When I Don’t Remember You

“Nothing can last forever. There isn't any memory, no matter how intense, that doesn't fade out at last.” ― Juan Rulfo.png

2018 has been a pretty heavy blog year, hasn’t it? I’ll blame Mercury’s Retrograde or something. But I wanted to tell a personal story and it all relates to Adventure Time and the struggle it is to grapple with the legacy of someone who is no longer with us.

For the record, I love Adventure Time. It was one of the first cartoons I started watching after college and it hit me at a perfect time and place in my life. I was emotionally vulnerable, had far too much time on my hands and was easily swept into a light-hearted yet incredibly emotional adventure with a boy and his dog. I had no idea that this show would emotionally gut me over and over again. Famously, there was one night after the episode Simon and Marcy aired that I remember messaging Carlos and telling him “Be prepared to hate the theme song from Cheers.” to which then an hour or so later I got another message from him saying that he hated me, hated the song and that he was mad a show for kids made him emotional at all.

Truthfully, it wasn’t even when this particular episode aired that it made me emotional, though I did cry a little as I learned the lyrics to the song. I was because the narrative demanded I be so but it was more recent that it brought a more thoughtful tear to my eye in an entirely different context. It was after re-adding a few of the songs I lost after the tragic death of my Zune to my current musical cloud and I found a song that I had downloaded years ago from Adventure Time. It was I Remember You, sung by Marceline and the Ice King. Narratively, it’s about a lost relationship due to the crippling loss of one’s mind and a preemptive apology for all the things one does as they lose their mind.

You may know where I’m going with this.


My grandma passed away a few years ago. She was diagnosed with dementia when I was in the first half of my college career. Grandma was always sort of flighty and scatterbrained; her chronic forgetfulness was easy to write off. But medicine proved that she was losing her memory and we had little precious time with her as we knew her. I was fortunate that she was very aware for a majority of her later years in life. I didn’t notice a serious decline until after I graduated from college. Hell, we even casually joked that once she didn’t remember who I was that it was done. That would be the end of our relationship as granddaughter and grandmother. Though it was a joke, it was also a clear line in the sand for my sanity and for hers. It didn’t mean I’d ever stop loving and respecting her but I had to set that hard and fast line. Because the spiral of losing her was something that I would not wish on anyone.  

My grandma said some nasty things as she began to lose herself. She was usually sweet but when she was combative it was scary. It was difficult watching the woman who helped raise me during my early years decline in such a way. I never thought she meant the mean things she said but it was always difficult to deal with when my grandmother berated me for denying her iced tea at lunch (she had a heart condition that forced us to seriously limit her caffeine intake).. It wasn’t always bad. The bad times came in bursts. Most days were quiet but the beast did creep up in moments. Grandma would get paranoid after watching hours of crime procedurals. She’d ask about her husband who had passed away over a decade ago. She’d ask about plenty of people who were no longer with us. It is disingenuous to make it sound like it was all violent outbursts; it was in fact their scarcity that made them so powerful. And in her moments of lucidity, it was like you could see the flashes of the person my grandmother used to be. After saying something horrible, she’d apologize a day or two later or she’d just simply forget: it’s hard to hold a grudge against someone who doesn’t remember the argument.

And talking to my aunts about it seemed to do very little. I mostly dealt with it by simply shutting down and not dealing with it. All of us were processing this thing at the same time and that left very little room to help each other cope with the thought of losing our family’s matriarch. So for the longest time I mostly just internalized the pain of watching her slip away by ignoring it, keeping my head down and remembering the better times. I was working in a mall at a job I hated, I had a routine, an all be it terrible one, but it was a routine.. And my routine often revolved around my grandmother. I worked so that I could be with her in the morning and I seldom stayed out late with friends: someone had to be there with her. We did our best to work together as a family and I know my grandmother received the best care we could give her. But once I moved away, I finally had time to realize that I had kept those feelings of loss and longing bottled up. I did my best to call but the physical distance of moving away makes it difficult to maintain even the most important of relationships.

There was one day that I called and my aunt went to hand over the phone. My aunt said “It’s Amanda on the phone.” and I could hear my grandmother say “Who is that?” and my aunt had to remind her that I was her grandchild.

