After a mysterious email accurately predicts several disasters befalling Tokyo, Kazuya Minegishi and his friends find the city infested with dangerous and violent demons. To survive they’ll have to get the demons fighting on their side in this adaption of Atlus’ hit video game Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor.

Good Morning.
Here is today’s news:

1. At around 16:00, a man will be killed in an Aoyama, Shibuya-ku apartment. The wounds on the corpse will be consistent with an attack by a large carnivorous beast.

2. A large explosion will occur in Aoyama, Minato-ku at 19:00. The cause is unknown.

3. At 21:00, a blackout will affect the entire Tokyo Metropolitan Area.

Have a nice day.

Kazuya was supposed to spend a relaxing day in downtown Shibuya with his cousin Naoya and his friends Atsuro and Yuzu, but instead of showing up, Naoya gives them mysteriously modded gaming devices called “Comps”. On these devices is a mysterious email from “LaPlace” predicting a variety of calamities which will occur later that day. The group shrugs off these emails but soon realize that Tokyo has been infested with demons who threaten to take over the city. As more and more of LaPlace’s predictions come true, Kazuya and his friends must use their comps to forge contracts with demons in order to fight back and discover the root of this mysterious event.

Fans of the Shin Megami Tensei series and the Devil Survivor sub-series will find plenty to like here. Fans of the game will enjoy this adaption, but this volume is a perfectly suitable introduction for fans of action and fantasy who aren’t familiar with the series.

Devil Survivor Vol. 1 is a satisfying adaption that both fans of the series as well as the uninitiated will enjoy thanks to its interesting premise and great action. The series wastes no time getting going, immediately introducing the mysterious circumstances that Kazuya and his friends face after receiving their comps. Without fail, this leads them into several encounters that force the group to figure out how to fight back by contracting with demons. The storyline held my attention thanks to the sense of mystery the entire situation creates, but I felt that characterization was a little bit thinner than I would have liked. While it is understandable that Kazuya’s personality is bland on the whole because he was a silent protagonist in the game, I would have liked if he was provided with greater depth of character to drive the story more. The rest of the characters don’t really rise beyond being one dimensional and they quickly take a back seat to the action.

The series makes no attempt to hide that it’s an adaption but introduces the mechanics of the world in a smooth and unobtrusive manner that avoids the type of blatant exposition similar series fall into. This was a strong point as this was layered in as the characters attempting to figure out themselves how everything worked, never breaking my immersion thanks to this avoidance of copious exposition. These scenes introduced some tension as Kazuya attempted learn to negotiate with demons with the first time, capturing the feel of the video game well by creating an experience that players of the game will certainly be able to relate to.

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While the storyline itself takes some time to really pick up steam, the second half of the book is excellent as Kazuya and his friends desparately battle to survive the initial attacks in the city. This eventually culminates in a thrilling final chapter packed with action as the group takes on a wildly powerful demon. This was the strongest part of the book and a great climax as it brought together the mechanics of the series in a way that provided an exciting and fitting finish.

The art throughout the book adapts the game’s character designs cleanly and effectively, conveying the action in an efficient manner. Some of the demon designs are a little bit on the simplistic side (yes Ogre, I mean you) compared to general art style on display here but this didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the art at all. The true highlight is the final chapter which really goes up to another level and I really liked that mangaka Satoru Matsuba was able to make the battle exciting thanks to his deft paneling and added detail.

Devil Survivor Vol. 1 is an exciting and well-executed beginning to the series which will feel instantly familiar to fans of Shin Megami Tensei. I enjoyed how well the series captured the feel of the game while remaining accessible for newcomers without sacrificing its pacing. The characters are not the strongest by any means but the action provided more than makes up for it and I’ll be excited to see where this series goes as the mystery grows deeper.

What do our scores mean?

Devil Survivor Vol. 1 was published by Kodansha Comics USA on September 22nd, 2015 and covers chapters 1-5 of the series. Authored by Satoru Matsuba and based on the original game by Atlus, the series is currently ongoing in Kodansha’s Shonen Sirius magazine. Volume 2 is scheduled to be released in English on November 17th, 2015.

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*Copy provided for Taykobon by publisher.
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