Hello, probably sort of sane person reading this. I have dropped off the Earth because of Many Time Consuming Things, but I managed to crash back in just in time for that anime I really wanted to lay my retinas on, that Devilman Crybaby one.
When I heard Maasaki Yuasa was doing the adaptation of Go Nagai's hellspawn, I thought "Man, he might be one of the only directors to make this not ridiculous". A million beautiful ideas of what it could be like started flashing through my head like an indulgent seizure inducing PowerPoint, and I got seriously hyped! HYPE! HYPE! Now it's here! And I'm looking at it! I've got my bowl of strawberry yogurt and my eyeballs glued to the screen as I just take in all the over-the-top gore and untamed tiddy.
>>>(Heads up, I'm actually a big ol' fan of Maasaki Yuasa's stuff, 'cos it's all so weird and wonderful. He's got bright colors coupled with an unorthodox animation style that gives everything he touches a dash of quirk. If your right brain is the size of the Atlantic Ocean, you might really dig this guy. I highly suggest his emotional and deceptively child-like Kaiba and/or his pretty much perfect adaptation of Taiyo Matsumoto's Ping Pong.)
So understandably, people are pissed:
"Boobs?" The innocents scream, covering their pure, completely rational faces from the scenes of admittedly mature horror that flash before them with not shame. "Boobs that EAT people? And SEX? AND BLOOD? AND TIDDY BLOOD SEX? AND oh jeez, is that SATAN? This is DISGUSTING! I am extremely angry that this exists and I can't can't fathom why anyone would make Satan a giant, problematic intersex sociopath with a video camera!"
So there's that. Oh, um, Devilman Crybaby is rated MA for a reason, I guess.
So also NOT understandably, people are pissed:
"Devilman Crybaby?" The intellectuals moan, ripping off their 'MIKI IS MAI WAIFU' shirts out of pure rage. "What a piece of garbage! It hardly has any of the original themes of the original Devilman, so there's nothing for me to get off to. Humanity are the REAL devils, and war is EVIL! I can't believe that Yuasa destroyed such a deep, intellectual piece of art more than I can't believe it's not butter!"
Crybaby doesn't have many of the themes of the original Devilman, and a lot of the characters are totally different. It's not a perfect adaptation, I can give them that. But Devilman? A piece of art? I would like to point out, kiddos, that Devilman was always seriously slutty and kind of dumb.
1) AKIRA WAS A HUGE ASSHOLE
What made it really hard for me to grasp the themes of Devilman was the fact the manga asked me to get behind the ideal of a guys who was nothing but a majorly violent dickweed supreme. Seriously, he was supposed to be some kind of pinnacle of hope and humanity, but he's always really set on murdering and getting it on.
At least in Crybaby, he seems to have some kind of restraint. In the new anime, Akira is told to do things and blindly follows orders, where as OG Akira seems to act with slightly more awareness. He's a horny, murdery screamy man with persistently angry eyebrows and we are asked to understand him. Didn't these kids learn in middle school that excessive eyeliner will turn you into an edgy douchebag?
?2) EVERYONE IS CRAZY
When I read that Go Nagai made it all up as he went, I was not surprised. The dialogue comes off as choppy, vulgar, and mostly out of context. Everyone seems to lack that part of their brain that tells them "Nah, stabbing that guy with a beer bottle out of nowhere is a little unwarranted. I should go home and eat kale chips and watch British Top Gear instead!"
It's actually totally hilarious. I ended up laughing through the whole thing.
Yup, I get that it's supposed to be about the dark, vulgar id of humanity and how war is traaaaaash, but I feel like it can have a little more nuance, ya know? It goes so far out with it's edginess that it's hard to take those messages seriously. People don't act like this in real life, so I feel totally disconnected from anything that's happening.
You can make the argument that comics were all really goofy looking and cheesy back then, and you'd be somewhat right. There was a heck of a lotta weirdness going on in those old things, and their messages were seldom subtle. BUT! Devilman is sill totally ridiculous, even compared to "way-back-when" standards. Ever seen Ashita no Joe? Probably not? I don't blame you, that thing is old. But even for starting up in 1960-freaking-8, it's still a maturely written (though still somewhat trite) piece of gold that is readable even today.
