Devilman Crybaby: Devil May Cry

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Gore, psychological, and shounen are three themes that usually don’t go well together. Yet, coming from the creator of the acclaimed Mind Games, Devilman:Crybaby is another Yuusa masterpiece. It sets up a realistic plot of what would transpire if the world suddenly faces the advent of demons. It depicts demons being an ancient existence who had roamed the earth long before mankind. However, they slowly disappeared over time. Our main story revolves around Akira Fudo, a sensitive young man who cries easily when he sees others in pain. He and his half-Japanese childhood friend, Miki Makimura lives in a small house in the heart of the city. Fudo’s uneventful weak life turned over a new leaf when his friend and child prodigy Ryo Asuka comes back to him after spending years abroad in the dense jungles of Peru, researching the demons. Ryo took Fudo to an orgy, popularly known as Sabbath, to make him witness demons firsthand. Sexual urge and violence is a stimuli towards awakening the demons inside oneself, and the violence and display of naked lust turned Akira Fudo into a devil called Amon. However, the transformation somehow fails, as Fudo still retains the consciousness and virtues of his human self. Thus the devilman is born.

The Birth of Amon

The story of Devilman: Crybaby is unique. Unless I saw it, I would never had believed that an anime of such caliber could be made within 10 episodes. The story abruptly ascends from a realm of petty personal gratifications and insatiations to a realm where simple desires are led to rest and the whole battle transcends into a realm of collective struggle. The show makes one witness a true oppressive dystopia, where humankind faces an adversary, nonpareil by strength and dedicated in their cunning.  Masaki Yuusa has really educed the deepest human desires in this anime. The mastermind behind Mind Game surpasses himself while slowly developing the relations behind Ryo, Fudo and Miki. They were but children—caught in a conflict of beyond their power—yet their maturity blossoms when they each handle the situation in a manner that shamed the adults besides them. Indeed, character development in Devilman Crybaby is very strong. And some of the most sensitive moments in the show pass by naturally, while we gasp at the excellence at which Yuusa presents his message to us.

The style of animation used is very interesting. It follows a classical fuzzy, colorful theme that had often been used for psychological animes. If someone starts on the series without any premonition, he might be a bit baffled. Indeed, the animation during the first two episodes are—erratic and unusual—if put it mildly. But, there are things to be unfolded. Only in the later episodes would one finally realise that it was intentional, and traditional anime art returns. And in retrospect, it seems fitting that the initial episodes would have a different style of art than the later ones, to mark the contrast and the development that ensues in the meantime. This is a wonderful use of animation, and is indeed one of the things that make this show unique.

The opening song is one of the best I have seen in years. It reminded me of Monster, another anime which is highly acclaimed due to its psychological plot. It has a rumbling sound of African tribal drums that conflict themed music often use, and due to its rarity in the anime music world, it stands out. But apart from that, I did not care much about OST or background musics. Indeed, I may not be the best person to comment on the background music of an anime. The ending is good enough, but does not stand out among the crowd like the opening does.

This more or less completes the overview of what I had to say about the show. For those who haven’t seen it, this is a must recommendation. I only discuss those anime which stands out among the crowd, and those that make me reflect. Devilman: Crybaby definitely falls in that category.

What follows next are some discussions pertaining to my own opinion.

The next part of the article is lengthy, and contains heavy spoilers.

Addendum :
Part 1: The Biblical Parallel

“And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time. I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.(The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection.Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.”~ Revelations 20, Bible When Christ died, his disciples took his teaching and words and wrote it down. It is largely believed that the first ever Bible was written in Hebrew. A discussion of Devilman Crybaby is never complete without a discussion of its Biblical references.

It is common knowledge that Satan was a fallen angel. However, contrary to popular belief, this fall is not described in New Testament. But for the purpose of this discussion, we will ignore this absence. As the story goes Satan was initially an angel whom God had created as someone who would be an extension of his will and power. However, Satan soon amassed his own followers and rebelled against God. He was rigorously defeated by the armies of heaven and banished to hell for a thousand years with all his followers. But it was not an end for him. After the thousand years would be over, he was to be released once more, for a brief period, after which he will again be banished for another thousand years. Thus was the story of Satan, who was to be defeated by God again and again.