I don’t think I told anyone how much that bothered me. I don’t think I even told myself how much it really bothered me. And I stopped calling for a while. When I heard that she wasn’t doing well, I came back home to visit and she passed away while I was making my way home. I stayed the night and returned home long enough to pack and prepare for the funeral.

That was 2 years ago.


So when I was sitting in my car listening to the lyrics of I Remember You which says so clearly:

Please forgive me for whatever I do, when I don’t remember you.

I cried.

I sat there for a moment or two and just sort of let it happen. It was far from a dramatic anime cry but one of those small tears you barely notice until the headache of emotional weakness kicks in.

I had always thought I had forgiven my grandmother for the things she said in anger. I realized then that not only had I not but I had barely reconciled the person who passed and the person I looked up to so much.  I handled her passing about as well as I did my mother’s, in that I didn’t. I accepted it and moved on. I kept moving forward but it was while stopped at a stoplight and listening to my cursed musical cloud on shuffle that I had to pause and take stock in the feelings that I had buried for my own protection.

I’m working towards forgiving her for the things that she did I’m working on forgiving myself for not always being an enlightened saint during that time.

So thank you, Adventure Time for being one of many songs that can bring a tear to my eyes. Maybe, just maybe, catharsis isn’t so bad after all.

 

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Unfortunately, Required Reading: Episode 1- Watership Man Down

Unfortunately, Required Reading

Welcome to our first episode of my new podcast: Unfortunately, Required Reading!

This week we cover Watership Down, a book I hate and a language I was forced to learn and still remember.

https://anchor.fm/unfortunately-required/episodes/Episode-One-Watership-Man-Down-e2h8tr/a-a68fg5?fbclid=IwAR2Hk008snxcF1usOrRaI35JK4QqtdCWT2tC9fj-s0y7cI7F8aL3ZIwZlJg

Unfortunately, Required Reading-Podcast

Unfortunately, Required Reading

I started a podcast with fellow writer, fellow English major and dear friend: Victoria. Unfortunately, Required Reading is a podcast about all the books you had to read in school that you look upon with distain now. Join us for candid conversations about booze, literature and plenty of snark.

You can follow us on all of these lovely places:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/unfortunatelyrequired/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1192873440850770/

Twitter: @RequiredReadin4

On Revolution

_Do you hear the people sing_ Singing the songs of angry men_ It is the music of the people Who will not be slaves again! When the beating of your heart Echoes the beating of the drums There is a life about to star.png

Today is November 5th. Well, not today. I schedule these posts well in advance. But as of this going live it is November 5th. And every year, for many years I’m watching a movie. This movie is V for Vendetta, adapted from the wildly popular Alan Moore comic. This movie centers around a vigilante, V, and his mission to overthrow the Parliament and Chancellor of a near-future dystopian England. V meets with Evey, a woman he ‘rescues’ this woman and uses her assistance to help in his plan that is to blow up a few powerful and important buildings on Guy Fawkes Day (November 5th). Guy Fawkes was, for those who do not know, an actual historical figure and central to the Gunpowder Plot: a plot to kill King James of Scotland using a crap ton of gunpowder because James was Protestant (and probably was gay) and was Fawkes and his other conspirators were Catholic. Fawkes was executed on November 5th via a very brutal hanging because King James was no wimp and had to make an example out of the Catholic almost-murderer. The day in the U.K. is known as Bonfire Night: a way to celebrate the occasion of ending your enemy and the Catholics, apparently.

Here is a good place to also mention that I’m less talking about the graphic novel and more about the movie which does make some changes that are almost necessary when it comes to adaptation. The movie came out in the 2000s when I was young, in high school and full of ennui. And I very distinctly remember the movie for its stylized violence, excellent casting and great cinematography. I also remember it hitting a little too close to home.

This movie came out in exactly 2005, which means that George W. Bush was president, 9/11 had already happened and liberties were squashed in the name of “freedom” and other lofty abstract concepts. I grew up in the shadow of a Post-9/11 World and paranoia, racism, terror and hyper-nationalism were already things I was tired of as of the release of this film. So when there was talk of curfews and surveillance and armed men that kept the streets safe and silenced dissidents, none of that felt like a far dystopian  future. It felt like my current reality.

