Devils and Realist [Anime Review]September 23, 2019
Note: Review copy supplied by MVM Entertainment
Title: Devils And Realist Collection
Anime Studio: Doga Kobo
Publisher: Manga Entertainment
Genre: Adventure / Comedy / Supernatural
Released: September 23rd, 2019
Extras: Clean OP & ED, Trailers
When William Twining breaks into his bankrupt family’s vaults seeking funds for his tuition, he has no idea what he’s about to pay for his higher education. Because instead of cash, William discovers that he’s supposed to choose the (interim) ruler of Hell! That would be a bedevilling predicament under any circumstances, but when the bearer of said dread tidings is also hitting William up for the job… well, it’s just not a good thing. Nor is it easy to put the would-be Devil behind you, as the impish Dantalion quickly roots himself into William’s school life, while simultaneously jockeying with an unholy host of other Arch-Fiends-To-Be for the coveted position of Devil in Charge. With a surprisingly large percentage of both students and faculty at William’s school turning out to be demonic in nature, he will need the Wisdom of Solomon to find a way to get all these devils off his heels… and fortunately for him, William apparently WAS Solomon in a former life! Will the hallowed halls of Stradford become host to the hordes of hell? Find out when the demons come out of the woodwork.
Doga Kobo is an interesting studio. This year alone, they’ve produced two successful series in The Helpful Fox Senko-San and How Heavy Are The Dumbbells You Lift? Prior to this, they’ve produced some other popular titles too, such as New Game!! and YuruYuri. Devils and Realist landed in the middle of this, first airing in Japan in 2013. Now that it has finally hit the UK on Blu-ray, is it worth purchasing? Well, that will depend on what you’re looking for in a series.
In terms of aesthetics, the anime is really quite nice. The majority of the characters are a mix of standard – but well-executed – cute guy looks and some Christianity themed demonic designs. Throw in a couple of familiar-looking female designs and some cute mascots in the form of Dantalion’s bat familiars Amon and Mamon, and you pretty much get the idea. The characters are suitably expressive and their actions fit well with what’s happening on screen. The supernatural battle scenes look good and stand out against the more prevalent mundane – though still decent – moments. Everyone on the voice cast is good, though none really stand out here, and the soundtrack is fine.
Where things get a little mixed is the story. The key when it comes to presenting what are well-known character types is to create something that allows them to stand out above similar characters from other series. Here, that’s attempted by combining a genuinely interesting main storyline with an old England setting. There are certainly some thematic cross-overs with Black Butler in that regard, though it’s not a rip-off by any means. That should make it easy to hit enough familiar points to please fans of particular tropes while also giving space for growth beyond that.
Unfortunately, the way things play out will absolutely leave some viewers disappointed. There are so many characters overall that the screen time split between them doesn’t allow for much more than a simple ‘this is who I am and what I want’ without a real chance of growth in most cases. This isn’t aided by the way the story veers away from the main plot point of William being ‘the Elector’ either, with the series content to show things like cooking contests instead of dealing with the choice he must make.
When things really kick off during the final two episodes, we get treated to some real excitement. Flashy animation, a focus on the choosing of a new ruler, and some clearly defined character motivations are all there. The problem is that, while the ending does adequately wrap up the story, it does so in a way that has been quite divisive for viewers. For me personally, it almost rendered the main storyline itself as unimportant.
So, where does this all leave Devils and Realist? Honestly, it’s not a worthless watch. The animation is decent, the setting is fun, and there are plenty of interesting demons for those interested in the subject. The series does not hold up to binge-watching though, and it never really reaches the potential that its individual parts have. Watchable, but not stand-out. 3.25 out of 5.