We have to admit that Netflix has pretty much taken over our lives, or at least, all of our free time. Because of how convenient it is, it has never been so easy and accessible to watch or even rewatch your favorite series anywhere and anytime you want, which isn’t just great for recluse weaboos like us who’d rather spend our nights indoors, away from the judgemental eyes of people who still think animated shows are for kids but for filthy casuals who are just getting into anime right now because of Netflix (We swear this isn’t an ad for Netflix). These casual anime watchers will probably know some of the mainstream titles like My Hero Academia, the Fate series, Fullmetal Alchemist, and Tokyo Ghoul, but we really doubt that they’ve heard of the greatness that are the works of Go Nagai.
Without going into full fanboy mode, Go Nagai is an OG manga author that’s been in the business for fifty freaking years and his works, which include the Devilman series, Mazinger Z, and Violence Jack, have inspired some of the most iconic and fucked up mangas and animes ever to make it on print and television. The final scenes of Neon Genesis Evangelion and Berserk (1998, of course) were literally homage to scenes in the original Devilman manga—likewise, some scenes in Devilman Crybaby were inspired scenes from Evangelion. Most of the mindfuckery you see in anime today is made possible because of this guy.
The plot of the anime in itself isn’t actually anything special. An introverted, crybaby kid gets tricked by his long-lost friend into going inside of a rave part riddled with violent Devils. He gets himself eaten by a Devil but the “digestion” process miraculously turns him into a Devilman (a Devil with a human’s heart). With his newfound powers and morality, he tries to defend humanity from evil in typical shounen anime fashion.
The thing is, it’s not the plot that makes Devilman Crybaby’s existence so important to today’s mainstream anime scene but rather its ability to open up so many possibilities for other less popular anime titles to be supported by big companies because it shows them that experimental, controversial, risque animes really do have a place in mainstream media. It shows people what they’ve been missing all this time.
Anime doesn’t always have to have another spikey-haired, underdog kid that eventually becomes overpowered and fulfills his dreams as the main protagonist (though admittedly, Akira’s hair became pretty spikey and he was an underdog before getting his powers) for a show to be relatable. Admittedly, the characters from the original Devilman manga weren’t that fleshed out, but DC updated and modernized these characters’ personalities to be relatable to Netflix’s more mainstream viewership. They actually provided enough moments for the viewer to develop emotional attachment to most of the cast even though they didn’t have much screen time because anyone could have empathized with the hardships they were experiencing. The world in DC felt too real sometimes, which was scary and sad to think.
Dramatic scenes don’t always have to use overbearing soundtracks to convey the deep emotions. The music for DC is top-notch. If you get past the copious amount of DC memes online (cue next Devilman OST EDM Drop Meme) and actually try to feel the music as you’re watching the song, it can literally make you palpitate because of how deceptively intense the slow buildup is to the EDM drops.
It would be unforgivable to not give the fire the hip-hop cyphers (hip-hop freestyling, mostly acapella) some love in this article. They provide such a creative mode of narration that goes completely unnoticed until you actually listen to what they’re saying. (SPOILER WARNING) My boy Mayuta completely murdered his confession scene (much like how he got mysteriously murdered by devils).
Fight scenes don’t have to be all big and flashy for the movements to look dynamic. Besides this being an adaptation of a Go Nagai work (which already comes with a bunch of mindfuckery already), director Masaaki Yuasa, also lends his talents to make the show even more disturbingly beautiful than it already is.
Yuasa is known for his “trippy” stylistic choices, which take advantage of each material’s distinct art style as seen in his works in The Tatami Galaxy and Ping Pong The Animation, where he uses distortion to create really powerful movements, which creates a scene that tells a whole story of its own.
With all the weird shit that happens in Devilman, psychedelic EDM soundtracks, a highschool girl pleasuring herself while neighing like a horse, and running that makes Naruto sprinting look insufferably normal, you still feel like all of it fits. Like, the show is making a deliberate effort to build on its crazy world in order to make you want to dig deeper. Or maybe it just wants to fuck with you. Or both.
Devilman Crybaby isn’t a perfect anime and it probably won’t be appreciated by everyone. It’s art style isn’t really eye candy, it’s philosophies aren’t exactly that easy to understand, the gore and sex might scare off a lot of people, and the plot is very linear if you really break it down. But all of these things will never take away the value DC has given to the anime scene.
Mark our words, Devilman Crybaby will go down as one of the most influential animes of the decade.