Halftime Review: Devil Survivor 2 The Animation

It’s the middle of may which means the anime spring season is in its half. Many shows are entering their second half and Devil Survivor 2 The Animation is one of them. Sadly, not all of those shows developed well in their first six episodes. And again Devil Survivor 2 The Animation is one of them.

 

Devil Survivor 2

I remember when I praised that show for being like a “more mature” version of Pokémon and Digimon. I was so wrong… it’s more like a smartphone app that came to life with all the negative sides of a smartphone app. And that probably did not make any sense at all.

After watching six episodes of that 13 episode anime I came to the conclusion that I will not continue to watch Devil Survivor 2 simply because it bores me. Why? Well, there are many reasons.

First off: The story. It seems they wanted to pack all the cliches they could find into that one show, be it the oncoming end of the world, battles against giant aliens, children protagonists in a battle that should be fought by adults and so on. Even the antagonists which are aliens look like modified versions of the Angels from Neon Genesis Evangelion and just like them, they appear out of nowhere and start destryoing things. There is pretty much nothing original or smart in this show, it’s very easy to predict what is going to happen next and then exactly that happens. This got to a point at which I even stopped caring about what is going to happen because there was no excitement.

Then there are the characters. Again that cliche thing. You have your main protagonist, Hibiki Kuze who gains a power greater than everything he’s seen so far and stronger than those of his friends and he decides to use this power to protect anybody. He also tries to get away so they aren’t endangered even more and this has happened so many times… There aren’t even real motivations for Hibiki, he just runs away from his friends thinking he can protect them this way. Daichi Shijima makes use of the cliche of the guy who gets a super power but it’s pretty weak and he wants to become stronger. Stronger so he can be useful and help the others. Sadly he’s very obnoxious. And to complete the circle of average protagonists we have Sakura, I mean, Io Nitta. She’s useless. I don’t know why she’s even there. Anything she did so far could easily be done by other characters and she in herself isn’t significant in any way.

Despite the major flaws there is one upside to this show and that is the animation. It looks really good and the studio did a great job on the demons and fighting scenes but that alone doesn’t help the anime overall. Another issue I had was with the voice over for Hibiki (or all the characters, I don’t really remember). His lips move for over half a second in silence before his voice actor, Hiroshi Kamiya, starts speaking. If you don’t pay attention you might not realise it but as soon as you do, you can’t get rid of that fact. I don’t know what happened there because Kamiya is usually a good seyuu for example as Otonashi in Angel Beats, Koyomi Araragi in the Monogatari series or Izaya Orihara in Durarara!!.

After about the 4th episode the anime felt more like work than enjoyment. “I have to get through this now otherwise it will stack up and I’ll never going to watch it…” is never a good sign when you start thinking like that.
While the videogame might be very good and enjoyable the anime is not and it’s probably not getting better in the second half of its run. It’s not worth your time and there are many shows way better than that which use the same concept. You could go watch Neon Genesis Evangelion or if you not into sci-fi there is always Shadow Star Narutaru. Even Pokémon and Digimon did better jobs with their anime adaptions. That being said, there are many alternatives to Devil Survivor 2 The Animation and you would be far better off to choose one of them instead of this. Thank you for your time.

Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo Review!

Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo. Oh yes, Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo! Or in English “The Pet girl of Sakurasou”. I had no intention of ever watching this show if it weren’t for a friend of mine who was in love with it. When the anime hit its 17th episode I started watching it, thinking until I caught up to episode 17 the anime would already be over… boy, was I wrong. I caught up to episode 17 in three days. Today I hold this anime very dearly to my heart because it touched me emotionally on multiple levels and it even made me cry. Yes, Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo is one of the three animes (and entertainment mediums overall) that has made me “cry”. The other two being Pokémon (the episode Ash let Butterfree go. Admit it you cried too) and the second Rebuild of Evangelion movie. Funny thing is you could count Sakurasou and Evangelion as one because of the very specific reason I “cried”. Enough about me though.

Sakurasou-no-Pet-na-Kanojo

Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo is a 24 episode anime produced by J.C. Staff and directed by Atsuko Ishizua. Until then Ishizuka only directed several episodes for Aoi Bungaku Series and Supernatural: The Animation which are both Madhouse Studio shows. Sakurasou was therefore her first full project as a director and completely different from her previous works. With that in mind Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo can easily count as her masterpiece and will probably not be overshadowed by anything by her any time soon. The anime is an adaption of the Light Novel of the same name which is not yet finished by the way.

