Monday, 30 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 30 (Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei)

One last song and dance before the finale, kids! We've got a doozy of a secret origin here, as these are the roots of a long-running series. Shin Megami Tensei and its various branches are a hell of a thing, and this year I completed two of them. The first, Persona 4 Golden, was a complete masterpiece and I wrote 5000 words about it. It is almost assuredly the second-best, if not best, video computer game I played this year. The second game, on the other hand, was the original. Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei. Well, the Super Famicom remake, but who's counting? I didn't really write about it, though I likely could have. Good thing I didn't, because now I can do this. That first game was actually a loose adaptation of a series of horror novels... and the first of those novels was actually turned into a Japanese OVA. It was watching that which got me to play Megami Tensei the first, and now I've returned to waffle about it for a few hundred words as one of the closers of our marathon. Dig in, kids. We're going into one hell of a world here.

Our protagonist (so to speak), Akemi Nakajima, is plagued by dreams and visions. Himself in a dim dark cave, an undead specter of a woman chasing him as he flees. In the reality of 1987, a new transfer student arrives in his class and I end up being the one who's goddamned haunted. Our dark-haired transfer girl, Shirasagi Yumiko, opens her mouth and... I know that voice. I'd know that voice anywhere. It's Yuri! From Dirty Pair! That cool space 80's girl I won't ever shut up about! Yes, Japanese voice actress Saeko Shimazu lends her talents to both Yuri and Yumiko. If that wasn't enough to make me like this girl, Nakajima's a shitheel to her and warns her not to get involved with him. Friendly warning, as Nakajima is up to some bullshit... and by bullshit I mean summoning demons using the power of 1987 computers. I recall that the book goes into how the hell this is all possible and it's really crunchy techno-occultist shit... but in the anime it just works somehow. 64K ain't quite enough to manifest a demon, but we can tap into enough of the trickster god Loki's power to let him fuck one of the teachers. Yeah. That happens. Then all holy hell breaks loose and Nakajima plans to sacrifice Yumiko so we can get Loki properly summoned. His motivation? Power. This one girl student hit on him and then had her boyfriend beat the shit out of him when he turned her down, and so Nakajima learned to summon demonic power and hypnotized the rest of his computer class to basically kill them. This is our PROTAGONIST? Well, shit goes bad in the ritual and pink slime starts enveloping all his hypnotized student pals and constricting them to make lots of blood come out. It's some gnarly bullshit, and it's the most Halloween-ish this show gets. Here's where Nakajima has his change of heart and tries to kill Loki... because killing is wrong now, I guess. All looks lost but then, SURPRISE! Those dreams and visions Nakajima has been having are of Izanagi and Izanami, because Nakajima and Yumiko are their reincarnations. Hell, Megami Tensei MEANS "Reincarnation Of The Goddess". Izanami has always been here. Yumiko has always been here. Yuri has always been here. With that transcendent power, it's a cinch to create pyrokinetic energy with your eyes and literally shatter the bonds of reality to teleport somewhere else.

This, of course, kills Yumiko. Or rather, Loki's last desperate slash that gashes her back wide open does. Now it's up to Nakajima to take her to Izanami's tomb and get her fixed. The special sort of drags here because I really don't like Nakajima... but he does try to atone, I suppose. We descend into the underworld soon after, because this is a major part of the Izanami/Izanagi myth... and then a bunch of sword fights happen. Again, at this point I've kind of tuned out and I don't need to plot summarize. Loki gets stabbed, Yumiko is a-okay, and another demon contacts the teacher through the computer. The End. It's a decent anime, and what it gains in translation it also loses in places. Like a bunch of motivations, or how the demon summoning works, or why there's a superfluous scene with the slime killing people in a bank. It's explained in the novel, but I forget how now so it just seems like a gratuitous bit of violence. Even in the game that came later, Yumiko is relegated to basically being your main healer because she's a girl in an 80's RPG. Despite being THE PERSON IN THE GODDAMNED TITLE OF THE SERIES, THE LITERAL "MEGAMI TENSEI". Maybe I'm extra salty 'cause of the Yuri connection. As it stands, there are worse ways to spend 45 minutes. Megami Tensei would evolve over the next 30 years, and Izanami would come back as time went on. Time goes ever on here as well. Only one day left. What will we do? It's obvious.

It's Halloween.

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