But then Obama was elected president and all was magic and there was much gaiety and many freedoms.

It was a simpler time.

Since it was a simpler time, let’s go over some of the places where this movie is…problematic because there aren’t enough hot takes on the internet about that. V is creepy. V is a monster. V stalks Evey and tortures her and brutalizes her and then claims that all of it is done to make her strong. Only after she is broken and beaten and unsure of what is real and false and I still struggle to choke down those scenes of abuse and mistreatment and gaslighting. But hey, it’s easy to skip over if it means I get to relish in all of the pay-off that is achieved during the film’s climax.

Now, the good times were not to last forever and Obama’s rule was not entirely perfect, the movie was easy to see as entertainment again. Nothing bad happened during the late 2000s to the 2010s. I continued the yearly tradition because it’s just a damn good movie.

And then 2016 happened.

I don’t like talking about politics online. Not because I do not have opinions, but because it’s hard to explain feelings and opinions well using only typed words and no hand gestures but I’ll say this: 2016 was a nightmare and it has only gotten worse since then.

I do not like the reality we are in and I will continue to express that displeasure until this nightmare ends.

And as I continued the ritual I did every year, on the heels of an election that was filled with racism, xenophobia, hatred and venom and suddenly…none of it seemed so dystopian.

Those feelings only got worse once Trump was actually elected.

I remember watching in 2017 after watching another dystopian film Watchmen and I was practically paralyzed. I no longer felt like I was watching a movie. Short of the weird masked alliterative ninja man all of those themes were back with a vengeance and my anxiety and mental health were having none of it.

There was still in our world police violence and racism and nationalism and the emergence of fascism and more just as there was in this horrid fake London.

It didn’t feel like I distant future, it felt like a probable reality.

For the sake of my mental health, I think I’ll skip my normally yearly ritual but I will not forget the message behind it. I won’t forget the spirit of tangible revolution: one of the best things about the film is action even if in no way I can say that the way V goes about things is right or valid. I can in no way affirm or say it’s good to be outwardly violent to those you disagree with but I can dissent and fight for my rights and the rights of others. I can vote, I can protest peacefully, I can use my voice and platform to express what I believe. And while it is seductive to want wanton destruction and the end of those who you do not agree with, it seldom does anything good. I think the film is stronger for admitting that yes, V did get to blow up the building but nothing will be changed aside from there being one less building. Sure, he took out a fascist, but there will always be other fascists. It is our job to simply make it more difficult to let those people rise to power.

Happy Guy Fawkes Day, readership. Splendid Bonfire Night. Happy Election Night Eve.

May you all never grow too weary to fight for what is right.

Taking Care of and Treating the Self

“Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your your spirit it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” -Eleanor Brownn.png

This has been a difficult small eternity, hasn’t it been? And I don’t say that to make light of the serious nonsense that’s been going on in the U.S. and abroad I say that to tell all of you that I am just as stressed out as many of you are.

But with that in mind, I wanted to talk about self-care and how I do my best to manage our current garbage fire of a world.

For those unaware: self-care is a series of actions, rituals and practices that help improve one’s own mental health. It’s become quite the buzzword recently and with the rise of “treat yo self” culture, it’s one of many things appropriated from those with chronic mental illness and conflated with simply being immature, irresponsible, selfish  and reckless. True self-care shouldn’t be damaging, put you in a financial lurch or be entirely disastrous to one’s health or usual routine and it isn’t an excuse to be a jerk and shun personal responsibilities to oneself and to others.

I’m far from a paragon of mental health, longtime readers I’m sure are aware with my struggles with depression, anxiety and more. But I offer these tips as:

  1. An insight into my semi-chaotic mind and world.
  2. Genuine advice for those curious about the world of self-care.

Here are a few of the ways I take care of myself after a long day, week, month or year.


