DVD REVIEW: DEVIL SURVIVOR 2 / CERT: 12 / DIRECTOR: SEIJI KISHI / SCREENPLAY: MAKOTO UEZU / STARRING: HIROSHI KAMIYA, NOHUBHIKO OKAMOTO, AYA UCHIDA / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
The follow-up to 2009’s tactical role player Devil Survivor capitalised on its predecessor’s inventive gameplay and storytelling with gusto. Spawning a 3-volume manga, it was inevitable that the series would get the anime treatment.
Like the manga, the 13-part series was penned by Makoto Uezu, but translating a game praised for its combat systems was always running the risk of diluting the source material. While Ueza and director Seiji Kishi put a decent enough series together, Devil Survivor 2 falls into the honey trap of genre clichés, long-winded storytelling, and syrupy resolution.
Set in a modern day Tokyo, 18-year-old students Hibiki and Daichi sign up to a secret mobile app called Dead Face which predicts your friends’ deaths and conveniently sends you the footage. Witnessing their own deaths in the subway station, where they also meet honours student Io Nitta, each are killed in the predicted train accident. Accepting a second life, a demon summoning app is forcibly downloaded onto their phones which gives the user the ability to, you guessed it, summon demons. An apocalyptic seven day wave of demon activity encompasses the city. Following their first demon encounter, the trio are enlisted into the Japan Meteorological Agency (JPs). Over the next seven days the city and the summoners are pitched against a menagerie of demons. As it edges towards the conclusion, the plot buckles under its own silly intricacies.
While the anime kicks off with plenty of potential to explore society’s dependence on technology, particularly young folks on smart phones, it doesn’t follow through, like the hack series did with online gaming. Leaving the game aside, the series really only upcycles genre concepts you’ve seen before. Maybe it’s time to revisit Digimon anyway…
The animation is, by and large, pretty decent, though the flourishes of farcical emoticon are unnecessary. Given the roster of characters, it’s disappointing there’s only a few worth rooting for. 19-year-old chef Jungo isn’t given nearly enough screen time, with Alcor’s campy appearances worth watching out for. But like many of its contemporaries, there’s plenty of impossibly (and insultingly) busty women, with Hinako, a scantily clad dancer-cum-summoner, who could make Bayonetta blush.The fight scenes are typically brash and colourful, slowed down only by flashbacks and cheesy exposition, culminating in morals of fate, cause and effect, choice and, like so many others in the genre, the power of friendship. It’s not without its moments of wonder, but Devil Survivor 2 is one better left for the fledgling fan; seasoned viewers will want to look elsewhere.
Special Features: None
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