Makai Ouji: Devils and Realist Review

This is review number two hundred and thirty four. This anime is part of the Summer 2013 lineup. Apologies again that I have slowed down tremendously.  I think that I might dust off the Summer 2013 lineup when the Fall lineup ends. I know. It’s really annoying but I am really doing my best to give more time to anime yet it’s not going so well. I realize I’m done for when I seem to have wasted my weekday watching this one show. The anime I’ll be reviewing is Maka Ouji: Devils and Realist. It’s a twelve episode anime about a bunch of hot dudes being demons and angels and humans living in an academy or something like that. It’s a decent show, I guess. Let’s read on.

Story

The anime is about a boy named William Twining. He is the smartest student in school and has a great lineage to brag about. That’s why it was shocking when he realized that his uncle bankrupted his family fortune and has now gone into hiding. Desperate to pay his next tuition, he decided to look for something of value in his manor. He found nothing except a basement with some magic circles written on the floor. A demon circle perhaps but William just shrugs it off. He doesn’t believe in demons and the occult. Anything can be explained with simple logic. He is adamant about his stance even when a demon suddenly appeared in front of him. This demon asks of one thing for him: to elect him as the interim ruler of Hell. William is apparently the descendant of Solomon, a man that made a pact with 72 demons and a close friend of the ruler of Hell. He was given the task to choose the new ruler. He is not around, William is. Now a lot of people that wants to rule Hell have their eyes on the boy. He would be concerned except he is a realist and he doesn’t believe that demons exist. Luckily, a horde of them is out to convince him otherwise.

Taking the Pants Off

maka1

Let’s go to the bottom line of this anime before we start. This anime will have a second season. There is no announcement but I’m pretty sure the whole thing will be finished off in different show. That’s the sole reason why this anime was a bit disappointing. It’s one of the annoying trends in anime nowadays. Most studios would release an anime, cut it off just right that the rest of the content would fill another season. Something I’m sure a bald headed bastard who has dollar signs for eyes came up with. Most new releases are honestly like this. I saw the same approach in Hakkenden and sure enough, the second season is part of the Summer 2013 lineup. There is also Hiiro no Kakera and Arata Kangatari as other examples. Anyways, let the fact that the show is holding most good bits for another season and I’m sure the way the show wastes its potential would be easier to swallow. To be fair though, I think the show took the smart route by really laying the steady groundwork for now. This anime has a pretty complex plot and too many subplots that crash against each other. It’s honestly a bit too much to take all in so the anime decided to slow it down for now. Besides, I think there are other things to focus in this show. I’m sure the idea of a nice selection of handsome demon bishies trying to corner one boy into submission would take your mind off of the plot.

The premise of the anime is easy enough to grasp. William is the descendant of this guy named Solomon that was supposed to elect a ruler of Hell while the real ruler is sleeping to gain strength. The various candidates have now flocked to William to get his approval and elect them as the new ruler. The show seemed to have a lot of things going on though. The premise might be simple but the anime unfolds in a very intimidating way. It also takes a bit of patience for the anime to warm up since the first few episodes were a bit boring. The show was too busy setting up the overall story that there was nothing for the viewers to focus on story-wise. The collection of hot guys also didn’t have the same fangirling punch it should have simply because the anime is busy establishing elements of the story that are important later on. I honestly think the entire twelve episode of the anime was spent on introducing various characters and various subplots that are important to the overall story. Each episode would be about a character, a flashback involving a character, or some random conversations between various characters. The anime was really too busy keeping the viewers in the dark that I was personally getting impatient. The show seemed to have hit its stride at the second half where the overall picture is vividly clear but the story is still not developing in the slightest. It was a challenge watching this anime but certain elements were decent enough.

