The Devilman manga series was initially published in the early 70s. It’s been adapted to anime a few times since then—the latest of which is Devilman: Crybaby. Boy, this one was a trip.
The only way I can think to describe Devilman: Crybaby is as a more modern mix of Berserk and Claymore that’s kind of like Parasyte, but not really. Simply put, demons exist but must take over another organism in order to fully manifest. Once they do this, they can pretty much wreak whatever havoc they want. However, if an individual’s willpower is strong enough, they can keep the demon at bay, and harness its power as their own. The series follows an ensemble cast of sorts, but the primary focus is on Akira Fudo—a so-called “Devilman” who has the power of a demon, yet still maintains the heart and will of a human.
If you’re an avid anime viewer, one of the first thing’s you’ll notice is that the show looks very different from your typical series of today; that’s by design. Director Masaaki Yuasa (Kaiba, Ping Pong the Animation) has made a bit of a name for himself by daring to be different. There aren’t a whole lot of studios willing to gamble on that kind of vision, but this wasn’t an issue for Yuasa, as the series is animated by his own relatively new studio, Science SARU. The only major newcomer to the crew is writer Ichiro Okouchi (script and series composition for Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion). Aside from him, art director Ryou Kouno (Kaiba, Mob Psycho 100), sound director Eriko Kimura (Ping Pong, Kekkaishi, Lu over the wall) and music producer Kensuke Ushio (Ping Pong, A Silent Voice) have all previously worked with Yuasa.
Speaking of Kimura, Ushio, and Yuasa, the most outstanding feature of Devilman: Crybaby is its overall scene and sound composition. The original soundtrack is very good, even if a little redundant, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better blending of sound effects, music, and imagery in any series across any medium—at least not recently.
While its underlying theme is more subtly spelled out than in something like Death Parade, Devilman: Crybaby ultimately tries to determine what humanity is, and under what circumstances people tend to lose it. It’s an interesting premise, and it packs a couple of unexpected twists and turns. The problem is that, at just 10 episodes, things go from very ridiculous to very serious very quickly. One of the ways Yuasa and Okouchi attempt to tell such a large-scale story in such a short amount of time by simply explaining certain plot components through character conversation. Doing so leads to some occasionally awkward and/or confusing moments. I can’t help but feel that 12 or even 11 episodes would have been perfect. Stretching the story out for even just one more episode might have allowed viewers the opportunity to actually see some of the things hastily explained through dialogue, as well as provide further development for some the supporting characters.
Devilman: Crybaby doesn’t hit with the full force that it could have, in large part due to the hasty conflict introduction, escalation, and resolution. Still, it shook me a bit and left a lasting impression. Definitely give this one a try if you’re looking for a series with a dark, surreal feel, and don’t mind violence, sex, and drugs as reoccurring themes. It might even be worth watching based on sound and image arrangement alone.
Music/Sound Design: 9.5
Averaged Score: 8.25
I don’t like giving shows a final rating with a .25 or a .75. In such instances, I’ll either round up or down to the nearest .5 based on overall enjoyment. In this case, the Final Score on Weeabros will be 8.5, and the MAL rating will be an 8 because I have to instead round to the nearest whole number.
Check out the podcast to hear more of my thoughts on the series in addition to WeeaBroShawn’s. *Spoiler Alert* He didn’t like it.
Devilman: Crybaby is legally available on Netflix.
The Weeabros don’t own the image used in this review, bro. It belongs to Aniplex, Dynamic Planning, and Science SARU.