Devils’ Line Series Review: Get Ready For Dark – And I Am Talking About The Colour Palette Not The Story

An anime that started with a fairly poor first episode and pretty much never got any better, Devils’ Line was one of my bigger disappointments to come out of the Spring 2018 season.

Review:

I would really like to start this review with an overview of the story, but unfortunately, I’m not sure there really is one. There’s a few different ideas, but none of them ever develop or end up being resolved. And that’s part of the problem with Devils’ Line as a whole, though it certainly isn’t the only issue sucking the life out of this series.

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Firstly we have Taira Tsukasa, who is one of those super pure girls who has never fallen in love. Then her friend from school tries to attack her and it turns out he’s a vampire and she’s rescued by another vampire who turns out to work for the police hunting down devils (and don’t ask why vampires are called devils in this story, they just are). All of that seems fine but then Tsukasa is apparently in love with the rescue vampire, Anzai, and the two of them are in a relationship.

If you are wondering what happened in between the rescue and the falling in love, other than Anzai forcibly sticking his tongue down Tsukasa’s throat, I’m going to say not much. The story just expects that audience to believe these two are now in love.

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Seriously in love. Like they’ll throw themselves into life-threatening danger on more than one occasion for the other person. Even though vampires and humans can’t actually be involved in a relationship and there is government discussion around a law to allow humans and vampires to have sex only is supervised by a doctor (what?).

I’ll get to the other plot lines that trail about in this mess in a minute, but I want to take a moment to look at Tsukasa’s character, because she is perhaps the stupidest thing about this entire series, and there are some stupid things happening in this series.

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The girl meets a guy once who after saving her, by injuring her mind you, gets so out of control because she’s bleeding that he forces himself on her, shoving his tongue into her mouth, and has to sedate himself to calm down. She’s then just totally fixated on him. Letting him into her house, chasing him around the city and into danger… A sniper takes a shot at him while he is in her house and she gets cut by broken glass leaving a permanent scar on her face, and the only comment she makes regarding that several episodes later is that it hurts less than not being with Anzai. I actually can’t recall a single decision or comment that came out of Tsukasa’s mouth that wasn’t either asinine or stupid, and as she’s a character a lot of the action is built around her presence really hinders the story.

Though probably not as much as the fact that everyone seems to fall in love with her. her vampire friend who initially attacked her. Anzai as the saviour. Her lecturer at school who attempts to rape her. The girl is a dishrag and there is nothing about her that is interesting and yet every single person she meets seems to like her and either want to have sex with her or protect her, or both.

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But as much fun as the vampire/human relationship issues are, and they do permeate the entire story, even at fairly odd moments when you would think the cast would have better things to do than worry about whether Anzai and Tsukasa can sleep together, the story also seems to want to explore how vampires (devils) fit into modern society and how the general public responds to them. We get mass protests, terrorist groups, calls for segregation, and it all seems like this should go somewhere. There’s even a vast conspiracy within the organisation Anzai works for where there are double agents all pressing their own agenda.

This could have been a fairly gripping story really. And yet it plays out in the background with only a few episodes where it is the focus. Then we get to the end of the season and this story line just kind of stops. We don’t know what legislation actually gets passed or what happens to the conspirators or anything else. The story just turns its focus back to Anzai and Tsukasa’s relationship.

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There’s also some subplot about the institution where Anzai grew up and his parents. An escapee vampire from their joins the group midway through the series. Nothing ever eventuates from this plot point.

While I was harsh to Tsukasa earlier, I should probably point out that there isn’t a single decently developed character in the entire series. Not one character is actually interesting or well explored. At the end of the season you would be hard pressed to remember more than a handful of names and when you think about why some of the characters existed at all you will draw a blank. They contribute nothing overall to a story that goes nowhere.

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Then we have the visuals. Right from episode one it was pretty clear that this anime was not exactly a gorgeous feast for the eyes. Murky imagery, poor contrasts in the colours, and some really bad choices with animation to make the vampires seem fast (animation choices that seemed to disappear a few episodes in) all worked to make this series a pretty ugly thing to watch.

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This isn’t the worst thing ever but what really hurts is that we could have had a decent relationship between Anzai and Tsukasa and an exploration of the trouble they had in building an inter-species relationship. Or we could have had a compelling police drama where there were conspiracies to marginalise devils in society. The issue is, this show couldn’t handle doing both and the end result is an unsatisfying mess.

