Review for Devils And Realist Collection
For their latest release, MVM leaf through the back catalogue to uncover Devils and Realist, a show from 2013, which Sentai Filmworks released to the US in 2015. It’s a little odd to be releasing an older, but not classic show in an industry ruled by the new thing, or the classics, but it does give me hope that the UK will see some shows that slipped under the radar on their first release. You can see why Devils and Realist was skipped over the first time around. After all, a tale about an upper class English orphan from Victorian times interacting with a devil (with a few BL overtones) probably wouldn’t sell well to a market going through Black Butler-mania. We haven’t had a Black Butler release in over two years now. I think Devils and Realist deserves a chance at soothing those withdrawal pains.
William Twining is the scion of an aristocratic family, who prides himself on his realism, and his adherence to scientific method. Not for him, the superstitions and myths of ancient history, and his disdain for religion is almost as acute. But then his uncle’s business fails, his wealth confiscated to service the debts, and he’s left with just the empty shell of the family mansion, unable to pay the tuition at his exclusive boarding school.
But there is that secret room in the basement, the one with the magic circle, the one that summons the devil Dantalion to his side. Not that William will have anything to do with such nonsense, even when it stares him in the face. He’ll have no choice though, as there is a vacancy at the top of the demonic hierarchy while Lucifer slumbers. There is a conflict to see who will be the temporary ruler of hell, and it turns out that William Twining holds the position of Elector, the one who will choose the ruler. His decision is something that certain devils will do anything to turn in their favour, including Dantalion. But it turns out that William is descended from the bloodline of Solomon himself, and that gives him an unexpected power.
The twelve episodes of Devils and Realist are presented on one Blu-ray disc from MVM. If you want the show on DVD, you’ll have to import the Region 1 release from the US.
1. Devils and Realist
2. Human and Angel
3. Exorcist and Ghost
4. An Old Love Story
5. Mill and Flour
6. The One Who Schemes
7. Party and Battle
8. Pain and Ecstasy
9. Vice and Virginity
10. Another Battle ~ As An Intermission
11. King and Ring
12. Realist But Romanticist
Devils and Realist gets a 1.78:1 widescreen transfer on this disc. It’s pretty much what you would expect from a 12 episode series on a single Blu-ray disc. The image is clear and sharp, the colours are strong and consistent, and the animation is smooth and unmarred by transfer issues. However, this disc is more prone to banding than shows which are split across two discs. The world design is serviceable while unremarkable (certainly heaven, hell and Earth aren’t exactly distinct worlds), while the character designs conform to what you might expect from this genre, with plenty of elegant, or pretty looking males.
This disc comes with DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo Japanese and with English subtitles, locked during playback. The audio works fine, the actors are suited to their roles, and the stereo does enough with the action sequences for the show to feel immersive. The theme songs were eminently skippable, although not offensive to the ears in any way, and the subtitles were accurately timed and free of typos.
The disc presents the content with a static menu, and each episode is followed by a translated English credit scroll. On the disc, you’ll find the textless credits and trailers for Dog & Scissors, Hozuki’s Coolheadedness, Log Horizon, and Diabolik Lovers.
The tall, elegant, slightly menacing, dark handsome guy puts on an intense demeanour, and taking the chin of the slight, fair-haired, boyish, shorter young man, pulls his face close and gazes intently into his eyes to make a point. You know this anime trope; you’ll have seen it countless times before. If this is the sort of pose that you expect from your anime, then Devils and Realist is for you; a BL anime without any actual BL in it. It’s just the slightest potential of romance between its male protagonists that will keep the target, predominantly female demographic on side for its twelve episode runtime.
I’m not in that demographic, so Devils and Realist was only of academic interest to me. I certainly wasn’t that invested in the story, and certainly not in the characters. It is entertaining enough though, watchable in a way that passes the time. It’s not like there’s a shortage of anime shows set in a school, and it’s always entertaining to see a Japanese anime twist on biblical mythology. William Twining is not only the descendant of Solomon, but he’s the reincarnation as well, although in terms of personality, he remains devoted to the realms of science and reality, eschewing superstition and religion.
His bloodline has conferred upon him the position of Elector, he who will choose the next interim ruler of hell (while Lucifer takes a kip), but being the reincarnation of Solomon, he also has the same power of control over the devils that his forebear had, at least the several dozen high ranking devils that Solomon subjugated and commanded. So beginning with the devil that he inadvertently summons at the start of the show, Dantalion, more and more denizens of the underworld are showing up, either to persuade him to elect them as leader, or to prevent him from choosing anyone else. It quite often ends up in a battle, a conflict that the realist William wants no part of, offended by the very concept of an afterlife, devils and angels.
Yes, angels too, as once the devils’ interest in William Twining becomes known, heaven takes a position as well, thinking that they can use the reincarnation of Solomon to bring down the devils and destroy hell once and for all. Why is it in anime that angels are more evil than the devils? The sadistic archangel Michael is the most evil character in the show. At one point I thought the show was riffing on Fate/Zero, after they introduced the characters of Jeanne D’Arc and Gilles de Rais, although it’s nowhere near as good.
It plays mostly as a high school anime, albeit one set in a Victorian boarding school, and where three devils have transferred in to compete for William’s attention. It’s that peculiarly Japanese vision of a British boarding school, one which gradually loses the plot the more they develop it. There’s even an episode where they just give up and do a Cultural festival, with the classes opening up their various booths, grilling squid and making noodles, and with the protagonists opening a cosplay cafe. I thought they had lost the plot completely, and they probably did, as it’s a filler episode.
Devils and Realist is a lifeless show. It’s going through the motions. It probably started with the mangaka picking ideas out of a hat and just throwing them together, and the anime has that same begrudging effort put into its production. They know it will sell, they know it will garner its fans, but they’d much rather be working on something else instead. Good Omens, adapting the book by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman is out on Blu-ray on October 28th 2019. Get that instead. You won’t be disappointed.