Devils’ Line Complete Collection (Cert 18)
2 Discs Blu-ray (Distributor: MVM) Running time: 324 minutes approx.
Release Date: January 13th
Vampires and humans aren’t meant to get along. I mean, it is only natural since one is an undead creature that feasts on the blood of the living, so the relationship is pretty much doomed from the beginning right? But what if love was strong to overcome this awkward yet rather monumental obstacle?
In a near futuristic Tokyo, the existence of vampires in society is more common thanks to them no longer needing human blood for vital sustenance, though the smell or sight of blood can awaken extreme bloodlust if not careful. Fully transformed vampires are called Devils and the police have a special force devoted to tackling them, which includes sedated Devils and human-hybrid vampires among their number.
University student Tsukasa Taira receives a shock when her childhood friend reveals he is a vampire and can no longer hold off his desire for her. Tsukasa is saved by Yuuki Anzai, a hybrid special officer, who falls in love with her and vows to protect her from Devils. But when Tsukasa is cut during one melee, her blood stirs Yuuki’s bloodlust which he fights to suppress. Meanwhile, someone is exploiting Devils to turn public opinion against them with a view of wiping them out completely.
Twilight has a lot to answer for in creating the vampire romance subgenre, although whether we can lay direct blame on it for the existence of Devils’ Line is subject to debate. If we are to single out any obvious influence then Tokyo Ghoul is the closest in terms of graphic violence and some shared DNA in the details, most specifically in the sedation of bloodlust.
Based on the manga by Ryo Hanada, there is a lot more to Devils’ Line than a forbidden romance between what is effectively two different species. The subplot, which eventually becomes the main plot, regarding the systematic inside job extinction of Devils provides the hook for those not keen on lovey dovey antics which are comparatively underplayed and free from any expected sappiness.
Certainly, the opening to the first episode bears no resemblance to a cutesy romance series, depicting an uncontrollable devil ripping out the throat of some poor unsuspecting female victim. This isn’t done purely for shock value as the culprit is revealed later in the episode, caused by his inability to rein in his recently triggered bloodlust, messing with his ability to stay calm around Tsukasa.
For some reason, timorous and charisma free Tsukasa has a gravitational pull attracting all the local vampires to guzzle on her blood supply, which includes Yuuki, but a personal trauma from his past leaves him resolute in not succumbing to this side of his make-up. Instead, Yuuki is injected with special sedatives to calm him down, but the more he cares for Tsukasa, the angrier he gets at other Devils.
Yuuki is not alone in being a “good guy” vampire – his Division 5 colleague Juliana Lloyd is representing the girls (in a tight fighting OL type outfit, natch) whilst the enigmatic but mysterious Hans Lee is the quirky one, whose allegiance to Yuuki is open to question by seemingly having something to hide, and not just his awakened left eye obscured by his long hair either.
However, it is not duplicity on Hans’ part that Division 5 and the rest of the police need worry about as other forces are working against them from within the police system. At first, Yuuki and Juliana are targeted by a skilled sniper whilst on investigation, the latter stabbed by a adrenaline drive young man revealing himself a member of the CCC, a secret group devoted to exterminating vampires.
One more headache for Yuuki and co. to deal with, there is a huge twist regarding the one pulling the strings behind the CCC, which eventually forces the sniper, Zero 7 and her computer hacker partner to form a coalition with Division 5, once they learn their boss will betray them to save his own skin. And I suppose it shouldn’t be of any surprise to anybody that it is the purity and innocence of Tsukasa that brings about this change of heart?
The plan of the CCC is to make vampire lose control and slaughter a few innocents to raise public dissent, thus given them a legit cover for killing vampires off. Admittedly, whilst we finally have some semblance of a direction, it gets a bit confusing recognising this glut of new characters and with whom they are aligned, since many aren’t given sufficient introductions and frankly are visually interchangeable.
Even the man stepping up as the main antagonist comes from nowhere, then spends most of the time in the shadows whist paranoia grows and everyone else decides which side they are on. It is tentatively gripping stuff in principle but less so in execution for these very reasons, coupled with the need to continue to the Yuuki-Tsukasa thread which is vital to how Yuuki conducts himself as a vampire cop and a boyfriend in a doomed relationship.
We could argue that one story needs the other to help get both their points across, and in that respect 12 episodes is not enough, yet had the focus been on one plot at a time, I doubt either would have held viewers’ interest. This makes it hard to judge whether this show has done as well as it could given this cavil, or not well enough. On things that is clear, the OVA episode featured in this set should have been in the main series for it reveals the backstory of Yuuki’s existence and that of modern vampires in general.
Devils’ Line is a series that will be remembered for having all the right ingredients to be something worthwhile but suffers from its limitations in reaching its obvious potential. Not a completely toothless affair, with some nice visuals, great action sequences, and plenty of gore, but any bite marks felt will heal quickly and forgotten in a hurry.
Japanese Language DTS Master Audio 2.0
English Language DTS Master Audio 2.0
Disc 2 Only:
Clean Opening Animation
Clean Closing Animation
Rating – ***
Man In Black