Demon’s Plan 001 – Review
Reviewed by: Tom
Synopsis: The world is divided into the rich and the extremely poor. There isn’t much in-between. But when Bolo and Carlos witness a miracle, a man cured of his paralyzed legs thanks to the black box known only as the Demon’s Plan, the two set about acquiring the one million watts (money) needed to try their luck and see if the Demon’s Plan would consider them too Chosen Ones. But not all is as it appears….
Warning: Spoilers to Follow:
I’m very mixed on Demon’s Plan. On the one hand I feel like it has a lot of potential and heart. The friendship between Bolo and Carlos is emotional, if a tad overwritten. But the execution here has a number of holes that if not outright damaging to the plot, are at least damaging to the intelligence of our leads.
We open with girls handing out fliers, letting people know about the Demon’s Plan, a chance to try your luck and have your deepest wishes granted for just one million watts. Bolo and Carlos, our two leads, are impressed by the crowd and a masked stranger takes a flier, expressing intrigue. Bolo notes that the Demon’s Plan is going to be theirs.
From there we flash back to when Bolo and Carlos were children. They witnessed a wheelchair bound man reach into the Demon’s Plan box and become chosen by the demons, who restored his ability to walk. A miracle. Bolo and Carlos dreamed big, of one day having the money to try their luck on the Demon’s Plan. This is where I have a couple issues develop. Firstly: It’s painfully obvious where this is going. The Demon’s Plan is almost assuredly a scam. So for starters this already feels predictable. The second issue is that we skip ten years and our heroes are still fully convinced on the Demon’s Plan. That’s a long time not to rethink what they witnessed and it calls into question just how intelligent Bolo and Carlos really are, to find themselves duped for so long.
Ten years have passed and there hasn’t been another chosen one since. But that hasn’t stopped the two from working their butts to the bone in an attempt to scrounge up all the cash needed. Later, after dock work, Bolo and Carlos hang with the other workers and chat about girls and making it big. After Bolo falls asleep the others asks why Carlos isn’t the leader of the two, seeing as he seems more mature and gathered. This is where we get to the heart of the story and while it’s a bit corny, I think it works.
Carlos reveals that when he was a child he was attacked by adults for stealing and was beaten badly. But Bolo showed up, defended him and took the fall together when they landed in jail. Bolo declared himself Carlos’ chief and he’d have his back no matter what. It’s since then that Carlos has wanted to stick by Bolo’s side. It’s touching, if presented in such a straight forward, expositional manner. It makes you feel and understand these two characters, even if their lack of intelligence is a burning question.
A police officer over hears Carlos mention their plans for life and appreciates ‘Young’uns with a dream.’ It’s an ill omen as Bolo and Carlos return home and Carlos reveals to Bolo that they’ve actually just finished gathering the one million watts needed for the Demon’s Plan. It’s cause to celebrate, but then the police show up, blamming a recent robbery against the Benton Estate, owners of the Demon’s Plan, on them. Bolo tries to fight it, but Carlos knocks Bolo out, interested instead in making a deal. It feels so narratively convenient and forced that this incident comes as soon as they have the money all gathered. And it doesn’t need to be like that. This story didn’t require they have all one million gathered, and could’ve easily been told with far less a sum of money. As it is now it feels trite. It doesn’t help that one million watts (not to be confused with measurements for electrical current) seems like an exceedingly large amount of money. Are we to believe in ten years Bolo and Carlos never came up with a better idea for what to do with their life savings other than gamble it away on chance?
Carlos will go quietly if Bolo and their cash are left behind. The police eventually agree after Carlos threatens to get violent and he bids goodbye to Bolo, noting that their friendship, chasing their dream, was enough to make him happy. Bolo wakes up and the other workers tell him what happened. Bolo then rushes off to save Carlos, as all their effort was pointless if he loses him.
Carlos is to be executed to protect the peace and give the people a villain. Carlos is fine with that, as Bolo is a chosen one. He’s sure of it. Then Master Benton arrives and offers Carlos his own chance to try the Demon’s Plan. It’s here that Master Benton reveals that the Demon’s Plan was nothing more than a scam. The box a total fake and the Chosen One they saw ten years ago nothing more than a privately hired actor. Carlos loses it with this revelation, screaming that he’ll kill them all. This revelation is played in the most hammy, campy, over the top manner, but continues to take itself too seriously to make it feel charming. Demon’s Plan wants to be dark and brooding, but doesn’t have the nuance to let that feel natural and powerful.
Bolo rushes to save Carlos, remembering things about their childhood from his POV, that he wasn’t some leader or hero, just another boy with nothing left to lose. It was Carlos looking up to him that kept him going, gave him reason to keep on. Bolo arrives at the jail, but finds it in rubble and Carlos very much alive, along with the masked stranger from earlier in the chapter. He calls himself the Patron and as it turns out this traveler is the real owner of the Demon’s Plan. This reveal also feels obvious, but has enough of an epic quality that I’m sure it’s part of why Demon’s Plan got green lit for serialization in the first place.
The Patron has apparently waited years to make Bolo’s acquaintance, but finds him ordinary and unworthy. Carlos attacks Patron for saying such unkind things about Bolo and reveals that he’s been turned into a Demon by the true Demon’s Plan. Carlos then talks of destroying the world, and write a new happy ending for themselves. But Bolo rejects that violent path. He tries to fight back but Carlos is too strong. But Bolo rises again, declaring he just wanted happiness for them both. As they go head to head one final time, and it looks like the end for Bolo, the Demon’s Plan opens and grants him sudden strength, hardening his dripping blood into armor. This confrontation feels lacking. Bolo outright rejects Carlos’ violent path, but it’s never really made clear why, other than that Bolo is an up and up classic shonen hero. It gives the entire preceding a lackluster feel that keeps me from feeling like this epic battle between friends is really all that epic.
Patron is impressed as he cradles a wounded Carlos, noting that Bolo has been given the power to protect the Crimson Bell, whatever that is, and he too has been chosen by the Demon’s Plan. Not wanting this battle to end, Patron creates a portal and leaves with Carlos. Bolo tries to stop them, but is unable to. He screams with frustration and tells Carlos to just wait, as he’s his chief. He’ll come for him.
Again I’m exceedingly mixed on Demon’s Plan. I think the execution is lacking, painting our heroes not as unfortunate and impoverished individuals, but idiots trapped by their sheer ignorance. They have the funds to pave their own way in life, but instead wish to gamble it on a game of chance. I understand the idea that they both seek to perhaps invent a new world, but the gambling it on what was so obviously a scam feels exceedingly naive and short sighted. It makes it tough to get behind such unintelligent leads. What saves Demon’s Plan is the devotion to Carlos and Bolo’s friendship. It’s sometimes heavy handed and even overwritten with more dialogue than is truly necessary, but manages to form enough of an emotional core that I wouldn’t mind seeing where the series goes from here. But at the same time I’m hardly excited.
That’s it for today. Please let me know what you thought of Demon’s Plan first chapter in the comments below!
Demon’s Plan can be found in Shonen Jump and should eventually be available for free at Viz.com.