Devilman Crybaby

December 15, 2018

So, yeah, I watched Devilman Crybaby. It was an experience.

Before I started watching, what I knew was that this a Yuasa adaptation of a famous early 70s Go Nagai manga, funded by Netflix and so without broadcast content restrictions. The first episode pretty much delivered what I expected in that regard; as I said on Twitter, it was very over the top in Go Nagai's usual way, and gleefully and faithfully rendered by Yuasa (eg). I also said something that I didn't intend as foreshadowing, but:

I didn't get emotionally pulled into Devilman Crybaby because many parts were absurd, but that's probably the best way to consume Go Nagai. To be actually in the show would be terrifyingly intense even in this episode; distance helped a lot.

Yuasa's Devilman Crybaby turned out to be very good at kicking you in the feels, to put it in the modern idiom. It became nothing like it had started out as, mutating from an over the top operatic exercise in excess to something very powerful by the end. I went into Devilman Crybaby expect to get interestingly executed pulp. I wound up getting far more, with real emotional impacts.

(In retrospect, the mood of the striking and compelling OP was also foreshadowing. That's not a pulp show's OP, in either animation or music.)

To talk of whether or not I liked Devilman Crybaby seems almost beside the point. Devilman Crybaby is not here to be liked; it's here to put you through the wringer, and what you make of that experience is up to you. My own ride through Devilman Crybaby was quite the rollercoaster, even though it didn't entirely pull me in (also).

After I'd finished the show, I read Wikipedia's article on the manga, which covers the metaphor Go Nagai intended for the whole story. I see where and why Go Nagai was going, but only intellectually and I have to view it as very much a product of the early 1970s and the Vietnam war. It's not something that resonates with me, for all that it feels like Go Nagai had to have been very passionate about it when he created Devilman.

(Although I don't know if it's the case, it certainly feels like Devilman has to be an angry work, with Go Nagai railing against one aspect of the world and people. But this is all me reading things into Go Nagai's central metaphor.)

Devilman Crybaby is in some ways a messy show, one that feels abbreviated in spots; I suspect that people who've read the Devilman manga will have a deeper appreciation of the show than I do. I'll probably never rewatch it, and I certainly don't love it; not only was it wrenching, but Yuasa's version stays faithful to the manga's downer ending (which is apparently famous and iconic). But I'm not going to forget it any time soon, and I have no regrets about watching it. It is, very definitely, a powerful work. And a very Yuasa one.

(This is part of @appropriant's 12 Days of Anime 2018.)

Written on 15 December 2018.
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Last modified: Sat Dec 15 16:27:20 2018
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