By Joyce Slaton,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Ultra-violent animated series is way too intense for kids.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Positive messages are few and far between in this violent series, where the "good guys" use brutal force to fight demons and most people are more or less collateral damage with no thought given to the safety and comfort of individuals in a high-level battle waged on behalf of humanity.
Positive Role Models
Ryo is presented as a heroic character, shown towering over others with his clothing whipping around dramatically, but he's a nihilist: "You can't survive by obeying laws," he tells an admiring Akira. Akira often cries for reasons that viewers will understand (the death of an animal or human friend), but fellow characters call him a "crybaby" and imply he's weak or unmasculine. Miki, a track and field star, is frequently evaluated for her looks and body (she's also a bikini model, we hear) as well as her running skill.
Violence & Scariness
Extreme, unrelenting violence: creatures that transform from human into tentacled beasts, demons tearing apart human bodies as they emerge, self-immolation, stabbings, bludgeonings, beheadings, evisceration, people thrown against a wall and turned into a spray of blood. In one scene, a man possessed by a demon pours gasoline over his head and sets himself alight; in another, a demented man slashes club-goers with a broken bottle as blood spurts and pools. Violence often has a sexual tinge: A man in the middle of having sex is chopped in half and consumed after his female partner transforms into a devil; a demonic creature emerges from a woman's gaping vagina; a half-naked woman's breasts and tongue change into the tentacles of a demon.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Intense sexual content, frequently intermingled with violence. Characters visit a club with half-naked men and women dancing, kissing, gyrating, taking multicolored pills; women perform as strippers with their buttocks bouncing, while in the background and foreground characters have sex in same- and opposite-sex twos, threes, and fours, animated bare breasts and backsides visible. Female characters kiss as one puts her hand in another's underwear. A half-naked woman transforms into a demon, her breasts and tongue stretching into tentacles; a man having sex with a woman (thrusting and moaning) is ripped in half when she turns into a demon mid-coitus. Two young men watch women running and comment that one runner's "boobs" are "bouncing like crazy" (he is called a "pervert" by his friend). A teen girl advises a male friend to clear his browser history after watching porn.
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Language is less intense than sex and violence: "damn," "hell," "boobs." Characters tell each other to "shut up."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
An unnamed (Molly-like?) drug that we hear "fills you with energy and willpower" plays a part in the action. At a club, characters take a rainbow of pills and cavort sexually with each other before being transformed into brutal demons and tearing each other apart.
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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?
Families can also talk about the violence in this series. How does watching super-violent content make you feel? What's the impact of media violence on kids?
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?
- Premiere date: January 5, 2018
- Cast: Kouki Uchiyama, Ayumu Murase, Megumi Han
- Network: Netflix
- Genre: Drama
- TV rating: NR
- Last updated: February 18, 2023
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