Director: Seiji Kishi, Series Composition: Makoto Uezu, Music: Kotaro Nakagawa
Voice Actors: Aya Uchida, Hiroshi Kamiya, Junichi Suwabe, Nobuhiko Okamoto, Takahiro Sakurai, Ami Koshimizu, Kana Asumi, Kikuko Inoue, Yuka Iguchi
My first impression of the anime? It’s dull. Here’s a post full of why.
Kuzue Hibiki and his friend Shijima Daichi are on the verge of going to college. They meet in Shibuya and discuss what they will do in their future. Daichi has dreams of going on dates and trips and playing around while Kuzue feels a degree of uncertainty about his future. Then Diachi introduces Kuzue to a phone app called Nicaea.
If you register with the app you can take a picture of a friend and see the face of your friend when they die. These short videos are called Dead Face clips and they are all the rage because people want to see how their friends will die.
Being a top friend Daichi takes Kuzue’s picture before they head down to a subway station where they see fellow school-mate Nitta who Diachi has a crush on. When her face pops up on the Dead Face site Kuzue sees she has been caught up in a subway accident… Much like Daichi and himself. The two panic as they hear the subway train approaching.
The accident happens. Then a message pops from Nicaea pops on their phone.
They choose to live and get another chance. When they wake up they are at the scene of the accident and find dead bodies and debris everywhere. Nitta is also alive but she is in danger from demons who are feasting on the corpses and are beginning to notice the trio. Fortunately a demon summoning app has automatically been downloaded on their phones and they can now summon demons to protect themselves.
When Kuzue, Daichi and Nitta emerge from the underground station they see Tokyo has suffered massive damage.
People are injured, buildings have gaping holes punched through them and electronic devices are fried. Even worse, demons have invaded reality and are attacking Japan.
The only people who understand what is going on are a secret group known as Japanese Meteorological Society (JP’s) who are a huge secret organisation designed to orchestrate humanity’s response to the now unfolding demonic invasion.
Operating under article 404 of the Special Disaster Management Act they have the power, technology and knowledge to battle against demons controlled by a group known as Septentriones. The countdown to Judgement day is now on. With six days until the world is eaten away Kuzue and his friends get press-ganged into helping the JP’s.
I was excited about this anime because it is based on a familiar Shin Megami Tensei video game franchise and it has staff from an anime I like called Persona 4 which was also a video game. Will I like this as much as I liked Persona 4?
Nope. After episode 1 finished I felt absolutely nothing for it. Episode 2 and 3 got similar reactions from me. Despite the large-scale destruction and all of the secret organisations and the clever mix of technology and the arcane magic and demons I was not that interested in what was happening because I found it dull.
The problem is not the production values.
The world of Devil Survivor is highly detailed with street signs and buildings in Tokyo and Osaka seemingly reproduced with great accuracy. There is a sense of how crowded the places are with the public and it has a feeling of life thriving all around the characters.
When the apocalypse begins some of the sights are well-delivered.
Plumes of smoke graze the city skylines.
What was once a bustling metropolis is the scene of chaos and destruction.
There are emergency workers clawing through wreckage and people are frantically trying to contact loved-ones.
Emergency messages are posted on boards.
Great little details but it did not grab me. The visuals lack any real visual flare. People die horribly but it is not reflected in what we see since the locations felt rather anonymous.
The anime Attack on Titan has so much visual flare it instantly had me frothing at the mouth. The locations were vividly imagined and it felt like being in a complete world and when I saw destruction it was affecting. Here I would have liked to have seen a few scenes giving us more sights so we get an idea about the damage to cities and how people are faring. Since the apocalypse is just starting I suspect more intense imagery is on the way but I wanted a greater sense of the disaster and its affects on the characters, some time dwelling on what everything means for the protagonists but the film rushes on to keep the story moving.
The first three episodes are pretty clean and concise. There is nothing confusing and the story is efficiently handled with all of the factions and terminology set out nice and neatly but again, a lack of anything other than plot and background makes this a functional story and not an interesting one. The characters are well designed and visually memorable but they are also blandly written.
Hibiki is the main protagonist and he has little personality beyond a desire to protect everyone.
Presumably this desire will keep on growing and that’s great but not compelling enough for me.
While Yu Narukami of Persona was also devoid of personality he at least had a supporting cast that could hide that fact. Here the supporting characters are equally dull due to a lack of characterisation and detail.
Shijima is meant to be adorably inept but he just comes off as inept.
And anyway, what kind of friend would use the Dead Face App on a person anyway?
Nitta is also rather useless. She either cries or collapses
As a major character she is rather hopeless, on the verge of fainting and requiring the boys to support her.
To be fair, they are new to this demon-hunting business but they don’t reflect any real or interesting sense of cosmic horror and gradual acceptance over the things they see and encounter. Over the course of three episodes they just get on with things. The script is not that interested in developing their characters.
Persona 4 had fun characters who grew as the series went on and bolstered the protagonist but here they are underdeveloped which is a problem since the apocalyptic story of the anime is very serious but the characters are very earnest and one note and this mix disrupts any tension I feel. Although the stakes are high for the protagonists I am not invested in their situation because the writing lacks anything unique or amusing.
The demons are also unremarkable. They are variations of mythological beasts so expect to see minotaurs and pixies and an exploding jellyfish.
To be fair, I have yet to play an Atlus game where many of the monsters are that interesting to look at but while these creatures hack through humans with ease they do not instil me with fear or dread they just look dull and overly familiar.
Perhaps it is because of the anime wanting to make a huge impact on viewers and setting off the apocalypse quick sharp and establishing the story but in all of its haste it has forgotten to take interesting characters along for the ride and we never see much of the world anyway.
In a season where Attack on Titan does existentialism and spectacular images of destruction and My Youth Rom-com has great characters which revitalise a tired genre, I don’t feel like wasting my time watching much more of Devil Survivor 2: The Animation. Like Blood-C which I also dropped it could improve but I do not have the time or inclination to wait.
I’ve picked up another show in its place! Aku no Hana.