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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Devilman Crybaby is an animated series based on a manga series about a battle between demons and humans. The levels of mature content in this series go far beyond even anime aimed at adults. Most worrisome is the mix of sex and violence, with brutal events occurring at parties in which participants take unnamed drugs in capsules, cavort with each other sexually, and are then killed in very bloody ways by demons.There are too many stabbings, bludgeonings, beheadings, and eviscerations to count. Human characters are frequently cannon fodder as characters painted as heroic claim they're fighting to protect humanity, yet don't seem to mind who's killed during battles. Expect to see graphic sex: intercourse with moaning and thrusting, group sex, mouths to genitals (no genitalia are visible, but there are lots of bare breasts and buttocks). Unnamed drugs with Molly-like properties play a role in this series' plot -- characters take pills indiscriminately. Language is mild: "damn," "hell," "boobs."
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What's the story?
Based on the manga series Devilman by Go Nagai, DEVILMAN CRYBABY meets up with sensitive teen Akira (Koki Uchiyama), whose normal life is overturned after he's visited by a mysterious friend from the past, Ryo (Ayumu Murase). Ryo has learned that demons have always existed in the world, but have recently made an evolutionary leap -- they can now hide inside a human body, and are intent on waging war with humanity. Knowing that humans are helpless in the face of the cruel and powerful demons, Ryo presents Akira with a novel idea: He should allow a demon inside him yet keep his humanity intact. And so Akira becomes Devilman, a being with a demon's power but a human soul that's humankind's last chance.
Is it any good?
With extreme levels of sex and violence and plot points that will mystify Western viewers not familiar with Japanese anime conventions, this series is for mature anime fans only. Devilman Crybaby wins points for sheer oddness. Animated movies and shows frequently have a "good against evil" plotline, with heroic figures standing in between humanity and certain apocalypse. But styling the bad guys as literal demons is a departure, and Devilman clearly delights in dispatching the demons as violently as possible in set pieces that are almost balletic in their bloody brutality.
However, other aspects of Devilman's plot are more puzzling: "pseudo-Satanic" parties at which partygoers gulp pills and have group sex, a running star who's repeatedly referred to as "the witch of high school track," and a strange drug that seems to make humans more vulnerable to demonic possession. Complex and otherworldly, these and other parts of Devilman will strike viewers as either weird or complex and fascinating, depending on their taste. But the heart of the series is in the moments when Akira must battle various demons, when hacked off heads and limbs fly through the air, blood spurts in fountains, demons ooze out of human crevices and tower to great heights. It's strange stuff, and it's not for kids, but if over-the-top anime is your thing, this unusual series may be too.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about who Devilman Crybaby is aimed at. Is it for kids? Is it typical for American animated shows to be family-oriented? Is this also true in Japan? What other adult animated series or movies have you seen? Does this show have more or less mature content?
Have you read the manga series on which this show is based? How does this animated series compare? Does it enhance your enjoyment of a movie or TV show to have read the book it was based on?