A trickle today becomes a flood as the premieres come fast and furious, and this is the first of a veritable busload of sci-fi and mecha debuts (not including the pustulent Date A Live). My First Impressions posts are likewise going to be fast and furious for the next few days, by necessity – if there’s one thing this season has it’s quantity, and with school starting back up today and my usual resolve to cover the first ep of everything that was in the preview, the posts will be to-the-point. Unless I see something exceptional you’re on your own for stuff like OPs and EDs.
Devil Survivor 2 is a funny one for me. I’m a big fan of director Kishi Seiji and writer Uezu Makoto (Jinrui, Kamisama Dolls), but I felt that Persona 4 was one of the most depressingly inept and apathetic anime of recent vintage. The sense I got is that they really didn’t give a damn with that one – if they did, they sure swung and missed. I’ll admit to not being a huge fan of the concept behind Persona but I did go in really wanting to like that series, as I do with this one.
Sadly, I don’t – not so far anyway. I do like seeing so much that’s familiar – I’ll be heading to Shibuya in two hours in the same train (the Hanzomon Line) that derailed and “killed” the two heroes of this series. Hachiko is the normal meeting point whenever anyone gets together in Shibuya, and I’ve had coffee at that Starbucks in Tsutaya and stared down at Shibuya Crossing many a time. But there wasn’t a whole lot else in this premiere that worked for me. It wasn’t terrible – which was my immediate reaction to the Persona 4 premiere – but just kind of silly, without anything exceptional to recommend it.
I admit I tend to struggle when anime delivers a premise so absurd that it could only exist as a premise, like the idea behind Nicaea and the “death video” website and the demon war that springs from it. I just can’t connect to something so manufactured, though if the visuals or atmosphere or casting were exceptional that would be enough to keep me hooked. The visuals are average, the atmosphere is pretty standard and the casting is hindered by the ridiculous choice of Kamiya Hiroshi as MC Hibiki. I’m sorry, but he just sounds preposterous trying to do that squeaky teen boy voice these days (though he’s grandfathered in for Natsume) – why can’t anime get past the nonsense of casting 40 year-old men as 16 year-olds? Okamoto Nobuhiko is fine as Daichi and Uchida Aya as Io, but they’re really just delivering their standard performance. And that’s Devil Survivor 2 for me after one episode – standard. It feels wholly unexceptional in every way. Will it pick up from here? Sometimes game adaptations do, so I’ll give it a shot.