You know you're in for a ride when you read that first line of the synopsis and realize that the world is about to end thanks to some mysterious invaders. These invaders are called Septentriones want one thing: your life. It all takes place on the holy day of Sunday where the lives of the main characters are in danger. Why? Because the world is about to end and their only chance now is to survive. That's right....
Welcome to the world of Devil Survivor 2, where survival is a word that you'll be hearing more than meets the eye.
The series is based off the video game, Devil Survivor 2 of the same name. It is based off of the Megami Tensei so expect some similar themes to its other products such as Persona 4. Otherwise, this series is not a sequel despite being labeled seemingly as such. Rather, Devil Survivor 2: The Animation is an animated series that brings out survival at its finest. Hmm, or does it....
Taken from a survival standpoint, the series begins off with a strong promise. In fact, the subway station and the threat of being exterminated after a faithful event seemingly sets the course on its scale. It is on rail as we can tell that the mysterious invaders known as the Septentriones aren't messing around. As a matter of fact, anything coming in contact with them will likely end up a quick journey to the next world; aka death. It presents it visually well too. The way the characters panics in the beginning as well as the deaths of innocent people makes the series seem gruesome. It's not realistic but keeps up with its pace in terms of 'survival'. It holds true to the extent of its main tagline that features two prominent words:
The series follows main male protagonist Hibiki Kuze. The guy is seemingly who attends a normal high school with his normal friends until that not-so-normal day. To me, the character seems just like any other typical boy with no special qualities of notice. Well, except perhaps by that distracting hood he often wears with the funny ears, he is just a student. However, it is noticeable that the boy is fearless against certain situations and is able to make crucial decisions that can potentially lead to important outcomes. Then, there are his friends Io Nitta, the school beauty who comes with a package of both brain and looks. Unfortunately, she too gets caught with the events from the beginning of the story. But hey, friends can conquer all right? Wrong. Well, not entirely they need a little help from the supernatural. This comes in the form of cell phones. If you think today's cell phones are flashy with the latest gadgets, just get a load of the ones in this series.
The cell phones from this series comes with a special feature you won't find anywhere. That feature is the prominent device known as a demon APP. Luckily, this APP isn't just for decoration but an important tool to fight off the mysterious Septentriones. Thus, the APP functions as both a tool and weapon for the protagonists to use. They are able to summon demons for assistance, creatures who are not just badass looking but also packs powerful abilities that makes the characters awe of their appearances.
As for the demons themselves, they seemingly serve for no other purpose other than obeying their master's commands. In other words, this isn't' a friend/partner relationship between the summoners but rather as master/servant. At the same time, these demons are designed in the way that shows off how powerful they are. Take for example, Byakko the demon that Hibiki commands. He represents the ferocity of his nature through his sabertooth-like appearance. On the other hand, the Septentriones are designed to reflect their strange nature. Most of them are difficult to relate with in terms of realistic nature because of their odd appearances. They don't seem to have any personalities but rather surrounded by mystery. What we do know is that they are the executioners of mankind. Their appearances resembles otherworldly beings being perhaps comparable to Vividred Operation's Alones or Eureka Seven: AO's Secrets. In other words, they serve as the most mysterious factor of the series as they threaten the very existence of humanity.
The series takes off with a good start but quickly loses its interest after its memorable first episode. The premise is easy to follow with the key word 'survival' being a central part of the series. However, it's the pacing that causes the problem here. Unless you're a fan of the original game series, it's quick to pick out what happens and its upcoming events. Needless to say, this series follows the more of mindless fun in terms of action rather than anything serious. It's honestly hard to take this series seriously despite the given premise as well. I mean, the characters use cell phones, a tool that should be used for communication rather than summoning. In this series though, we see these kids using them as a tool of war. However, the way it employs it is rather blend. Most of the time, the kids themselves relies too much on their summonings rather than themselves. I mean, they rarely comes up with the thought of 'what happens if I lose my demon?' It's pretty lame to see their summoners just sit back and let their partner do the job.
Devil Survivor 2 does pull out some unusual events through the appearances of 'death clips', scenes that depicts a characters' outcomes in the series. Then again, there's the Septentriones flying around causing panic to everywhere with a seemingly lack of explanation of their origins. Although it seems fun to dig clues about the series, it just seems blend through their certain appearances. As for a animated series of only 13 episodes, Devil Survivor 2 is one of those adapted anime that is crammed by its game material. This leads to problems with character development, relationships, world building, and the story itself. To make matters worse, there are even episodes where hardly anything happens but creates a setup of what's to come. It creates barriers that prevents the series to succeed in this way and doesn't help the fact that not every characters gets to shine in the spotlight.
The bright side of this series though (I don't mean this literally) with its idea of survival. Characters do actually die off rather than being a tease, at least for the time being. Even the credits played after each episode presents this visually as it removes characters after they are killed. There's also an unusual relationship between Yamato and Hibiki that is hard to paint later on. Yamato is one of the most mysterious figures. Despite seeing Hibiki as a friend at times, he is also brutally honest and makes decisions with cruel outcomes. Speaking of outcomes though, the story comes out as perhaps quite weak. It's problem again lies in its adaptation of being a condensed 13-episode series. It also pulls out the deus ex machina when the opportunities come. Furthermore, it even has bits of fan service by the characters' designs such as Airi and Hinako. To present material like this in a demonic series such as DS2 makes the show more messy than it already is.
As for the series' visuals, it represents both a gruesome nature and also one that is hard to take serious at times. Well, there's the way that Hibiki is designed along with other characters such as 'The Anguished One'. The way the characters look doesn't make them look like survivors of anything. They look like people out of a video game. However, there are a few characters who are dressed in an unusual way that may raise a few eyebrows. Our mysterious Septentriones also are presented in a way that is completely out of this world. The apocalyptic nature of the series does fit though so I give some praise to that.
Perhaps one of the stronger points of the series is the soundtrack. The OP song, “Take Your Way” takes the stance of an artistic way of presenting the series. We can see the characters digitally with enhanced features of their profiles as well as some depictions of the events. The OST is hardly noticeable though except during more of the crucial or more emotional scenes. Otherwise, the ED song as mentioned before shows the survival theme as when characters dies off, they are removed from the credits. It's all about survival people.
All in all, this series is fun for some full shock violence and action. It reflects the idea of survival and gives it away immediately. However, its story is dry as paint and its cast of characters seems unbalanced with their weak development or structure. Furthermore, the series seems to be rushed and has some nonsense as it loses energy. The first episode had my eyes glued to the screen but quickly changed my mind afterwards. It's one of those series where patience is a key to getting it through. If not, then tough luck. It's just like the main characters too where they need everything to survive whether it's strategy, power, and luck. Well, for luck, they're going to need it.