Seinen – Drama, horror, mature, mystery, romance, supernatural, tragedy
5 Volumes (ongoing) of 9 Volumes (ongoing)
Tsukasa has been feeling like someone has been watching her. Otherwise, though, she’s a normal college student, and one of her fellow club members even confessed to her recently. When a stranger approaches Tsukasa and her male friend, she’s about to learn that the so-called vampire murders may be aptly named…
Tokyo Ghoul + Claymore + Mars + Attack on Titan = Devils’ Line.
Some of you may be thinking this sounds like an awesome combination. Others are not so sure.
How is Devils’ Line like these four series? How are they different?
Alike: Monsters who feed off of humans, secret organizations, transforming eyes, dark-haired half-human male lead who hunts other monsters, companions who hang out at a bar
Differ: Romance, only need blood and not flesh
Alike: Half-monster hunter, both star females
Differ: Tsukasa is support and not a hunter
Alike: Doe-eyed female lead, instant connection between main couple, big roadblocks in taking the relationship to the next level, angst and melancholy,
Differ: Male lead isn’t outgoing and popular, female lead doesn’t have a sad backstory
Attack on Titan:
Alike: Rough art without a lot of flash (at least initially), male lead’s background is a mystery
Differ: No “end of the world”-like scenario
…Yep, that’s Devils’ Line. A female college student (Tsukasa) meets a male half-devil (aka half-vampire) police detective named Yuuki, and they form a quick bond as the male struggles with his bloodlust, job, and even his own past. So is this series just an amalgamation of a bunch of other manga, or does it have its own identity?
The Tokyo Ghoul similarities are the most obvious. Vampires in Devils’ Line are in the unenviable position of trying to hide and survive among humans, and the male lead hunts wayward monsters. However, the devils in Devils’ Line tend to not have a problem with humans; in fact, the ones we meet in the story actually like people and don’t want to drink blood.
Also, unlike Tokyo Ghoul, it’s Tsukasa who is the main character; Yuuki, on the other hand, is the center of the story (i.e. the protagonist). A character like Tsukasa would normally function as the half-monster’s moral compass or last source of humanity. Ironically, though, she is serving as the catalyst for most of Yuuki’s transformations. The first chapter reveals Yuuki has never tasted blood before meeting Tsukasa, and so there’s a lot of tension as Yuuki tries to control both his newfound bloodlust and traditional lust. He knows he should stay away from Tsukasa, but Yuuki keeps finding himself back by her side. It doesn’t help his self-control that Tsukasa immediately accepts all of him and tries to support Yuuki in any way she can.
The romance is definitely at the center of the story. Female leads in these types of plots are often accused of being worthless, of causing more problems than being helpful. Yes, Tsukasa probably shouldn’t just follow Yuuki to a potential crime scene. But here’s the beauty of the manga: when he starts yelling at her for following him, Yuuki ends up apologizing when he realizes Tsukasa was trying to return his utility belt to him. Yuuki
stalks hangs around Tsukasa under the guise of protecting her, but she ends up protecting him. He deep kisses her on their first meeting and he apologizes. Somehow, Devils’ Line manages to pull off a rather sweet version of a fast romance. Devils’ Line becomes even more engaging when we meet some of the other devil-human couples and realize the uphill climb the two have, especially since Yuuki’s background is a mystery even to him.
Despite the focus on the love story, Devils’ Line is also a detective manga. Yuuki is one member of a police squad that handles devil problems. The squad members are pretty close, but it becomes more and more obvious to the captain that someone in the department is leaking information. The double-crosser is revealed to readers, but there is almost assuredly going to be a race to expose the mole. While that’s going on, the officers still have to deal with violent crimes like attempted murder. While this is a supernatural manga, expect a good amount of gunfire. Amidst the chaos, Yuuki and Tsukasa meet some other devils who are dealing with their own bloodlusts. The law has special rules regarding devils, and perhaps future volumes will dive more into the legal vs moral vs personal freedom debate.
Of course, a good story isn’t without a good antagonist or two. The aforementioned mole seems questioning what makes someone — or something — a true monster. That person has a whole organization behind them, and they don’t even appear to be the highest-ranking member. The first attacker debuts in a shocking way, and you can see that person questioning the group’s methods despite their cultivated hatred of devils. Again, this goes back to the main theme of humanity. While a sniper makes for a dramatic end to the first volume, revealing the police leak takes a lot of the intrigue out of the story. Coupled with the fact that two main characters already sense something is wrong, this is definitely not going to be a whodunnit manga. Even a good portion of the puzzle surrounding Yuuki and acquaintance Hans seems to be falling into place. The good news is that this means Devils’ Line shouldn’t drag on for a very long period of time. The downside is that the mysteries aren’t going to be hooks for very long.
Also, the evil organization gives their agents codenames based on numbers: Zero Seven, Fifteen, etc. You would think this would make it easy to remember their names, but it’s more confusing than anything. They all just become numbers and not people.
The bigger turn-off is the art. I know some people really like the early volumes of Attack on Titan, but I thought it was downright awful. Devils’ Line has some similar art. Tsukasa is drawn pretty consistently, but there’s a couple of images where Yuuki just devolves into someone else completely. I mean, compare the cover to this picture:
Did Yuuki age 20 years instantly or something? Or did he just drop in from another manga? I know he is supposed to look harried due to him staving off his desires, but the empty panel doesn’t help hide anything. Another character wears glasses. I know it takes a lot of work to make perspectives accurate when an object is on an angle or in the distance. Well, the lenses are the same size when he is facing forward. When he is only partially looking straight ahead, one lens is about twice the size of the other. Another image looks as if Tsukasa shrunk a good deal while a hunched-over guy gets off the escalator. The whole scene looks oddly proportioned. Ironically, some of a lot of the images of the vampires actually look better since they aren’t based in realism anyway. (Yuuki also definitely could pass for a Kaneki clone once in a while.) Vertical, Inc. also does not include the color pages that were in the original Japanese volumes, a big disappointment considering a) Vertical manga — including Devils’ Line — tend to be short and thin, and b) the manga retails for $12.95, a fairly high price tag considering its smaller size. All in all, no one is going to pick this up because of the art. You might find his style pretty good for a debut or downright awful, but it definitely drags the experience down.
No honorifics are used. Considering most characters don’t use them, it’s not a big loss if you prefer them. Other than that, I don’t have much to say… or anything really since I have no experience with the original Japanese.
Despite the lackluster art and the obvious shades of other famous manga, Devils’ Line is a rare mature manga combining both horror and romance. More shockingly, the romance isn’t based on domination. Whoo-hoo!