Being particularly popular among Japan’s wealthy and disenfranchised, Sabbath Parties would involve illicit drugs as well as sexual orgies and dubstep dance music. The series bombards viewers with images of neon, jiggling women and sliced up, bleeding men. The action is uncomfortable to watch, but eventually you find yourself becoming numb to it.
After a relatively quiet start, the first episode kicks into high gear towards the end with the sudden transformation of partying teens into demons at a rave. Ryo has taken Akira there with the intention of getting the demon Amon to possess him, and all hell breaks loose. Cue talons, teeth, tentacles, and oozing appendages bursting forth from every orifice as the demons lay wild, gory waste to the crowd of terrified clubbers. Last week, Netflix released a series so bonkers that fans are still trying to get their bearings. The percentage of approved Tomatometer critics who have given this title a positive review. When individual episodes have scores, they will influence the final season score.
It was considered one of the most “visually striking” anime of all time by Loveridge, while it has been described as “visually enthralling” by Thurm, and “visually stunning” by Matt Kamen for GamesRadar+ and by Frank. Theron Martin of Anime News Network commented, “you won’t see a more […] outlandish visual spectacle in anime this season”. Loveridge called it a “visual trip unlike any other”, while Salkowitz of Forbes stated that the series “breaks out the most eye-melting psychedelia seen on the small screen” since MTV’s Liquid Television. Writing for Otaku USA, Vincent said, “Yuasa’s signature fluid animation […] transform what could have ultimately been an unattractive gorefest into an attractive ballet of human and demonic interaction”. Daniel Kurland of Den of Geek said that “there’s nothing too special about Devilman at its surface level”, but that Yuasa’s injection of his “eye-popping animation and art direction” turns the story into “something special”. Ayumi Kurashima was the character designer, while Kiyotaka Oshiyama was responsible specifically for the demon’s design.
It follows teenager Akira and his mysterious friend Ryo as they investigate Akira’s archeologist father’s death. When they find an ancient mask, Akira puts it on and is possessed by a demon. Devilman Crybaby uses the same major plot points, but the anime is set in a contemporary city and uses Twitter, Instagram and YouTube as narrative acl robotics tools. Devilman Crybaby is easy to scoff at, thanks to its wonky animation and extremely NSFW story. It moves from jawdropping to heartbreaking at a moment’s notice, but it never strays from being unforgettable. The demon attempts to devour Akira, but he fights back, his pure heart and soul overcoming the demon’s evil.
Although Yuasa was a fan of the original Devilman, it was a project he never imagined he would work on. It was Aniplex with whom he collaborated on Ping Pong the Animation , that suggested a Devilman adaptation. Yuasa did Crybaby aware that Nagai was probably restrained in the depiction of its sexual and violent content by having Devilman published in a shōnen magazine. The director commented that Nagai’s later works were “even more extreme” and so he created Crybaby with the mindset of “If Nagai-sensei could have done as he pleased, he’d have gone this far”. Yuasa also expressed his desire in creating a sequel to Crybaby, saying that if he did, he could explore the “different settings and ways of telling the story”. Brittany Vincent wrote for Syfy.com that the series leads to an “inevitable existential crisis”, while Bloody Disgusting’s Michael Pementel highlighted its “existential and emotional elements”.
Devilman Crybaby is based on the manga by Go Nagai but director Masaaki Yuasa worked on the anime considering that Nagai was probably restrained by the demographics of a shōnen magazine. As mass hysteria grips the world, anyone suspected of being demon is hunted down by crazed gangs. The last we see of various key characters are their various dismembered body parts held aloft by a jeering mob. High school athletics play a big part in Devilman Crybaby, so it’s no surprise that we eventually get a demonic track massacre. Koda changes into a rampaging demon bull and begins a bloody rampage through the stadium. The demons attempt to kill Akira by possessing Miki’s body, distracting him while another sneaks up behind him.
It’s a really ambitious show, but in my opinion, it falls short in its execution. I feel like the story could have been executed better with more time, everything felt very rushed for me. There’s also more to Devilman Crybaby than its flesh ripping and frenetic fucking. The show drives hard into a deeper allegory about the cost of persecuting those we don’t understand. Humankind begins to turn on those it believes to be devils or even devilmen, attacking anyone they perceive as different — a clear comparison to modern-day bigotry. It’s sometimes heavy-handed in its message to prove a broader story that humans might be the real devils, but its unwavering acceptance of storylines like queer romance is refreshing.
Akira may be the soft one, and Ryo his ice-cold, suave counterpart, but their emotional need for each other makes their relationship compelling to watch. The show has room for many examples of how we not only crave love and friendship, but understanding. Akira’s friends, Miki and Miko, are given the same treatment to a lesser degree; what starts as a friendship stained by jealousy ends with professions of love from them both. With the fear of demons gripping the world, humanity devolves into paranoia and violence. S Eric Thurm said the mass violence reflects the anti-war narrative and that the series’ “political message” is a reflection on “humanity’s tendency toward paranoia and willingness to turn on others”.
The way it dealt with sexuality and its openly LGBT characters also received praise; Surat said “many strongly resonate with Crybaby for its emphasis on explicitly gay and lesbian characters in a dramatic presentation”. Person liked the fact that there were “empathetic depictions” from both genders of the difficulty of being oneself and its “explicit and metaphorical queer presence”. Farokhmanesh also found “its unwavering acceptance of storylines like queer romance” to be “refreshing” and praised its subversion of toxic masculinity. The ending was divisive; PewDiePie considered it “flat” and a “fatal flaw” in the series, while Frank deemed its “beautiful, devastating finale” to be “perfection”. Devilman Crybaby was also interpreted as an allegory for puberty, especially male adolescence.
Toole commented that the physical and mental changes Akira goes through after obtaining Devilman’s powers represent metaphorically the anxiety during puberty. Vincent stated it was a story about “self-discovery, and coming to terms with yourself”, while Allegra Frank of Polygon said the series shows “a real love for young people”. Nick Creamer of Anime News Network called it a tale “about the chaos of puberty, about struggles with sexual identity and unrequited love”.