Should You Watch Devilman Crybaby? Episode 1 Winter Anime 2018

devilman crybaby
Devilman Crybaby. (c) Netflix

Devilman Crybaby. Oh boy.

If you follow random anime fans on Twitter, you may have seen lots of art, sometimes cute, sometimes dramatic, always striking, of two young men: one blonde and angelic, one dark and devilish, with the latter sometimes literally in demonic form and often in tears. The art may have confused you into thinking that Devilman Crybaby is some kind of CLAMP-esque BL love story with supernatural overtones. Torrid in a soap opera kind of way but otherwise a straightforward romance.

Dear God, it is not, and you should really pay attention to content warnings for this show before watching. In the first episode alone, there’s animal death, body horror, bodily transformation, demonic transformation, boobs growing into tentacles with teeth and devouring people, vaginas growing jagged mouths and biting sex partners in half mid-coitus, lots of bare breasts jiggling, lots of explicit sex, lots of drugs, boners, boner shots, guns, knives, blood, stabbing, violent orgies, Satanic summoning…

If you are not mentally prepared for this show, you’ll be scarred. If you know full and damn well you cannot handle watching any of the above, do not watch this show no matter how much cute fluffy fanart crosses your feed or dash. Episode 1 is just the beginning: Devilman Crybaby gets more extreme and explicit as the show goes on. Its creator, Go Nagai, pioneered the ecchi genre (and the Super Robot genre).

Warnings aside, not only did I like episode 1 of Devilman Crybaby, I was surprised to find how engrossing it was to watch. There’s a shamelessness about the way the plot hurtles forward in all its demonic absurdity that I found refreshing. Director Masaki Yuasa’s characteristic fluid, flat animation style makes the sex and gore bearable by somehow making it so extreme and cartoonish, even silly. His style isn’t for everyone, but I’ve always enjoyed its risks and its visual distinction.

We meet Akira, our crybaby, sobbing over a dying cat, and we meet Ryo, our weird blonde, not giving a single fuck. Ten years later, Akira still cries anytime something sad happens to people around him and Ryo is still weird as hell and a little too eager to implant the devil Amon into his sweet best friend. There is surprisingly good Japanese rap. There is a profusion of visual spectacle. There are nonsensical info dumps about demons that don’t really matter because no one is truly here for the lore. It’s a wild ride.

If you can stand the hyperviolence, the hypersexuality (it hasn’t escaped me how all the demonic body horror swells from female sex organs only), characters who are only sketched out for now as they power through this wild first episode, and Yuasa’s animation style, then give Devilman Crybaby a watch. It certainly looks like nothing else this season.

All 10 episodes of Devilman Crybaby are currently streaming on Netflix.

 

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