Post Reply DEVIL SURVIVOR 2 THE ANIMATION: Demons in Tokyo
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Posted 5/30/13 , edited 5/30/13
Written by Eclipsed_Oblivion

“If all things are in fact preordained, then why...why is humanity able to think for itself?” That is the prime question posed by Devil Survivor 2, a standalone anime based on the video game from Atlus’s Megami Tensei franchise. While some shun all anime versions of games for their admittedly poor track record, Atlus is becoming increasingly known for great anime adaptations, and Devil Survivor 2 is no exception. Not only does it adapt well to the anime medium, but with characters that blur the distinction between good and evil, along with overarching themes of free will versus predetermined fate, Devil Survivor 2 is packed with action while still sparking thought-provoking questions.

The number 2 in Devil Survivor 2’s title has sent many searching for a prequel, but to no avail; the original game has no story ties to its predecessor, so Devil Survivor 2 is simply a standalone series about three classmates who discover a chilling app; it sends them the faces their friends will make when they die. After the teens see their own dead faces mere minutes before their actual deaths, the app mysteriously offers them another chance at life. It then gives them the power to summon demons needed to fight creatures threatening an Earth that only has a week left until Judgement Day. The demons are a feature familiar to Atlus fans, but make for thrilling battles all can enjoy.

Anime adaptations of video games are faced with a difficult situation: newcomers want to see an enthralling anime that doesn’t feel like a game, whereas gamers want to see faithfulness to the source material. To best overcome this, the take on Devil Survivor 2 keeps a steady balance between the two. To create a well-paced narrative, the anime’s version of the plot is condensed, but keeps all the important points intact. The original plot itself, however, varied wildly depending on player choices and did not even have a canon ending. As to not sacrifice the emphasis on the effect of choices, Devil Survivor 2‘s protagonist makes different choices than those available in the game, but within the same framework as the game. There are still small gameplay references, however, either incorporated quietly into the plot or inconspicuously shown on screen, as to not disrupt the narrative’s flow while still appealing to gamers. Such a take on the Devil Survivor 2 adaptation thus manages to have a well-paced story suited to the anime format while not rejecting its roots.

Besides being a quality adaptation, Devil Survivor 2 demonstrates great strengths of an anime itself, one being how the intriguing characters blur the distinction between good and evil. The characters start out as average, typical people, but that is only on the surface. Over time, they are forced to make choices that affect their lives and world that make them grow. The changes in their world reveal hidden and often quite surprising aspects of the characters that make their intentions more understandable. By revealing so many of the characters’ hidden layers, Devil Survivor 2 knocks down the wall separating good and evil, with all characters valid in their own right. To feel that one character is morally correct would be a personal decision rather than a universal opinion, as many of the characters’ differing perspectives are actual philosophical arguments. This is especially demonstrated by the characters’ fluidity; they sometimes struggle in deciding what philosophy to believe in. This makes for a more unpredictable outcome in Devil Survivor 2, as there is no true good or evil.

The emphasis on making choices highlights the philosophical nature of Devil Survivor 2, particularly its contemplation of free will. The series stresses why characters made certain decisions, which attest to the characters’ true selves and their exercise of free will. The characters must live with the consequences of their choices, which emphasizes how vital it is to make the right decision. This is emphasized by the occasional dilemmas that take a huge amount of moral evaluation and judgement. However, Devil Survivor 2 leaves open to debate whether humans truly have free will. The characters’ decisions are propelled by events that affect them, which leads to one question: could they truly have made any other decision when the choice made was for a reason? The choice may have been just a link in the chain of all events since the beginning of time. With such philosophical musings, Devil Survivor 2 doesn’t just makes its characters think, but its audience as well.

Anime based on video games have a difficult battle against the stigma that plagues them, but Devil Survivor 2 is well-equipped. Its narrative, without losing the integrity of its source material, is tweaked to feel suitable for the anime medium, and it characters are intriguing in the way they erase the division between good and evil. This morally gray area adds to the philosophical nature of Devil Survivor 2 - it continuously considers whether humans have free will or are simply thrown into an unalterable stream of fate. This compelling balance between action and philosophy in Devil Survivor 2 make for not just a good adaptation of a video game, but a great anime in its own right.
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Posted 5/31/13
The issue of choice becomes particularly relevant (and is discussed aloud) in the latest episode. Great series so far.
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Posted 6/1/13
I do enjoy this series quite a bit. I never heard of or played the game this was adapted from so i did have my reluctance in digging in to the anime but i dont regret i did.
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