What They Say:
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. Instead of cash, William discovers that he’s supposed to choose the (interim) ruler of Hell! That would be a bedeviling 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’ll 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?
Contains episodes 1-12.
The audio presentation for this series is done up with the original Japanese language track only and it’s in stereo and encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The show is one that’s fairly straightforward with its approach as it’s a lot of dialogue with a good bit of action from time to time, though it picks up a lot more in the last couple of episodes with what it wants to do. The mix is one that definitely works well overall as there’s some good movement across the forward soundstage with what it does between the characters and some of the quirkier aspects of the devils and angels, making for a solid time. The action when it hits definitely works very well as it has a very full feeling to it across the soundstage, keeping it active and busy as things move to and fro. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2013, the transfer for this twelve episode TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. Since there’s only one language track here, it’s kept to one disc and generally has a pretty good look about it. Animated by Dogakobo, the show has a bright and colorful design to it with what it wants to do, but it’s not a hugely active work overall with a lot of time spent in dialogue scenes and other basic things. Where it makes up for it is in the design and detail that comes alive well and really has a strong look overall. The colors definitely pop in a lot of ways throughout with some great, vibrant areas and some really good detail in a lot of sequences with Hell. The show surprised me in a lot of ways with how it looked and it really delivers overall.
The packaging for this release brings us a standard sized Blu-ray case to hold the single disc inside. The front cover gives us a look at four of the main characters in quadrant form with the top working a white background while the bottom goes for black. It’s a good look overall with what it’s trying to do by showing off the four men of the series and setting the tone there, but it doesn’t tell you much about the show itself. The logo has a nice touch of elegance about it in the middle which works the black and white aspect as well. The back cover is a bit more difficult to work with as we get a circle in the middle with a black background that has the premise spread throughout it in a pink/purple shade that makes it hard to read. Each side has a selection of shows though the right adds a little extra character artwork. THe top gives us a simple tagline for the show while the bottom breaks out the production credits and technical aspects in a clear and easy to read fashion. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu design for this release works a good angle as it definitely goes for class and elegance that fits the period and the characters. The left side breaks down the episodes by numbers and titles with some good edge work to it and colors that makes it easy to read. The right side gives us a look at William in his full standard outfit with the magic circle behind him that’s all done up in an illustration style that gives it a lot of good detail and definitely sets the tone well. The release has no language setup but there’s a submenu for the extras to be checked out.
The only extras included here are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga written by Madoka Takadono and illustrated by Utako Yukihiro, Devils & Realist is a twelve episode series animated by Dogakobo. The book began back in 2009 and has nine volumes so far, which is seeing release from Seven Seas Entertainment in North America. The show has a kind of awkward title with just how it sounds and I didn’t find myself interested in it much during its simulcast as even the promos didn’t do much for me. That’s both a good and bad thing as I managed to go into this series by seeing the whole thing at once, which definitely made me enjoy it a lot more, but it also made me wish i watched it as it aired because it’s definitely got its appeal.
Taking place in 19th century England, the show revolves around the character of William Twining, a young man in school who is very smart and talented and is expected to do great things as he moves fully into the aristocracy once out of school. We see some of him at the start at school where he’s well respected, the best grades and generally well thought of, though he seems to have only one friend in Isaac. What changes for him is that he has to go back to his parents house during break as his tuition hasn’t been paid and that’s going to cause problems because even the illusion of a problem will reduce his standing among the others. So when he gets back there and finds the house emptied and his parents missing, he learns that everything has been lost and there’s no money left. That forces him into the position of looking at scholarships and the like when he gets back to school, but he has another complicated issue that comes up when he’s at the house.
With the help of the butler that took care of him when he grew up named Kevin, William ends up discovering something much larger going on with his life there. What we discover is that William has a long history line that goes back even further than he expected as he’s related to the fabled King Solomon. That’s made him an important part of a much larger game that’s being played out that normal people are unaware of as, with a certain ring, he has power over demons that his ancestor had bound by contract. That position has also made him hugely important to the demons in Hell as he holds the position of Elector, the man who can choose the interim ruler of the place while Lucifer is in his deep slumber. Whether Lucifer wakes up or not at some point is an interesting minor plot point for it, but the focus is mostly on the importance of William himself and the desire by many both in Heaven and Hell to protect or acquire him for their own goals.
What the series follows with this premise is that one of the Nephilim named Dantalion ends up getting quite close to him and ends up protecting him, though he has his own goal of serving Hell with what William actually represents. Dantalion knows the value of William and that has him spending a lot of time with him by attending school, which he’s able to do by covering William’s tuition. This complicates things for William, but it provides some fun as he and a few other demons make their way there and end up being a part of Willliam’s everyday life. When he went from pretty much having no friends to this odd group, it definitely has its moments as they interact with each other and get caught up in some of Hell’s other machinations that are underway as there are a number of devils that want William and what he represents as the Elector. There’s also the fact that Heaven is watching as well, where we see that an angel was closer to William than one might have guessed, and we get Michael making his own moves as well to secure things for what he perceives to be the larger plan of God. Michael’s a real wildcard in a way, but it’s interesting to see that the approach used with him here is one that’s definitely wicked and cruel in his own way.
The show works a good range of demons and angels into it and some fun little twists as well, and it actually does manage to bring the show to a conclusion in a way that surprises since the manga is ongoing. That’s definitely a very welcome aspect that we don’t often get in shows like this. William as a character isn’t bad and he can certainly carry the show as there’s fun in the way that he has a hard time really accepting that devils are real since he believes everything has a basis in science, which makes him try and figure out what they are as opposed to devils. Considering some of the tricks they pull, they certainly do come across as pure magic, but the fun really is in seeing the dynamic between him and the others since he ranges from dismissive of them to being reliant on them to survive.
Devils & Realist felt like an under the radar show when it was simulcast and I didn’t really pick up on it much since there wasn’t a lot of buzz with it. Watching it here in marathon form, the show really worked very well for me with what it wants to do. We get a solid set up and premise, we get solid range of male characters that become bonded together but in a non-romantic way and a lot of hurdles for William to deal with while coping with the idea of devils and angels and his position between them. It’s really well animated with some great designs, details and colors to it that really pops and makes it engaging. The show also does something surprising in that while it’s open ended enough for more, we really do get a conclusive enough ending here to be really positive about it and to feel like we have closure. In the end, I enjoyed this show a lot more than I expected with its premise and all male cast. It hits a lot of good notes and is generally strong throughout.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: March 17th, 2015
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.