Given a chance to live, three young people find themselves caught up in something as old as antiquity.
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Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the game of the same name that’s part of the Shin Megami Tensei franchise, Devil Survivor 2 is the latest property to work that world in a new way. I’ve long fallen out of the franchise, though I had an absolute blast with it ages ago, and I was really hesitant to even try this series. When it comes to anime adaptations of very popular game franchise like this, I always feel like that I can’t do the show true justice because I’m not familiar with the source material and will end up missing too much of the nuance that makes it work. But at the same time, I have to believe that when they make shows like this, it has to be enjoyable and accessible to those that haven’t dealt with it at all before. I don’t wanted it dumbed down, but they have to walk a bit of a line in order to please both sides.
The series gives us a world that’s pretty much like our own and introduces us to two high school boys named Daichi and Hibiki. The two have an ease about each other that’s fun which makes it clear they get along well and are likely old friends. While they’re thinking a bit about their futures, especially since Daichi just wants to have fun and ignore the working man side of things because it’s a drag, they’re basically just living their lives. What we do see is that Daichi has been introduced to a new site called Nicaea through which you connect with it and it shows off a dead face clip as they call it, a piece of video footage showing you or a friend of yours when they die. It’s a cute and simple thing that they laugh at, but when they’re on the train platform and get a video showing their deaths, the two begin to panic. But not move in time as they both end up getting killed. Or, just on the verge of it as they get queried on their phones as to whether they want to live or die. And in saying they want to live, they get a new demon summoning app installed on their phones. Along with a classmate of theirs that got caught up in all of it as well, an earnest young woman named Nitta.
The incident is something that’s just part of a larger problem going on in Tokyo though as while they initially think it’s just the subway station they’re in that’s gone to hell, a lot of parts of the city has, enough so that a mysterious authority has stepped in to take control instead of the usual rescue workers. Which is likely good as our main trio of characters discovers quickly that there are strange creatures lurking in the shadows at the moment that enjoy the corpses that exist. The action comes in two places here, the first being with Nitta and Daichi discovering they can invoke, or summon, a demon of their own to control from their app and that helps them to escape and realize the situation they’re in. The second comes when, trying to help Nitta make it back home, one of the strange creatures appears out in public and starts to kill people randomly. This causes plenty of problems, but it allows Hibiki to make his summoning happen and we see that his is just off the charts, enough to draw some serious attention from the JP’s organization that has their own plan.
Devil Survivor 2 had me wary about stepping into it, but this first episode worked out a lot better than I expected. While we get a few characters around the edges that will grow in importance, the primary focus is on the three main characters as they make the choice to live and find themselves now caught up in a bizarre situation that only gets worse as they make their way back out to the city. Though the story is kept simple but with enough hooks to make you want to come back for more, it’s easy to get into the show and want to see if they’re going to be creative or just go for the predictable. What helps sell it beyond the basics here is some really good animation and the fun of the way the summonings work. Devil Survivor 2 has some potential, but at this point I’m glad that it feels accessible but still with a familiarity that I do have with the whole franchise.
Streamed By: Crunchyroll
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