Netflix, throwing its hook into an ocean of “please make me money” nabbed an interesting catch in 2018. Ichiro Okouschi, a famed author of a hit series in the 80s simply known as “Devilman” was reeled in to create none other than Netflix’s original series, Devilman: Crybaby. And after following a cluster of sex, drugs, and self-loathing I find myself questioning my own humanity in one of the better series in recent memory as it tries to tackle all. What is it to be in love, to be a man, to be gay, to be the star that has it all?
Now in the start, I am not going to lie, the grab of this show was late to engage. Episode after episode seemed lackluster minus the amount of chaos going on on the screen, I didn’t give a fuck about these people. Why do I care some random businessman who has an alpha problem gets offed by another demon? But I stuck to it, thanks mostly to the sick beat Wamu’s group is throwing down.
So dealing with all the bullshit and what not I start looking for the devil among the details, and good God did I find it. Things really start to come together with this series around episode 6 and climax at 9. Leaving the last episode simply as closer to the series, needed but I wouldn’t say the best of closures.
The show follows teenage crybaby Akira Fudo. A guy with a little too much empathy whose favorite bit is crying at literally any type of inconvenience or hardship. Running into his childhood friend and genius Ryo Asuka, Akira is taking to a Sabbath Party where he drops a little too much acid getting possessed by the demon Amon. Though unlike most cases when a human body is overtaken by a demon, Akira’s massive amount of empathy keeps Amon in check, allowing him to become not a demon, but a devilman.
Growing about three feet overnight Akira goes back to school the following day, stronger, more confident than ever before. Noticing this change is the daughter of the couple who is allowing Akira to stay with them while his parents are in the US, Miki Makimura. A star in her own right, Miki took the track world by storm, becoming well admire and respected online for both her beauty and compassion. Though everyone seems to downplay the transformation, Akira goes about his life as he used to, the only difference being at night he teams up with his buddy Ryo as they hunt down rogue demons hell-bent on taking the earth from the humans, making it their own domain.
What comes next is the before mentioned boring time. Episode 1-6 roughly just follow those two around as Akira gets used to his new body and Ryo trying to understand what exactly the demons are planning. There are some moments in these episodes however that do hit at the feels, it is discovered not all is well with Akira’s parents and Miki herself gets into some hot water from time to time but it mostly felt superficial, as Akira or Ryo seemingly could handle any issue.
These episodes also develop both the rap group, but notably another girl and former track star herself Miko Kuroda. With her name also being Miki, she is referred to as Miko since Miki came to her school, taking all the fame from her. Jealous and frustrated you learn that she has feelings (to some extent) for Akira, and naturally, Akira only has eyes for Miki. Due to these compounding events, she finds herself at one of the same Sabbath parties Akira attended, getting possessed herself but becoming a rare devilman as well.
All of this comes to a boil when Ryo’s master plan is put into place. At a major track competition that would be broadcasted internationally, a star of one of the teams, Moyuru Koda seemingly became one overnight, leading Ryo to suspect he was possessed. Developing a drug that combined with the overtly erotic sound and images that exist at the Sabbath parties would force the demon out for the world to see. Proving that demons are among us and we as humans have to stamp them out.
Getting cold feet, however, Akira decides not the drug Moyuru seeing that he as well has pain and could control the demon within him. However, the ever so knowing Ryo tricks Moyuru to take it, leading to the plan to continue ending with Moyuru turning into a rhino-like beast.
And Jesus Fucking Christ the chaos that enthuses.
Now that the world knows that demons exist Ryo fan the flames. Stating that they hid as humans, that even one’s neighbor could be a demon, and to trust no one. In this part of the story, Ryo flips, becoming slightly confused with his own plan he slowly starts to realize that he was helping the demons, trying to find the meaning he returns to the jungles where the demons were first found.
On the other side of the world, Akira is trying to bring logic and reason to a human species that had turned on each other. The whole world turning into police state mobs lynch one another at random, using the notion of demons for every excuse.
The show really stands out in these moments. Devilman: Crybaby is a pornographic, psychedelic, gore-filled action show but that isn’t even half of it. What the show really is, is a hard take on the philosophy of what it means to be a human, and how fear paired with racial/ xenophobic stereotypes will lead the masses to fight against each other, even in the face of a common enemy.
It is something I have thought about before, a lot about, actually. I wrote a novel once that never made it to print but it had this general idea. What would humans do if they had a common enemy that wasn’t them? In the world I created it was vampires, but even with the knowledge of vampires, knowing the species had common enemy racism didn’t go away, it actually made it that much worse.
The flip side of the coin for the show, however, was the demons. The species trying to claim the earth for themselves as humans mindlessly slaughter each other. A species so stupid to do that are clearly the lesser, right? But the cut and dry world of the demons doesn’t make a better society. Survival of the fittest sounds fine if you are strong but it takes out one of the strongest things that make humans how they are, empathy.
Basic human empathy is looked at in an interesting like with these events. Humans are killing humans, Demons are killing humans but also demons. While Akira and many other level-headed people are trying to cut through all the bullshit and fear to get everyone on the same page.
I’m not going to lie though, it would be a paramount task to do but as I was steaming through these episodes there was a part of me that actually thought he would be able to do it. The Devilman to save humans and all of earth.
Then Miki died, and it was at that moment I knew, there was no hope for a happy ending.
Finally finding the understanding of why he was doing this Ryo once again goes to the TV. Stating that demons could not only appear in a human, but it occurs when people are in distress, and everyone should be suspect to anyone not happy with their life.
So literally everyone.
With this extra layer of paranoia, he also shows the world Akira himself turning into Amon. Being well known in the town a mob forms on the house where he, Miki, and Miko are. Trying to fight their way out Akira goes to find Ryo but decides it would be better for him to be with Miki to protect her. Sadly, in one of the most heart-wrenching lead-ups, he was too late. Miki and Miko were both gone.
Taking everything Akira had ever loved he turns on Ryo, vowing he would never be on his side of the demons.
Devilman: Crybaby didn’t leave a good or bad feeling in me when it ended. It was actually just void as if something was taken from me, the harsh cut look at human society and how razor-thin the margin is into madness. Even though the way it was done was blunt, sexualized, and violent the main takeaway from the story doesn’t change, nor does it make it hit any less.
Humans are complex, terrified creators who are mentally unable to comprehend mass amounts of information (or mis) instead taking all of what they have been taught and twisting it to fit their own narrative. This isn’t everyone of course, but sadly it tends to be a much larger block than most of us would like to admit.
Having compassion is one of the most human traits and feelings that set us apart in a world of beast. It is something we have to reflect on and hold onto.
All and all the show was great, the animation was trippy but in a good way, the sound was spot on and the world was chaotic, just like the real one. With that, I hand it a 7/10, and a guarantee I won’t be visiting it again.