Seinen – Drama, horror, mature, mystery, romance, supernatural, tragedy
14 Volumes (complete)
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 + Mars + Black Bird + 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, arguing over rights/place in society for non-humans, lots of characters
Differ: Romance, only need blood and not flesh
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
Alike: Supernatural male love interest has a strong desire for the doe-eyed female protagonist, melancholy
Differ: Female lead doesn’t have supernatural powers
Attack on Titan:
Alike: Rough art without a lot of flash, male lead’s background is a mystery, government arguing and politics
Differ: No “end of the world”-like scenario
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 as debates rage over their place in society. However, the devils in Devils’ Line tend to not have a problem with humans; in fact, the ones we meet in the story generally like people and don’t want to drink blood.
The biggest difference, though, is the romance. Yuuki may be the first character to be featured on the cover and is prominent throughout the story, and I would classify him as the protagonist while Tsukasa is the main character. Either way, the two form an instant connection after meets her because of his work as a detective hunting devils. Yuuki, who is also a devil, has never tasted blood before meeting Tsukasa, so there’s a lot of tension as Yuuki tries to control both his newfound lust — for blood and for Tsukasa.
A meek, female 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. 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. This stuns him and makes Yuuki even more conflicted about his devil side. Yuuki’s lust cause him to displays some aggressive behaviors, like deep kissing her on their first meeting, but he apologizes.
The romance is definitely a core piece of the story. Somehow, Devils’ Line manages to pull off a rather sweet version of a fast romance. They’re both in their early 20s, but they often seem like awkward teenagers. Female leads in these types of plots are often accused of being worthless, of causing more problems than being helpful. Tsukasa does end up in trouble several times, many of which are her fault. For instance, she follows Yuuki to a potential crime scene. Not a good idea, and this “but I was worried about you!” happens repeatedly.
But while they do have their flaws, Tsukasa grows more confident and pursues a path to support Yuuki. If you found her weak or annoying initially, you might end up surprised. But while she accepts Yuuki, he has to learn to accept himself. The manga does have the common “vampires are misunderstood” moodiness associated with it. He has hazy memories of his past, and so that plays a major part in his development since he’s normally socially awkward and a bit antisocial.
As I mentioned, Yuuki is immediately attracted to Tsukasa (and vise versa). But because of his lineage, there are barriers to a physical relationship. But that doesn’t stop their desire. So while there is mature content (violent and sexual) throughout the particular, in one volume, there’s a “the talk” that is much more descriptive than most of us got. And some of that knowledge gets used. I do like how Tsukasa sometimes encourages Yuuki to take things further, much to the embarrassment of both. A nice change from the male always taking the initiative. Other individuals in the story also have their own hang-ups and views on sex, love, and desire: same-sex relationships, not being attracted to someone you’re falling for, not realizing someone has a crush on them, etc. It’s an inclusive story, something I wouldn’t have expected from a fast vampire romance.
Despite the focus on the love story, Devils’ Line is also detective/spy story. Yuuki works as part of a police task force, and the opening volumes concentrates on them. The members are close to each other, but as they investigate crimes, an organization known as the CCC begins a campaign targeting devils, and Yuuki and the others have to find them and stop their plans. But it’s not going to be easy since members of CCC have their own personal motivations to eliminate devils — and some of them are in positions of power.
While this is a supernatural manga, expect a good amount of gunfire. Heck, the first chapter deals with murder, and even the leads don’t escape every incident unscathed. Amidst the chaos, Yuuki and Tsukasa meet other devils who are dealing with their own bloodlusts. But as far as a whodunnit story, Devils’ Line really isn’t — for the readers, I mean. Yes, they have to figure out who is pulling the strings, but many members of the CCC are revealed to the cast early, and to readers even earlier. The antagonistic organization gives their agents codenames based on numbers: Zero Seven, Fifteen, etc. CCC members have a variety of backgrounds, with a few joining the group for complicated reasons and others helping only because their crush is involved. With their terrorist incidents, it helps emphasize one of (or perhaps the) theme of humanity: what makes someone a true monster?
One major issue with Devils’ Line is the large cast. Yuuki and Tsukasa. Yuuki’s squad members. The doctor and bartender who help them out. Tsukasa’s friend. Hans, a mysterious foreigner. Other police officers. The CCC. People in their families. Workers at the devil research lab. And on and on. Even if you eliminate characters that are only around for an (or part of an) arc, it can be overwhelming trying to keep everyone straight. Plus, other factors add to the confusion: the codenames, characters returning much later, and Hanada’s average art with mostly realistic designs. Even the opening character chart is often underwhelming since there simply isn’t room for everyone and their histories. This is not a great series to read here and there; if you read it, marathon it.
I do like a lot of these characters, but I think I would have liked them more if the manga hadn’t had so many. Devils’ Line covers a lot of personalities in its run, but it also causes the manga to shift away from a vampire police officer falling in love to changing society on multiple fronts. This means that readers may be stuck with underwhelming characters for quite a while or abandon likable/interesting ones. There are also a high number of instances where characters will end up friendly (or at least connected) to those who were hostile to them. Almost everyone has been cruel or wrong in some way, which, again, ties into the theme of humanity. But the story can seem sappy because of this.
Devils’ Line runs for fourteen volumes, but the final is made up of side stories. It’s technically an epilogue, but it offers glimpses of the future for some of the cast. It’s not necessary unless you love the characters starring in it (four guys and a Tsukasa/Yuuki chapter). Otherwise, the manga has some significant ups and downs, likely due to the character overload I mentioned. I wouldn’t go so far to call the series depressing, but it is melancholy and serious. Most of the comedy is related to the main couple being adorkable, but the manga does deal with some heavy topics. Expect some warped love, discrimination, and sexual assault.
The biggest 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 in the early volumes. 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 top panel doesn’t help hide anything. Bad perspectives, odd shrinkage/growth… yeah, it’s a rough manga at times. A couple of characters are also easily confused. Fortunately, the art does improve (and significantly), but it still never reaches the level the covers set. 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.) All in all, no one is going to pick this up because of the art. You might find her 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. I am not a huge fan of the lettering, but that may just be me. The Japanese color inserts are not included. There are some typos like inconsistent romanizations. Characters have different dialects, but those are hard to replicate in English. Other than that, I don’t have much to say… or anything really since I have no experience with the original Japanese.
Devils’ Line seems like it’s Yuuki and Tsukasa’s story, but it’s actually more of an ensemble cast designed to explore the meaning of being human and forms of sexuality. These theme ares interesting, but the manga brings in almost too many characters to tackle them. When combined with the art, this leads to a confusing narrative, but Devils’ Line drawbacks are not too bad to overcome if you want a more mature, caring vampire romance.
Devils’ Line the anime is available from Sentai Filmworks.