I Get Witchy

Many readers have noticed my predilection towards the supernatural. I can’t help it, I was born Roman Catholic. But I’ve always been vaguely magical. From ghosts to hauntings to ritual, I’ve been drawn to the world of magic and spirituality for years now. I found crystals recently and while I’m far from a basic witch who thinks crystals can cure cancer (they cannot, please see actual doctors) I do take some solace in my crystals. I know it’s psychosomatic, but so is aromatherapy so don’t come @ me. I’ve always enjoyed rituals so lighting some incense, wafting over my crystals and myself and doing a little tarot is a lovely way to unwind: I still walk into Catholic churches and still do at times take in the eucharist but I have never seen Catholicism as a religious entirely separate from paganism. My Catholicism is at home with tarot, incense, crystals.


I Get Beautiful

I have very low self-esteem despite being strangely vain and concerned about my looks. I have pores you could land a plane on. I have acne scars because of self-mutilation behaviors and eczema. I am chubby and short and I am unhappy with my body. But I am still incredibly vain. And in that displeasure with my cursed meat shell, I do what I can to make myself feel pretty. I love masks, I love serums, I love makeup. I love my fit and flare dresses and my dusty pink wardrobe. I do things that help me feel a little bit prettier.


I Enjoy Something Wholesome

Every Saturday morning for the past several months, I wake up early (well, I’m always up early) and I spend an hour in the morning before I get up and leave to start my day watching a magpie and her owner on Periscope. It’s wholesome, relaxing, funny and sweet. The bird is adorable, her owner is attentive and answers all the questions the folks in the livestream have about his beautiful bird and the weather in England and which biscuits are the best (we disagree on Oreos). The world for many of us is a hot garbage fire and social media is hard to do. The 24-hour news cycle is exhausting and it seems like everything is awful everywhere. But for an hour every Saturday, I get to watch things be okay for an hour. I have an entire list of videos and television shows I can watch to avoid feeling anything too much. I try to, during the darker times, to watch things that I know may trigger an emotional episode (something a few friends of mine have lovingly called “dead parent approved” or “not dead parent approved”). Wholesome things include, kittens, sloths, The Mameshiba theme song and the like. Not to say I don’t still watch things that challenge me (see my long post about watching BoJack Horseman despite it hurting me emotionally every single time I watch it) but if I’ve already had a rough week, there’s no point in making things worse needlessly by opting to watch something stressful.


I Do Something (Important)

The world is a hot dumpster fire in many places and that is overwhelming and exhausting, but it’s important to turn disillusion into action. I do what I can when I can. I educate those who wish to listen. I vote on matters that are pressing to me. I continue to express what I feel and educate myself when needed.


I Do Something (Frivolous)

There are plenty of instances where doing something big just isn’t appropriate or needed but that doesn’t mean I like to stay inactive. Especially considering how insidious the negative voices in your head can be, it’s important to seek out others. I sit on calls, I go out to the mall, I go for a walk in the park. I do my best to do something. Many will recall how I use Pokemon Go to sometimes help me get out of my apartment and get some air.


I Indulge (Unfortunately)

A friend remarked that my self-care began with cake and ended with frosting. She wasn’t entirely wrong with that assessment. Remember that remark I made earlier about self-care not being something that should totally derail you? Well, I occasionally lie. I bake, I love sweets and sometimes I buy dumb things on Amazon. It isn’t self-care but it does sometimes happen and sometimes I do feel better after making a meal of two cakes.


I’m far from a mental health expert. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by people who are genuinely invested in my mental health and a therapist who is loving, empathetic and understanding. These are simply a few of the ways I cope with a stressful world. That does not mean I am always successful in my attempts at taking care of myself. I still have bad days but they are likely reduced when I do what I can to take care of myself. Again, none of these things are a substitute for actual mental health care. That’s always been my ire with the modern use of the term “self-care”. I work hard to be the best version of me and spending hundreds of dollars in cakes and lipsticks are not ways to be my best self.  It’s effort, it’s crying, it’s stressing out over panels and how to get paint out of things. It’s calling friends tirelessly and in tears and arranging to meet over late night coffees to rant about failed first dates. It’s lapsing and trying your very best to be better next time.

That’s self-care.

Be kind to yourself and others, dear readership.

 

The Scream

“We ask only to be reassuredAbout the noises in the cellarAnd the window that should not have been open” ― T.S. Eliot, The Family Reunion

I have the pleasure of working in a historic office building downtown. The building itself is over 100 years old and the city I call home is now proudly 300 years old. I’m within walking distance from the famed Alamo: hell, the original battle of the Alamo spilled over into where I sit and work nearly every day of the week.

