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Devil Survivor 2 The Animation – 13 (END)

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「LAST DAY – 結実の日曜日 II 」 (Ketsujitsu no Nichiyōbi II)
“LAST DAY – Sunday’s Fruition II”

At this point, I can only pity DeSu2A; as it has always seemed to me, it really did want to explore these themes in an intelligent way. By taking away the freedom of choice, Yamato’s ideal of humanity would be able to work together as a single entity towards a “correct” future. In the end, he was saving them from the stagnation that prompted Polaris’s judgment, and thus his philosophy was not entirely unjustified. The same can be said of Hibiki; he finally comes to understand Yamato’s purpose, but doesn’t feel that what Yamato proposes is truly living. Better to risk stagnation and the end of the world if the alternative means giving up his freedom of choosing his future- by extension allowing humanity to choose its own future. It is easy to quickly dismiss his stance as naïve, but isn’t entirely unjustified either. With both characters trying to “save” the world in their own way, this was fertile ground for a meaningful debate. But as I’ve said before, the lack of any explorative depth to these themes in episode really hurts its credibility. It didn’t help that at this very last moment, the meandering narrative takes the odd detour into a completely separate issue, as Hibiki challenges Yamato for taking on the task to save the world alone. Somehow, the grand clash of world-deciding philosophies devolved into a trite argument about the necessity of camaraderie and friendship.

Given the writing we’ve seen, was there any doubt that this semi-reboot was how DeSu2A was going to wrap up? I honestly don’t think so, not since we learned how the final survivors would get to dictate the outcome of the world. All this while, Hibiki struggled on in an attempt to save his friends; one should even say the decision was expected of him, given how his ideal survived to the end and is analogous to the “best hope” for mankind’s continued survival compared to any other, including Yamato’s meritocracy. And it’s not like I had any particular issue with such an ending, had its fundamental themes been better explored and given a stronger characterization in Hibiki and Yamato. In some ways, choosing this end was the boldest move for DeSu2A; nothing of consequence actually get resolved in the end even as freedom is retained, and mankind still faces the risk of “stagnating” and falling to Polaris’s second judgment. But as it stands, the ending feels fairly run-of-the-mill. All the characters return to their normal lives, albeit slightly better off than they originally were.

But enough trashing, because there’s one shining moment that absolutely can’t go without a mention. I was cheering (rather vocally, I’d add) when the show went absolutely bonkers with the demon fusion, given that I had basically forgone all hopes of seeing it in the animation by that point. Of all the moments in the show, this was the most unabashed fanservice moment of them all: watching Hibiki take all the demons of his fallen compatriots and chain-fusing his way to the ultimate of SMT’s demon roster, Lucifer. It’s a brilliant nod to fans of the series, and along with the epic spectacle of a showdown between Hibiki and Yamato, made for a glorious way to send off the show in style.

 

Final Impression

What a strange beast DeSu2A was. Looking at it as a whole, it’s hard to call it anything but lackluster. I’ve seen many discussions noting the anime’s flaws, even made a few assertions of my own; weak characters, questionable narrative decisions and poor execution of its better ideas are just some of the terms I’ve been throwing around in the past few weeks. That the writing got especially bad towards the end didn’t help at all; the dialogue fell to post-apocalyptic clichés, a parody was nearly made out of a chain of character deaths, and the narrative seemed to lack any kind of thematic consistency.

And yet, despite all this, I don’t think DeSu2A was entirely without merit. Early in the series, I strongly believed that DeSu2A had given us one of the best example of how a video-game’s narrative should be adapted, because of the various changes to the source material it riskily implemented. Fast forward to today, and I perhaps might want to retract that statement; but the fundamentals of my belief remain firm. Opinions on the faithfulness of DeSu2A‘s adaption at the time were highly divided because of these huge changes. Some saw these changes as debasing fundamental aspects of the game’s storyline. Others took it more positively as an attempt to streamline the narrative.

