Devilman: Crybaby Review | Spoiler-Free
The Devilman manga is famous for being extremely new and exciting in 1972. Devilman: Crybaby has managed to mimic that same freshness and excitement 40 years later. Not only does it sport the sexuality and extreme violence that made the manga so exciting which is already a stark difference from anime today, but it capitalizes on Yuasa's visuals and rarely heard synthwave to make Crybaby feel like no other anime coming out today.
Akira and Ryo are the two main characters, stronger together and both with interesting starts but each individually and as a pair disappoint. Akira starts out as a child-like character but turns into a different beast as Devilman. He becomes much cooler with a lot of potential for an internal conflict as being both a demon and a man which was not fully capitalized on. We get glimpses of this struggle here and there but it never feels like it's explored as much as it could or should be. Ryo begins the show with a lot of charm, pulling out a machine gun from his giant coat and destroying part of a dock with it. We see bits and pieces of that side again and it makes for the coolest moments but leaves you wishing we saw more of it. Akira and Ryo's relationship is wonderful when we do see it and yet again disappointing. We see multiple times small cute interactions between the two but we never get any real meat to their relationship. The rest of the cast were alright, but nothing special.
The majority of the episodes are fast-paced thrill rides that are joys to watch but utterly flawed. Many of the episodes focus on a single character/enemy of interest. Characters are introduced and killed too quickly to warrant a strong emotional response (while there may be some) from the viewer it feels like it deserves. There's an awkward shift on episode 7 to a new focus, leaving the episode and the next slower than the rest but it quickly gets itself back on it's feet for an epic ending. The ending is epic as said but suffers from the same issue that the earlier episodes do. It feels like it could have been more, there could have been more of an emotional response and impact but because they didn't develop Akira and Ryo's relationship enough, it was a lot less than it could have been.
Yuasa's visuals are always a treat bringing a striking difference from anything else coming out. The visuals perfectly represent how unique and crazy Devilman is by being unique and crazy itself. The animation is fairly consistent for the entire show. Poorly animated shots are few and far between, but so are really well-animated shots. The great animation is saved for few moments, specifically the first episode and the last two. The consistency of the show can be appreciated but many scenes feel like they could've been given some extra visual oompf to elevate them just that much higher.
The OP also has art in a different style than the show and looks phenomenal.
Crybaby's synthwave track not only sound great by itself but works well with the show. Multiple episodes start with great rap relevant to where the show's at in the point of the story with believable lyrics. For a taste, have a listen to Devilman no Uta, a remix of the OG show's OP which totally should have been the OP.
Crybaby did it's job as an adaptation by updating quite a few things to be more relevant to now, giving it that fresh feel versus something obviously made in the 70s. Modern technology is prevalent throughout the series with TVs, laptops, smartphones and more. The setting feels modernized and old-school delinquents you'd find around Japan at the time changed to much more current rappers. Source changes can be finicky but this is a welcome one.
Devilman: Crybaby is a crazy, unique, fresh and exciting thrill-ride that's heavily flawed but still immensely enjoyable.