THE GREATEST SHIN MEGAMI TENSEI DEMONS: PART II (SOME DEMONS MAY BE NSFW)We're looking at a slew of demons from the Megami Tensei series this Halloween season, thirteen at a time, in no particular order, and special thanks to Eirikr for providing both high-quality scans of several monsters and tons of additional information; be sure to visit the blog for much more detailed analyses of individual SMT creatures!
First up today is the Cyak, said by in-game data to be a furry, childlike and mostly benign spirit from Nepal. I can't find any mention of this monster in English that isn't Megami Tensei, so I'll go out on a limb and say they've probably embellished it on top of romanizing its name their own way.
Whatever the original is like, I appreciate the cool simplicity of this Cheshire Cat smile and big, bright circle-eyes in a dark ball of hair. Actually, I guess it's not entirely unlike the drowned zombie from our previous batch of demons.
It's alright if you need a moment or two to get some giggles out, it's perfectly understandable to have a juvenile sense of humor when faced with a naked spider-elf dangling menacingly by her crotch, though I hope you can get past it to appreciate that this is a cool design. You probably think I'd prefer this design with at least a spider-like face, but while that would certainly also be cool, this is also another of those "less is more" designs. She's almost human, except she pisses silk and her arms are weird. That's not something I've seen before, and it's pretty scary. A lot scarier, to me, than the inherently innocent and sympathetic looking face of any actual arachnid.
This is literally just the concept of a Moebius strip as a demon, except it's not a Moebius strip, because its ends aren't connected to each other. I guess they can connect when it feels like it, but right now it's too busy showing off its snake-fanged eye-mouth. It's a cool concept, for sure, but if it's only a Moebius strip demon because it can make a Moebius strip, then isn't every single flattened ribbon-shaped thing a Moebius strip? That's just plumb silly. I think this is just a flat alien snake who wants to sound like something more profound.
"Bugbear" is actually a term for a completely nondescript, child-eating wild beast that may or may not have any bear-like features, which I talked more about back in Halloween 2015. Megami Tensei takes a more semi-literal approach, in that their bugbear is a "bear," but only a toy bear, with a stuffing of human skulls that implies a pretty massive scale.
Speaking of bugbears, the name "Backbeard" is actually an extreme corruption of the very same term, coined by Mizuki Shigeru for a flying, eye-like villain in his famous Gegege no Kitarou. This has lead to a misconception in Japanese pop-culture that Backbeard is a distinct eyeball monster from "Western" folklore, but that's okay. There's really never a bad reason to have more flying eye creatures, even if this particular design is a tad plain for my tastes.
A staple of the series, Abaddon is originally the name given in the Book of Revelations as the "angel of destruction" or "angel of the abyss," keeper and master of the locusts of the apocalypse. Interestingly, this angel is commonly understood to be fallen or otherwise aligned with Satan, sometimes just another name for Satan, despite nothing in the original text to imply any of this. If it was a scary angel, Christian scholars were quick to assure everyone it wasn't directly associated with their God, don't be silly!
Anyway, Yaweh's best bosom buddy here is interpreted as a gaping, toad-like mouth man, possibly also serving as the same gateway Abaddon unleashes his locusts from.
The first time I ever heard of a Kraken as a kid, I was thrilled to bits that there was any sort of giant, mythological cephalopod. This was back before the Kraken was referenced in basically a zillion trillion movies, video games, comics and cartoons, and I'm glad that they've become common knowledge today. I like whenever they're designed a little weirder than just conventional, oversized octopuses or squid, and this is a great example. I love those beady little green eyes and the multiple rows of long, tusk-like teeth protruding from that darkened mantle.
Only Yasushi Nirasawa would have heard "Centaur" and drawn this.
One of the classic Dictionairre Infernal demons, presented basically just as it was centuries ago, as a fat spider with the heads of a cat, a man and a frog. In this case, I especially love that spooky as hell frog.
I said we would be seeing Nidhoggr's favorite anytime snack, and just how awesome is it that the entire Norse world tree is a monster in this series? I'm loving the whole feel of a gnarled tree with sorrowful eyes and a bunch of long, scattered teeth it seems to crawl on, and then there's the scaly reptilian tail in there for good measure.
GOGGIEScan by Eirikr!
The Goggie is a monster I should be ashamed to have never known about until roughly last year, a scottish fae described as a huge, hairy caterpillar which, of course, loves to eat nothing more than bad little children who don't listen to their parents, especially if those children were wandering unsupurvised into forests, gardens or orchards and especially especially if they were stealing fruit while they were at it. SMT's design is pretty nice, with lots of spiny, toxic looking tufts and a comical man-face slung under its bulging insect eyes.
Here's somebody I only just got done reviewing for the season's first cryptozoology post, and Magami Tensei's interpretation of the Mothman is a pretty good one. It's more moth-like than owl-like, but with vividly colored wings, goofy looking gangly feet and the most adorable little face you could ever dream of. This is one of those distinctly Japanese creature designs that screams "shamelessly marketable" in the best way, but I wish they would have at least gone all the way with it and flooded us all with a million billion stickers, plushes and keychains of the little guy. As it stands, there are only a few figures of this Mothman out there, and most of them will burn a pretty big hole in your paypal.
Our last one for this round, Mishaguji are actually a whole category of ancient Kami worshipped in parts of Japan, and you can read a whole lot more about them and why these games portray them as scaly, hairy schlong snakes over at Eirikr's blog here. The short answer? It's a bit of a reach, but it's also a bit of an interesting reach.
Megami Tensei offers a few other designs for this one, but the scaly schlong snake is the coolest. Again, I get that this kind of thing is also just plain funny to some people and they can never not see it any other way, but I think the overall aesthetic of this thing, whether or not you factor in the schlongitude, is fundamentally cool, menacing, even fairly pretty. How often does an eyeless schlong with fangs get to have such luxurious hair??