What did you think of Devils’ Line?

Linked Reviews:


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Karandi James

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And Now… The Results of the Worst of Spring Reader’s Poll Are Here!

If you missed it, the best of the Spring 2018 season reader poll results can be found here.

For those who are new to my end of season awards, I’ll just remind you that worst of the season is a slightly misleading term given I ask people to vote for a show they didn’t drop but was the worst thing they actually watched. That means there are plenty of anime out there that never get voted for that are significantly worse because people have simply dropped them without completing them.

First up, my choices for worst of the season.

Worst Story – Tokyo Ghoul: Re

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It seemed mean to give it to Record of Grancrest War considering it already won this ‘honour’ at the end of the Winter season, and Tokyo Ghoul Re has it coming. No explanations, no attempt to link the previous anime season to this, and just abandoning the anime fans to muddle their way through was a really poor move. Worse, even when you look up all the things you need to look up, we essentially spend 12 episodes gaining very little ground and it is hard to see much point to most of this. There’s the ongoing issue of Haise finding his memories but that’s about three episodes worth of content stretched out and then there’s a bunch of stuff with side characters I was never made to care about. Basically, this one was a bit of a mess but if you just want some ghoul fight sequences, it might deliver that for you.

Worst Visuals – Devils’ Line

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There was never any question on this category. Devils’ Line is ugly to watch whether it is the weird filter they put over scenes, the terrible effect used to make the vampires seem faster or whatever, or just the drab looking everything, it is hideous. While I appreciate not every vampire needs to be an Adonis existing only to draw the female eye, this show is just bad to look at.

Worst Opening – My Hero Academia Season 3

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Yes, I hear your complaints and yet I’m standing by this choice. After some truly thrilling OP’s, My Hero Academia has delivered one that neither gets me fired up, nor visually interests me, outside of the final image of Midoriya standing with All Might. Basically I’ve taken to skipping the OP and am hoping for a mid-season change.

Worst Character – The Cast of Caligula

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This was probably a cheap call, and yet I knew my least favourite characters existed in this series and yet when looking at each one I can barely remember their names let alone distinguish one from the other in terms of which was a more poorly introduced, fleshed out or developed character. This cast is way oversized and not one of the characters pictured above does a single thing of consequence in the entire series (watch it, remove each of these characters, note how that makes no difference to the plot at all). So yeah, it is an entire cast but this is my choice for worst character this season (they even beat some of the choices I had from Grancrest).

And now…

Worst Anime of the Spring 2018 Season – Doreiku The Animation

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I was really torn on this one. Caligula was a great contender for worst of the season as was Devils’ Line. But ultimately both of those had some redeeming qualities hiding deeply beneath layers of poor choices whereas Doreiku is just a concept thrown out there and then used by someone who doesn’t have a clue what to do with it. The first episode presents what could be a rich world of exploration about human desire and morality and ultimately the story barely manages to remain coherent and certainly doesn’t explore anything. It routinely shows us that the characters are horrible but that isn’t really exploration so much as just piling more mud onto what is already a mess. So despite having what arguably could have been one of the more interesting concepts this season, Doreiku has managed to be the anime I really wish I hadn’t stuck with.

Finally, Reader’s Choice

There was some tight competition for worst anime of the season that people actually watched and we ended up with a tie for third place. See the results for yourself.

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And so, with 9 votes, Darling in the Franxx won worst anime that people actually watched this season. I think the show’s popularity worked against it here because as bad as some of the other shows were, more people were watching Franxx. Still, you have to admit it became quite a mess as the series progressed.

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Devils’ Line therefore took a comfortable second place as worst anime closely followed by SAOA: GGO and Doreiku the animation in third place.

It seems like it has been a long season but now we are about to move into the Summer Anime season and begin it all again. Let’s cross our fingers and hope for some amazing stories, and for those anime that disappoint us, there’s always the chance to vote for it in the worst of Summer poll.


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Karandi James

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Tuesday’s Top 5: Reasons The Anime of Spring 2018 Have Been a Bit Disappointing

Tuesday's Top 5

I normally try and keep the top 5 posts pretty upbeat, but I can’t deny I’m a little disappointed with the last season of anime. No, it isn’t a sign that modern anime are dreadful or that seasonal watching is the problem. It is just that there were a lot of anime that just didn’t live up to their potential or deliver. As the season comes to an end, I’m reflecting on reasons why I was so disappointed this season.