And in the spirit of the season and as is tradition on this humble blog: I’m here to tell a ghost story.

Pull up a chair. Sit down. Dim the lights. Relax. Hopefully, this one won’t be too terrifying.


I work on the second floor of a building with six floors. We have a large atrium and an elevator that barely works but does its best.

Our office is small, both in size and physical capacity and occupancy. There’s only a few of us here. That means gossip travels quickly. So when the doors creak, phones ring without them being turned on and other strange occurrences; we naturally discuss such a thing. We’ve all had experiences. I heard my name clearly in the back of my ear when no one had called it. My boss has encountered shadow-like shapes in the men’s room. Our accountant has heard doors rattle and all the rest of us minions have experienced at least one paranormal thing in the office and it’s amazing how quickly one can just accept a place being haunted. Normally, a ghost or apparition like this would add character to a place but these occurrences seem to only be enough to temporarily frighten and then promptly be forgotten. It’s likely the most effective coping mechanism we have against dealing with such a threat: the prospect of ghosts is such a primal and existential threat that the mind likely comes up with many excuses to such things just for the sake of maintaining any base level of sanity.

But we’re not here to discuss the trapping of a mundane haunting, dear reader. Certainly, you expect more from your host.

It was a mostly quiet afternoon. I kept my headphones in because I require noise to work. There was very little conversation. We all had something to do.

And that’s when we heard it. It started out sharp. It was a sound I heard in the back of my ears, through my headphones and whatever podcast or music I was listening to as a means to pass the time. But it was distinct. It was a scream. It was, specifically, a man screaming.

All of my coworkers looked at me and we all looked at each other. We collectively rushed out of the office and leaned against the railing to see what happened. It sounded like someone had jumped from the top of the building but as we gazed down into the atrium: there was no one there. Our building neighbors had also rushed out to see what the commotion was all about. We had all heard The Scream.

Eventually the disbelief dissipated and we returned to work. Whispers started in the office that erupted into chatter. It was revealed that this was far from the first instance of The Scream heard in the building. My boss had heard it before and other tenants have discussed the phenomena in great detail. Each person tells the story in a similar way: it sounds very clearly like a man screaming falling from a great height. You can clearly hear the ebb and flow of terminal velocity in The Scream but you never hear the impact of falling and meeting the cold hard tile of the atrium.

We’ve considered all the options of what the ghost may be. Maybe it was one of the not-so brave heroes of the Alamo who wandered too far from the battlefield. Maybe he was a working crafting this historic building. Maybe he was a man who was at the end of his rope while working and saw only comfort at the end of the mortar and ceramic of the grand atrium.

We’ve heard the scream more than once. Almost always in the afternoon, almost always the sound can be too clear to be human. Almost always like he’s falling.

I’ve heard The Scream a few times now. Honestly, you never really get used to it. You never get used to hearing clearly in your inner ear the sound of a man falling to his death over and over again in your workplace.

Now most days are a waiting game to see if we will hear The Scream again. We’ve flirted with the idea of buying items to see if the ghosts in the building will communicate with us. I’m barred from bringing in my tarot cards for fear we may receive or attract something not so pleasant. We joke that our breaking point will be collectively when we all see a full-body specter but I’m sure that isn’t true: running from a ghost doesn’t remove the experience. That haunting stays with you.

It always does.

Happy Halloween, dear readers.

 

Don’t Cry For Me, Akira

I didn’t want to do this.

I didn’t want to watch this series. This is entirely Carlos’ fault and please address any further complaints with him.

But I did the thing. I died on the hill. I watched all of Devilman Crybaby and now we’re going to talk about it. Why? Because I refuse to die on this hill by myself.

This post is gonna cover all of it. Everything that comes to mind will be discussed so that means I’m gonna be talking about blood, neon sex, technicolor nightmare demons and more. It’s gonna get weird, y’all, and it’s gonna get dark. I’m also spoiling the whole damn thing so if you aren’t into that, here’s your chance to back out. If all of this is going to be too much for you…please enjoy this video of a sloth and we’ll see you in the next post.


