Review: Devilman Crybaby

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Graphic by Lea Clarin

(Content warning: violence, nudity, drug-use, body horror, gore, sexual themes, occult imagery)

Avant-garde anime director Masaaki Yuasa of Kaiba (2008), The Tatami Galaxy (2010), and Ping Pong (2014) fame, in collaboration with screenwriter Ichiro Okouchi, adds another title to his already impressive list of works with the Netflix release of Devilman Crybaby on Jan. 5, 2018.

Devilman Crybaby is the latest anime incarnation of Go Nagai’s 1972 manga, Devilman. The story revolves around “crybaby” Akira Fudo, who is enlisted with by his best friend, Ryo Asuka in the fight against a demonic race looking to reclaim earth. To combat the demons, Akira unites with one and transforms into Devilman, a being with a demon’s physique and abilities, as well as a human heart. Doing so, Akira strives to save humanity and reconcile with his newfound demonic side in a race against time before the inevitable apocalypse.

Consisting of 10 episodes around 23 minutes each, Devilman Crybaby is an engrossing weekend marathon, with its unconventional pacing and distinct Masaaki Yuasa dynamic animation. Together, the writing and art direction is a refreshing take on the Devilman universe, pushing the world from the era of Go Nagai’s original manga and into contemporary culture.

Of note, is its incorporation of mass communication and social media as a vehicle with a deft hand in pushing the demons’ agenda and preserving what it means to be human. It’s hard to watch the anime without hearkening to its subtle commentary on present social and political issues. Of course, if you’re just in it for the entertainment, there’s much fun to be had with riveting fight sequences, with a bonus of excellent incorporation of rap as a storytelling tool.

Like its titular character, the series at its core beats humanity, delving into themes such as compassion and cruelty, empathy and indifference, and what it means to love. Be forewarned however, it’s not for the faint of heart. Devilman Crybaby is a wild ride into the depths of pandemonium that will bring devilish delight, and maybe even leave some shed tears.