In the beginning of the first episode we get to see Kanda Sorata in school being bored by everything in the world (a bit like Light in Death Note) until he wakes up at home because one of his cats stuck its butt in his head. Not the best way to wake up. And if it couldn’t be worse he’s not the only one to in his own personal one-bed-room. Kamiigusa Misaki, a very hyperactive and a bit perverted girl (or alien as Sorata likes to call her) who cannot ever shut up slept over. Again. Pretty soon we’ll find out that Misaki is not the only crazy person in Kandas life. The whole house he lives in consists only of so called ‘problem students’ and this is what Sakurasou is.
Sakurasou – the place where all the special students move to because they couldn’t live in the normal dorms. They and Sorata. He had to move there for a different reason which is his habit of picking up cats.

Cats

Sakurasou no pet na neko?

As a totally normal guy living with those problem students is hell for Sorata and all he wants to do is move out as quickly as possible. This all changes when Shiina Mashiro appears!

Shiina Mashiro

Tadaaaaaa!

Mashiro is the cousin of the teacher who runs Sakurasou and just moved to Japan from England. Needless to say she is also quite special. She can do nothing on her own and I mean almost absolutely nothing. She can’t even change her clothes without the help of Sorata who is pretty quickly forced to Mashiro-Duty, meaning he has to take full care of her. This leads to many funny, easily misunderstandable by outside people, situations which embarass Sorata most of the time while Mashiro doesn’t even realize why the situation is strange at all.

naked

Well, in her defense, she just woke up…

The characters are where the anime really shines. The residents of Sakurasou may be called ‘problem students’ but in reality they are all some kind of geniuses. Misaki already animated full anime shows that made her incredibly rich. Mitaka Jin, who writes the storyboards to Misakis animations is not that of a genius but he’s great at picking up women, and Akasaka Ryuunosuke, a complete shut-in who almost never leaves his room hates women and mainly communicates via a maid-program that he wrote himself, is a programming genius. They as well as Sorata and Mashiro make a very varied and wonderful cast that you can’t get bored with. All of them have their own stories, habits and perks that make you love them even more. This goes from Mashiro believing in the power of the pantsu to Ryuunosuke who trusts tomatoes more than people. Later on ‘normal student’ and friend of Sorata, Aoyama Nanami, joins the main cast and makes a great addition to them just by being relatively normal opposed to all the other shining personalities.

Aoyama

As the slice of life anime this show is, we follow the residents of Sakurasou through their everyday life in high school and beyond. We get to explore why they ended up in Sakurasou and became the way they are now and become to be at the end of the anime. The interactions between the characters is fantastic and you easily feel connected with them. What makes it stand out from other slice of life animes might be the one question that Sorata is confronted more than once. What are we actually doing with our lifes? Are the normal people only there to play catch-up with the geniuses only to fail? Why is life so unfair that some people have to work so hard when others are good at something without even trying and what differentiates normals from geniuses? The anime takes on these questions very well and you can relate to both sides even if you consider yourself either a ‘genius’ or a normal person.

On the technical sides of things the anime is well animated, the characters and backgrounds look pretty good and especially Mashiro has something special to her. I know people who started watching it only because they liked how Mashiro looked (it was also one of the reasons for me to watch it). All the voice actors did a great job. They brought so much life to the characters with no exceptions. Though, I want to point out Ai Kayano who voiced *surprise surprise* Mashiro. Her performance was outstanding in the emotional and dull parts both and the ones where Mashiro gets to talk more. They couldn’t have chosen a better voice actor for her role.
The openings and endings were okay. Nothing too special and rather common for this kind of anime but they fit the series. Same goes for the soundtrack. It fits but nothing really stands out.

All in all Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo is a fantastic anime that can capture your heart quickly and won’t let you go until you finished it. There were only some little things that could probably be done better but hey, nothing is perfect. I recommend it to anyone who likes slice of life animes and even to people who don’t usually watch this kind of show. I’m one of those people normally and you can see how much I love Sakurasou. Watch it. It’s good!

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Sidenote + SPOILERS for EVANGELION and SAKURASOU:

The very reason I “cried” while watching Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo. I somehow feel the need to explain.

In episode 24 the graduation ceremony takes place which is really emotional as it is, even though the main cast gets kicked out for almost causing a riot. Later on a piano can be heared playing a song that is normally played at graduation ceremonies of elementary schools and they all sing along. This song, called Kyou no Hi wa Sayounara, can also be heared in the Rebuild of Evangelion 2.22 movie in the scene where Asuka almost gets killed by the dummy-plug. The brutality in this scene underlined by a song sung by children really struck a chord with me. The whole scene was so gruesome, sad and emotional, I shed a tear. If it weren’t for the song I wouldn’t have but soundtrack can have such a huge impact on a scene. Then, when I heard the exact same song in Sakurasou but this time they were all happy and relieved I myself couldn’t take it. In my head I associated this song with the brutality of Asuka almost being murdered yet I saw the main cast of Sakurasou singing along to it happily. Too many emotions for me! And I am normally not a very emotional person but let me listen to this song I will always react.
Getting this off of my chest felt really good.