A while back I saw the anime adaption of one of the Devil Survivor games. Now it’s time to check out the manga for the very first Devil Survivor title. It’s a pretty intense series to be sure and adapts the content rather well. The plot also ties in perfectly well with the title because it really does feel like a full survival story even more than the anime plot. I like the idea of everyone being trapped as they get more and more desperate.
The series starts with Kazuya and his friends enjoying a normal day at Shibuya. However, the day is about to be anything but normal. Kazuya’s cousin Naoya shows up with some rather cryptic words about the day of reckoning coming close. He gives Kazuya, Yuzu, and Atsuro a mini computer each and walks away. Suddenly the city goes into lockdown and demons start flooding the streets. The heroes are able to summon demons out of their computers to defend themselves but it’s a dangerous gamble since the demons can also attack you if your heart isn’t strong enough.
The heroes needs to find the answers to a few question. Why is the lockdown in place and how do the heroes escape the city. Is the city the only place being attacked or is the whole world under siege? Does Naoya hold the answers and why is the government shooting anyone who attempts to leave the city? There are a lot of mysteries and not a whole lot of time to solve them. Additionally, a message is received each day which predicts the future. The future usually involves some deaths but maybe the heroes can defy destiny.
So there’s a lot to take in right off the bat. I definitely enjoyed the whole mystery angle quite a bit since we don’t really know anything so you’re going in blind the whole time. You find out the answers along with the characters but there is always a lot of tension since being stuck in a city with a bunch of powerful demons isn’t exactly the most peaceful thing in the world. Additionally, the people in the city are quickly becoming more and more corrupt which is only making things worse.
As the main character Kazuya is pretty solid. By the end I would even call him a great character because he really makes all of the right decisions. You can always count on him to step in and save the day as needed. He has a lot of determination to get to the bottom of things and tends to keep himself together more than the rest. Most of the other characters tend to panic or crack a little as things go on but Kazuya rarely even bats an eye. He also has more natural talent than the others which certainly comes in handy. Kazuya slowly improves more and more as the series progresses.
Then you have the main heroine Yuzu. She’s a nice character but in a way may have been the least ready to deal with this. Yuzu tends to get stressed out a lot and also ends up worrying for Kazuya quite a bit. At times the characters even talk about trying to keep up a strong front when around her so as not to make her worry even more. She really needed a powerful monster to help her out which would have also made her braver.
Atsuro is the tech guy which does come in handy here since he may be able to crack Naoya’s computer codes and figure out what’s going on here. Naoya’s always been impressively difficult to defeat in anything but Atsuro won’t give up. Atsuro does encounter a lot of difficult emotional obstacles during the series though since he takes it pretty hard when other characters fall away.
Midori is a character who always believes in the goodness inside people’s hearts. As a result she uses her demon partner to fight off the evil ones and protect as many people as possible. The problem is with the demons attacking everyone, the tamers aren’t trusted a whole lot as it is. The main characters even warn Midori about how things are going to get a little dicey since one of the predictions said that she will be murdered by humans going forward. Midori is not someone who listens to such things all that much and ultimately can’t risk anyone getting hurt.
That said, I do think she didn’t look great in the final scenes. I always think you have to do things within reason. So she wants to be a great hero who always protects the humans? Fine that’s great, but you also have to defend yourself. Where you draw the line is when they’re attacking you but you still stand down. Her demon partner Jack Frost could have handled those guys but she told him not to fight back. It’s hard to applaud her as being super just and unwavering when she is being unrealistic like that. You do have a right to defend yourself after all and if anything it’s something you absolutely need to do since now there will be people that aren’t saved since she isn’t there.
Keisuke is another pretty interesting character. He’s very timid and isn’t as gung ho as the other characters. That said, the demon world absolutely takes its toll on him and he becomes a bit more extreme. A character who believes in absolute justice and punishes anyone who opposes him. The issue with this is of course the cycle of violence. Even the worst criminals have some allies somewhere and as they all line up to fight Keisuke, this eventually includes heroes as well.
It’s a rather difficult thing about trying to enact such measures when the whole city is in lockdown. It’s not like you can arrest any criminals but of course destroying them takes away any moral high ground you might have had. Ultimately this puts Keisuke at odds with the other characters. I thought his character was handled really well though.
Then you have Kaido who’s on the other side. He was a part of a gang but he always tells the characters they have to do things the right way. They’re not going to be a mob that goes around murdering everyone. Unfortunately his gang wasn’t full of the nicest guys in the first place so once they were all lined up in a tricky spot then things ended up getting messy. It’s always rough when you are allies with a villain because you may feel honor bound to avenge them but then are you going to even take on the good guys? Kaido is a man who evens up all his debts so it doesn’t matter what side you’re on.
Ultimately he was my favorite character in the series. There is no defending what his gang did though so it was hard to be with him on that one but of course he probably figures that the whole gang shouldn’t pay for one member’s demise which makes sense. It’s just too bad he wasn’t a part of a better group.