Now, welcome to the inner darkness created after binging an anime in the dark by myself late at night about devils, demons and one boy in all white you shouldn’t trust under any circumstances.

Immediately, this show did a lot for me in the beginning. Useless boy, Akira, does his best to defend those around him but is weak and is useless. He is assisted by incredibly competent but also probably should in no way trust, Ryo and a sexy running lamp as a love interest, Miki.

The premise is quite simple: Akira becomes Devilman because he gets infected (taken over, possessed: somethin’ like that) by a demon (due to Ryo making an incredibly bad call) but retains his human heart. So a demon…with emotions…it gets pretty standard shonen for a little while with that premise. And that makes sense, the creator of the series also did one of my all-time loves Cyborg 009. But Crybaby is different in so many ways and the way it so expertly subverts expectation…well, it left me with a lot of feelings.

The first few episode are mostly Akira figuring out his powers, we meet more demons and see more technicolor neon boobs because Netflix gave them an MA rating, might as well use it. And all the while you think things will go like a normal shonen. Akira will save the girl, Ryo’s not great but he has good intentions and Miki’s still a lamp and will fall for Akira and all will be well.

I’m here to go ahead and end that delusion for you. Nothing ends well. If you picked this up thinking: I know exactly where this is going. you are probably wrong.

I’m gonna praise this series for having a somewhat large cast that feels entirely important. No one is wasted and that’s hard to do with a cast of this size in an anime. I also love that there’s a ton of internal logic (most of the time) like Akira’s transformation after becoming mostly demon is STRIKING. He literally is basically a different person physically and personality wise and everyone in the show comments on it. They don’t care but they do admit that the pale, small and put upon kid is now taller, tanner, buffer and is watching porn in the A.V. room. 

But I’ve praised it too much for now, let’s go over a few places this show didn’t work for me.

The way the demons run is stupid to me. I’m sorry, there’s no greater way to say that, it’s just dumb to me. Like those McDonald’s toys that you wind up and all the legs move independently to skitter across the kitchen table only to flail miserably until the thing is kicked under the fridge. The animation also gets very sketchy in places. There are parts where perspective is off and character designs lose detail and with characters that are as basic in design as Ryo and Akira and Miki if you lose a single detail in their design, you lose them a little.

There’s a dumb girl fight between Miki and her rival track runner also named Miki (folks call her “Miko” because you can’t have two “Miki”s in Japan where it isn’t uncommon to go by your last name at all) and it’s just there…it’s dumb girl drama to give Miki more legs as a character rather than Akira’s Love Interest.

And while we’re on the topic of Akira…let’s talk about Akira and Ryo.

From episode one, anyone who looks at Ryo should see he is not a good person. Immediately, I messaged Carlos and said “I don’t think I should trust the blonde kid with the boxcutter.” and I was right. Even though Ryo and Akira grew up together for everything bad that Ryo does it makes zero sense that Akira ignores it for as long as he does.

I can analogize it to a series that handled this (in my opinion) a little better: Death Note with the relationship between Matt and Mello. Mello is in many ways a much worse version of L. Not that he isn’t intelligent or deductive, he’s just willing to make an omelette by holding a chicken hostage and shooting the farmer for the eggs. He is raised with Near and Matt but bonds with Matt and sticks up for Matt over and over again. So when Mello returns home covered in blood and bad decisions, you understand why Matt doesn’t question it and cleans him up. You understand that Matt is willfully ignoring that Mello probably did something illegal and is just happy Mello is home.

You see moments where Akira tries to question Ryo but it all feels like a soft lob at someone who fundamentally (even before the big reveal) you should not trust. Even if we take out the huge reveal about Ryo if you take him at face value as a blonde murder boy running around with too many guns, it’s hard to rationalize how he is trying to achieve his goal of outing all the demons on earth.  Which means as a character Akira is either an idiot or a doormat and both of those are somewhat unsatisfying for me. 

