Reviews: Devilman Crybaby

double post

Need to get rid of this

A Faithful Adaptation of Devilman, For Better or Worse

As a series that has a lot of sexual imagery and gore, Crybaby is already going to be rather divisive among viewers. I'd argue that Devilman is much more brutal than last year's Berserk anime, as Berserk's characters get much more uplifting character development in contrast to Devilman's very bleak tone.

Devilman Crybaby's animation fluctuates wildly. Sometimes its heavily grounded and other times its very fluid and surreal. The latter works when demons are involved but other times some characters' arms look like spaghetti. It's hard to take the grittiness of the show seriously when Akira's mouth resembles a snake trying to devour a rabbit whole when he is simply eating his lunch. Animation is more consistent in later episodes but the first few can easily turn you off.

Devilman isn't a superhero anime, even though it borrows some conventions. The fights are nearly all one-sided and are generally uncoordinated. Akira spends more time fighting himself than he does fighting bad guys. If you a take a shot for every time he claims he'll protect someone and then another two every time he fails you'll be completely wasted by the show's conclusion. Although most of this is okay if you see the anime as an introspective into the teenage mindset rather than an action show.

The gore and sexual imagery isn't just to attract audiences, it also serves a narrative purpose, largely a commentary on puberty. Akira's possession by Amon transforms him from a shy kid to a raging storm of hormones. I like that it isn't afraid to show him dealing with sadness and depression as well as more commonly presented lust and anger. Akira has uncomfortable urges and has to learn to live with them, and he tries helping those with similar conditions. It gives a good message about tolerance when people are trying to find their identity.

Unfortunately, the story is still tied to the manga which gets more large scaled and bombastic with each episode. The pacing becomes more and more erratic and the show suffers for it. In the penultimate episode introduces a scene that redeems humanity only to flip the switch a few minutes later and outright condemn it. This is followed by Akira still upholding the hero role when both he and the audience should be exhausted of it. In another instance, a character explains his backstory, Earth's history and demon origins in a single episode. The last episode becomes a Michael Bay film, action that is largely indecipherable with very little provided in regards to setting or context. The story would have been much better if it ended on a smaller note than a large, overblown, battle. I felt the ending twist sort of ruined the characters, as the plot was largely hijacked by the main antagonist.

If you like character introspection interwoven with sex and violence that often crosses the line you might like Devilman. However, I prefer tragic anime that don't need to shove most of the cast into a bloody meat grinder just to elicit emotion.