Devil’s Survivor is a manga adaptation from the Shin Megami game of the same name. It focuses on a group of teenage friends Kazuya, Yuzu and Atsuro who like to hang out and do cool stuff. They receive a message from “Laplace”, a news site that delivers news update on what is going to happen in the future, with 100 percent accuracy. According to the details in the future news, someone is going to die every hour. The friends just ignore the Laplace news and discard it as spam. However, after a neighbour of Kazuya suffers a grisly death, they decide to pay closer attention to Laplace news updates.
Mass panic insures when demons start invading and the military seems incapable of defeating the demonic menace. The corrupt government of Japan puts the city in lockdown and no one can leave. The military has a shoot on sight policy for anyone that breaks the curfew.
Kazuya and his friends have a comp, a portable gaming console with the capabilities of a smartphone. They use it as a gaming console modeled off the 3DS and also as like a smartphone. They find out that the comp is also used to communicate with the demons and also to form contracts with them to be allies. They have to stop the demon invasion and find out the reason for this.
The demon invasion is being led by Metatron, a godlike being. If humanity survives the test, they will be free but if they fail, they will be enslaved forever. Forming alliances with the demons or angels can have unexpected consequences. Not every demon they encounter is willing to be an ally.
The first part of plot takes a while to start up but the pace picks up and then there is no time to relax. Almost immediately, things start to move along and Kazuya and his friends team up with other party members like Gin, a bar owner and Mari, the friends school teacher from middle school. The teens and their allies spend all their time frantically going from place to place looking for survivors, resources and fighting demons while trying to survive the lockdown.
The manga has the characters figuring things out for themselves and learning how things happen as they go along in a natural pace rather than overtly explaining how things work. The manga is also fairly long but can be completed in a week just like the game.
The sense of mystery behind the lockdown is really the highlight of the Devil Survivor series as each day, the teenage team is one step closer to finding the truth and everything is revealed bit by bit instead unfolding all at once.
The cast is not as big as in many Shin Megami games, it is more on par with The World Ends With You where the focus is on the main cast and not switching back and forth to the supporting characters. There is also more backstory in the book that sheds light on many of the events in the game. It is not as gory as the mainline series especially in games like Nocturne or the Digital Devil Saga. The manga is more oriented to younger audiences save for the ghastly opening where a demon mutilates and cannibalizes its victim. Dead bodies on the street appear a lot in the book. There is a lot of chaos, action and anarchy as the story goes on and anybody can die at any time.
The characters here are portrayed as the stereotypical Shonen teenagers seen in any other action oriented manga. Despite knowing the main characters are going to win, there are still moments of suspense and drama.
There was not much in the way of character development. Kazuya was pretty even though he was the silent protagonist and had a more multilayered personality based on the choices of the player. Kazuya was more talkative and more outspoken in contrast to his quiet and reserved counterpart in the game. He just went the flow and did as he was told.
Gin was quite similar to Mr. H from The World Ends With You. Yuzu was really similar to Shiki from the World Ends With You and she frequently got herself into dangerous situations. Yuzu was really annoying and her damsel in distress act was a distraction from the main focus of the story. A lot of the characters are impulsive and put themselves in great danger without thinking. Despite the flat characters, there is really great dialogue and instances of dark comedy.
The story was pretty linear in contrast to the non linear style of the original and this feels more of a Shonen action series then a Shin Megami adaptation. There were large amounts of Shonen elements in it making it feel cliched and predictable at times. If not for the Shin Megami elements in it, this could have been really another run of the mill manga.
The demons are the same ones seen in all the other Shin Megami games and the splash pages also provide background to what they are and their backstory with all of the main points conveyed in a simple explanation so it won’t take up space. It also describes what the demon abilities are and how the characters use the contracts they have to fight enemies in the story and it shows that not every demon is the same and they all have their own personality and moral codes. There can be demons who are kind and see humans as equals and angels that are nothing but monsters and uses “the law of god” as a way to torture humans.
I really like the new art style as it was nicely detailed and this was done by the DuraDura artist who also created the character designs of the original game. The character designs were really great too and it fits the urban atmosphere and design of the spin off. The expressions and overall design were very faithful to the original game. The locations and background designs were superbly executed and the atmosphere of the story was just as intense and scary as the original games even with its Shonen format. The ending also felt the same like the World Ends With You where they all meet up and everyone lives happily ever after. But before that, the final part where Kazuya becomes the king of demons and challenges god is really intense and pretty good.
The story felt complete and it has much of the themes established in Shin Megami Tensai but was more condensed. Like religious motifs, especially the story of Cain and Abel, this was more of a good vs evil kind of story. Its main focus is on what would people do during the apocalypse and the struggles of humanity during the end of times.
This is heavily inspired from the book of revelations and the Cain and Abel symbolism was incorporated into the theme of the story. The government covering up everything that has happened was beyond ridiculous as many lives were lost during the 7-day lockdown and also people living their lives as normal did not really make much sense as there is no way life can ever be the same after all the destruction.
Mass hallucination led people to believe that demons were invading and the government covers up this detail. It appears that the Japanese government is involved in various shady dealings and in the occult. This is the first time I have read a manga in order to familiarize myself with an upcoming game I plan to play. I really enjoyed the manga and found it quite entertaining.
It gets 4 stars out of 5.
Devil Survivor is certainly better than The World Ends With You Manga adaptation and I actually plan on getting this game later this year. Maybe it is because of the format the characters appear flat and without much personalities in contrast to the game. Keep in mind this story is meant mainly for Shin Megami Tensai fans and for Devil Survivor fans but newcomers will find it enjoyable and easy to follow.