Anime Review

Anime Hajime Review: Devilman Crybaby

Original Release Date: January 5, 2018
Number of Episodes: 10
Genre: Action, Horror
Based on the Series Created By: Go Nagi

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Devilman Crybaby. Reader discretion is advised.***

Series Synopsis

Akira Fudo (voiced by Koki Uchiyama) has a reputation of being overly sensitive. The slightest bit of hardship is enough to throw him into a fit of tears. Akira is – in a single word – a crybaby.

One day, Akira’s old friend Ryo Asuka (voiced by Ayumu Murase) returns to Japan in need of Akira’s help. Ryo informs Akira that the world is on the verge of destruction. Living in the shadows are an ancient race of demons who are about to make their apocalyptic return. To fight the oncoming threat, Ryo proposes an insane idea.

Demons have survived because they attach themselves to other lifeforms. However, if a human heart manages to beat out a demon’s attempt to take over the body, a person can then wield the power of the damned while still retaining their humanity. Ryo believes Akira will be able to do just that.

Against the odds, Akira does manage to successfully win control over a particularly powerful demon. In a single night, the once timid high school student becomes an unstoppable defender of humanity.

Neither man nor demon, Akira has transformed into the frightening creature known as a Devilman.

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Series Positives

Regardless of what I am about to say, if you are looking for a mind trip, you need not look any further.

For those who might remember, Devilman Crybaby isn’t the first anime I have reviewed that was based off legendary manga author Go Nagai’s Devilman series. That particular distinction goes to the Devilman spin-off series, Devil Lady – a show I reviewed close to two years before this one.

Overall, there aren’t many Devilman anime adaptations left for me to get to. To complete the entire set, I still need to sit down with the original 1970s Devilman series and a handful of OVAs. With that in mind, and since I have already come this far, I might as well see this franchise through to the end.

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However, don’t be expecting another review of a Devilman adaptation anytime soon. If we assume this latest series and Devil Lady are windows into what’s left, I’m not filled with a ton of confidence. I didn’t hate Devil Lady, so there’s that. But with Devilman Crybaby, this was a show that was, to its core, very mediocre.

With that said, there are two important points I need to add before I go any further with this review:

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First, I’m only saying Devilman Crybaby was mediocre. I’m not saying it was awful. There were aspects to this show I liked, as well as a handful of things I loved. This series wasn’t void of quality, and it most certainly had a ton of talent working behind the scenes.

Second, I am aware that me using a word like “mediocre” to describe Devilman Crybaby goes against the critical consensus of this show – which has generally been positive. However, I only realized this – and it was a realization that took me by complete surprise – after I had watched the series and had already formulated my thoughts on it.

Thus, I want to make it clear: If you are a person who enjoyed Devilman Crybaby, I am happy for you. In fact, I would appreciate it if you, or anyone with an opinion of this show, let me know your thoughts. Perhaps there was something I missed.

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Now with my bases – hopefully – covered, I want to reiterate that there were aspects of Devilman Crybaby I liked. For instance, I am in complete agreement with something everyone else has been praising about this series:

Devilman Crybaby was exceedingly well animated. This show’s visuals were absolutely fantastic.

Masaaki Yuasa, the same person who gave us the phenomenal Kaiba, directed this series and his influence was present the moment this show started. Mr. Yuasa’s freeform art style allowed Devilman Crybaby to enter into a twisted, surreal world – and I cannot think of a better way to describe this show than with the word “surreal.”

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By the way, Mr. Yuasa’s aforementioned previous work, Kaiba, wasn’t a story I would say is for young children. That show tackled several heavy themes in ways best suited for mature audiences. Devilman Crybaby, on the other hand, was a series that was one-hundred-percent not for kids.

This show explored a ton of deep topics – loss, paranoia, fear, cruelty – and it did so with a heavy reliance on drugs, sex, and violence. And my god, this show got violent.

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In my last review, Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens, I mentioned how that series was easily the most brutal show from the 2018 Winter season – based on what I had seen up to that point. Yeah, Devilman Crybaby takes that crown – no question. There were some literal bloodbaths in this series.

There was a ton of disturbing imagery in this show. I don’t know if I can adequately prepare you for how wild things got. Therefore, if you are one of those people who doesn’t do well with blood but still think you might want to check out this series, I suggest you try to get through the first episode, I Need You.

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Devilman Crybaby started-off with a bang, and if you find it difficult to get through episode one’s orgy scene – I’m not joking – you will be in for a rough viewing. I Need You may have been intense, but nevertheless, it was on the low end of this show’s insanity.

