I have now seen Devilman Crybaby
in its entirety and it's so beautiful in its misery. I love it! Finding an anime that talks about the importance and power of empathy that does it with this much gravitas and stakes is rare. It's not a 'humanity is bad, hence everything goes to hell' story. It rather spends its time with Akira, Ryo and Miki and explores how their interactions shape the story. Akira is an empathetic crybaby who turns into an empathetic badass. Ryo is an emotionally cold guy who ignores social conventions and norms regularly. Miki is the most gentle and positive character out of all of them and usually brings out the best in everyone around her. Out of the secondary characters the stand-out is Miko, a rather shy girl who undergoes a big change over the course of the show and who ends up being one of the more rounded and paradoxical characters because 10 episodes aren't a lot to flesh out everyone to the same extent.
The way the demons are portrayed is also quite significant here.
The pacing gets a lot faster in the second half and yet, it all follows a throughline. At the centre of much of this stands Ryo, Akira's best friend from childhood. He is the one who convinces Akira to join him in the quest to destroy the demons and summons the demon Amon to possess Akira's body in order to give Akira the power necessary to fight the demons. The way Ryo factors into the story is quite intriguing and by the end, his story ends up being surprisingly moving.
Going in, you'd expect a fun, if very gory and very explicit (lots of gratuituous sex and violence in this), adventure series where Akira tears monsters in half left and right on a weekly basis. Starting in episode 4 the tone shifts into something somewhat more serious and contemplative and towards the end it gets grim in a way I do not recall any recent anime attempting (Made in Abyss
might come to mind). It has some fun nods to the 1972 show (which apparently exists in this show's world as a tv program that Miki's younger brother Taro enjoys), its soundtrack is amazing and powerful, it has recurring motifs (the baton, the track running, etc.) that all factor into the theme of the show and
specifically. It has some notable flaws, namely some plot developments and tonal shifts seemingly happen rather abruptly, due to the fast pacing of the show and the fact that some plot points are implied visually in the background over the course of the show so that you really need to pay attention to small details for some things to make sense (looking at you
). Some characters are not really developed enough for the tragedy to hit as hard as it could in the early episodes but by the end there are instances where the devastating implications of what was happening brought a tear to my eye. I can now see why Berserk
were inspired by the manga.
not for the faint of heart but otherwise a great way to start 2018.