 1970s, and there are significant differences between the two, modernization being the biggest change. The manga is – strangely enough – less intense than the anime. Usually, it’s the opposite. It also makes me wonder if the story between the two is different because the names, scenes, and even characters have changed.
Also, there was an early 1970s anime adaptation that went completely against the script of the manga story, so there’s also a chance that Crybaby’s creators attempted to better embrace the original story that’s considered to be a classic.
Still, what’s the point of watching Devilman Crybaby when it’s definitely R-rated and contradicts the original story?
The manga version came in the middle of the Cold War where each and everyone could be considered an enemy, from countries to family members, even. I believe this new show tries to encompass this concept and the idea that everyone has uncontrollable devils that can only be tamed with the help of other individuals. In the show, one city was destroyed by one person’s motives, but another helped people see their wrongs and pointed them away from continued self-destruction.
With the development of modernization like phones and live television, the viewer is hit with the horrifying aspect of just how fast humans can turn on each other, and yet also see how they can rebuild faith and hope in one another. Mortality is extremely prevalent, from the loss of a few to that of millions, close or unknown.
There are many facets to this story that I can’t describe without ruining the plot, but that I find eerily relatable and understandable.
For these reasons, this show gets all the stars [5/5] from me. It warns us of our own, primordial devils that can easily take control over us when we are threatened by the unknown, yet also shows the strength of hope and love that can conquer them.
While the content is not for the faint-of-heart or people with traumatic experiences, there is a devilish charm to this story that is both terrifying, yet welcome.