“There is nothing in this world that can’t be explained with a formula.” William Twining.
Impoverished young British noble William Twining is a realist whose main aim is to rebuild his family fortune and become the youngest ever prime minister. But how can he fulfil his dreams when his family fortune is gone and he can’t even pay his school tuition fees? William’s life is turned upside-down when he accidentally summons a powerful demon lord, Dantalion, having stumbled onto a concealed magic circle in his ancestral home. Dantalion tells William that he is the Elector, wise King Solomon’s heir, and is eager to persuade him to choose him to rule over Hell in place of the sleeping Lucifer.
However, when William returns to his elite boarding school, someone has arranged for his tuition fees to be paid – and new transfer students begin to arrive: Dantalion Huber; Sytry Cartwright… all demons in disguise, desperate to win the Elector’s favour. The problem? William is deeply sceptical. He doesn’t believe in all this arcane malarkey; surely ‘modern’ science can explain away all the bizarre experiences he’s undergoing? His school friend, red-haired Isaac, is the complete opposite, being utterly obsessed with the supernatural.
This strong demonic presence in an English boarding school soon brings the opposing side into play and it’s not long before the angels turn up too. Constantly being kidnapped by the denizens of Heaven or Hell, William finds it difficult to concentrate on his studies and his duties as a prefect. Why won’t they leave him alone!
The Victorian England in which William Twining attends the elite boarding school Stradford School is probably more than a little inspired by Yana Toboso’s Black Butler, especially in its love of devilish bishonen. The manga on which this is based has a story written by Madoka Takadono and very pretty Art Nouveau-influenced art by Utako Yukihiro (and, like Loveless, Saiyuki, Karneval and other manga-to-anime josei series, was first published in Comic Zero-Sum). If you enjoy reading mysteries with an arcane flavour, such as the works of Dan Brown, or the alternate Paris dominated by fallen angels of Aliette de Bodard’s Dominion of the Fallen series, then you’ll definitely be interested in Devils and Realist. Utako Yukihiro has also drawn the manga for Uta-Pri, so if you’re a fan of male idol series you’ll also enjoy this as there’s a cast of very good-looking young men (both devils and angels). This series also loves to tease, CLAMP-fashion, so there are constant hints that Dantalion’s feelings for William/Solomon are far stronger than a servant/master dynamic– although there’s also a touching relationship sketched in between the head boy and one of the female staff at the school, not to mention the star-crossed pairing of Jeanne d’Arc (Heaven) and Gille de Rais (Hell).
There’s only one problem and that’s that the twelve episodes leave all the major plot issues unresolved. When Devils and Realist first aired in 2013, the manga was very much ongoing – and so, this, like Servamp and indeed many other TV series based on the first five volumes of an unfinished work – doesn’t really have a ‘proper’ ending. The good news? Seven Seas published the final (and fifteenth!) volume of the manga in English earlier this year so – at last – it’s possible to read all the way through to the end of the story. And it’s a proper ending, for once. Huzzah! But it’s a shame that this series, which has a great deal of potential as an anime and a wonderfully down-to-earth hero in William Twining hasn’t been given a second cour. Nevertheless, there’s plenty to enjoy from an inter-house boating race (surely it should be rowing, not boating?) to a production of Hamlet in which – of course – Sytry has to play Ophelia. There’s a dash of humour for us Brits too, when the boys complain about being given jellied eels for dinner again in the dining hall. Standard boarding school fare?
In a series with a cast of strong singers, it’s not surprising that the four main actors perform not just the vigorous Opening Theme “Believe My Dice” but the Ending “a shadow’s love song” as well. A strong orchestral score by Hiroshi Takaki helps to establish an authentic nineteenth century feel but delivers during the battles as well. Directed by Chiaki Kon (Junjo Romantica) with attractive character designs by Kikuko Sadakata which are very faithful to Utako Yukihiro’s drawings, the Blu-ray R2 edition from MVM looks good and is easy to navigate. The only extras are Clean Opening and Closing Animations as well as Sentai Trailers.
There’s a talented array playing the lead roles, including the four singers: Takuma Terashima (Mahiru in Servamp, Klaus Lunettes in Black Clover) as Dantalion, Takuya Eguchi as William (Akihiko Kaji in Given) and Yoshitsugu Matsuoka (Yukihira Soma in Food Wars) as Sytry, not forgetting the ever-reliable Jun Fukuyama as William’s mysterious retainer Kevin Cecil.
If you enjoy supernatural-themed anime, you’ll certainly want to give Devils and Realist a try, if only for the sight of William Twining coolly sipping his tea while all manner of devilish shenanigans kick off around him.