I fell into the latter camp; I saw those changes as ways the anime could tell a potentially better story out of its source material. What I saw in the early episodes showed me some of that potential, a display of subtle awareness regarding the overarching plot. Changes that were made were smart, made to play up the motifs of survival and the desperate plight of the world. It allowed us to see the disaster-stricken world in a way the game tried but so failed to convey, and in doing so allowed us to better see how the characters reacted to the disaster-striken world. And then there was the big game-changer; Keita’s death showed us all that the anime was going to take the considerably darker, more interesting route in the game’s branching storyline, where the very survival of the characters were put into question. It allowed them to play up the game’s survival motif to an all-new level, and I marveled at the possibilities this would bring for character development as the cast slowly dwindled down.

Alas, the show never could quite follow through on the promise of its changes. Inconsistent writing failed to carry through the implications of these changes meaningfully into the latter half, when events such as the absurd chain of character deaths took place. Poor character development in Hibiki and Yamato, as they meandered around shallow generalizations of their philosophies, meant that the significant additions to their backstories were never fully exploited to flesh out characterization. It’s especially disappointing when we shifted from a story of survival and desperation to one where the underlying clash of philosophies took precedence; inconsistent themes meant that the plot started making some very confusing narrative decisions in trying to bridge themes of survival, camaraderie and the philosophies of men. I don’t think the underlying idea was ever wrong; I liked that DeSu2A was willing to risk retelling its own interpretation of the game’s storyline in an attempt to better explore the missed potential of its source material; but its many flaws in the narrative ultimately meant it never delivered on this potential.

And so, our quest for a truly great video-game adaptation continues. But for what it’s worth, DeSu2A was an decently entertaining watch, consistently delivering on the spectacle of its Septentriones and demon fights. There was never any question that I had fun throughout; the presentation for the anime was solid, and the general plot, when taken at face-value, provides a decent romp as it moves day by day towards the apocalypse. Once it brought on character deaths, it was something of a thrill to see who’s next to bite the dust in DeSu2A‘s Russian roulette game. (At least, until the absurd chain of deaths occurred) And if anything, this series will tempt you to try out the game, and see whether all of the fuss over its adaption was worth it; which probably was its primary intention all along.

Random Notes

You won’t have to look too far for the next video-game offering; next week’s mystery-thriller Danganronpa is our new flavor of the season. And for better or for worse, it’s being produced by the same director/writer team of Kishi and Ueza. I’ll be covering the introductory episode for that, so look forward to seeing if they can make it right this time!

Full-length images: 24.

June 28, 2013 at 8:44 pm
50 comments »
  • June 28, 2013 at 8:49 pmbastinggirl

    Even though it has its up and quite a few downs, I still loved this showed till the very end. The animation was great specially the final fighting scenes.

    • June 28, 2013 at 9:11 pmGekokujou

      I agree, it definitely had it’s moments, especially with that cliche moment with Io in episode 10 and the ending is nice, albeit a bit too optimistic.

  • June 28, 2013 at 8:53 pmlivevoid

    I liked how Hibiki beat Satan with his strongest demon. Deus ex Machina.

    • June 29, 2013 at 4:19 amMasterDragonKnight

      Well, Yamato cheated too.

      If you actually fuse Nebiros and Zaou-Gongen in the game, you get Black Frost, not Satan.

  • June 28, 2013 at 9:06 pmYager

    Nooo Hibiki got rejected by Yamato at the end, and Alcor left Hibiki too

    Oh well there’s always IoXDaichi ship.

    • June 28, 2013 at 9:12 pmAsobi

      Aren’t you forgetting best JungoXAiri ship as well?

      • June 29, 2013 at 12:45 amfragb85

        Too bad they completely pulled it out of their ass.

        HibikixYamato actually has precedence, the ship was present even when the game was out and Hinako even lampshades it in-game.

        Airi barely interacts with Jungo in the game, most of her interactions were with Hinako and they’re even together on the Triumphant Ending. Jungo’s interacts mostly with Keita, Otome and, oddly enough, Fumi.

      • June 29, 2013 at 3:37 amNitro

        so? this anime is its own story, you don’t have to continuously compare it to the game and go “well this isn’t canon so you’re not allowed”. i’ll ship all the JungoxAiri i want.

  • June 28, 2013 at 9:13 pmBukszie

    Satan and lucifer are not the same ?

  • June 28, 2013 at 9:18 pmMegas

    Whether you play the game b4, during, or after watching this, you’ll have to wonder just what source they were using for this. This adaptation was just plain bad if you’ve played the game & just good enough to watch if you haven’t, until the wheel of death steamrolled – then it was just plain bad period. At least the animation quality was always way up there, now if only those story planners can actually use the story they’re adapting . . .

