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The Most Loathsome Anime Villain

Anime Villian: DevilMan Crybaby

Devilman Crybaby: A Story of Betrayal Leads to One of the Cruelest Antagonists in Anime

The perfect anime villain serves as a foil for the story’s hero. They must possess an abnormal amount of power or intelligence over our hero. In addition, they must create a sense of urgency and helplessness for the hero – and the audience. Among the most important antagonists in the expansive anime catalog: is Ryo Asuka from the Devilman series. 

The tale of Devilman has seen many iterations since its introduction by Mangaka Go Nagai in 1972. The 2018 adaptation of Devilman Crybaby directed by Masaaki Yuasa – injects the story into our modern world with the charm and themes of the original series intact. Akira Fudo is entrenched in the underground world of violent creatures – known as demons – by his childhood friend Ryo Asuka. Following Ryo’s attempt to summon these demons at a party known as “Sabbath,” Akira fuses with a champion demon known as Amon and becomes the titular anti-hero: Devilman.

Throughout the story, Ryo and Akira make a pact to rid their world of these creatures; until the former learns about his connection to the beasts and shifts his allegiance to them. Ryo’s actions result in global mass casualties, and the story culminates in a battle between the two childhood friends during a biblical apocalypse.

Introduction to Ryo Asuka

Ryo is introduced as Akira’s childhood friend and the cold, calculating counterpart to Akira’s kind heart. While Akira would cry easily as a child, Ryo maintained a stoic demeanor, never fully understanding his friend but still being there for him. After years of absence from Akira’s life, he returns to teach him about the existence of demons and takes him to Sabbath – the beginning of Akira’s new life as Devilman.

Before accepting his role as the anime villain, Ryo introduces Akira to the world of violent demons living under his nose. As a scholar and scientist with cutting-edge technology and an endless cash flow, Ryo fits into the story as a mentor and “guy in the chair” for Akira’s anti-hero acts of murdering the world’s demons. In addition, he documents the existence of these ungodly creatures recording Akira’s fights with them. 

As the anime continues, Ryo learns about his past and connection to the devils. This leads to the shocking reveal that Ryo is not human – but the fell angel banished to Pre-Historic Earth to live among the demons: Satan. He takes a liking to the pre-historic inhabitants of Earth. However, God scorches the Earth and leaves him at rest for centuries.

 

Devilman Crybaby

Devilman versus Satan: The End of the World

After years of laying dormant on Earth, Satan emerges as a young boy named Ryo Asuka – absent of his memories of being satan – subsequently meeting Akira Fudo and striking a bond with him. This bond continues to grow, eventually becoming love and admiration.

Satan is presented as a radiant figure, full of grace – juxtaposing Devilman’s comparatively dark design. This further tracks with Ryo and Akira, as Ryo possesses blonde hair and a white wardrobe, while the latter sports black hair and dark clothes. 

As Ryo becomes aware of his past, he publishes the footage of Akira transforming into Devilman at Sabbath. This leads to a global crisis and a witch hunt against Akira. Satan’s selfish actions lead to the death of multiple people close to Akira, as the antagonist sees humans as disposable other than his friend. Betrayed by his former friend, Devilman leads an army against Satan in the ruin of wartorn Earth. In light of the Earth’s destruction and the tremendous loss of the planet, Ryo realizes his affection for Akira. However, this revelation comes too late, as God once again scorches the Earth due to his actions ridding it of all inhabitants.

Influence

Aside from Devilman Crybaby, the series has seen many adaptations since its manga introduction in 1972. Devilman’s story is the blueprint for many popular anime and anime villains. Griffith and Guts from Berserk share many similarities to the Devilman duo, including their designs and philosophies. Cultural phenomenon Neon Genesis Evangelion and the video games Shin Megami Tensei and King of Fighters have also cited the Seinen series as influential to their stories and designs.

Released in the ’70s, Devilman was subject to the cultural panic of the time, as the series’ violence and graphic imagery caught parents’ attention in Japan. The story uses horror imagery and mature content almost excessively, but despite this, Devilman has remained a popular property since. For many, the climax was a groundbreaking change in the good versus evil dichotomy. The characterization of Ryo also alters the role of the villain – as the reader sees his actions through the protagonist, feeling his admiration and ultimate betrayal. The importance of Devilman can be owed to its willingness to explore these mature themes – and to create a villain that audiences can love to hate.

Devilman Crybaby is currently streamable on Netflix.

 

Devilman Crybaby (2018). Official Netflix Trailer

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Thomas Cooper is a writer for Dead Talk News based in San Antonio, Texas. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Communications with a concentration in Digital Media from the University of Texas at San Antonio. Aside from film, Thomas also loves to talk about vinyl record collecting and custom PC builds.