So we've finally come to the end of one of the most painful animes I've watched, and I sadly don't mean that in a good way. If you haven't guessed already I'll be talking about the anime, where and how things went wrong as well as a few other thoughts I've had.
So to be blunt Devil Survivor 2: The Animation if bad. It's the worst kind of bad too. The kind where it wasn't just mess it was the fact that there was so much wasted potential. It was directed by the same person who did the Persona 4: The Animation, so you would think that it was in good hands, but in every way that Persona 4 translated well into an anime, Devil Survivor 2 fails miserably.
Now one of the main issues, and I'll say this outright, is that this series simply didn't have enough time. It had 13 episodes, each about 24 minutes long, you can do the math and that sure doesn't add up to a whole lot of time to tell such an expansive story. And Devil Survivor 2 is expansive, being about 30 hours in length. So right out of the gate The Animation falls right at the start with two broken kneecaps, but it's all about how they tell the story that matters right? Well they managed to make an absolute mess of that too.
Another problem is that The Animation can't seem to decide on a tone. It seems to be going for incredibly serious most of the time, but it randomly decides to pull a complete 180 at the worst possible times to inject comic relief, which is also one of the worst continuous I've seen in a while. Daichi being weak and having weak demons is pulled out a minimum of 3 times, each time fitting in as well as a square peg into a circular hole. This wouldn't be such an issue if The Animation didn't try to pull off such a bleak and hopeless atmosphere, which it does anyway, regardless of it fits or not.
Devil Survivor 2 is extremely character driven. While there certainly is a a plot outside of that, the real story is told through the struggles of a wide variety of people trying to survive in some rather extreme situations. The Animation successfully captures essentially none of that. Characters are introduced, then either discarded for entire episodes or simply killed off. Any characterization that does occur is almost always comically late and lacking in any detail that makes the characters more relatable. Devil Survivor 2 has some of the best character arcs I've seen in a game. You have characters like Joe, a carefree slacker who's easy lifestyle eventually costs him his girlfriends life. Entire arcs like this are converted to brief 5 second cameos that haven't a hope at managing to capture what makes the characters interesting.
Perhaps the thing about the characters is the personality prescribed to Hibiki, the main character. In the game you simply made his choices and choose what he would say, but that obviously wouldn't work in an anime so of course they would have to define his character. It's a shame that they pretty much choose the most boring, clichéd and overused personality the could think of. There is absolutely nothing interesting about his character, which is made all the more irritating with how it goes about showcasing it.
Then there's his relationship with the main antagonist, Yamato. He worked well in the game because he wasn't all powerful, while he did have his own goes, in the end he was just trying to survive like everyone else. That's all sadly stripped away and he is instead made into some sort of omnipotent demi-god that only Hibiki can oppose. Yamato's relationship with the Anguished One is also a time consuming waste, as it tries to make us feel pathos for Yamato, while in the next scenes he's practically killing kittens for how much we feel sorry for him.
Demon battles are also both weirdly underused, and shockingly unpolished. Person 4: The Animation's battles may not have blown anyone away, but at the very least they functioned, which sadly can't be said about Devil Survivor 2: The Animation's. The battles either drag on for far too long while doing far too little, or they're cut into boring segments that do a horrible job at conveying what's going on. I'll use the Mizar fight as an example. In the game it's probably one of the coolest battles, you fight a giant regenerating blob on a dragon which is entwined around two high rise buildings. In the show the entire battle is literally wrapped up in less then a minute with no one so much as summoning a demon to fight it.
The game also features a great soundtrack, which is almost entirely left out of The Animation. Instead we got some rather bland orchestral pieces, while songs that would have fit it perfectly, like Break Out, get left by the wayside.
So in closing Devil Survivor 2: The Animation is a disappointing mess that I can't recommend to anyone. So here's my personal plea; play the game. I don't think I can articulate how much better it is, and I'm sure I sound like a broken record, because I've written about the game before, but it really is an amazing experience.