Most people here know of my love for Persona, and this also extends to the Shin Megami Tensei series as a whole, so I’m excited to see an Atlus game get an anime adaptation especially as the Devil Survivor series is one of my favourite SMT spin-offs.
Episode one thrusts us into the thick of things where normal highschool children find their life dramatically changed once demons attack, and with the appearance of the weird Death Face app which shows how your friends will die. Given the choice to live rather than die, Kuze Hibiki, Daichi Shijima and Io Nitta find themselves revived and with the ability to summon demons.
Obviously, being based on such a lengthy and expansive game, the anime can only tell the story in a mostly streamlined fashion in its 12 episodes; I’m happy with it as it made sense and didn’t feel rushed, although I think a 24 episode series wouldn’t have gone amiss. An anime based on a game is always going to be hit or miss with people, but you can’t expect the complete story to be told in 12 episodes so watch it for what it is and it’s still hugely enjoyable; it kept me on the edge of my seat in each of its thrilling episodes.
The show deals strongly with the theme of hope, friendship and human weakness and how you’ll achieve better results together than you would alone; this is something explored with Hibiki and Hotsuin, who are on opposite ends of the spectrum personality-wise and have completely different ideas on how to defeat the demons. Hibiki wants to protect human life and have everyone treated equally, where as Hotsuin thinks the powerful should lead the weak and that sacrifices must be made, even if it means the loss of hundreds of people.
I connected with the characters instantly as most could relate to being young and carefree students but then suddenly thrown into a horror-like situation; I’ve never been in a demon-summoning situation but I understand the pain of feeling like you’re being forced to grow up too quickly! There was nobody I strong disliked as everybody thought they were doing what was best for the world, especially the stern and controlling Yamato Hotsuin although I never really liked him or agreed with his actions either.
I feel that all character arcs wrapped up nicely and left no threads hanging, even if some characters weren’t as major in the anime adaptation as they were in the game; I’ve played it but have yet to finish it, and some of the characters – who I won’t name to avoid spoilers – could’ve benefited from having a larger role. Despite how short the series is, each character is given equally outstanding personalities and are handled in a way that many series’ of this length may struggle to achieve.
The animation is great and there’s plenty of action for your eyes to feast on, and even more brilliantly designed demons to gaze out; sadly, Mara does not make an appearance. Hibiki’s demon Byakko and Io’s Kikuri-Hime are gorgeous and represent their in-game counterparts well, along with staple demons such as Jack Frost. The characters designs are just as appealing with every character having their own unique flavour, although I’m really fond of Io’s and Daichi’s outfits specifically – and Hinako’s of course, for no particular reason…
I love the OP and ED both visually and song-wise; the ED removes characters as they die and so seeing how it changes is interesting yet upsetting. The OP continues with the somewhat digital theme of the show, as characters use their mobile phones and an app to summon demons, as they flicker in and out as if TV channels are being flicked through. Both use plenty of static imagery in their clips, although the ED is entirely static; this doesn’t bother me but I know some people want a tad more action to hype them for the episode.
There are both English and Japanese voice-overs available, with English subtitles available for both which are easy to read in a rounded, white font. I decided to watch it in English and enjoyed it, although there aren’t many voice-actors and actresses that I’m overly familiar with in it, especially in comparison to the Persona 4 Animation.
Greg Ayres and Jessica Boon may be the most popular, having voiced main characters in popular shows such as Deadman Wonderland, Highschool of the Dead, Angel Beats! and Clannad. I thought Hibiki (Patrick Poole) sounded pretty stiff at first, but he really shines during the more emotional moments of the show and he was who I ended up enjyoing hearing the most.
The soundtrack keeps up with the action of the show and it’s what you’d expect from a show based on an Atlus game – it’s catchy and begs to be listened to in your free time. Some tracks including the OP and ED, the character themes, The Shining One, Septentrion and Raider’s Attack are amazing.
I don’t really have anything bad to say about Devil Survivor 2: The Animation other than I’m interested to see what they could have done with 24 episodes, although I found the pacing to be consistent and it kept everything exciting; there’s no filler or beating around the bush, but some characters had their screentime drastically reduced due to the length, sadly.
You can enjoy it without having played the game first (I haven’t finished the game yet!) and without playing the first title, which doesn’t have an anime adaptation; they don’t like together and are standalone stories, but they both happen over the course of 7 days – 8 in the remade games.
I can easily recommend Devil Survivor 2: The Animation to just about anybody due to its great mix of action, emotion and strong storytelling, although you may want to steer clear if you’re not a fan the Shin Megami Tensei series or its spin-offs, as it’s very similar due to the heavy focus on demon summoning and character interaction. Another worry is that the game deals with many choices whilst the anime obviously can only go down one route, so you might not see your favourite route explored in the anime. I’ll now patiently wait and hope that Devil Survivor 2: Break Record gets a localisation announcement soon!
“Everybody’s weak. That’s why we rely on others. We live by helping one another. We can say, we need one another. I’ve been able to survive because I have you and the others.”
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