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?

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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.

 

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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.

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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

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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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Devils’ Line Episode 8: Larger Social Issues Aside, Let’s Focus on Vampire Sex

Vampires and sex have always been fairly connected in stories, but I think Devils’ Line has just thrown away the symbolism and really just wants to get Anzai and Tsukasa together. Still not sure why, but whatever.

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How does he talk at all with his teeth in that state?

The episode of Devils’ Line this week had multiple opportunities to not be a terrible anime. It had the rescue of Tsukasa and the potential revealing of the moles as well as the ongoing social upheaval that has been caused by the reveal that devils actually exist. And yet all of those other points, while present within the episode to a point, were kind of shoved off to the side while we focus on whether Anzai could make out with Tsukasa without biting her. She also gives the ridiculous response at one point that one or two bites don’t matter and that she doesn’t mind physical pain because it hurts more when he isn’t there. Not only is that cheesy, it is downright dangerous in terms of an attitude to have toward a relationship.

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Anyway, Devils’ Line does get kind of on to the social side of things toward the end when Anzai drives the doctor to a conference that is arguing about whether the law should be changed to allow devils to have sex (I’m seeing a theme here). Turns out though that one of the speakers is actually… okay watch the episode for the lame reveal.

Last week gave us one of the better episodes this anime had to offer and this week sends us straight back into eye-rollingly bad territory.

Linked Reviews:

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

Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Devils’ Line Episode 7: Facing Your Fears Apparently Solves Everything

There’s a flaw in the logic that knowing what you are afraid of will allow you to overcome it, and yet at least this seems like Anzai is finally making some progress so that this anime doesn’t just go around in circles with Anzai and Tsukasa endlessly.

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This week I’m actually going to have to lay off mocking Devils’ Line because the episode was actually relatively good. Relatively because it is still built on so many of the issues that have filled the first six episodes of the anime, but at the same time, there was very little that I could point to this week and say it didn’t work within the scope of the story that has been established. Tsukasa didn’t even do anything too blindingly stupid, though she probably could have spared herself some drama if she’d just ditched the kidnappers when they changed cars (and who takes a taxi to their hide-out when escaping the police).

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Still, it seems like Anzai is actually going to make some progress as a character and while the introduction of a rival character might be as cliche as they come, at least it is spurring the plot forward and preventing us from reliving the endless loop of the two characters getting close, some dangerous thing happening and Anzai pulling away. Not to mention, his whole spiderman rescue thing at the end of this episode was kind of cool. Next question is how he intends to get down from there.

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Karandi James

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Devils’ Line Episode 6: How Deep Does This Conspiracy Go?

Last week I made fun of the fact that they seemed to be setting up a conspiracy within the organisation. This week, I’m left wondering just how far up the food chain must the conspiracy go and how long has it been operating given some of the missing information.

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I’m still confused as to why this show can’t just call a vampire a vampire and why we have to confuse the issue by calling them devils, but let’s put that to the side yet again and focus instead on the fact that we’ve gone from poor decision making girl and rapid fire romances without grounds to full on societal conspiracy in the span of two episodes. While I certainly appreciate the story we’re getting now more than the tortured romance tale that was kind of getting dribbled out previously, it is a pretty abrupt shift and the pacing is still all over the place.

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There’s just been so many new ideas thrown at us over the past few episodes and while a lot of these address some of the illogical ideas that we had at the beginning, or at least cause characters to start questioning some of the underpinning assumptions, it has been hard to figure out what you need to pay attention to given anything or everything might later become important depending on which direction they go. The major criticism would be that Tuskasa is just as useless a main character this week as any other being mopey and declaring her love of the guy she really doesn’t know to the friend who is showing some genuine and probably some plausibly needed concern.

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Karandi James

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Devils’ Line Episode 5: Ooh, Conspiracy

Oh no, they finally decided to ask how Anzai could be half-devil when humans and devils can’t have sex. This anime really knows how to ask and not answer the difficult questions.

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Well, they didn’t throw any illogical plot developments at us this week but rather spent some time on the fallout of last week’s public slasher attack. This brought Tsukasa and Lee back to Anzai and the other police and set up a nice clear antagonist for them to munch on later in the series. However, does this reasonably logical plot development actually improve the overall anime?

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At five episodes in, I still don’t get why Tsukasa and Anzai are a thing. She’s clearly head over heels in love and he’s at least obsessed with her, though I still haven’t figured out when either one had the time to develop anything close to a feeling for the other one. As for the support cast in this tragic tale, they are barely names and faces that blip in and out of existence. So while this episode marks a turning point in that everything that happened in it seemed sensible in light of previous episodes, that doesn’t make this series somehow good. In point of fact, it just reminds us that somewhere underneath all the overly dark sequences there might have been a half-decent story to be explored.

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Karandi James

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Devils’ Line Episode 4: If Blood Tolerance Was A Thing, Wouldn’t The Government Know?

About the only thing keeping me watching this anime is the question of whether they can add yet another illogical plot development each and every week. So far, the answer to that would be yes.

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Sometimes an anime comes along that just makes you wonder if anyone ever read through the plot before they started and wondered if maybe, just maybe, they should try to insert some logic into the story. This week Anzai is force-fed human blood to heal him and then he goes crazy (duh), and the half-vampire who fed it to him is all shocked and amazed he doesn’t have a tolerance to it. Really? Given every vampire, sorry – Devil, that we’ve met so far has gone completely bonkers just at the sight of blood he’s going to pretend it is shocking that the guy he just fed blood to is losing the plot. Later on he suggests he can help Anzai get used to human blood, but really, surely the government that has been running around this whole time would know if this was actually a thing. Surely you wouldn’t want all these walking time-bombs in your city if there was a way to make them calm around blood.

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This character is deeply stupid. Every decision she has made so far, has been stupid. Watch her make another stupid decision.

Of course, the lack of logic doesn’t end there. Our main heroine continues to be stupid for the sake of it. She’s been cut, she’s still splattered in blood, and somehow she thinks Anzai will just snap out of it at the sight of her? What planet has she been on for the past three episodes? More importantly, the scar she later has on her face is significantly longer than the cut was and the bandage is covering which made me wonder if someone else had decided to play slasher on her face.

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Right, so this anime is illogical and each plot development feels incredibly forced or stupid, and now we’ve had a reporter slashed on a live broadcast and a vampire member of the film crew munch on her, so I guess we’re not going to the public hysteria phase of the story.

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Karandi James

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