The Problem With Adaptations for Fans: Devil Survivor 2 – Episode 9

The Problem With Adaptations for Fans: Devil Survivor 2 - Episode 9

I was disappointed after watching the latest episode of Devil Survivor 2. How could they simplify the battle with Alioth down to literally 5 minutes of exposition. In the game, theres a massive battle with the beast that trumps any of the boss battles up until that point. In the show, he just merely falls atop a city and disappears into the hollows of the narrative. I’m not mad at the show. No, I’m angered by the circumstances wherein great source material gets slighted.

Anime is an expensive business. That’s why we see studios lean more towards adaptations rather than original intellectual properties. It’s safer that way. These franchises have established fan bases that they can tap into. If their show fails to attract the mass audience, it’s this fan base that’s a fail safe. They’re the ones that might still buy the Blu-Rays regardless of how terrible or niche the show is. It’s a way of hedging their bets and protecting their studio. I could go on to talk about how this practice is detrimental to the medium as a whole, but that’s a discussion for another time. Instead I want to look at why these adaptations sometimes fail because of the risks associated with producing a series.

For every frame that a studio produces, there needs to be an animator, a director, a writer, a voice actor, a colorist, an editor and an intern that needs to be paid. That’s not including the licensing fees, the benefits and the bills that need to be accounted for as well. When you begin adding all these items up, you can begin to see how costly a show can become. Its because of these expenses that studios need to consider how many episodes of a show they can green light.


Recently the trend has been to produce only a single cour, or eleven to thirteen episodes. It allows a series to be safely nestled into a single season, and lets the studio pursue other attractive projects for the following one. If a show is successful, a second season can be produced at a later time. If it fails, then it can just be lost to the sands of time. Sadly because of this, shows that often end on cliffhangers never get resolved because they weren’t profitable projects (Here’s looking at you Skip Beat!).

But what if the studio is working on something slightly niche. The risk on these shows is substantially higher, even though there is an established fanbase, they might reject the project. Show runners often go into a project like this with the mindset that they only have a single cour to tell their stories, regardless of how massive the source material is. It causes them to cut corners to try and stuff in a great narrative into clothes a bit to small for it. That’s when problems of pacing begin to arise, as script writers begin to cut corners all over the place to make sure the audience at least gets a gist of the story.

Often times because of all the cutting and pasting, important parts of the original materials get lost in translation, such as the action in Devil Survivor 2 or the deep character development in Gantz. At all moments these shows beg for a bit more time, time they won’t get.

It makes me wonder if we as an Anime audience are better off if these sort of adaptation don’t get made. Fans of the original franchise become deeply disappointed, while the uninitiated are left with a soggy experience akin to wet bread. It’s a lose-lose situation for everyone. Maybe studios should realize that if they’re not willing to go all in with a particular franchise, rather than scorning those that love it, they could try and create new shows to help create new audiences. I’m not one of those fancy corporate executives in a monkey suit, so what do I know, right? But until my prayers are answered I can just hope the last few episodes of Devil Survivor 2 make up for the nine episodes of mediocrity.

4 thoughts on “The Problem With Adaptations for Fans: Devil Survivor 2 – Episode 9

  1. I think the question of “Is it better if there’s no anime made at all?” is answered pretty convincingly with ‘no’. I think it’s pretty sour grapes to say that “Well, I didn’t like it, so it shouldn’t have been made” (I will hold out one caveat: Things that do not actually follow the source material, just capitalize on a name. There is no Starship Troopers movie).

    I think fans of a franchise overestimate the impact that an adaptation they don’t like has. You lament the lack of a huge battle with Alioth. I thought it was fine. Is more ‘battle’ better? Personally, I don’t like fighting much in anime, so I’d say no. You say yes. Our tastes differ. Perhaps I’d find the game to be pointless and dumb, and for me the anime is much better.

    But all that aside, the question is still “would it be better if the anime was never made?” If it’s never made, then there’s *never* the chance for a good adaptation. It doesn’t reach other audiences, it doesn’t have the chance to pull in other media (I know quite a few people who like the DeSu2 ED song, even though I’m not one of them). I don’t even find the argument that a bad adaptation prevents other good adaptations from being made, either with the same property or with different properties, that compelling. If the source material and the vision is compelling, then someone will want to take a chance on it.

    So I have to say that what you’re experiencing is the same kind of expectations mismatch that we get all the time. But that’s something that I think has to be traced back to the individual.

    • I think that’s an important thing to point out. At the end of the day this article can’t be objective considering that I a crazy fanboy for the franchise. I do find the ED exceptional, but hardly redeeming.

      My one problem with Desu 2, which I should have pointed out, is that many liberties are taken with the plot. They have put in some relationships between characters for convenience, while removed some that worked really well in the video game.

    • Some anime clearly shouldn’t have been made. Resources are incredibly limited in the anime industry and putting money and effort into projects that are bound to either fail or be lost to mediocrity is both wasteful and damaging to the reputation of the industry as a whole.

      That being said, I don’t think that Devil Survivor 2 falls into this category. While I might not consider it a good anime, I have to admit that there was at least the potential for it be good. We have to be careful when shutting down anime before they are even released because some shows that look awful at first glance do end up shining by the season finale.

  2. This post all the way. I’m really getting the feeling that Seiji Kishi must not really be a fan of the Shin Megami Tensei franchise, since this anime and Persona 4 were really not up to par. The latter excelled only in the original material where Kishi inserted his own sense of humour. When the anime tried to follow the plot, it was pretty bad. Here in DS2, there’s no time for that kind of playing around and the whole thing just comes off as rather soulless. It’s really a shame.

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