  • June 28, 2013 at 9:21 pmCybersteel

    I guess we’ll see how the other SMT Spinoff adaptation will compare. Yes Persona 3 movie adaptation.

  • June 28, 2013 at 9:38 pmTheVoid

    The fact that Polaris, who looks down on humanity and wanted to wipe out humanity because things weren’t going the way he wanted, was never even faced or spoke himself made me disappointed.

    I honestly wish humanity just got wiped out instead because I really didn’t feel anything for most of the characters. Just wipe the world clean and let some other intelligent lifeform evolve and dominate the earth.

  • June 28, 2013 at 9:49 pmrukia

    This show sucked. Tough duty Asobi. You deserve a lot of credit for sticking with it till the end.

  • June 28, 2013 at 9:50 pmanon

    What a horrid adaptation!

    I can’t believe how they treated everyone. And having the Truiumphant Restorer ending after all that just makes it feel shallow.

    Though I personally prefer the Neutral endings. For those wondering. Yamato’s Metriocracy? It’s NOT something that they have to stop. It’s just the Chaos Route. Chaos is associated with power, but the writers forget it’s also associated with individuality!

    Watch the ending

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4bXM_-OdAA#t=05m03s

    Yeah if you don’t contribute anything you’re screwed (as even the doctor who said she dislikes fighting pretty much told the guy who did nothing but hide out during a battle to go kill himself)

    we do have some positives

    *The commander is fired upon another soldier’s promotion, due to him getting numerous soldiers irresponsibly killed, and the only reason he even got the position was because of his family’s influence. Shortcuts Like money and family influence won’t work anymore, you have to work hard to EARN your position.
    *Finally, things like race, age, gender, sexual orientation, etc. are no longer an issue, even a little kid is able to lead an army!

    This was just a bad anime. Only really made to promote the 3DS remake, which I recommend getting instead of this.

    The Dangan Ronpa anime is only made to promote the Vita remakes of Both DR games, since both were japan only, I would love for the Vita remakes to come overseas. I”d play it. I’ve never played them so going into the anime will be a problem for me.

    • June 28, 2013 at 9:51 pmanon

    • June 28, 2013 at 10:06 pmTheVoid

      That guy is trying to use his position and connections to get what he wants, instead of contributing to society. It’s no surprise that he’d be treated like dirt.

      Law and Chaos are fluctuating things and vary between games. The anime even had Yamato summon Satan, a representative of Law even when he’s Chaos aligned, while Hibiki gets Lucifer, who sponsors Freedom and Free Will, which is what Chaos is SUPPOSED to be about. Demons just go for the extreme and make it about power. Alcor’s ending fits what Chaos theme about Freedom much better.

  • June 28, 2013 at 10:33 pmAlitalis

    Part of the flaw in this adaptation may also have been the 13 episode limit. Given more time with a 24 episode limit, parts of the game could have been expanded more in this adaptation. Overall though I did enjoy this show. Anyone else find the Chibi Hibiki image used in Nicaea this episode really cute?

  • June 28, 2013 at 11:00 pmdatoneguy

    I swear, when i fused Metatron and Loki in the game, Lucifer looked nothing like that.
    http://images3.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20080926062736/megamitensei/images/d/db/KazumaKaneko-Lucifer.jpg

    • June 28, 2013 at 11:08 pmanon

      He didn’t. They used his Angel version instead of the Demon form in the game for Symbolism

  • June 28, 2013 at 11:03 pmtom

    • June 29, 2013 at 12:26 amfragb85

      There’s been worse from the franchise.

      *cough*

  • June 29, 2013 at 12:03 amKF

    That is Helel’s form not Lucifer. Yes, I know Helel and Lucifer are the same.

    TQ

  • June 29, 2013 at 12:24 amfragb85

    So ends Devil Survivor: “We didn’t give a f*** and neither should the audience!”

    For no apparent reason Hibiki now wants to save Yamato because suddenly he’s sympathetic. After 12 episodes of Yamato treating him like s*** and getting hundreds of people killed suddenly he consider him a friend. WHAT. THE. F***!?

