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. Because 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 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 in DEVILS and REALIST!
Encoded in Dolby Digital 2.0 at 48 kHz, the audio sounds crisp and the separation maintains an atmospheric soundstage. With neither exceptional sound, nor a need for localized effects, the sound remains solid throughout.
As originally released in 1.78:1, the video is encoded for anamorphic playback. Playback is variable bitrate. I saw no distracting artifacts from a normal viewing distance. There is some jittering during some panning sequences.
The standard size keepcase holds two discs with hubs on the inside of the front and back covers. Disc 1 has been printed with the image of William with a magical diagram behind him in green and yellow tones. Disc 2 has an image of Sytry with a magical diagram behind him in purple and teal tones. The front cover has images of William looking at the viewer with the three primary demons in profile on a white and black field with the silhouette of flowers on a vine. The spine has the title with a standing William holding a book.The back cover has several images from the series surrounding the summary. At the bottom third, the credits are in white font on the black field over the technical grid. Copyright information is along the bottom.
Disc 1 offers an image of Dantalion standing on the left side with the six episodes and special features selectable in a vertical column. Disc 2 has an image of Camio on the left with episodes 7 through 12 selectable from a column on the right side.
The only extras are a clean opening and closing.
William strives to be one of the best students in school in 1800s England. He prides himself on earning excellent grades, and he doesn’t mind letting everyone know that he is a genius. His ambition is to go to college and become either a lawyer or politician. When he learns his uncle has gone bankrupt and missing, he questions how he will pay his tuition. For William, this tends to be the primary motivation throughout the series.
For everyone else, William has a direct connection to Solomon. In the mythos of the series, Solomon was an offspring of David, but since David had cheated on his wife, he refused to acknowledge Solomon as his offspring. At some point, God gives Solomon wisdom and a ring that gives him power over demons. In his loneliness, Solomon conjures demons and binds them to contracts. Doing this created 72 pillars, the hierarchy of Hell. Lucifer, the ultimate ruler, has fallen into slumber and may not reawaken. He placed Solomon in charge of naming the interim ruler, so William becomes the target of both demons and angels as he seems to carry the blood, or soul, of Solomon.
When William goes home, he accidentally conjures a demon, Dantalion, a creature who was once human. Dantalion is one of three candidates. He has a machismo, and when he infiltrates the school, he becomes a top jock. The second candidate, Sytry, is an effeminate man who eats candy and has a group of boys around to wait on him. Of the three, he is the only true demon. The final candidate, Camio, turns out to be at the school already. He is the Head Boy, the top student. He once had a relationship with the house mother for William’s building. Camio had been born to a human mother impregnated by a powerful demon. Dantalion and Sytry vie for William to choose them to rule Hell, but Camio seems indifferent.
Angels also want to control William. Michael, the angels’ sadistic leader, likes to demonstrate his power by plucking feathers, burrowing his toes into his subordinate angels, and making constant threats. He favors brutality over less dramatic forms of persuasion. He already has removed one of Uriel’s wings. If he removes the second one, Uriel will become a fallen angel and sent to Hell. Uriel had been an angel who carried out discipline on Solomon, but had been overcome with Solomon’s wisdom. He has been living undercover as William’s loyal servant.
The show doesn’t have a very deep narrative. William can’t allow himself to believe in demons or God because he loves science. He tends to act indifferent to his supernatural experiences, and he seems determined to live out his dream of rising through school, university, and then as a professional. He has a hanger on, Isaac, who isn’t a great student, but he seems to enjoy the interactions with supernatural creatures. Together, William, Isaac, Dantalion, and Sytry live the life of school boys with occasional interruptions from Hell or the angels. As the story progresses, we meet several demons. Some seem willing to cause chaos, but others seem more thoughtful than the angels. In one scene, lead angel Michael orders Uriel to give William “ecstasy.” Whatever this is, it wipes their soul and would make him the angels’ pawn. William, as a realist, cannot experience ecstasy, so Michael orders Uriel to kill him. Many points in the series seem to be an interesting and focused critique of western religion.
Much of the tension comes from the devious motives of both the demons and angels. William seems to be indifferent unless he finds himself in danger. While the show uses many elements of Gothic design, and even seems to use some story elements from another series about a boy with a demonic butler, it never fully engages in morbidity or dark drama. Even when the story gets thick with plot, there seems to be a sense of humor rising above it all.
Devils and Realist offers a cross between a school life comedy and a supernatural thriller. Moments of darkness and surreal, supernatural characters punctuate an otherwise standard comedy. For a show based on a continuing manga, the arc comes to a satisfactory conclusion. Some elements and story plots may seem passé to viewers of other supernatural dramas, but the show creates and maintains its own vibe.
Japanese 2.0 language with forced English subtitles, Clean Opening and Ending, Sentai Trailers.
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: C
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: March 17th, 2015
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Samsung 40” LCD 1080P HDTV, Sony BDP-S3500 Blu-ray player connected via HDMI, Onkyo TX-SR444 Receiver with NHT SuperOne front channels and NHT SuperZero 2.1 rear channel speakers.