Speaking as a fan of the horror genre, the more frightening a story’s imagery is, the better. Granted, there are other, more important elements that make for good horror. But when the visuals I am seeing fill me with a sense of fear and trepidation, that’s pretty much what I’m looking for. This was one area were Devilman Crybaby definitely succeeded. If I had to pick just one scene out of the many that best illustrated this, I’ve got a winner.

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Near the end of this series, I won’t specify exactly when it happened, there came a moment that was difficult to watch – in the positive kind of way. I won’t go into any details, but this one scene involved a lot of fire and a lot of pikes, and it was neither the fire nor the pikes that got to me.

No matter how you look at it, Mr. Yuasa and his storytelling team had a vision for what they wanted Devilman Crybaby to look like. That passion of theirs was present throughout this show. I might have issues concerning this series’ story, but I will always prefer watching something made with passion rather than something that was put together in a boardroom.

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In addition, and to go along with Devilman Crybaby’s visuals, the music in this show was all kinds of awesome.

There were some solid action scenes in this series, and that was thanks to the outstanding pairing of this show’s animation and soundtrack. These two elements made for some pretty badass moments. Again, going back to the orgy in episode one, it was the music that helped drive home what type of story Devilman Crybaby was going to be.

Putting aside the visuals and the music, the best thing about Devilman Crybaby had to be its main character, Akira Fudo.

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This show’s story jumped around a lot and left much to be desired – a discussion I will bring up in a second. However, this series nailed it with Akira’s personal development. He was the only person in Devilman Crybaby to come off as well-rounded. There were others who felt as necessary as Akira, but there was no one as complete as Akira. Every step in his progression had a purpose and, more importantly, a catalyst.

Moreover, when Akira fused with a demon to become the titular Devilman, his personality became a lot more bearable than what it was when he was first introduced. He was a lot more confident and proactive. Given the direction this story ended up taking, it would have been hard to stomach a protagonist who would have been hesitant to act. It was this push-forward attitude that served as the perfect backdrop for Devilman Crybaby to shine at its brightest.

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Once becoming the Devilman, Akira did undergo a massive personality shift. Nevertheless, – and despite only being with his full human-self briefly – Akira, in his heart, always remained the same caring person he was at the beginning of this story. He retained his empathy and truly lived up to the second-half of this show’s title. Seeing an imposing figure like Devilman Akira cry was never awkward or out of place. This openness made Akira a character worth rooting for.

Finally, whenever Devilman Crybaby’s three best elements – its animation, its music, and its Akira – came together, I would be lying if I said this series was not a fascinating sit. These three aspects did make up for many of this show’s shortcomings.

However, the place where I seem to differ from the general consensus is this: These three aspects didn’t make up for all of this show’s shortcomings.

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Series Negatives

I’m not even going to beat around the bush with this.

Do not let the pretty pictures fool you into thinking this is a great show.

Imagine you are at a shopping mall during the holidays, and you see a giant Christmas tree display. Under that tree, you notice all the prop presents, and they all look very nice. However, there’s one in particular that stands out to you. This gift is impeccably wrapped – the paper is gorgeous, the trimmings are painstakingly detailed, and the bow looks ravishing. It’s clear that someone took the time to make this item appear outwardly beautiful. Unfortunately, this doesn’t change the truth.

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Underneath all the glitz and glamor is an empty cardboard box. The critical part of any present, the actual present, is not there. That was Devilman Crybaby. Once you look past the breathtaking visuals, something is clearly missing.

And regarding this show, the thing that was missing was a complete story.

I won’t say Devilman Crybaby’s narrative was hard to follow, but at times it was confusing – specifically the ending. Throughout this show, there were segments and bits of information that simply didn’t exist. Either things happened for no reason, or they arrived with no build up.

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Like I said, it was Akira who made the most complete sense. Granted, the character of Miki Makimura (voiced by Megumi Han) was a decent second place. Miki aside, it was Akira’s actions that had something to them. It was always clear what he was doing and why he was doing it. However, how he got into certain situations – situations that were out of his control – meant that this series had to just do something.

For example, and I have to go into spoiler territory for a second, for episodes one through three, I thought Akira’s parents were dead. This show never mentioned them, they were never around, and Akira was living with another family. Given how Akira’s parents were never brought up, I assumed this was a painful subject for Akira to talk about.

