Title: Devil Survivor 2
Genre: Action, Fantasy
Summary: Adaptation of the Nintendo DS game, part of the Shin Megami Tensei series. High school senior Hibiki Kuze and his best friend Daichi Shijima discover a website that will send videos of their friends’ faces just before they die, only to receive videos of each other on the very spot where they’re standing. When sudden disaster strikes, the same site that foretold doom allows them to summon the “demons” they need to survive, and the two friends along with classmate Io Nitta are thrown into an uneasy alliance with a secret organization fighting to stop the end of the world.
Review: I was a bit worried to pick up another anime based off a video game, but Persona 4 left a good taste in my mouth so I figured why not jump in with some high hopes. When I first started the series I realized that it was actually pretty good. It seemed to jump right into the story and introduce characters in a rather quick fashion rather than taking episodes. You learned the backgrounds of most of the characters in a pretty natural way as well. While nothing went in depth it makes sense when someone’s personality wasn’t the topic of conversation. Throughout the anime you got to experience the troubles everyone was going through because of this unexpected event. However, the anime was far from perfect and the ending caused the anime to fall flat on its face. About half way through the season I realized what type of anime this was going to be.
Devil Survivor 2 did a pretty good job mixing CG and hand drawn art. I know that there are a lot of anime out there that really make it obvious when CG and is used, and it wasn’t completely perfect with this series either. However, it did much better than most. They didn’t rely on CG which was what made it a good integration. The character decisions were rather nice too. They didn’t go over the top to make each character very unique, but enough to keep things interesting. Of course I’m going to complain that the characters never had a change of clothes which always bugs me about anime, but that’s a minor infliction in the overall art. Plus let’s be honest, I don’t think that people really have a choice of clothes when the whole country has gone down hill. The fight scenes were probably where the anime’s art really came to fruition. The monsters were well thought out with some obvious inspirations from creatures in mythology. They all had some sort of unique attack which kept things exciting. I don’t have any particular complaints about the art, but the story made me want to quit.
The problem with many anime is that they don’t know how to handle death. I know that might seem strange, but it’s something that has plagued many series who try to invoke suspense by killing main characters without follow through. There are a couple rules that people who watch anime should always remember:
- If you don’t see a character die, they’re probably still alive
- If a character does die and everyone is upset, they’ll be back
I don’t know what is about anime not following through with sorrow in death but it pains me to no end. Some of you may consider this a spoiler, but I feel most of my readers already know these basic rules about anime. Anime that really wow me are the ones that kill off my favorite character, the anime that don’t have a predictable storyboard, the anime that can say, “Oh you think this is going to have a happy ending?” and completely throw things off the rails. It’s this type of excitement that lacked in Devil Survivor 2. It was never an anime that had me hooked to the story or had me wondering what would happen next. Even if something unexpected happened during the episode the end result was always the same. The characters weren’t dynamic or exciting, their personalities were the same from the start to finish. It didn’t matter that their lives completely flipped upside down; they all were the happy-go-lucky or painfully dumb as they always were. A story needs depth, a sense of surprise, and a grip of suspense; Devil Survivor 2 had none of these.
I’m going to add a little spoiler at the end of this review but it’s a general rant that I have about all anime which follow the same pattern. If you’ve seen the series, great! If you haven’t, well just read it because you shouldn’t watch it anyway.
Final statements: I think that the basic premise of Devil Survivor 2 is pretty good but it fell short when it got into the climax of the story. It seemed to have the same problem that many anime do: not having a strong finisher. I know it may have been pretty harsh to call this an avoid watch simply because of the climax, but I can’t help but feel that the whole journey was rather pointless. It’s disappointing that Devil Survivor 2 wasn’t able to keep up its original flair that it had at the start.