Anime: Devils’ Line
Season aired: Spring 2018
Number of episodes: 12
Genres: Drama, Action, Fantasy, Romance
Thoughts: I went into Devils’ Line with both low and high expectations at the same time. Low expectations because this is clearly a vampire romance anime, and honestly ANY kind of vampire romance story has failed to impress me. High expectations because I have heard incredibly good reviews of the manga, the source material. In the end, I found myself right in the middle. It’s an anime that has proved to be a lot better than many of the vampire romance stories out in the world, but it is also an anime that could’ve done so much better.
Devils’ Line takes place in the modern world where vampires, also known as devils, have been secretly living amongst humans. Aside from being easily triggered at the sight of blood, vampires are essentially no different from the rest of the population. They hold careers as best as they can, they develop relationships with those they care about, and they are just trying to live their lives as peacefully and uneventfully like anyone else around them. Things get complicated when Tsukasa, a normal college student, is introduced to the truth around her. She inevitably gets pulled into a huge controversy the country seems to be hiding as she becomes involved with the half-devil, Yuuki Anzai.
I’m going to just be blunt and put out the positives. I think the world Devils’ Line introduces is honestly very interesting and relatable to current situations. I like that the author took a different route with vampires. They are not formidable hunters in the dark. They are literally human beings with a genetic disease which is completely outside of their control, but they still want to live normal lives. They are creatures to be sympathized with, and I think the story successfully sets that up for the audience. I also applaud the author for creating such a different kind of world. Vampires are not the bad guys in any sense of the word in this anime. They are the ones who need the humans’ help.
I think this anime is trying to make a social statement about people with mental illnesses and addiction (both struggles that are heavily influenced by genes despite contrary opinion that it can be easily controlled): they’re people who need help and deserve that help. Instead, society and the people around them only ostracize them for something that is outside of their control and punish them for trying to live just as normally as those without problems do. The anime does an excellent job of making that point. I legitimately wanted to leap into activism in my own world after each episode of the anime because of how well they portrayed the society that shunned those who struggled against what seemed like a hopeless battle.
The anime also doesn’t shy away from action. The fight scenes are actually extremely bloody, and the first few seconds of the very first episode shows a bloody slaughter of innocent humans running away from an out-of-control vampire. The stakes are actually high as people are killed left and right. Conversely, the anime doesn’t hesitate to portray humans who are just as violent and even scarier than the vampires with the use of its antagonists, namely a human sociopath vampire killer (whose identity I will not spoil).
I also love the design of the vampires. The way they’re drawn makes them look so much more dangerous than how usual vampires are portrayed: slightly larger teeth, paler skin, handsome faces, and the occasional sparkle. However, in Devils’ Line, aside from just the eyes turning blood red, their teeth and nails also transform. They become ridiculously larger as their canines literally grow out of their mouths. I absolutely relished the uniqueness, and I think it lends to the story well. There is beautiful irony in the fact that the vampires look so much more dangerous in a story that is about helping vampires have equal rights as humans.
Yoshitsugu Matsuoka as Yuuki Anzai, the half-devil detective, was also a pleasant surprise. He is usually well known for voicing passionate protagonists such as Kirito from Sword Art Online or Yukihira Souma from Food Wars!. But Yuuki Anzai is actually much angstier than he is passionate, a role that Matsuoka rarely takes on. Despite the fact that this isn’t his usual type of character, he does an excellent job. The screams of agony, grunts of struggling with blood lust, and soft spoken words of fear were all incredibly realistic, and I think it really shows that Yoshitsugu Matsuoka is a much more of a diverse voice actor than he lets on.
The soundtrack is dark, heavy, and overall really fun to listen to. There’s an excellent opening and ending theme song, and the scores to the fight scenes are absolutely gorgeous and adrenaline rushing. Anime really doesn’t let us down when it comes to soundtracks, and Devils’ Line is no different.
Unfortunately, there are also some glaring problems in Devils’ Line. There are two extremely big ones, the first one being the adaptation itself. The plot is equally divided in romance and action, and the anime doesn’t back off from the shocking plot twists. However, despite not even reading the manga, I can literally feel that the anime has rushed the plotline from the manga because the plot twist reveals often appear too quickly before I even developed a better understanding of the situation or the characters themselves.
I sincerely believe if the series had just added one more episode to make a 13-episode series, this problem could’ve been resolved because it is not every episode where the pacing feels so forced. Some of the episodes pass along just fine where nothing is revealed too quickly or slowly. But the ones that do speed by feel so forced that it can only make me wonder what would’ve happened if the anime could’ve adapted the manga series a bit better.
My second big issue with this story is not so much the romance but the female protagonist, Tsukasa. She is the biggest Mary Sue found in romance anime. Every action she takes revolves around her love interest. She needs constant saving, she meddles in unnecessary situations, and she is there solely for the sake of emotionally developing the male protagonist. As a result, she is wholly uninteresting in comparison to everything else the anime is covering.
This more than a slight problem considering that a big plot point is centered around her romance with Anzai. What’s sad is that this isn’t a case where the author is simply bad at writing female characters. There’s actually a fantastic female cast: a high-heeled sniper badass, a gorgeous vampire detective who is confident and snarky, and a genius scientist who defies society by marrying a vampire. However, the author somehow forgot to focus on the actual female lead. This just makes the matter both frustrating and disappointing, which ultimately makes the romance just cute and not something incredibly investing.
So, is it worth watching? Well, that is something you’ll need to decide on. Devils’ Line is definitely much better than a lot of other vampire romance animes. There’s a lot of thought put into the world, the violence is actually violent, and it’s honestly hard not to get emotionally invested in the plight of the vampires. Yet, at the same time, it falls short on Tsukasa, on the adaptation of the manga itself, and the animation can appear quite wonky at times with certain scenes that make no sense whatsoever for the sake of drama. So whether you choose to take up this anime will be up to you.
I am planning to rate all my anime based on the anime rating system that Japanese anime critics use. I will have 5 categories, each with the top score of 10, and then a final multiplier of 2.
Voice acting: 7
FINAL SCORE: 66