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Then, out of nowhere, in episode four, Akira got a call from his mom. She called to tell him that she couldn’t find his father. At this point in the show, we had not seen either of Akira’s parents – not in flashbacks, not even in photographs. The two were, for all intents and purposes, new characters. We knew nothing about them; like, for instance, their relationship with Akira – was it good, was it bad?

Having parents in a story doesn’t automatically make them loving parents. A mom and a dad existing doesn’t establish a connection with their child. If at any point during episodes one through three, Devilman Crybaby setup that Akira did love his parents and that they were important people in his life, that would have made a world of difference.

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And it would have made their deaths IN THE SAME EPISODE IN WHICH THEY WERE INTRODUCED a lot more meaningful.

Devilman Crybaby did this so much. It was bull crap. This show pulled this kind of nonsense in one of three ways:

One, some characters should have gotten an introduction much earlier in this story.

Two, things – tragic things – happened to characters out of nowhere only so this show could have a sad moment.

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Three, and this was the kicker, there were so many pointless, useless, unimportant characters in this show.

FOR EXAMPLE, Miko Kuroda (voiced by Ami Koshimizu): What purpose did she serve? I’ll tell you that answer: none. Miko served nothing. She had a ton of development and a ton of backstory that went nowhere. The one thing, THE ONE THING, she could have done to make her presence in this series worth anything didn’t happen. In the end, Devilman Crybaby wasted so much of its time on this worthless character. Time this show could have used to fill in some of the gaps in its story.

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I’m only giving Miko a hard time, but trust me, she was not the only character like this. She was one of a handful of people who led to nothing. However, this show at least looked nice while it was going towards nothing.

If you come to me and say, “Odyssey you need to check out this one series. The artwork is terrific. The visuals are brilliant. Everything looks absolutely stunning,” so on and so on, you will have missed the point. If the one thing you keep praising a show for is its animation, and only its animation, my response to you will always be:

So what?

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If you want to find great animation, search YouTube; you will find something. But when I go into an anime, I’m looking for visual storytelling, keyword being “story.”

Beautiful animation is only wasted animation when it is part of a story that does not work. And many things within Devilman Crybaby simply did not work.

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I am making it sound like I hated this series, I didn’t. Like I said in the beginning, Devilman Crybaby was mediocre. But in that mediocrity, there were good things to be had. And those good things did make up for a lot of lost ground. Unfortunately, there was just too much preventing this series from being great.

Should you decide to watch this show, and I’m not saying that’s necessarily a bad idea, you will see an outstanding display of animation prowess: I guarantee it. Hell, you may even get a lot of enjoyment out of that.

But if you are looking for anything more, you will not find it in Devilman Crybaby.

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Final Thoughts

There is a reason I don’t look up reviews before I watch a series. Sometimes I’m going to disagree.

This show was stunning to look at – no one can ever take that away. Through the visuals, this series managed to get dark, intense, and unnerving. For any horror fan, there will be things you will enjoy. Plus, the main character, Akira, was a great protagonist.

Too bad once you look below the surface, you’ll find there is not much to this show. This story wasted its time on too many superfluous events and characters. Had there been more focus, there is no doubt in my mind this could have been a masterpiece.

So, where does that leave me? If you want to get lost in a compelling story with a ton of exciting characters, this show isn’t going to do that. However, I can understand if this series is a bit tempting. For that alone, I would say Devilman Crybaby is worth checking out; just don’t expect much beyond that.

But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this show? What would be your advice concerning Devilman Crybaby? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.

And if you liked what you read, be sure to follow me on my social media sites so that you never miss a post or update. Also, please share this review across the internet to help add to the discussion.

I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.

Post Edited By: Onions

5 comments

  1. Im going to be honest I was never a fan of anything related to devilman or anything the author did outside for this since in a weird way he kind of reminds of Ralph bakshi. The Ralph bakshi of anime and manga if you will where he definitely has ideas but half the time I don’t even think he ever understood what it was he wrote with all this.

    Crybaby is no exception which kind of goes into if you weren’t into it prior the. You’re likely not gonna get into it here. So yeah I agree the story in crybaby is not great and even going by the original 70s anime and manga it’s much about the same as what crybaby dived into only add more modernized stuff. I don’t know I guess I’m just not get into it since even looking at people who overall praised this one never really gave me a grasp on why I should like it or even the original for that matter which they seem to skip over and act like now they know everything about devilman. Hell I doubt they were aware devil lady is a thing.

    Liked by 1 person

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