Much like Devilman, Ashita no Joe is (at least for the time) an edgy, kinda dark, bloody violent action story about an unusually punchy teenager with anger problems who fights for his people by becoming unimaginably powerful and ultimately kicks the bucket. The difference between Devilman and Ashita no Joe is the thought that actually went into the writing.
Joe, the main character, is an asshole. He is an emotionally unstable, violent teen who can be admittedly hard to root for. He, like Akira, has scary outbursts and it got to the point where I began to wonder if he was a good person or just completely messed up.
But in the end, Joe became my precious baby boy.
The people around him recognize that he is messed up. Even Joe seems to think so of himself, but he continues to push it off in order to survive. He grew up with no love, no reason, and whilst trying desperately to pull my eyes away from the page (borderline impossible), I thought to myself "this kid is screwed up psychologically. This boy has issues". I meant it not on the writers fault, but because everyone seemed to know it. Joe is a good kid. He's scared, panicky and alone. Seeing him accumulate a family and grow a little brought genuine tears to my eyes. Everyone, although constantly yapping about some cheesy "Tomorrow...There wILL BE HOPE!!" thingy, felt to a certain degree very real.
Devilman's cast and world is composed entirely of unbelievably horny sociopaths who think Douchbag McBigbrows is justified in every action so it was kinda hard to do anything but awkwardly laugh.
3) WTF MIKI
The best/worst/craziest/stupidest part of Devilman was not the over the top gore, not the insane eyebrows, not even the fact that every female demon has huge, hungry tiddies, but main freaking girl, Miki. Miki is a huge psychopath and the fact that she was ever even conceived for any reason is both hilarious and concerning.
At first, it all starts off kind of strange but passable.
In fact, I thought she cool in an out of hand way.
But then Miki brings a knife to school to straight up stab some kids, and that's when I began to wonder if Go Nagai knew what a normal highchool girl is like. Miki is supposed to be a normal highschool girl, but she definately does not come off like one. Then, after getting ready to murder other children, she is saved by Akira, No Longer A Pussy Edition, completely changes personality and asks to carry his bags like a good waifu. AND THEN THIS:
The old "Miki The Hands" turns, without warning, into "Miki The Hands (on me daddy)" and I then had no idea what was going on.
Later, she shows up in Akira's room in a very thin, see through night gown and she gets real suggestive before Akira Bigbrows is a total violent dick towards her and she giggles about it.
Who is Miki? Originally, she was an incredibly violent and crazy vulgar girl who had no problem slapping around the local populace, but now she's a horny, submissive vulgar waifu who is only forward when she wants some of that Devil Dick? I don't know what's going on. Akira Bigbrows pushes her around and she giggles about because she's waifu lol. I can't tell where the bar for sanity is and because of that, I don't know who is supposed to represent good or evil or corruption or tiddies. Don't tell me take this thing seriously when the main girl gets naked for the bath, slaps her own butt and tells it that it's cute. Her butt. She talks to her butt. Why does this exist.
So there is my excessively long winded speech on some big issue that lie in this supposed masterpiece. I mean there were several short stories included in the main story that stuck with me (The boy whose mom let the dog loose on him comes to mind) but none of that could make up for whatever the hell this was supposed to be. Even after all that, I think it's still worth a go. It's exhausting. It's stupid. It's slutty. It's so dumb, it's funny. And the Engrish Dub of that one oddly well animated OVA it definitely worth the brain cells it kills. Want something that's edgy and old fashioned but won't make you want to lobotomize yourself with spoon? Try Ashita no Joe, or Abandon the Old in Tokyo, or MW. They're all cool and thoughtful and delightfully dark takes humanity. still want Devilman? Go watch that Netflix Crybaby one. It's got all the violence and sex of the original, but with some semblance of coherence that makes it actually unironically enjoyable.
I'm really hungry so I'm gonna go get me a sammich.
Weeb culture has already been implemented in mass media and is enjoyed by the likes of Snoop Dog and Jeb Bush so it'll never die out , victory is won.