Devil Survivor 2 continues to convince me that video game adaptations are a terrible idea.
Proceeding through the first half is nothing short of infodump. The secret organization’s director Yamato Houtsuin takes the trio into custody, and he decides—no big deal of course—to spill all the beans with the top secrets that not even classified military know. We learn about the Digimon world, the Evangelion angel waves, and the “magical” software development behind the cell phone apps (if only Android developers could be that good). Sadly, nothing here is rendered well, as it reeks too much of the same problems prevalent in generic child-demographic shows. The show tosses any shred of realism out the window, forcibly coercing us into the belief that such a secret society exists and would be willing to tell all its secrets to some high school kid, while no other party would be interested in defeating the monsters as well (uhh, how about the Japanese government?). Oh, and did I mention that everything good and evil can be solved by MAGIC? What a solution!
Aside from ripping my hair out at all the pandering character designs, we also see very few employees in the background. I could accept a clear lack of worldbuilding (which the show desperately needs) but the paltry number of background characters irks me for some odd reason. Is the secret society really lead by so few people, or is this just some poorly funded organization? Sorry, the inanity of it all baffles me, and the show doesn’t make me care enough to find out the details.
There’s also still no characterization in this episode since the show concentrates on its rushed story development instead. Yet, this design choice would be excusable if the story wasn’t so half-baked. But it is, and so it isn’t. Moreover, the way these three now become a fixed trio via a chance encounter screams Digimon wizardry. Tying this along with its record-setting pace (with high school students turned Digimon masters), I find it difficult to take this show seriously.
The minimal soundtrack and uninspired animation style dulls the show’s atmosphere so much that most scenes are practically soulless. Exacerbated to this problem are senseless attempts to pull emotions. Seeing the razed city grounds, Nitta collapses onto the ground and whimpers “Mother”. However, without any buildup or suspense, such a cheap act becomes plain laughable. It makes me want to lick the sweet tears off this show’s terrible melodrama. It’s a good thing then that Devil Survivor 2 doesn’t fester its terrible drama as much as it does so with its terrible story.
By the three-quarters mark of the episode, we finally arrive at the main intrigue behind Devil Survivor 2—the action. But the concept itself is already flawed, as the trainer-digimon concept is a clear video game-only element that doesn’t integrate well within the anime medium. After all, there’s nothing better than an angsty child screaming out commands with his Pokedex while Byakko does all the real work. And even past the design choice of Digimon battles, its integration with the rest of the story speaks nothing but contrivances. Seriously, even Digimon battles gave a more thrilling experience than these bitter treats (and this is partially contributed by a stronger soundtrack). Devil Survivor 2‘s action scenes are also quite childish in nature, lacking any bloodshed and preventing anyone from getting hurt on-screen (except you know, the monsters, but that’s okay because they’re not human!). I’m having a hard time figuring out the aimed demographic here. Is this supposed to be pandered to kids or high schoolers?
Sorry Devil Survivor 2, I’m not going to spend anymore time watching your nonsense. If I wanted to see such a childish show, I would rewatch Digimon. At least it has the benefit of being self-aware of its problems.