The anime had three plot points. The first one is about the political state of Hell. William is dubbed as “the elector” where he must choose the interim ruler while the actual ruler sleeps. The show was pretty heavy handed on the dubious side of this election. It’s a confusing plot point but I’ll try my best to explain it. The candidates have been chosen before and whoever gets elected gains a lot of power thereby ruling all of Hell. The various candidates are protégés and closely related to the four kings Hell. These four kings divide their territory by North, East, West and South. If their candidate is given the honor, then they get to expand their turf. The first plot point is mostly about the various demons trying to get William to choose a candidate. Throughout the anime, William will be attacked, threatened and teased at by a lot of demons in the show. His unenviable role as the one who chooses the new ruler of Hell is one reason but his ties to Solomon, the man that sealed 72 demons, is also a huge reason why the demons are interested in him. Solomon seemed to be an enigmatic man that everybody in Hell knows him. Oh, and the seal he placed on the demons are still very much alive.

I pointed this plot point out first because this is basically the main core of the story. The state of Hell was the ultimate concern of the anime. It’s a lot more complex than that though. The anime never really laid out the story clearly. It was mostly introducing various characters that are important to the plot point then explore them in more episodes to come. The more you know the characters, the more the situation of Hell becomes a lot clearer. The various factions that control Hell, the individuals interested in William and Solomon and the relationship the demons had with each other are the things you’d expect in the show. It’s a pretty boring progression but one that has a lot of potential to it. I was really just waiting for the story to start commencing yet it never really seems to. The idea that a human who is now very much dead still had some control over powerful demons sounds like a fun idea though. The fact that all the responsibilities of this enigmatic man were dumped to a guy that rejects the very existence of his role was another strong reason. It soon comes down to a point where you expect William to actually choose one of the candidates and see what kind of trouble will be brewed.

William is a realist though and he has personal matters to attend to. The second plot point is about William’s school life. The anime really dedicated a lot of time in the various things William does in school. From trying to find a way to pay his tuition to getting involved with various characters, this was a plot point that diluted the first plot point. Everything in this plot point is light hearted and comedic that seems to make the serious super powered first plot point a bit laidback. It was an odd approach by the anime but the ultimate goal is introducing characters. The show did so by making certain demons disguise as Williams’s classmate and he’ll even be involved in some occult while he stays in the school. It’s all light and funny with a hint of danger but nothing too serious. Competing with other people for grades, ruling with an iron fist as the class prefecture (some sort of student officer), being around his occult minded friend and fending off some handsome demons dressed as students,  this plot point had a lot to offer. It contains all the cute and adorable side of the anime that you can gladly focus on while the show is busy laying more groundwork for the overall story. While this plot point may have shifted the attention away from the premise towards something light hearted and less serious, the various characters really made the whole endeavor worthwhile.

The third plot point is the intervention of Heaven. This is the thing that made the story absolutely incredible. Well, in concept anyways since the anime really didn’t do anything worth spoiling for now. Anyways, it is revealed that Solomon is a man that even the people of Heaven are wary of. Knowing that he is the one to elect a ruler, some angels made sure it doesn’t happen. Some of them are as aggressive as the demons but their true intentions are something the show never discussed. It’s not as simple as good preventing evil to succeed. The various angels in the anime all had their own agenda in getting involved with the demon election. Some are personal and some are just too political to understand. Their severe determination in stopping all the demons and harming William soon comes to a boiling point though were both sides are engaged in battle. The way the show is progressing, it seems that a war against demons and angels is bound to happen.

Of course, it doesn’t really happen. Like I said before, it’s all about character introduction for now. Much like the first plot point, this one is concerned about introducing the important people, their relationship to other characters and their influence in the outcome of the overall story. The whole idea of the show slowly entering a holy war with angels and demons involved does seem to be very inviting. It’s all the more exciting when the concept of “good vs. evil” seems to be thrown out the window and the clashes are nothing but free-for-alls. You think angels are good. Well, you’d be surprised how cunning and dirty some of them are just because they’re on the side of God. The way the demons are portrayed is also a bit interesting. The wonderful part about this plot point though is how Solomon, a man with a pretty face, seemed to have business with both Heaven and Hell that, even after his death, he still holds influence over them.

