I hinted at this one in a prior article, but I that’s only because in this anime season this is important to keep an eye on. It tackles something very relatable to our movement. This anime is known as Devil’s Line – the premise? Vampires are real in our modern world. I’m not talking your pretty boy sparkly Twilight twinks who look like they are just wearing cheap makeup while in their vampire form. Nor am I talking Blood+/Blood-C levels of ridiculousness either. This is more of a balance between those levels of imagery when it comes to their vampires – known in their vernacular as “devils” using the Japanese word “oni” to be specific.
There are a few things that make this interesting to see. First, there is the approach to how they interact with society wholesale. Second, there is the lore and very specific rules designated for this realm’s ‘devils.’ Finally, there is what it gives as obvious nods towards what is not only considered masculinity through the state of being a devil, but how the so-called pure humans in this series that are against devils show as obvious nods towards puritans. If I didn’t know better I would say this is a commentary on our society’s relationship with masculinity and feminism, because it fits so well. Do I think the author of this piece realizes what they are making? No, I don’t, or more like I can’t be certain at this time. With all that in mind Let’s Hammer This In!
We start this series with its female lead for the most part, Tsukasa Taira, a 22 year old first year graduate student at Keio University. When we see her through the first episode she had met the yearnings of a ‘devil’ named Shoto Akimura. The latter having started to attack random women that looked similar to the former and raping them as he drank their blood to ‘protect’ her. I’ll leave it to your imagination what I think of this one. Its when he reveals this fact that our true protagonist comes in to save the day. This is Yuuki Anzai, a 21 year old hybrid who works for the ‘F Squad’ of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department’s Public Safety Division 5 which specializes in ‘devil’ crimes, taking advantage of his hybrid nature to deal with ‘devils’ who are significantly stronger, particularly when they’ve had human blood.
Its after this saving and the following episodes we see the initial attraction between the two and how Anzai deals with his urges, namely by taking injected sedatives whenever he starts to feel them. It’s at this point I wish to go over the biological lore this series presents to us for the vampyric beings they present. This starts out with pureblood devils, as humans in this world are relatively the same to humans in ours. For starters they look virtually the same as humans most of the time, except for when they don’t drink blood. If they don’t then there are heavy noticeable bags and dark circles under their eyes, and not only are they weakened considerably (though still superhuman,) but have a significantly shortened lifespan of only 39 years. When they see human blood, they start to gain sexualized urges to drink it, grow four large fangs, two on top and two on bottom, and sport red eyes with yellow feline irises along with claws coming from their nails. It is also suggested in a later episode that a ‘devil’ can curb their bloodlust by cutting themselves or masturbating. This is because they are sickened by the blood of other devils and the lust is closely related to their sex drive.
Its also noted that they are an endangered species due to their heavily regulated nature by world governments who have all but kept them a secret from the general populace. Its also made clear that hybrids are exceedingly rare, as by normal circumstances the two races aren’t 100% sexually compatible requiring not only a doctor present but potentially artificial insemination. With how much of the series is out right now the details are thin, though its most likely due to the blood consumption aspects. The hybrids and their utilization is overseen by Obihiro National Laboratory and its affiliated Orphanage. They use cross themed jewelry wired with various observational equipment to study the various ‘devils’ and hybrids under their care. The intent? To aid in their integration into human society and ultimately find a better way to save the species than uncontrolled feedings.
Going on further into the series, after Anzai and Tsukasa start dating one another we see Tsukasa depicted as an ultimately selfish child of a woman, despite being the ‘elder’ character. This is broken by a female sniper with an intense hatred of ‘devils’ due to her stepfather ultimately killing her mother. This leads to Tsukasa not only trying to defend Anzai, which gives her a deep disfiguring scar on her face, but our foil to Anzai of Johannes being introduced with a flask of blood right down Anzai’s gullet. This is the first time in his life he ever tasted it. This not only heals Anzai, who was lungshot at this point, but puts him into a berserker rage, unlike our new friend who has developed a blood tolerance.
This is obviously meant to be a nod at masculine strengths, and the necessity of knowing how to temper them. Also, I would like to think of this as showing how society reacts to misunderstandings about how men and those who genuinely love men are. According to what I researched into the manga apparently the female lead decides to go into sociology with the intent of learning how to help devils cope in human society. Where that goes may evolve more as time goes on.
My overall interpretation is as follows: It reasonably attempts to tackle the demonization of men as represented by the devils. The solutions proffered and concept that most just can’t control their base instincts without being forced to either shackle themselves (represented by a gasmask set up that Anzai was made to wear for a bit) or perhaps the more reasonable seeming ‘indulging the darkness’ as represented by building up a blood tolerance by taking in small amounts of blood at a time. What I would hope is that as time goes on that they find perhaps a third option, namely with Anzai finding a way to become more comfortable with himself as a whole, because right now his defining character trait is self-loathing. Johannes is completely comfortable with himself, and even with drinking some blood. His depiction of the darker parts of his nature are restricted to the one eye and occasionally the claws which he uses as a defensive utility.
This show is on going and is in midst of major developments in the story so I may tackle it further in the future. Regardless, whether its intentional or not this is more than likely a commentary on the nature of men in society today by using ‘devils’ as an analogue due to the depiction of men by feminist media as ‘devils’ themselves. The fact that rape has been a common subject within the show is an obvious signifier of this. If it was simply touching upon consuming human blood that would be one thing, but they’ve gone out of their way to specify actual rape in addition to the blood consumption. If they wanted this to be simply another vampire story they could have gone without making it a sexual thing, but the creator wanted this specificity.
Like I said, I may go into this more in an overview later on if it becomes desired. However, next week I plan on tackling an American-made show that is turning some heads: The sequel to The Karate Kid movies known as Cobra Kai. This might even be a two-parter, as I may need to go over the male interactions within the 80s classics to compare and contrast with the successor. This will also be a chance for me to tackle the aspects of perspectives in a unique manner as well. Until then Please Remember To Game Freely!
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