Jan 29, 2018
Unowen (All reviews)
Adapting an overly violent and virtually anachronistic work is a bold stance. Built upon an antiwar theme and cemented by the novelty of both shock and schlock value, Devilman managed to gain its classic status in a notorious but comprehensible manner.

Crybaby aims to update said elements, to remain faithful to the original as well as to make the proper additions that would make the story more compelling and interesting for broader audiences. It tries with a simple, cartoonish artwork and multiple visual gimmicks to compensate for what ultimately looks like a pretty tight budget. Which could also be related to the logistical constraint of releasing all the episodes at once or having screened two other movies (the studio) just the year before. Whatever the reason is, the visual department being distressingly plain can’t be attributed to a matter of style, particularly when it doesn’t match with the severity of the events it portrays. It arguably works in its favor for the first half, but certainly not for the last.

One of the main criticisms this show is receiving is related to the explicit content. Make no mistake, it is inherent to the story and these series. But what is most important to approach is the purpose of all this content. Is it really justified or makes up for its presence for more than just the sake of being different and refreshing altogether?

Most like many other Yuasa’s stories and adaptations, there is a clear inflection point towards the middle, in this case marking the transition between the diverse subplots that surface during the first episodes and the mass hysteria that follows the revelation of the demons’ existence. What follows is a hackneyed depiction of distrust in human nature, a self-flagellation of sorts that cannot avoid the triteness of the subject. It is probably a tale that requires the utmost sobriety, while the new retelling just adds an additional layer of wackiness (and rapping) instead. With the transition between these two parts being rendered in an absurdist fashion.

Which brings the next principal issue: Humanity and by extension all the characters of this series are mere caricatures. The show attempts to defy the amazing simplicity of the two-dimensional theme it presents by affording the main cast with a recurring background that truly backfired by infesting the last run of episodes with jarring mood shifts that made the already grotesque imagery harder to digest.

Visually uninspiring and sloppy, thematically basic and spoon-feed as well as devoid of any compelling characters, Devilman Crybaby is completely dependent on the viewer’s prior expectations and their response to the always unexpected presence of blood and sex, an appeal that seemingly never ages.