With the story being a bit restrictive, it was certainly the characters that made the experience worthwhile. Their role in the show certainly made a big difference but you can also tell that the lack of a stable story really hurt them. The three plot points seem to be all over the place. There is a really serious story involving angels and demons that involves a lot of fighting while there is another that involves nothing but the characters being cute and funny. Two opposite ends of the poles that the characters must portray decently. It should’ve been held nicely together by an engaging story but the show lacks that. If you can forget about the story then I’m pretty sure you can enjoy the characters a whole lot more. The main character is William Twining. He is a noble guy that prides his great academic record. With his uncle losing all the family fortune, he is forced to come up with a way to stay in school while hiding the fact that they’ve gone bankrupt. Being an elector doesn’t concern him though. This arrogant and hard headed guy doesn’t believe in such things. He always sums supernatural experiences as nothing more than dreams. “Ghosts are still made of atoms therefore they aren’t really ghosts” is a stance he is firmly holding. Even with a bunch of demons fighting all around him, he still goes in denial. Despite the fact that his companions are demons, William still has a soft spot for them and cares about them from time to time.

There are a lot of demons and I don’t want to spoil most of their great personalities. It’s one of the things you’ll enjoy in the show so I’ll hold back for now. The amount of demons introduced is a bit intimidating though because you’re being fed only bits and pieces of the overall story to make sense of it all. Here’s what you can expect though. All of them are devilishly handsome (see what I did there) and the perfect kind of forceful demons to compliment William’s tsundere attitude. They all have their own unique quirks to them that make them cute and dangerous at the same time. Some of them would make a joke in a very friendly manner while they are trying to obliterate another demon. The way the show introduces the demons are pretty decent. Their background and various flashbacks help flesh them out and ready for the actual story somewhere down the line. The way they interact is something that I find really entertaining too. Their playful nature coupled by their deadly nature blends well together. With the addition of their handsome features, the whole thing becomes well rounded and a lot more fangirling is produced. The same thing can be expected from the angels. They don’t share as much screen time as the demons but they get their point across at every scene they are in. After all, the wings behind their backs and their nasty attitude stand out in such an unsettling manner. It’s the fact that they are righteous that makes them interesting though. They are on the side of good so seeing them flaunt it in front of the demons is something I really enjoy.

Another character that is worth mentioning is Solomon. A lot of characters have ties to him so he appears in a lot of flashbacks. Even though he is dead, the man really left a huge presence in the show. He is a man that was able to seal 72 demons and make them his servants. Through the various flashbacks, you see Solomon really become well rounded and you truly see how awesome and dangerous this guy is. His relationship to various demons is something I found fascinating. Almost every important character has something they want from Solomon and they feel that they can satiate that longing through William. He is a man the show portrayed as almighty and so enigmatic that both Heaven and Hell is wary of him. It’s pretty exciting because he hasn’t really entered the stage at this point yet he already is a crucial part of the story. Can you imagine the shock it would bring if Solomon does appear in the show? It’s a thought the anime strongly hints at.

Lastly, I want to talk about another element of the show. While the show’s strongest element is the characters, it also serves a decent amount of BL. Basically, there is a lot of hugging and teasing among the characters and you can’t help but actually love it. Of course, it’s not as pronounce as I’d like it to be though. I think it’s because the show is also holding back the actual fangasm moments for another season as well. The relationship of the various characters is a bit suspect though and I’m sure you can easily spot the seme (aggressive partner) and the uke (submissive partner) through their interaction. The anime teases the viewers a lot that it’s a shame it never fully go full BL on us. This:

And this:

Those are all the teasing you can expect from the show. It’s really not enough but I’m sure an active imagination can do the rest. It’s honestly just something the show used to fill the gap the story is supposed to fill. I’m not complaining because this is also the element from a similar show, called Hakkenden, which makes me want to see the second season.

