First Reactions: Devil Survivor 2 Episode 10

Colossalcon 2013 was beyond awesome. Thanks to everyone who came to one of our panels. We had a blast and learned all about why Kamen Rider and Idolm@ster have the best fanbases. Now back to your regularly scheduled anime blog!

I feel like the entire staff of AIC Plus ate some infected raw cookie dough or something about midway through episode 6’s production and didn’t get better before making the second half of this episode, because it was *such* a return to form for the biggest trio of bros in anime production.

Devil Survivor 2 really tries to get JPs to effectively the line between shadowy organization doing the right thing even though it’s tough and simple evil organization that happens to also fight demons. I think the problem with JPs as portrayed here is that they’re doing it too theatrically to be any kind of ambiguous. Characters are almost enthusiastic about turning Nitta into a straight-up human sacrifice. Sure, the mad scientist is always going to be crazy about their work, but Yamato was more of a jerk than usual this episode, and the girl who blindly follows his every order is the only other named member of the organization.

 DS2-10-1

All that’s missing is the evil laugh, really

Even worse, the music playing in the scene where Nitta was tethered up to the rack was evil organization music that was beyond cheesy, a pretty freaking terrible decision. Also one uncharacteristic of the ability of the man behind it. Sound Director Satoki Iida is part of the 3-man team that does basically everything for AIC Plus (the other two being Seiji Kishi and Makoto Uezu). Normally, each one is considerably better than this (to say nothing of the three as a trio). I’m increasingly firmly invested in the Dangan Redline theory; that Dangan Ronpa is stealing all the time that would have gone into DS2, ala Redline circa 2009. If it isn’t, well, it’s just kind of embarrassing for everyone involved.

More interestingly, this episode also came back to one of the better plotlines the show had basically abandoned to enable a series of mediocre boss fights in episodes 6-8; Hibiki being totally out of his emotional depth. The reality of Nitta’s possession hit him hard, seemingly forcing him to kill her body after watching her soul die. In this case, it led to denial that ended in a pretty awesome hero moment, rather than the somewhat overplayed mindbreak. Accompanied by a sweet piano insert song (welcome back, vintage Satoki Iida!) that played for 2 minutes before jamming itself into the end credits like DJ Shimamura at Colossalcon this weekend. Hell, if you told me everyone from AIC Plus just ordered some horrible takeout and got sick for like 5 weeks, I would be not at all shocked.

To top it off, the whole fight scene between him and Yamato this episode while he was protecting Lugh was really pretty flashily animated, delivering some wicked high energy. Not to mention the facial closeups were delivering some nice detailed body language during Hibiki’s hero moment.

DS2-10-2

Look at those sparks fly, man

Daichi attempting to punch Yamato was easily the former’s best scene of the show, putting him a bit more in the role of the glue guy who was able to express what everyone was thinking. The problem here is that we wasted a lot of time in the middle and there’s a limit to how much characterization can help in the endgame. In general, I feel like I’ve been watching a different, better executed show the past 2 weeks, like the makers finally got their head somewhat into the game. I wish I could just cut out the whole middle part of this show.

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