As with many popular Amines that have received the reboot treatment in the past and present (Guyver, Space Battleship Yamato, Cyborg 009 and Berserk) now it’s Devilman's turn!
Based on the iconic Manga and Anime series and created by the father of Mecha-Go Nagai, Devilman Crybaby is an all-out assault on the senses. It's brutal, extremely violent, gratuitous and many of the uninitiated (Those who aren't familiar with Nagai's previous work i.e. Violence Jack.) are in for a shock!
As with many reboots, the overall narrative is a retelling of the classic Manga issues and to a lesser extent, the OVAs. Akira Fudo is a young, naive and kind-hearted adolescent who has the penchant to feel compassion and sympathy suffering individuals be they human or animals to the extent of crying profusely. That is, until his childhood friend, Ryo Asuka brings out the devil in him, literally!
You see, legend tells that prior to extinction, the demons were the very first to inhabit the earth and now they want to reclaim it and the first order of business, is to wipe out the entire Human race.
But "lucky" for mankind, Ryo, through cunning and manipulation, had succeeded in merging the strongest demon known as Amon with the noble Fudo, thus becoming the titular character himself whose purpose is to dispose of the menacing demons and more important, to protect Mika, the woman Akira loves.
Despite Crybaby having familiar tropes such as "Boy meets girl" this 10-episode epic dwells into extremely dark territory with its gratuitous depictions of violence, sex and profanity. There's even a disturbing rape scene that ends very bloody. The series at times, tackles social commentary as in the horrors of war, civil rights turmoil, Man's inhumanity to man, survivor's remorse and the virtues or lack thereof regarding social media.
To balance out the rampant nihilism, there's some humorous scenes thrown into the mix. Fudo’s wet dream sequence was a bit sophomoric, like that scene from Hancock. (The unrated version!)
There was nary a filler episode as the story progresses, things become more interesting to its inevitable conclusion where all hell literally breaks loose. The final episodes were chaotic with everything happening all at once be it full scale war against man or the fate of the protagonists.
And in some ways, the chaos from the finale was somewhat reminiscent to the 3rd act of Mother!
The voice acting is standard anime fare however, it’s a step above your usual made for television stuff. If there's one caveat I must mention, it goes to the art style that's psychedelic and at times, very cheap looking. Most notably, Devilman’s transformation or the re use of stock footage (Mika running) becomes way too obvious that the studio is working on some limited budget.
And to think how people bitched and moaned about the new Berserk series' animation.
Personally, I prefer the original OVA trilogy over Crybaby for its tone, suspense and straight forward stories. However, when it comes to a more extended adaptation of the series that's both cathartic, tragic and poignant accompanied by a bittersweet finale, this Netflix series has the edge.
It's a helluva ride!