    Then for all the pandering they tried for gaming fans and bringing out fusion it all culminates between two very high level demons……who basically do nothing but hug and explode. Thanks for nothing writers, you already skipped out the entire last boss in favor of awful philosophical dialogue between poorly written characters and you couldn’t even give us a decent spectacle of a battle from the best demons of the game.

    Then it all ends with its own version of the Triumphant Ending. An ending that’s supposed to be the hardest to get and represents how the characters overcome every trial and intend to keep moving on keeping the lessons they learned (at least subconsciously). Here its telling us that it doesn’t matter how incompetent you are in getting everyone killed and whining about it, everything will be all right in the end. Hooray.

    I’m quite baffled that anyone would think this a fun watch. Even for just casuals its just straddles from boring to “dazzle the audience with flashy demon battles”. In other words, they reduced DeSu 2 to the lowest common denominator in the worst way. That is something that should never happen with a franchise that thrives on moral grays, philosophy and characters.

    Then the mean-spirited killings. This is by far one the most creatively bankrupt method writers can do, made only for shock value. When Madoka Magica killed its characters it meant something and the audience cared. When this show did its because it has nothing better to do.

    I would have been willing to accept deviations of the story, it happens to every adaptation. I might have even forgiven the rushed feeling because the episode count is executively mandated. What I cannot accept is that it didn’t just utterly betray everything the game was supposed to be but it was also just an awful, poorly-written product on top of that. Its the anime version of M Night Shaylaman’s The Last Airbender.

    • August 7, 2013 at 9:54 pmgordon

      this is example they should just copied the game story, anime just went off its own story people say good or cool, umm no it was poorly done and ending was just puts bad taste in your mouth, basically recommend people don’t bother with train wreck of anime try run even ebay the game its far far better.

  • June 29, 2013 at 12:34 amlegwkio

    Alas, even the epic demon fusion scene at the first half wasn’t enough to save this ship that sunk at least three episodes ago.

    Random note: You know what would have been funny? What if when Yamato fused for Satan, he actually summoned Maou Sadao?

    • June 29, 2013 at 5:44 amDvalinn

      Yamato: Go forth, Overlord Satan! Use your katsu-duhm attack!

      • August 7, 2013 at 9:56 pmgordon

        satan sucks, lucifier ftw baby, plus theres better summons then satan, he should of called up a better guy.

  • June 29, 2013 at 2:38 amAndrew

    Loved it

  • June 29, 2013 at 2:47 amD-LaN

    It really isn’t tht hard to judge it on its own merit instead of constantly comparing abt it source material. This show won’t won any Best category, but its a (mostly) enjoyable show to watch during my Friday lunchtime. Could’ve been longer, but I enjoy myself nevertheless.

  • June 29, 2013 at 3:41 amNitro

    when i grow up, i want to deus ex machina my way into fame and fortune and plot resolutions

  • June 29, 2013 at 5:54 amDvalinn

    I thought this was a crappy adaptation, to be honest. I don’t mind deviations from the source material per se (I liked the coupling of Airi and Jungo, for one) but when said deviations cause the main character to be flanderized into a friendship-speech spouting incompetent dumbass and the moral greys develop into fighting Yamato the cartoon villain, then something went horribly wrong there. Even if you don’t compare it to its source material it’s lackluster, due to its shaky plot, underdeveloped characters, random killing of characters we thus don’t care about and cheap reset button ending.

    I mean, come on, the reset button ending has never been my favourite (I prefer AO, really) but at least they made you work for Triumphant. You had to unite everyone despite their differences, and with no casualties allowed, so it really meant something. Here? Everybody died and Hibiki just beats Yamato into submission, after which he is just basically handed a new world (without even fighting the freaking big bad). Yeah, how heroic. He sure earned that, huh?

    While the show did have a few good scenes, it leaves me rather pissed off at the end, and that’s never a good sign.

    • August 7, 2013 at 10:00 pmgordon

      what happens when its only 13 episodes, totally agree with u don’t understand the lame friendship development they did, in real life no one wouldn’t consider that loon a friend dudes is totally black & white, not grey in anyway EVIL, should kicked his ass earlier showed no remorse. Anime sucks hard, game all the way. Persona 4 anime was far better and it doesn’t hold candle to game

  • June 29, 2013 at 6:38 amSherylfan

    I feel terribly disappointed, but I’m seeing it from having played the games. Even if I look at it from a just anime perspective it’s not as interesting as others this season or last few for that matter, all around bland. Sucks because some of the animation was spectacular for the fights.