This anime also gets weirdly topical with an entire theme of judging people by their hearts and not what they are. Akira’s whole thing is that he still has a human heart and even though he makes play as a demon, he shouldn’t be killed like a demon because he’s the one saving humans from the bad demons (yes, it’s shonen, relax). And that gets preachy really quick. Towards the end, the anime goes full Beauty and the Beast with war and mobs and military violence all to rid the world of demons and continue to perpetuate mistrust between humans.

It feels all too real in an anime about angels, devils and blonde murder children.

It’s also towards the end where things get dark. And it’s a dark anime, from episode one there had been copious amounts of blood and death and destruction but around the later half of the series, the deaths begin to mount and become important to the cast.

Let’s talk about Miki’s death.

I dedicated a lot of words to how angry I was with Miki’s character being literal shonen lamp number 24601 but she was kind and pure and what we needed in an anime about devils and demons. She dies…horribly. And I so badly didn’t want that to happen. And it isn’t just that she dies; she is dismembered, turned into a trophy by a band of marauders who sought to end her for defending Akira. And that image of Miki’s head on a pike as folks dance with it around the burning remains of her family home broke something in me.

I told Carlos about it later saying it was like those moments when anime characters lose the color in their eyes after witnessing something horrible. Just something sort of broke inside of me. I had already felt it some when Miki lost her family in one of the most tragic sequences in anime ever and for her, for myself I so badly wanted her to find some redemption in this narrative.

She didn’t. She found death.

And just when you think things cannot get worse and Akira loses literally everything and everyone that he has ever loved, we’re faced with a reveal that in hindsight is incredibly obvious but is still in the moment shocking.

Ryo is literally Satan and this whole ordeal is orchestrated just so he can do what Satan does best: get his way.

I wish it had ended there…but no, I don’t deserve that. We don’t deserve that. We’re treated to a very shonen final boss battle where Akira summons more of the creatures like him, more demons with human hearts, and you think that it’s going to be like Naruto where good fights evil and good wins and there will be no pain and only joy because you can totally punch evil out of someone.

No.

That’s not how it ends.


Ryo is wonderfully written, it may be why I defended him for so long even up until the final moments that I was referring to Satan as “my son”. But that last scene of him talking to Akira only to realize that Akira is well…only a torso now, really and then weeping bitterly over his own victory and the subsequent death of the only person he bonded with broke me entirely. I so badly wanted this to be Naruto. I wanted Akira to face Ryo and there be some sort of conclusion that would satisfy me. But that simply didn’t happen.

There was only bitterness, death, loneliness and divine retribution.


I watch media (especially anime) to escape. I bonded with Fullmetal Alchemist so much because watching Ed wander through his grief and struggle with God and do what he could to overcome his demons and his past helped me overcome mine. I needed to see Edward get back up each and every single time he stumbled because it encouraged me to do the same.

At my core, I like to think of myself as a jaded cynic. I like to think that endings like this are really what I want. But when I am confronted with them, I become tragically aware that I am desperate to see the good in people. I am naive and I do what I can to believe that people can be more than devils and I am bitterly disappointed each time I am proved wrong. Cynicism is the act of ruining something for the self so no one else can ruin it for you. I wanted redemption, closure, bonding…and I got blood, death and salt.

The ending left me sort of just shaking and incoherently babbling between English and Japanese (a side effect of watching the anime subbed, I’m sure). If you were to look at the messages I was frantically sending Carlos as I watched the last episodes, it’s like watching a horror movie from a webcam just helplessly trying to process it all. It was just me desperately venting my emotions that all managed to collapse in on itself with me repeating:

This is your fault.
I hate you.

Carlos and I talked for a while after the anime ended. I couldn’t go to bed that wired. And even after we finished, I was still left alone with my thoughts for too long. I could still hear lines of dialogue in my mind and I could still hear Ryo crying and calling out for Akira to answer him knowing fully well he never will answer again.

Those were the things I thought about before going to sleep last night.


I can’t in good faith recommend this series. It’s masterful, beautiful and every part of it is fantastic. But this did something to me that very few series get to do. Devilman Crybaby left me raw, haunted and hollowed out and reaching for closure that I will never get. If that is your persuasion, I’d love to know what you think of it.

Thank you for sticking with me in this entirely too long of a review for an anime of only ten episodes.

Next time, we’ll cover something a little lighter.