Devil Survivor 2 The Animation – 02
「DAY 2 – 激動の月曜日I」 (Gekido no Getsuyobi I)
“DAY 2 – Monday’s Turmoil 1″
Like my old man always said, if you’re gonna take, you take it from the best. (Okay no, he didn’t actually say that.) With episode 2, we’re introduced to the core premise of DeSu2A, and it’s a pretty familiar tale we’re hearing: 7 Septentriones -the first of which we’ve seen in Duhbe- heralding the end of the world, with one coming every successive day to wipe out civilization. Opposing them is the unimaginably well-funded secret organisation that’s been preparing for this doomsday scenario from before it even began. Any Evangelion watcher can (not) be a stranger to this yarn; it’s almost a note-for-note take on Evangelion‘s basic premise of Nerv defending Tokyo 3 from the Angels, and DeSu2A literally shoves it in your face. JP’s HQ gives off the same vibes as Nerv HQ. Hotsuin Yamato (Suwabe Junichi) is a shoo-in for the Ikari Gendou spot. Makoto fills for the conflicted “officer nee-san”. We have a Kaworu look-alike in the mysterious white-haired shounen. Even Hibiki’s…okay, thank god he’s not being as horredously annoying as a Shinji Ikari. (Surprisingly, Kishi’s found a not halfway bad protagonist in Hibiki, who’s convincingly mindful about the circumstances he’s in despite a lack of willingness to be involved)
But hell, just to underline the similarities of the two series, here’s the designer of the Septentriones: Mohiro Kitoh, who not only designed the awe-inspiring 3rd Angel from Rebuild of Evangelion (Still my favourite fight of all the movies) but also was the mangaka of Bokurano. (Which, really, more of you should go watch/read) For better or worse, this guy’s no slouch in the monsters design department, and take it from me, his Septentrione designs on DeSu2 will certainly show why. In fact, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that this show will live or die by it’s handling of the Septentriones.
Of course, it’s easy to immediately bemoan the lack of originality showing there, but let’s keep in mind that DeSu2A‘s take on this basic premise stands to be an incredibly different one due to its setting of a disaster-struck Japan, and here’s where the Tokyo Magnitude vibes (setting-wise, at least) come out in strength. The second half of the episode largely deals with our protagonists arriving at an emergency shelter to look for news on Io’s mother, and boy, it’s one heck of a bleak sight. Bridge really does have that fantastic apocalyptical atmosphere nailed down here, and I love how well presented the condition of the city was. The entire area within and without the shelter dense with resting people, sprawls of scribbles and notes lining the walls as people search for contact information, the unease in the ambient conversations and mutterings; punctuated by the moody score and the general bleakness of the imagery, the helplessness of the scene really got to me. Io’s characterization here is pretty much the thematic embodiment of this, her despair growing ever greater as she’s greeted by worse and worse news of her home area while still being in the dark about the condition of her parents. Looking at all this, there’s a surprisingly human side to this high sci-fi fantasy of demons, invaders and the apocalypse. And for the good of DeSu2A, they best not lose it as we go further into the series. Not to mention, there’s a really interesting mesh with the other side of the setting about JP’s stance on the situation: at the moment, JP’s is refusing the provision of aid to focus on the Septentriones situation, and I’d hate to see the dilemma -the idea of sacrificing the few for the many- go unexplored in a story where there is potential for a very interesting take on this age old debate. Makoto’s inner conflict seem to point us in a rather hopeful direction.
This all covered up in Persona‘s, or rather, SMT’s coat of paint: the demons and angels that headline the action in the show. But it also surfaces in other aspects of the storytelling, such with the religious references the SMT franchise so loves to play around with. Starting from a Sunday, God created the world in a week (if you count that day of rest) and the Septentriones are pretty much destroying it in the same time frame.
But hey, if you’re still concerned about the Persona connection, this episode’s pretty much shown DeSu2A‘s gonna be an entirely different kind of story, one whose grim atmosphere make it seems as if the show’s already prepared to step into some pretty heavy territory.
Honestly though, there’s no need to hesitate in calling DeSu2A unoriginal; but like I said, if you’re gonna take, take from the best. And when we see the sum of all these parts, for better or for worse, I can definitely say that we’re in for something that’s just that bit different and -dare I say, original- from all the other shows this season. Episode 2 really did good in building the foundation laid by episode 1, but now the real question, the one I’ve had since I first heard this show was being produced, is this: Can director Kishi and his team understand what made these examples as compelling as they were and properly incorporate it into DeSu2A‘s narrative?