    I enjoyed the persona 4 adaptation leagues better then this. I do hope more SMT gets adapted, a strangest journey would be cool in anime form, but this series was very lackluster and probably churned out for the 3ds re-release.

  • June 29, 2013 at 8:06 amRandom

    The ending was like playing persona 2 ending everything went reset and everyone forgot everything expect MC

  • June 29, 2013 at 8:47 amThatGuy

    The source material of this anime is the latest Japanese manga. Proof? Read a few chapters at Mangapanda.

    • June 29, 2013 at 4:41 pmMoridin

      What? This is a video game by Atlus for the DS with a 3DS enhanced port coming out soon… I know I played the shit out of it.

      • June 30, 2013 at 2:50 amRasen

        I think what he means that in terms of the way the story progresses, like with what happened to Keita and the successful hacking of JPS, it matches up exactly with the manga.

  • June 29, 2013 at 11:19 amRockmanshii

    I’ll just say thanks for that full shot of Hinako.

  • June 29, 2013 at 4:44 pmMoridin

    I’ve found since watching Tales of the Abyss that full anime of video games just don’t work especially JRPG’s as there is just so much filler in video game to adapt it well is quite hard.

    Although if looking for a good video game to anime adaption check out Tales of Vesperia: The First Strike it serves as a prequel to the game (the PS3 Version specifically) so it avoids all the adaptation issues.

  • June 29, 2013 at 6:49 pmRasen

    I thought Persona 4 did an excellent job of animating the game….

    • June 30, 2013 at 1:22 amD-LaN

      Its one of the better one, tht I agree.

    • June 30, 2013 at 9:46 amHeeHo

      Several things helped in that regard, methinks:

      - Script.
      Low hanging fruit, I know. To be fair, the writer DID try to take a huge risk in making what is essentially his own AU fanfic interpretation of the game instead of P4′s more faithful adaptation.

      - More episodes.
      Kinda obvious, but DeSu2 might have fared better, had more episodes been planned. 24 would have given more time for character development and possibly even (gasp!) allow the audience to actually give a shit when/if someone dies. Hell, even
      Show Spoiler ▼

      from P4 was a huge punch to the heartgut for me, even though I already played the game and knew what would happen next.

      - Overall tone.
      I admit, the setting for DeSu2 is pretty grimdark to begin with compared to P4, but there were plenty of light-hearted moments and social link friendship building in the game to balance it out. The animation, however, dropped most of the light-heartedness (most likely due to time constraints), and it just comes across as being incredibly mean-spirited to me. Slapping on the Triumphant/Restorer ending after all that pretty much feels like an afterthought.

      All in all, I’ll be going into Danganronpa with no small amount of dread. Luckily, there’s only so much one could possibly do to deviate from the main plot… right? Right?

      Show Spoiler ▼

  • June 30, 2013 at 3:01 pmMagoiichi

    Soon as I heard the Demon Cathedral song I knew Demon Fusion was going to happen lol.

    I like the way this ended and the anime as a whole.

    Hopefully Dangaropa will be just as good or better.

    HinakoxMe4lyfe!

  • July 1, 2013 at 2:13 pmZzz…

    So instead of a actual finale we had half of a episode consisting of a girly slap fight punctuated with pointless faux philosophical discussion that began nowhere and ended nowhere. Climaxing in a incredibly awkward man hug that somehow magically answers the central conflict of the show???

    Then we had a series of vignettes resolving the personal issues of all the secondary characters most of which was never actually mentioned in the anime due to how rushed the it was in general and the dearth of characterization. So the entire 2nd half felt like one long pointless non sequiter.

    I have to disagree with you Asobi. This show had no redeeming value what so ever. It is the worst thing connected to the SMT franchise ever.

    • August 7, 2013 at 10:01 pmgordon

      complete insult to SMT name, basically slapped it in the face, well Atlus will be sold off they may stop making animes later anyways, just hope they get picked up by good company