In case you haven’t heard, Devilman Crybaby is now available to watch on Netflix, and it’s one hell of a ride. Aside from cementing its spot as what could be the best anime of 2018 thus far, it’s masterfully written, animated, and a fantastic watch. You may be more than a little down by the time you devour the paltry 10 episodes, but you’ll be itching to watch again. That’s the mark of a masterpiece, and what I’m really saying here in a not-so-subtle fashion is that you need to watch Devilman Crybaby. No more excuses, just go ahead and watch it. You can do that right after you read this article, so carve out some time and eat it up. You can thank me later. But first, here are some things to know about the show before you dive in.
The devilishly ultra-violent work is a classic, and one of Go Nagai’s most recognizable properties. It’s spawned a 39-episode TV series, several novels, OVA (original video animation) spinoffs, and various other properties that you’ll definitely want to go investigate once you finish Devilman Crybaby. The original Devilman manga was actually written by Go Nagai as a sort of sequel to a series released not long before it: Demon Lord Dante.
To that end, Devilman Crybaby is a modern retelling of the original Devilman story, with some wildly different character alterations and different fates for several of the players. It also relies heavily on social media like YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram to help propel its narrative, to shocking effect at times. Luckily, you don’t need to have seen the old anime series or have read the manga to enjoy it, but it helps ease a little of the pain to know that some of the fates the characters end up facing are different in each iteration of the show. In fact, there's more to the story than where Crybaby ends, so if you end up bummed out afterward, rejoice! There's plenty more time to see your favorite characters again.
Ultimately, the core story remains the same, however. Akira Fudo is a teenage boy who lives with a young woman, Miki Makimura, and her family. His best friend is Ryo Asuka, an erratic and intelligent youth who believes he has confirmed the existence of demons (directly or indirectly, depending on which series or manga you read). He ultimately works to get Ryo involved in his bid to show the world that demons exist, and in doing so eventually involves Akira in a war between demons and humans.
The idea, as Ryo says, is to become a demon to fight them off. That’s precisely what ends up happening in one way or another, again depending on which version you’re sticking with. In the end, the conclusion is the same: Akira Fudo can become Devilman, a being that retains the raw power of a demon named Amon, but a human heart and conscience. Akira can change into Devilman at will, and does this while fighting off those who would harm him and those he loves. That's the basis of the Devilman mythos, and whether you watch the 39-episode television series or pore through the manga, those are the basic ideals, without spoiling anything too heavily. It's nothing too complicated at first (that comes in later), so with this foundation of knowledge, you should be good to go, or at least carry some context with you into your first viewing. Well, almost.
With the basic content outline out of the way, before you go into the show and the franchise itself, know that there are some pretty extreme levels of graphic violence and sex. If this isn’t your thing, you may want to bow out. But the amalgam of bizarre, surreal animated sequences combined with some absolutely brutal kills and the depravity that goes along with it colors Devilman Crybaby with some intriguing character that’s rarely seen in anime, or Western animation in general. It can be a lot to take in, especially if you're not ready for it, but stick it out and you'll be grateful that you did.
It's also important to keep in mind that this is far from your typical anime series. Director Masaaki Yuasa, founder of animation studio Science Saru, is responsible for some of the most unique-looking anime series and films to have graced the medium. He’s created some of his best work with Devilman Crybaby and its surreal, cartoony style that bounces around from realistic and typical anime designs to a freeform method that turns every notion you think you know about anime on its head. If you like what you see in Crybaby, make sure you take a look at Yuasa’s work on The Tatami Galaxy, Mind Game, and Ping Pong, especially.
Now that you're fueled up with a bit more information about the show, its legacy, and what you're about to watch, make sure you go and hungrily devour Devilman Crybaby, and then come back and tell us all about your experience. Just make sure to set some time aside for the inevitable existential crisis you'll be going through soon.