If you haven’t watched/read all of Devilman Crybaby, Berserk, Parasyte and Evangelion, there are spoilers ahead with this mini-series of posts.
As I’m sure we’ve all experienced last month, Devilman Crybaby on Netflix was one hell of a ride. From the wild animation style where teenagers were running like fast ass baboon-cheetahs to the gut-wrenching pain of seeing the fate of characters we learned to love and hate,
this series started this year off with a dark ass bang that has resonated with all of us.
Though I’m not on Otaku levels of anime love, I had heard the name "Devilman" and saw glimpses of art for it over the years, but never fully committed to investigating what it was about. Once I finished watching the anime, I immediately dived into a voracious reading frenzy on a Devilman Wikia about the characters and the lore that has changed and remained the same over the past 46 years.
Yes, my ninjas and non-ninjas: Devilman has been floating in our existence since 1972, predating many—if not all— anime fans that were drawn to this year’s reboot.
I’m still not sure if I’ll invest in reading the manga (I’d have to dig up the raw version somewhere to keep up with my Japanese studies), but I think if you really loved Crybaby, you should check out its origin in manga or even anime form. The Devilman vs Cyborg 009 movie is currently on Netflix!
Now onto the major topic at hand: What sealed my attraction to Devilman were the visual and sometimes story parallels that also exist within series like Berserk and Evangelion (Parasyte shares concepts as well, but I’m not a fan of the anime in the slightest).
The demon possessions in previous renditions of Devilman were more overt and dramatic while in Crybaby, they seem to happen spontaneously as the will of demons overcome the fragile darkness within any humans who attracts them. This is different in the case of the titular character Akira Fudo: his pure heart allows him to maintain most of his conscious mind when the great demon Amon possesses him. We never see the struggle of minds or know how Amon feels about this.
This breeds the new species of “Devilmen” like the characters Koda and Miko: their strong ambitions allowed them to maintain most of their humanity though they can transform into devils at will.
The force of “other” consuming another species is clearly apparent in Parasyte and Berserk. The Apostles in Berserk could be considered similar to Devilmen (though their “possessions” were seemingly more willful). Still, with the recent arcs of Berserk and the Neo-Band of Hawks, there are Apostles who maintain virtues and curb their taste for human flesh.
Clearly the some of the “partial parasites” in Parasyte are like Devilmen in their possession of human bodies. There's a parallel with Akira and Shinichi in that they're both kind-hearted kids who are transformed by the mishap of another species: they're both abnormalities who exist between the fringes of their identities. Similar to Akira when he faced Sirene and Kaim and questioned if demons were capable of love, Shinichi faces a parasite woman who gives birth to a completely human male child and chooses to raise him.
In all three series we are faced with the questions of evil and love within the same beings.
That’s a lot, and there's more from where that came from.
Next week, I'll speak directly to the imagery borrowed heavily from Devilman and how that appears in Berserk and End of Evangelion.
Thanks for tuning in! What other anime/manga have you known or noticed were influenced by this OG redux? Comment below!
(Guest post by Alaina M. Dorsey)