Is Devilman Crybaby really the "anime of the year"?
Even though we are still in the middle of the winter anime season, many in the community are already calling Devilman Crybaby the anime of 2018. While I may not be as ready to give it such a prestigious title, I definitely think that Devilman Crybaby is a contender.
Devilman Crybaby is the story of a man with the body of a demon and the heart of a human fighting against the demons and monsters that hide in the shadows. Akira Fudo is a high schooler who has an intense sense of empathy and cries when others feel pain or are sad. One day, Akira's childhood friend, Ryo Asuka, shows up and asks for help in proving that demons are real and living among humans. At a party where demons lurk and feed on humans, Akira is fused with a demon and becomes a devilman, using his super strength and powers to wage a war on the demons and defend humanity.
Akira Fudo is the main character of the series and when he is first introduced, he is crying for others. Before becoming Devilman, Akira is not particularly weak but he's average. Not especially fast or strong, and he doesn't draw much attention to himself. After becoming Devilman, Akira is still empathetic, but he is stronger and faster than most men. He also indulges in his desires and doesn't hold back if there is something that he really wants. Though his outward appearance and actions drastically change, he still remains the same Akira at heart.
Ryo Fudo, Akira's childhood friend who turns him into a devilman, is almost the complete opposite of Akira. Ryo is seemingly heartless, murdering a dying kitten in the first few minutes of the first episode, and he immediately draws attention to himself, either because of his appearance, his genius, or by shooting a machine gun in broad daylight. He turns Akira into a devilman so that the two of them can work together to expose demons and eradicate them, though from the very beginning it seems like Ryo isn't being honest about his goals.
Fotunately, Ryo is not Akira's only friend. Miki Makimura is a star of the track and field team, called "the witch" because of her unbelievable physical abilities and likely because she is mixed race. Despite being looked at with either disdain or desire, Miki isn't ashamed or full of herself. She treats everyone with kindness and is willing to get to know a person before judging them, even if a person gives her multiple signs that they're dangerous.
Besides the main cast of character, Devilman Crybaby has some of the best supporting characters in anime. One of the themes of Devilman Crybaby is that you should not judge a book by it's cover and a lot of the supporting cast may make you assume something of their character based on their appearance or the way that they act and talk, but in reality their character is just the opposite. Devilman Crybaby has probably some of the most realistic and complex characters that you do not find in a lot of anime which is often plagued with stereotypes and overused tropes.
The characters of Devilman Crybaby are probably the strongest aspect of the series since the art and animation can be...strange. Director Masaaki Yuasa is known for having a very ugly and rough animation, like in Ping Pong. While there are moments that I think Masaaki Yuasa's art and animation fit the dark and twisted tone of the series but there are also moments that just look awkward. I will admit that I do think that the design of the demons and Devilman are appropriately disturbing and unique.
But if the animation and art are kind of pushing you away from this series, maybe the music will hook you. Usually I don't notice music when I watch anime, unless the series has moments where characters aren't talking and the soundtrack speaks for them. Devilman Crybaby has probably one of the best soundtracks that I ever heard. I don't usually talk about music since I don't think that I have the vocabulary or understanding of music to do it justice. So for Devilman Crybaby's soundtrack, I'll just say that it is kind of unexpected but appropriate for this series.
If you are now considering watching Devilman Crybaby, I want to warn you that this series is very graphic. The action is very violent and there are sex scenes that are pretty explicit, but that is just because Devilman Crybaby deals with a lot of serious and mature content like sexual assault, nihilism, xenophobia, and religious extremism. If you can handle that kind of stuff, you will probably be able to watch Devilman Crybaby and enjoy the drama and action. If you can do without such shocking content, don't feel pressured to watch the series just because of all the hype from the anime community. There is actually a lot of other quality series that are out there this season if Devilman Crybaby isn't your thing.