Devilman is a manga series written and illustrated by Go Nagai and ran from June of 1972 to June of 1973. It was about a boy who fused with a demon by his friend and through a good chunk of the series, he was battling other demons in a hyperviolent gore-fest. Then, the series becomes more of an anti-war piece showing off the worst of humanity. Devilman has seen an anime adaptation from the same time period, several OVAs, and two film adaptations. Today, we’ll be looking at another anime adaptation of Devilman, this time, released as a Netflix exclusive. This is Devilman Crybaby.
Akira Fudo is an average teenager who lives with his childhood friend Miki Makimura and her family. Then, he’s turned into a demon/human hybrid called a Devilman by his childhood friend Ryo Asuka, who seeks to expose the existence of demons to the world. When compared to other adaptations, this one is the most faithful to the source material. Granted, a few were made like giving it a modern setting, but it’s much closer to the original manga. About half of the series is about the monster-of-the-week every episode, but then things change by the 7th episode where it becomes about the end of the world and humanity at its lowest point and shit gets dark real quick. I mean, the series is already dark, but it goes to a new level of dark.
Our protagonist of this story is Akira Fudo. When we’re introduced to him, he appears as a soft-spoken weak kid who wouldn’t hurt a fly. Then, he becomes a Devilman and both his personality and physical appearance changes. Now, he’s taller, more athletic, and confident while retaining his more empathetic side. For those who wonders why this series is called Devilman Crybaby, well, that’s because Akira cries. A lot. Even when he’s a Devilman. He lives with his childhood friend Miki Makimura, a nice, talented girl who shares a strong relationship with Akira and exists as the bright spot of his world. There’s also Miko, a girl who was jealous of Miki’s talent (And they also share the same name, which is why I refer to Miko as Miko) and she becomes a Devilman, Koda, a track star prodigy who also becomes a Devilman, four kids who walk around town rapping and beatboxing, and various others. Then there’s Ryo Asuka. Let me say this right now: fuck this guy. He’s pretty much the driving force behind everything that drives the story. He got Akira involved in the world of demons, resulting in his transformation. He then exposes another Devilman to the world, setting off a chain reaction of chaos. Making things worse is when he does the same to Akira. This dude is Griffith from Berserk levels of punchable. There’s also a plot twist around Ryo that I’ll get into later.
Watching this anime is an experience that I will never forget. How do I even describe the animation? It’s like an acid trip gone wrong and you’re so far down the rabbit hole that it looks like there’s no way out. There was a lot of times where it’s trippy and weird. This usually happens in the action sequences or something similar. Other times, it looks bad. The backgrounds are gorgeous, but the characters always have no shading to them, so they look flat against the backgrounds. Maybe it’s a stylistic choice. This is not an anime you should show your kids because they turned the violence and sex up to 11. It’s like an anime from the 90s with all the blood, gore and sexualization. There was a whole bunch of bizarre shit that happens. A few highlights: Miko’s masturbating and making literal donkey noises, Akira is having a wet dream and he leaves a huge Scary Movie-style nut on the ceiling, Koda butt-fucking another man before transforming into a Devilman, Miko raping her would-be rapist to death. There is a lot of sex in this anime. Now let’s get into spoilers. If you want to get attached to any of the characters here, you are going to be let down. Why? Because everyone in this happy little story dies. Like I mentioned, the anime takes a drastic turn by episode 7 when knowledge of demons have become public and the demons declare war on humanity. Because anyone could be a demon, mass paranoia ensues and bodies start dropping. There’s a part where Miko’s mom and brother go missing and her father head out to look for them. He ultimately finds his son, who has become a demon, eating his own mother and is ready to shoot him, but he can’t bring himself to do it and this goes on for minutes until they’re all shot up by the military. Then, through a worldwide broadcast, Ryo reveals the origins of the demons and how they could be anyone while showing slips of Akira as a Devilman to the world. Talk about adding further fuel to the fire. Shit gets worse. In episode 9, a mob heads toward Miki’s house, thinking she, along with Miko and the two rapping kids, are demons. By the time Akira arrives, it’s too late as Miki and company are dead. This show is fucked up, showing the ugliest side of humanity when we let fear and paranoia take over.
Cut to the 10th and final episode. It’s revealed that Ryo is actually Satan. That’s right. Ryo is the Devil. He was cast out of Heaven for going against God and discovered the demons. He plans to let humanity destroy themselves so he and his demon army can go fight God. The reason Satan turned Akira into a Devilman is so he can live in the new world that he created. Akira, pissed that the people he cares about are dead, refuses to join Satan and vows to return to kill him. A huge battle ensues between the Devilmen and Satan’s army and it carries out throughout the whole planet. At the end of the battle, Satan is staring at the stars with Akira where he confesses his love to him when he realizes that he killed him. While he’s in mourning, God sends a bunch of angels to wipe out the Earth entirely. This is the epitome of “the villain wins, the hero loses, and everyone dies, the end.”
And that was Devilman Crybaby. What a rollercoaster that was. It was violent, hedonistic, and straight-up weird. At least in the first half. Then you have the second half that shows the ugly side of humanity and that was depressing. The animation is a mixed bag, going back and forth between abstractly weird and cheap-looking. The music is pretty good and there’s some cool action sequences. While I was entertained by this anime, it’s not something I would go back and watch again nor could I recommend it to everyone. If you’re into that ultra-violent, overly-sexual zaniness that came out of 90s anime, you might like this series. It’s currently on Netflix with 10 episodes, so you can get through the whole thing in a day depending on your schedule. I did. Next time, we’ll talk about Shimoneta and the exciting world of ecchi.