I think this is a perfectly valid way to look at the series, but I do disagree with it for a couple of reasons. Also just bear with me because this is the first Devilman thing I’ve watched or read in like twenty years so I’m just talking about this recent Netflix show.
A huge part of the story is the development that Ryo’s explanation of how demons and humans are different is bullshit, because right from the get go we see that a demon society is a thing, and that there are demons that care about others, hate others, etc. way beyond Ryo’s take on how each demon is an animal focused on one single thing to the detriment of everything else. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that every time Ryo brings this up we see a human character acting the same way prior to them having any kind of demonic contact.
Lovecraft was influential, but a big difference between his work and a lot of Japanese horror is that the latter’s stories skew to be much more intimate and primal towards life in general rather than Lovecraft’s otherworldly terrors often being stand-ins for specific ethnicities he hated and feared. And while it seems shallow, since this is primarily a video game forum I’d say to look at the order/chaos conflict in the Shin Megami Tensei** games as a guide for that.
I think it’s important that Ryo is educated in the west in this snotty high academia setting we see bits of throughout the series. Ryo describes having to go to this hidden darkest part of South America to find a demon tribe because he assumes that that’s where you’d go to find demons instead of just looking outside or in a mirror. This parallels all of my real life interactions with old white dude academia and the fine arts world way too much be coincidence. He then draws more demons out by attacking people at hedonist parties. Ryo is an asshole, and because he’s an asshole with an asshole world view and asshole methods at an asshole party (I mean it’s literally an orgy where teenagers are allowed and handed drugs), the demons he draws out at them in that scene are assholes and one note. Ryo’s rich western education upbringing has given him a rich western concept of borders and good guys and bad guys and what is pure and un-pure in the world, so instead of seeing a wild party or teenagers being taken advantage of, he’s driven to divide and judge people (I’m including demons in that use of people).
As the series goes on we very quickly see how wrong he is because the show gives us demons that clearly have their own emotions, goals, and motives beyond one single driving force. All of the negative aspects of demons happen because of the humans around them.
I do think that’s a big part of Japanese horror in general though that doesn’t get explicitly spelled out because it is such a big part - that whatever the horror thing in the story is is a much more direct reflection of what its victims already want or desire taken to a profane extreme. Something this series changes from the original story that I think supports this is that in the original There’s no merging of heart and body, Akira literally dies the second Amon takes him over. I think changing this is a smart decision because it makes the story earn all of its high school content’s super exaggerated takes on obsession and confusion about these kids’ place in the world and what they want.
I think for my own part, I dropped watching anime in general really hard around 2002-ish or so because I just completely despised everything I saw that all my friends were saying was good.* So seeing this now, I saw it as a ton of typical anime bullshit on the surface but graphically taken to its logical conclusion. And it’s cool to see a series where the story’s developments actually earn the content and it fully owns what it is, and that works for me. But I think you are definitely making the right choice in not continuing.
I do want to say though, as someone who also has gotten burned so many times by people I thought I could trust telling me to watch whatever show regarding this:
I looked at a couple of reviews of it before watching it, and I didn’t see any that failed to mention how messed up the show’s content can get though I read that particular scene as 100% her own fantasy and not her recalling something that actually happened, not to say that that makes you wrong or anything and I don’t mean that. I just personally would never trust folks’ hot takes about a show the week it’s come out unless they’re a personal friend.
The level of responsibility you’re asking for, over the years I’ve realized it doesn’t really exist on the whole and never will. A forum post or someone’s Twitter chain is always going to be built around what hits them personally as tolerable or not first and foremost, and that’s fine because we’re all different. If we spend a lot of time on one platform in one circle of folks, we can sometimes get a full picture of a topic but I think that’s a lot rarer than we give it credit for. Some of that is just the reality of how much time we have to devote to forum posts and social media. Like if you look at my own post history as an example, I’m going to be generous and say probably 90% of what I put on this forum is one line jokes and white noise. I’m only able to make this post because I’m at a job right now that just got delayed for a bit.
I don’t think that’s irresponsible. I just try to be realistic and figure if someone isn’t getting paid for their content, I’m not going to expect a holistic, fully encompassing breakdown of a show’s ups and downs. And even on a professional level as you mentioned you can’t always rely on someone’s early review or editorial choices.
To use Waypoint as an example. It’s a site that has three employees. And we see in action from last year that even people who create and curate content professionally are overworked because of the blood from a stone employment mindset entertainment websites have to work with and will at times make some massive miscalculations regarding content, content warnings, and so on. I don’t mean that to exonerate folks, just that the bar is already lowered when your company is saving money by only really hiring a small handful of people on a site while still expecting a 24/7 output of writing, videos, streaming video, and podcasts.
To me whenever someone is hurt by media the onus shouldn’t be on people who aren’t in much of a position to do more than talk about a few things they liked or disliked about it, but rather on whoever is serving the media. And I do think we see the opposite reaction a lot (this isn’t directed against you personally or your posts) because of how effective corporations are at manipulating accountability. Like if I go to Devilman Crybaby right now, I notice that it’s rated TV-MA, that’s it. There’s no extra details or content descriptors, and that’s bullshit. The only time Netflix ever put a content warning in front of anything was the show 13 Reasons Why and, frankly, that was a show that should have straight up been pulled because of how stupidly it deals with suicide.
The closest thing was a crowd sourced app called Feerless (though IIRC it died last summer), a Chrome extension that would give thoughtful content warnings and pop ups preceding certain scenes in Netflix.
Even with that in mind though, when you go beyond a site or streaming platform and into the realm of social media posts, I don’t think it’s fair to expect more from someone taking just a few minutes on a post compared to the extra bit of research and insight and author will (attempt to, given time constraints) fit into an actual editorial or review.
I’m not trying to say you’re using the internet wrong or anything like that, I’m glad you posted since this thread would be pointless if it was just a stream of posts like mine saying the show is crazy.
I do think there’s another, more cynical answer to your question though about why more people haven’t brought this up, and it’s that everything about the show’s production is tailor made to get hype…
- Dated but EXTREMELY influential and important property that most people don’t remember in detail, so it’s both already sorta liked but a blank slate at the same time.
- Iconic action/horror imagery
- New version by an artist with a more out there style that hasn’t gotten mainstream exposure in the US
It’s like a checklist of things to make nerd websites go crazy over it and overlook any faults that, were it missing any one of these elements, they would not go so easy on.
*No seriously, people would like be in my face about how “good” Kite is and oh no how could anyone dislike it. I have a very different circle of friends today.
**As recently a Shin Megami Tensei IV, there’s a straight up character and plot towards the end that’s basically a Devilman episode.