Devilman Crybaby defies expectations and will leave you weeping.
I went into Netflix’s Devilman Crybaby completely blind. And what seemingly started out as a needlessly edgy anime dreamed up by 13-year-olds, quickly spiraled into a terribly nihilistic look at the horrors of humanity.
Adapted from Go Nagai’s 1972(!) manga, Devilman, the ten-episode series follows Akira Fudo and his battle against demon-kind. After being given demon powers of his own and becoming the titular Devilman, he teams up with his close friend Ryo Asuka to wipe out the beasts plaguing mankind.
Like I said, it sounds like typical anime schlock aimed at edgy teens. And the abundance of gratuitous violence and sexuality right from the onset didn’t help to dispel those initial feelings. Now don’t get me wrong, I can definitely get into that. But what followed was an unexpectedly emotionally draining, and sometimes devastating, thrill-ride that had me gripped throughout its entirety.
Yes, Devilman Crybaby is one of the most unnervingly violent and sexual shows I’ve seen, a trait I assume comes from the freedom of being a Netflix original. But it’s not without purpose. Devilman Crybaby’s disturbing content isn’t just for mere show, instead delving into the humanity’s atrocious potential. The death and gore at display isn’t for pure cool-factor, it’s meant to get under your skin. And it’s with this callous look at the world that humanity is stripped of its morality.
Without going into spoiler territory, the escalating series of events reaches some unexpected heights and consequences. It’s easy to see how the original Devilman went on to influence the likes of Berserk and Neon Genesis Evangelion, both inspirational works themselves. Though it’s pacing may seem off, as the series unfolds into grander scales faster and faster, it only serves to highlight the world and characters’ own spiraling loss of control.
And its presentation depicts all of this brilliantly, with a raw scrappiness to its art-style and frantic flow in its animation. You get the sense that the aesthetic world these characters inhabit is barely held together, especially evident in the disgustingly fluid demon transformations and kills. These visuals are heavily supported by a synthy EDM-laden soundtrack that truly gives the animation its own life. Many moments in the show could have fallen flat if not for its mesmerizing look, one that ensures re-watches will be just as enjoyable.
Devilman Crybaby delivers a heartbreaking message of anti-war, anti-racism, anti-violence, but it does so not by glorifying humanity’s values, but instead showing the brutal conclusion of its primal fears and desires. This isn’t a happy story, and it’s one that left me feeling empty, yet wholly satisfied. Its message is one without hope or resolution, but it’s presented with such style and emotional weight that I’ve already started watching it all over again. Even knowing what anguish awaits me along the way, Devilman Crybaby is well worth revisiting and is sure to stick with me for a long time.