Whether you liked the season or not, I’d love to know your thoughts on the anime from Spring 2018 so be sure to leave me a comment below.

Please note, there will be spoilers below.

Number 5: Sequels and Spin-offs That Just Didn’t Land

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Whether it was the debacle that was the continuation of Tokyo Ghoul (reverting to the story in the manga without providing explanation for anime viewers) or the disappointment of SAO Alternative: GGO where viewers were asked to watch a pink bunny girl play a game without much in the way of stakes and were expected to care, the Spring 2018 season has definitely had its share of mis-fires with sequels and spin-offs. Even if we look at the ending of Cardcaptors, most people are expressing a general sense that it just didn’t manage to live up to its predecessors and My Hero Academia took a fair while to get going (though fortunately it has now gotten going and it has certainly stepped up).

Number 4: Scattered Viewership

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Normally with seasonal viewing there’s the couple of shows that everyone is watching. Spring 2018 hasn’t had one of those unifying shows that has ignited the entire community. Instead we have small groups of people proclaiming a love for Megalo Box while older mecha fans have been rejoicing over the return of Full Metal Panic, some people praising SAO Alternative: GGO for not being SAO and a few who have gone for one romance or another. But there’s been no single show that has gotten everyone really excited. With so many big titles out that would seem really odd and yet nothing has really captured the masses this season.

Number 3: Controversy and Fan Idiocy

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While I like to avoid the fandoms are toxic debates, some of the stories going around this season really do emphasise that sometimes people just go too far. Death threats to writers and voice actors just should not be a thing. I know I don’t want someone coming into my workplace and threatening my life just because they disagree with how I go about doing my job, or spamming my email or twitter feed for the same. And then of course we have the issue of post plagiarism sweeping the blogosphere with quite a number of bloggers impacted. The last few months have not been great for community spirit and like it or not, it does impact on the enjoyment of the medium when the community is very much focused on some of these more negative aspects.

Number 2: Recaps, Fillers and Gaps

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How many shows this season have done recap episodes or fillers? And how many have skipped airing one week or another due to some event of the like? It has made following shows more challenging than normal as episodes are delayed or skip a week, or worse they put out a recap episode four episodes in as if the entire community suffers from short term memory loss. While I get production delays happen and that sometimes schedules do go awry with broadcasting, the Spring 2018 season feels like it has just been one interruption to the schedule after another making it even harder to get into some of the shows on offer.

Number 1: Broken Narratives

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Whether it is Record of Grancrest War, Darling in the Franxx, or even the abomination that is Devils’ Line, there are so many anime this season that just make no sense in terms of how they have structured and delivered their story. Maybe they are trying to avoid the label of generic but we’ve got time skips, random characters dropping in and out, reveals that make no sense, themes that get built up and then abandoned, and all and all its just a mess. This hardly makes for a satisfying viewing experience. There’s a reason narrative structure is almost identical in every culture, and that’s because people figured out a long time ago how to deliver a story in a way that made it interesting. A lot of these shows need to go back to basics and just figure out what they wanted to be because honestly Spring 2018 has definitely been a bit of a miss in terms of delivering anything resembling a compelling story line.

So those are my reasons for feeling a bit disappointed. I’d love to know if you were disappointed with the season and why, or whether you ended up loving the season and why. Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments below.

Also you can vote for your favourite and least favourite anime of the season below.


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Devils’ Line Episode 12: The True Tragedy Is That The Story Might Continue

And this series slowly pulls into its final station and there it will stay. I’m not sure what kind of ending that was but I know I’m not planning on watching it again to find out.

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I’ll save the rant for the series review. Wow, this is finally done. And while the squad is disbanded and the conspiracy continues in various levels of government and people continue to protest, the anime will of course focus its final half on Tsubasa and Anzai’s relationship as they are forbidden to see each other. And they’ll accept that and wait.

Time skip and there they are together, blushing away.

The end.

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Huh, really? An what is the current status of Devils after the time skip? And did anyone get to the bottom of the conspiracy? And all the members of F Squad who were demoted, reassigned or whatever, what happened to them? Does anyone care?

Clearly not the writers.

I am genuinely glad this anime is over.

 

Linked Reviews:


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Karandi James

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Devils’ Line Episode 11: Oh No – It’s A Trap

Turns out everyone is a double agent, or maybe a triple agent, who knows. And now they’ve walked into a trap. Terrible really.