With all of the run around this anime gave us, I can only hope the second season is awesome. In my experience though, they usually are. Most anime with weak first seasons punches back hard in the next. I’m excited for two things. One is obviously the actual story commencing and all the subplots of the show is decently handled. There was a lot promised in this show so the second season better deliver. Another reason is to see the BL elements gradually become more intimate. I’m expecting this because you should expect the director of Sekaiichi Hatsukoi to deliver her own brand of awesomeness in this show. I’m not expecting a kiss but maybe something involving shirtless dudes or something to make up for a disappointing experience and the wasted potential she gave us on this show. It’s all up in the air for now. Let’s hope the second season comes soon.

Sight and Sound

Character design is one of the strongest aspects of the anime. We have a lot of handsome dudes in this anime and it’s certainly the highest point the anime can offer. Utako Yukihiro did a wonderful job conceptualizing the characters. The basic handsome feature of a bishie is present but the soft and subtle color palette adds a nice air of gentleness to her designs. This is all the more special because of the detail work she piles on. The flashy costumes and the various accessories the characters really add a lot to their bishie appeal. For some odd reason though, I felt that the anime didn’t push the bishie potential far enough. Some close up of the characters have those stunning features Utako gave the characters but on normal scenes, the detail work isn’t applied and they weren’t as flashy as you’d hope they be. Dogakobo (the studio) seemed to have missed the mark on making the characters more handsome through the animation. I’m a bit pissed because I saw the beautiful characters of Karneval and I think the ones in Maka Ouji are a lot better in terms of visuals. It’s a shame.

Animation is pretty decent. It’s pretty limited and the anime mostly tried to cut the movements down so the handsome characters can stay handsome. The show has some actions on it but it is also pretty dialogue heavy so animation isn’t really that big of a concern. The show does deliver on the wonderful teasing moments though. The fan service aspects are nicely done and it really keeps you watching. The fight scenes are decent. The effects and the pacing are alright. It’s not as grand as I’d hope it’d be though. There was no flow to the fights. It’s just two people firing beams and one of them will overpower the other eventually. There are a lot more defending in the fight scenes and throwing powerful beams than anything you can actually enjoy animation wise. There is also this annoying aspect of the show recycling scenes over and over. It’s stupid and annoying. Aside from that, the animation was able to hold its own so it’s all good.

The anime’s OP is “Believe My Dice” by devils and realist (Takuya Eguchi, Takuma Terashima, Yoshitsugu Matsuoka, Tetsuya Kakihara). This is a really nice song. It’s inviting and catchy with just the right rhythm to follow. The addition of the voice actors singing the sequence was also a nice touch. They have amazing voices and they blend well together. Especially in the chorus where the cool voices really adds a lot to the appeal of the song. The OP sequence features all the characters and a short summary of the anime. It was able to introduce all the characters without spoiling their introduction so I do appreciate that part of the OP sequence.

The anime’s ED is “a shadow’s love song” by devils and realist (Takuya Eguchi, Takuma Terashima, Yoshitsugu Matsuoka, Tetsuya Kakihara). This was sung by the same people. It has the same flair as the OP song. It has the same bright pacing and the same appeal as the first song. It also shares the same wonderful chorus with the voices of the characters nicely blending together. The ED sequence features all the characters in panning sequence and a few scenes involving Solomon and his demons. It ends with William in a chair looking handsome with the rest of the cast behind him.

Overall Score

4/10 “The show has potential raging to come out. It’s too bad it wasn’t able too. Only time will tell if watching this anime is worth it.”

I am positive this anime will have a second season and it will make up for all the wasted potential that happened in this show. The actual plot coming to fruition and moving forward, the demon vs angel war the anime teased so much, and the BL scenes we demanded but never really got. I can already tell the second season will be awesome so they better hurry that sh*t up. This anime though has some interesting elements to it but the lack of a clear plot was certainly a distraction. This isn’t something you watch so you can be entertained. It has way too many downsides to enjoy the positives aspects. If you enjoy handsome dudes in your anime then you can try this show out. Yeah, that’s really it. I’ll edit this once I gauge how successful the second season is.  If you do decide to watch it, a little patience is required.

Thoughts~

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