Note: Review copy supplied by MVM Entertainment
Title: Devils’ Line
Anime Studio: Platinum Vision
Publisher: MVM Entertainment
Genre: Dark Fantasy
Released: January 13th, 2020
Language: Japanese / English
Extras: Clean OP and ED, Disc Credits, Also Available Trailers
Everything you thought you knew about vampires is wrong. They can walk in the daylight and holy water doesn’t burn them. In fact, vampires can pass as normal humans so perfectly that even other vampires have trouble spotting them. Until they see human blood, that is; then they transform into monstrous beasts who mindlessly rape and murder. But not all vampires are evil. The secret task force that patrols Tokyo’s vampire population has several fanged operatives, including half-human Yuuki Anzai, who believes that his human heritage lets him resist his species’ basest cravings. But after Yuuki rescues graduate student Tsukasa Taira from her good friend, whom she never realized was a vampire, he realizes that he’s succumbing to urges he’s never felt before. And like moths to the flame, he and Tsukasa find themselves being pulled into a potentially fatal attraction.
Devils Line is an anime that starts off very strongly. The opening scenes are dark, moody, and feature a healthy bucket of gore that fits well with overall tone. In a way, it really puts you in mind of Tokyo Ghoul. The problem is, by the time the second episode ends, it has become incredibly clear that this is not Tokyo Ghoul.
Thematically, we get some troubling points very early on. Tsukasa has already rejected her friend’s romantic advances off screen, and his response is one of manipulation, playing with her emotions. Meanwhile, her saviour – and series protagonist – Yuki, follows up the save by forcing a kiss on her. At which point, she falls in love.
Now, the concept of vampirism and sex being linked isn’t a new one. It’s one that is broached quite a bit as the series goes on too. This was not the way go about introducing it though. When you throw in that Tsukasa kinda starts filling the role of letting her love of Yuki dictate all her actions afterwards, she starts to feel a little one-dimensional in terms of characterization. On top of that, despite being a twenty-two year old, Tsukasa felt more like a teen to me.
Yuki comes off a little better than Tsukasa in some ways; he at least shows signs of representing an internal struggle at various times. The problem is, he was just so inconsistent when it came to holding my attention. Once the need for self control moments were dealt with, it was back to just meandering through the story for him.
The real shame with that is that the series doesn’t mess everything up. The general set up of vampires vs. organization that wants to wipe them out is an old one, but its executed here with an anime flair. That helps set it apart a little. The design work when it comes to the vampires themselves is also pretty cool, and a nice departure from the popular pretty-boy-brooding and pure-Nosferatu styles. The lore is enough of a twist on the vampire genre to feel interesting. The OVA that closes the disc is also a well done piece that shows some fine progression for the overall arc. All of that proves that the series was always capable of getting itself together.
Overall, Devils Line is a frustrating series. The concept isn’t bad, the designs are nice, and the voice cast do their best with the material. Unfortunately, for every positive you find, there’s a glaring reminder that the series seems to have a message, but isn’t sure how to present it. For those not looking for anything deeper, and who are fine with it simply being a supernatural story with some good action and visuals, it’ll be an easy enough watch though. I give this a 3 out of 5.