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You walk into a building where there are dead homeless people and you just keep proceeding with your mission. Later, you act all shocked that someone set you up. Yep, that is the logic that the writers of this show are working with. Because you wouldn’t call in the dead bodies. And you wouldn’t abandon a mission that was clearly not going to plan. And of course you wouldn’t have thought about just taking the computer and running away because you want to waste time copying a list.

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By the time Anzai takes yet another bullet and Taira makes the idiotic decision to get Lee to take her to him, you are kind of wondering why the sniper won’t just take out the whole cast so that this can be over already.

Linked Reviews:


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Karandi James

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Devils’ Line Episode 10: Disjointed

This week we get the continuation of Anzai’s showdown with the professor on the train, a training sequence, some chat about lost memories and the ongoing conspiracy, a romance sequence, and then a fire. Not really sure which part of that I was supposed to pay attention to.

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Devils’ Line continues to be a bit of an oddity. I don’t actually dislike, but it isn’t good. Nor is it entertainingly bad. It’s kind of like watching the sketched outline of something that potentially could have been good but it never got out of draft form. As a result, ideas are tossed about and we drift from scene to scene with nothing to really distinguish what’s important and what is not. Conversations about murder are delivered in exactly the same tone and colouring as conversations about drinking tea and it makes the whole things just sit a bit strangely.

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Turns out we’re going for the ‘Anzai’s special’ approach to bringing this to some kind of conclusion. Why and how I’m sure we’ll get to, but given so many characters are turning their focus to him, as if he’s all that interesting, they will hopefully reveal it soon. Of course, I haven’t actually confirmed how many episodes this anime has, so maybe we’ll just stretch this whole drama out. I’m kind of hoping not.

Linked Reviews:

  1. Episode 9: Vigilante ‘Justice’
  2. Episode 8: Larger Social Issues Aside, Let’s Focus on Vampire Sex
  3. Episode 7: Facing Your Fears Apparently Solves Everything
  4. Episode 6: How Deep Does This Conspiracy Go?
  5. Episode 5: Ooh, Conspiracy
  6. Episode 4: If Blood Tolerance Was A Thing, Wouldn’t The Government Know?
  7. Episode 3: Ill-Defined Relationships
  8. Episode 2: We’re Just Skipping Over the Falling In Love Part
  9. Devils’ Line First Impressions

Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Devils’ Line Episode 9: Vigilante ‘Justice’

And we’re back to caring about the fact that people are protesting about the existence of Devils. This anime doesn’t really know how to build a consistent tone at all.

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This episode is a little bit of a mixed bag. We get some more information about Lee and a flash-back to his ‘escape’ but not really sure where he sits in the grand scheme of this story. So far he doesn’t seem like a key player and more like an annoying side-kick so I’m genuinely not sure how much attention I’m supposed to give that sequence. We’re also introduced to the new squad leader and we get some cloak and dagger conspiracy talk that is more or less chopped off at the knees when the new guy just tells them point blank to check out his history and that he doesn’t mind them investigating whoever else. Why you would replace someone who is uncooperative with your agenda with someone else who seems like they are going to be uncooperative is a little confusing, but in terms of Devils’ Line it all just seems pretty standard.

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Finally we have the squad negotiating with Seven and Nine for information on the CCC. Meanwhile, the streets are filled with chanting protesters who are carrying blood on them and attacking anyone who reacts to the sight. This is great ‘justice’. Meanwhile, other than Squad F has anyone else taken action? Forget the special units, the guys causing the chaos here are human. Where are the normal police? Nowhere to be seen.

As normal, this anime is just kind of bad even while I think there were some interesting ideas behind it.

Linked Reviews:

  1. Episode 8: Larger Social Issues Aside, Let’s Focus on Vampire Sex
  2. Episode 7: Facing Your Fears Apparently Solves Everything
  3. Episode 6: How Deep Does This Conspiracy Go?
  4. Episode 5: Ooh, Conspiracy
  5. Episode 4: If Blood Tolerance Was A Thing, Wouldn’t The Government Know?
  6. Episode 3: Ill-Defined Relationships
  7. Episode 2: We’re Just Skipping Over the Falling In Love Part
  8. Devils’ Line First Impressions

Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Consider supporting the blog by:

Patreon2             Thoughts on Anime             74iz