In the dark of night, nobody can hide from a vampire. These monsters, also known as devils, are able to camouflage themselves amongst ordinary citizens while they hunt them for their blood, which induces a state of euphoria more powerful than the hardest drugs. Tsukasa, an ordinary young college student, finds herself pulled into this dark and dangerous world when her friend Akimura is revealed to be a vampire. She is saved from him by Anzai, a young man who is part of a vampire-hunting police team, but is she any safer with him as he struggles against his own half-devil nature?
If I had to sum up Devils’ Line in one word it would probably be “rapey”. The nature of the vampire myth has always been a thinly veiled sexual allegory ever since its inception, and depending on the story its purpose can be to signify temptation, power or horror. This story, judging by its first episode, is going for the latter.
There is nothing sexy about the vampires in Devils’ Line. They aren’t trying to tempt their victims with the promise of sexual gratification, but instead are taking what they need (the intense sexual rush and a high that is not dissimilar to taking hard drugs) and leaving a corpse in their wake. These vampires don’t seem to require human blood to survive and it is instead an addiction that they cannot shake.
Of the two vampires we are introduced to, both are male and both are creepy and utterly unendearing despite the fact that one of them is supposed to be the main character. Akimura, Tsukasa’s college friend, is particularly unsettling even before he is revealed to be a vampire. He has had a crush on her since high school and appears to have confessed his feelings multiple times despite never receiving a positive response. He brings this up all the time as if he’s trying to make her feel guilty, and tells her that it’s okay if she doesn’t pick him as long as she doesn’t have a boyfriend. When it is revealed that he has been killing other women around the city to slake is bloodlust, he claims that it should be fine because it’s not as if he’s going to drink her blood, and that he has to kill these other women so that he can keep her safe with the unspoken addition that she should really feel grateful for that. I hated him. He was creepy from the outset and I’m glad he’s dead.
The thing is, Anzai, her angst-ridden saviour, isn’t much better. He is apparently a half vampire himself which we find out at the end of the episode when he notices that there’s a tiny bit of blood near her lips and starts jamming his tongue down her throat like he’s gonna find even more blood down there. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he slams her against the wall and there’s a close up of him trying to prise her legs apart. Some perturbingly romantic music kicks in as he starts to properly kiss her in the lead-in to the ending. Wow, way to get me invested in this relationship, guys! Because let’s be real, they’re probably gonna end up together. If I was Tsukasa then rather than engaging with any of these creeps I’d be on the next train out of Tokyo so fast your head would spin.
Another reason why Devils’ Line didn’t really work for me was because the visual execution is not great, to put it mildly. The majority of the action scenes are veiled in darkness so that you can’t see what’s happening. While this choice hides most of the animation, it still wasn’t enough to stop us from seeing the incredibly weirdly animated fight choreography! That was my favourite bit of the episode. See, a woman who’s on the police force is chasing down a vampire who runs like he’s straight out of Naruto, but the entire chase scene looks like it’s playing at double-speed so the two of them are flailing around ridiculously while the animation completely fails to convey any sort of weight to their bodies. The effect makes it look less like an actual fight and more like a kid has grabbed two of his action figures and is making them fly through the sky and smash into each other while yelling. I cannot emphasise enough how dumb it looks.
Vampire stories these days have to work hard not to be cliche, and unfortunately Devils’ Line cannot escape that pitfall. Combine that with shoddy production values and the creepy sexual assault vibe that the main relationship is giving off, unless you’re really into vampire stories then this one can be easily skipped.
- The vampire-free scenes are actually pretty decent and Tsukasa is a very relatable character
- Basically every guy introduced so far gives off a creepy rapist vibe
- Bad-to-average animation, weirdly choreographed fight scenes and an overly dark colour palette don’t exactly make Devils’ Line a visual feast
- I hate that Anzai’s like “he was a vampire, or as we like to call them… Devils.” Vampires are already a thing. Just call them vampires. Devils are an entirely different supernatural creature.