What They Say:
Everything you thought you knew about vampires is wrong. They can walk in the daylight and holy water doesn’t burn them. In fact, vampires can pass as normal humans so perfectly that even other vampires have trouble spotting them. Until they drink human blood, that is; then they transform into monstrous beasts who mindlessly rape and murder. But not all vampires are evil. The secret task force that patrols Tokyo’s vampire population has several fanged operatives, including half-human Yuki Anzai, who believes that his human heritage lets him resist his species’ basest cravings. But after Yuki rescues college student Tsukasa Taira from a vampire stalker, he realizes that he’s succumbing to urges he’s never felt before. And like moths to the flame, he and Tsukasa find themselves being pulled into a potentially fatal attraction in Devils’ Line!
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track and now an English language dub, both of which are in stereo and encoded using the DTS-HD MA codec. The show has a good balance between the action and dialogue with neither one overly dominating the other. The music is where things have the best full feeling, but overall the mix here is pretty good with the action having some good placement to it and in some instances some good depth. Dialogue is similar as it comes across very clear throughout both in the quieter segments and the louder ones when everyone is overreacting to things and yelling a lot. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2018, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. With the original twelve episodes and OVA, the show is spread across two discs with nine on the first and four on the second. Animated by Platinum Vision, the show has a pretty good look to it where it doesn’t have to exist solely in the shadows, which already feels weird. Adapting the style of the manga and using the color palette that they do here, it has a kind of almost off-putting layer to it but it fits with the material pretty well. The high definition encoding works well as it gets the details that are in the characters and the backgrounds, especially the red of the eyes, while handling the more fluid sequences perfectly well. It’s not a high-end show but it’s one that comes through without problems here, making for a good high-bit rate experience compared to a stream.
The packaging for this release comes in a standard-sized Blu-ray case that holds both of the discs against the interior walls. The front cover us the familiar key visual of the main trio across the rooftop in the city but it has always felt off to me. The angle looks weird, the blurry background disconnects us, and Yuki in the mask – which is part of the character, I get it – just disassociates us from the character even more. The back cover goes for a black background with blood splotches with the tagline while the lower section has an additional row of shots from the show along with the extras listing. The summary covers things well and everything is laid out decently. The production information and technical grid are all cleanly listed with accurate information that’s easily read. No show related inserts are included nor are there any show related inserts.
The menu design for this release goes for a stark approach but one that works for what the show is about. The bulk of it is just a focus on the face visual for Yuki, which is done illustration style with lots of detail, set against a soft white background. And with him not wearing anything it adds a cleaner look to it all. The left quarter is given over to the navigation, which has a black background with a few cross symbols mixed into it that works nicely. The text is done well with a solid easy to read font that makes for easy navigation and works nicely in the way it moves during both playback and as the top-level menu.
The only extras we get for this release 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 by Ryo Hanada, Devils’ Line is a twelve-episode series and OVA that was part of the spring 2018 season. The original manga began in 2013 and wrapped up at the end of 2018 with thirteen volumes and saw release in English through Vertical Comics for the last few years. The anime adaptation had Platinum Vision working the animation production and Yoshinobu Tokumoto was brought in to direct it. Tokumoto has a long list of credits to his name as a director and storyboard artist and worked on some slightly familiar material with Strike the Blood among other shows. He’s served more as an episode director with several under his belt and not as often as a full series director.
I do my best to not compare shows to other shows but sometimes we get a period where a few familiar things do crop up – across a lot of media. Devils’ Line, one of the more awkward titles to write, has a few similarities to Tokyo Ghoul and you can get a little deja vu around it. The show mainly focuses on Yuki, a half-vampire that works for an organization that deals with the vampires (called devils) that operate in the world. Yuki feels that he’s in a bit of a different position because of his being a half-breed and that keeps him apart from others in a lot of ways. Vampires in this are different from the norm in general as they can go out in daylight and some of the usual cliches simply aren’t a part of it. He’s a solid member of the group and has skill while also a decent bit of control over his darker side. Visually, they mostly look their normal selves but the blood-red eyes (Yuki’s being half) is pretty striking as the show does a number of close-up scenes to make it stand out all the more.
Yuki’s life takes a turn when he ends up rescuing Tsukasa, a young woman who he ends up becoming very close to. Tsukasa’s a college-aged girl, which is a big plus, who when saved by Yuki ends up falling for him pretty hard from pretty much first sight. She’s a fairly standard character in a lot of ways but what works with her is that she’s pretty invested in the relationship and tries to make it work without the usual will they or won’t they material. She’s close to him from the start, which takes time for him to adjust to, and she serves as a pretty bright point throughout it in contrast to the gloomy Yuki. That’s something that works well as she doesn’t succumb to his darker side and mood and provides some good comfort to him. It’s a little less clear what she gets out of the relationship in a sense other than returned affections eventually, but the dynamic that we see between them is enjoyable to watch.
What the series plays with for a lot of it is its focus on dealing with the vampires that can’t control their more base desires. It’s made clear that it’s not all of them but there are enough of them that cause trouble, especially as it starts to bleed out into more public view. One brutal sequence has an upbeat female reporter outside doing some on the street material only to have a vampire race through and slice her open in a split second. It’s the kind of thing that can galvanize events and change the nature of how people view the vampires, which plays well into other allegories as well. There are a number of factions and groups that crops up as we get further into the show and I’ll admit a lot of it just didn’t register much simply because it follows such standard approaches. It’s not bad but you get a sense of the familiar so often that it kind of blurs out the details themselves. Which, I’ll admit, is fine because I felt that the real story was watching what’s going on between Yuki and Tsukasa as it progresses and as he protects her from the darkness out there. His own attempts at restraint from his needs provides a good internal struggle to watch with him as well.
Devils’ Line was a series where I kept having to mind-check myself from remembering another series because of the number of similarities and that frustrated me. It’s not unusual that we get similar shows over a period but usually, they’re a bit more distinctive than what we get here. Devils’ Line succeeds more in dealing with its two leads as they navigate the relationship dynamic with a half-vampire in the mix and I enjoyed seeing the number of good moments where they’re quiet and introspective as they deal with each other. Sentai’s release is pretty solid with a very enjoyable dub that has some great performances, again, particularly out of Adam Gibbs and Luci Christian, and that helps to make the whole relationship connect more. It’s a solid encoding in an expected package all wrapped up well. Fans of the show will definitely enjoy having it on their shelf and in as good a quality as we do over the streaming side.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening Animation, Clean Closing Animation
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: August 27th, 2019
Running Time: 325 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.