Among Satan’s followers were other fallen angels and the devil host. The chief among them, Amon, the champion, who led the forty legions of hell. He was the strongest devil, and a projection of Satan’s will and power. He led the armies of hell under Satan’s bid to challenge God.

How ironic is it, that the very thing Satan did against God, Amon did against Satan? Just as Satan rose against the tyrannies of God, Amon and his fellow Devilmen rose against Satan. And, just like Satan was defeated by God, Amon was thoroughly defeated by Satan. He paid with his life for the crime of going against Satan. Thus, in Devilman: Crybaby, we see a reinterpretation of Satan’s Uprising, this time through the lenses of Amon. And this begs the question of perspective.

Since we looked at the story of Amon through the moral lenses of a human, we might be tempted to accuse Satan as an antagonist in this ballad. However, what if Satan himself was revolting against a malevolent God? After all, when Satan came to Earth, unmerciful God did not allow the demons to exist peacefully. Even though that peace might have been a barbaric, primeval peace, the system coexisted in a resonant harmony, and life was simple. Maybe life does indeed come in a full circle. Even the divine is not beyond that decree of space and time.

Part 2: Ragnarok

Over the course of this show there has been an extremely acute portrayal of a dystopia. The show has quite accurately described a very real life scenario of a demon outbreak. Humans are vulnerable to the negative emotions affecting their lives. And in face of unknown danger, a human panics. All the logic and evolution that the mind has achieved over millennia breaks down in a frantic frenzy. Suspicion gives way to distrust, distrust gives way to belligerence, and at the slightest misstep, belligerence germanes violence. At the suspicion of a demon inhabiting inside a human, panic ripples through the society, with humans turning on fellow humans in medieval witch hunt. Hundreds and thousands of innocent people are sacrificed to juxtapose the hopelessness and despair that the society spirals into. It’s a journey down a rabbit hole.

The Witch Hunt

All this leads to, is more massacre. In the end, even Miki falls victim to this. For the crime of calling out for the Devilmen, Miki is vilified, stabbed, killed and her head is put on a spike while her murderers dance before her flaming house. Yet, her death served a great cause. Her call echoed through the stars, and Devilmen from all over the world, responded to her, coming together in one band under Fudo to fight against Ryo and his demons. The sea runs crimson with the blood of the humans. In the end, humanity and devilkin both are eradicated in the epic war, while the angel host invades Earth to lock Satan away for another millennia.

Aftermaths of Armageddon

Part 3: Devil May Cry

The third part that I wished to discuss, though one might argue that this should be a part of the main review, is how the show depicts emotions, morals, and in general, the typical human. Humans are weak, frail creatures who are easily manipulated at large, and is at the mercy of the powers of nature. At the slightest instigation, they judge fellow humans. When it comes to strangers, they plunder, pillage, and are violent. Yet, when a son devours his mother before the aghast eyes of his father, the father is stunned from the shock. The father knows that he must kill his demonised child, but cannot bring himself to do it. Just as the child submitted to his instincts of hunger and devoured his mother, the man submitted to his instincts and saved his son. In the end, both the demon and the man sheds the same tears of agony, while the military open fires at them.

And finally, we have, at the ending, the tears of Satan; that Satan, who was previously impervious to emotions. The death of Akira Fudo brings out the human inside Ryo. The loss of the dearest friend (both Akira to Ryo and Amon to Satan) does what extermination of entire humanity could not. Satan, who ever so loves to stand high above the mortals, bathing in his own transcendence of humanity, is dragged down to feel the petty human emotions that he despises so deeply. In this way, perhaps it was not Ryo who won the battle, but Akira. Since, even though Akira lost the fight, he broke Ryo from inside.  And thus, the devil cried.

The discussion can go on, and I have only scratched the surface of what I could say. But we must draw the line at some point. And this moment seems as good as any. I hope that you have enjoyed the discussion. Write down your suggestions in the comments below and give us a big thumbs up on Facebook if you can. Thank you!

Daniel Defoy

Daniel is a part of our core writing force. (May it be with you.) His writing is in-depth, engaging, and opinion-based. Anyone who reads his smart words is left thinking or arguing. Btw, if we publish his articles without breaking his paragraphs down into smaller chunks, Nihonden will soon be an academic journal of sorts.