Yoshino is a singer whose songs are able to summon demons. It’s not exactly an ability you want to have when the demons are always around just waiting to spring into action. It also attracts a lot of unwanted attention which puts her in a tough spot. She’s a solid character but she probably should have stopped singing a lot earlier than when she actually did put this on pause. The bartender Gin does his best to assist her as needed too. He’s reasonably tough with his demon although his role is pretty small.
Mari is a local teacher who is possessed by an angel. Hey, if there are demons around then why not angels right? Unfortunately there is also a demon trying to take her over so her psyche is quite busy. She’s an interesting character to be sure as she has ties to just about every character in the series. she may not usually be a big fighter but she is useful in finding out more about what happened.
Amane is one of the chief members of a religious organization founded by Kuzuryu as they try to liberate the city from the demons. While that all sounds good, the organization is quite distorted. Amane uses her demon to help people out and convert them to the group but of course that isn’t necessarily a good thing. She’s definitely a quality character who is doing her best throughout all of this but it’s not like she has a ton of options. Additionally, Amane is constantly fighting with an angel/demon who her thoughts aren’t always her own. Her character arc has a good conclusion.
Kuzuryu is definitely crazy but he did a good job of building his organization up. Effectively he chooses to sacrifice his soul to the demons so they can wipe out the humans and angels. Definitely a bold play but it’s not like he’ll be around to see it even if it would work. So probably not the most satisfying plan out there.
Finally we have Naoya who is a very mysterious figure in the series. He’s fun and reminds me a lot of the brother in Spiral. This guy is always one step ahead of all the other characters in the series and clearly has big plans for everyone. He doesn’t appear much until the final volumes but still has a big influence the whole time.
The art for the series is really good although it can also be chaotic. It’s the kind of manga that takes you a bit longer to read than the average volume because you have to spend some time deciphering the panels. Still, it’s worth doing as the attacks are fun to watch. As the characters are based on famous myths and such you may even recognize all of the demons. It’s fun when you know who they’re talking about but if not, the series gives most of the notable demons a write up between chapters so you can learn about them.
Now based on the atmosphere of the series and with the demons around you may be surprised that there’s less of a body count than you might think. Personally I actually thought a few more characters were going to die along the way. I wonder if they died in the game or if it was more or less the same. I know there are quite a few different ways to end Devil Survivor after all. A lot of side characters still die of course like the poor old lady and other people running around. Either way the city certainly wasn’t save.
Now it’s time for some spoiler territory to talk about the climax of the series and a little more about the battles. If you haven’t read the series yet you can skip to the final paragraph since we’ve pretty much wrapped up all of the non spoiler items. If you like the concept then this is definitely a good one to pick up. All right, so lets talk about what the actual situation is then.
The Angels have enclosed the city supposedly on orders from their god that humanity needs to be tested. They allowed the demons to run rampant here and are giving the citizens 7 days to eradicate all of the demons. The governments have decided to take this place out entirely with some bombs if needed but the main characters will be given some time to clear things out before such drastic steps are needed.
Kazuya was chosen to participate in a tournament of sorts since he possesses one part of a legendary demon. Whoever gains all of the parts will have power comparable to the god and can potentially rewrite the universe. Kazuya isn’t thrilled about this but doesn’t really have a way out. Additionally, it turns out that Kazuya is the reincarnation of Abel while Naoya is actual Cain from the original days of humanity. Naoya was cursed to forever reincarnate along with Abel and now he wants to dethrone the current status quo as a result.
You can actually see why Naoya is frustrated because the angels are presented as being absolutely evil the whole time. They want to murder the humans just for kicks pretty much and don’t really seem to be helping anyone. The angels and demons are really presented as just being two sides of the same coin. It’s definitely a rather different interpretation of them to be sure. Neither side is really Kazuya’s ally so he has to be careful.
A lot of interesting angles here to be sure. Loki even steps in as part of the demon side while Kazuya summons Cu, the legendary spearman of legend who is a main character in most of the Fate titles. It’s part of what makes the title so ambitious. There is just so much happening in the city at all times as the heroes fend off the demons and now have to worry about the angels as well. It certainly gets really high tier by the end since Kazuya effectively becomes a god as well.
The ending was also very satisfying. There’s a lot of ways this could go after all but the route it choose was really satisfying. Not only is there some sequel bait but Kazuya really got to dictate his terms. A lot of times you have to accept a rather bittersweet ending as the main character couldn’t get things the way that he wanted them but this time it did work out at least for now. It may be hard to believe how the whole incident seems to have been swept aside but that’s just how it goes I suppose.
Overall, Devil Survivor was a very interesting series. It dabbled with a lot of cool concepts and the idea of everyone effectively being locked in a cage as they try to survive was executed very well. It’s easy to see how the franchise has gotten so big since the suspense is very impressive. It’s also easy to replicate this in sequels with different circumstances just due to the nature of the series. Either way if you like a good action title with a lot of tension and thriller aspects along with some undertones of horror then this is the title for you.