What They Say:
When the world is under attack by a monstrous and seemingly unstoppable enemy, the only way to fight back is with warriors who have already died! Sidestepping a gruesome fate in a subway crash during an earthquake, two young men and a girl find themselves recruited into the ranks of the Devil Summoners and given the ability to literally call up demons to battle against the mysterious Septenriones!
Can Hibiki, Daichi and Io survive in a war where demons face demons under human command? Where a person’s death can be seen in advance? Where every living being is just a game piece to be saved or expended? And where each clash comes with a clock counting down to Armageddon? Get ready to be immersed in the in the ultimate conflict between good and evil as the living, the dead and the demonic combine forces to send the invaders straight back to Hell!
For this viewing, I took in the English dub, which is offered in 2.0. The Japanese track is also available in 2.0. The mix was fine, if basic, with some good directionality in the sound effect. Being a series rooted in action, a 5.1 mix would have been preferable to help build atmosphere. It’s not a big issue, but it’s one that would have been appreciated. The mix is otherwise fine.
This release is shown in 16:9 anamorphic widescreen. The colors are bold and there are some nice effects in explosions and the abilities of the various demons. I also like the character designs, though admittedly there’s nothing particularly special about them. I just think they look nice—the overall look of the series is very stylish. On this viewing, I didn’t see any specific technical issues with the transfer, despite a lot of dark scenes which can often lead to artifacting. All-in-all, it looked pretty nice.
The three discs for this release come in a single-amaray case with slip-cover. The slip-cover has a picture of Hibiki with a somewhat psychedelic foil effect on the background that makes it really stand out. The back of the slip-cover has a shot of Nitta on the same background with the series summary and technical details spread around. In an interesting change from norm, the cover on the case is different, with a very dark motif that contrasts the shininess of the slip-cover. The front of the case has a shot of Yamato against a black background as seen through a pink filter, while the back has a picture Alcor. It has also has the same summary and technical details from the slip-cover, but adds in a few screenshots in the bargain. Overall, this is a nicely designed case, with a little more detail than is typical these days.
Though basic, I really like the design of the menu as well. The left side of the menu has the series logo and a shot of some characters. The selections are offered down the right side of the screen. Text is a mix of hot pink and white against a black and dark purple background that gives a different, somewhat psychedelic effect than the slip-cover. The cursor is a purple highlight that surrounds the text, which again stands out well. The first 45 seconds of the OP plays while on the menu, which is a dramatic, nu metal song that reflects the tone of the release well. Technically, there is nothing special about this menu, but I did love the design.
The only extras on this release are clean versions of the OP/ED.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
When Devil Survivor 2: The Animation arrived on my doorstep, I both had no idea what it was and was semi-annoyed because I’d never seen Devil Survivor 1. As it turns out, there isn’t one. Devil Survivor is a title in the Shin Megami Tensei video game series, and Devil Survivor 2: The Animation is an anime adaptation of the second game. Having not played the games, I cannot attest to the accuracy of the adaptation, but I can say that while perfectly competent, Devil Survivor 2 is also just about as generic as you can get.
On their way home from high school entrance exams, best friends Hibiki Kuze and Daichi Shijima receive a video from a new phone app that is popular among kids. Called Death Face, it supposedly takes people from your friends list and creates a video depicting their death. The video they receive shows the two of them being crushed by a runaway subway train flipping off its tracks.
At first, it is a bit of a joke to them, until the video comes true. At the station waiting for their train, it comes flying into the station at high speeds and flips off the tracks, crushing many people, including Hibiki and Daichi. As he lay there dying, Hibiki’s phone buzzes, and the Death Face app is offering him the opportunity to survive. When he clicks yes, he finds himself healed and is able to escape the carnage. Daichi and a young girl named Nitta, whom they recognize from their school, both survive the wreck in the same way.
At that point, a demon attacks the station. The three find that a new app has installed itself on their phones—the Demon Summoning app—and with it, they are able to call forth powerful demons who fight for them. The three are drafted into the JP’s—the Japan Meteorological Agency(?)—to help fight this invasion. Hibiki in particular can call forth the demon Byakko, known as one of the most powerful demons, and he helps lead the fight. But the more they fight, the more they learn the truth of both the invasion and the motives of the JP’s, and they have to figure out where their true loyalties lie.
It might not seem like it so far, but Devil Survivor 2: The Animation is just about as generic an Evangelion clone as can be. There are no giant robots, but the demons fit that definition well enough. As the story goes along, we discover that the invading demons—known as Septentriones—are part of a test from a being known as Polaris. For lack of a better term, Polaris is God, and he has decided that the path of humanity has taken has been too troubling, and he is sending the Septentriones to test the will of the human race. Should humanity win out, they will be spared and granted any wish. Should the Septentriones win, though, humanity will be erased, as if it had never existed.
The Demon Summoning app was created as a means for humanity to fight back and give them the best chance at that survival. The charge is being led by the JP’s and their mysterious commander, Yamato Hotsuin. But as Hibiki and his friends fight, they discover that Yamato is just using them for his own ends—he wants to be the only survivor left at the end of the fight so that it is his wish that will be granted, and he plans to wish for a rebirth of humanity with himself in charge. Stop me if any of this sounds familiar, but upon learning this, Hibiki—like Shinji before him—is forced to team up with Yamato to fight off the Septentriones while at the same time trying to figure out how to stop Yamato from fulfilling his own desires. Hibiki might be far more strong willed than Shinji, but ultimately they have the same goals.
And while Devil Survivor 2: The Animation borrows pretty much everything it has from Evangelion, it also does nothing to separate itself from every other monster-summoning/robot-fighting/evil-shadowy-organizationing/we-have-to-save-humanity-from-itselfing anime that has come around over the last ten to fifteen years. Devil Survivor 2: The Animation is perfectly acceptable anime with a relatively likeable cast, but it is so generic that nothing really resonated. People would die, and it meant nothing. Yamato would be a jerk, and it meant nothing. Ultimately, it is pretty forgettable.
While the idea of their deaths being forecast by Death Face is an interesting one, the overall concept of Devil Survivor 2: The Animation is pretty paint-by-the-numbers and it really does nothing to distinguish itself. While there are no fighting robots, it is otherwise cut from the same mold from which every other Evangelion clone has been made. Shadowy organizations, dark motives from those supposedly in charge, and a deific entity attempting to hit the reset button on humanity are all on display here. This isn’t to say that Devil Survivor 2: The Animation was bad, but I found myself basically yawning through it. If you like these sorts of anime, you can probably add perhaps a letter grade to it, but I’ve seen enough of them that it was hard to get excited about anything it was trying to do. By the time this review posts, I’ll probably have forgotten most of it. Thumbs very firmly in the middle, pointing down.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening Animation, Clean Closing Animation
Content Grade: C
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: A-
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: N/A
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: July 1, 2014
Running Time: 325 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 anamorphic widescreen
Magnavox 37MF337B 37” LCD HDTV, Sony PS3 w/HDMI Connection, Durabrand HT3916 5.1 Surround Sound System