THE GREATEST SHIN MEGAMI TENSEI DEMONS: PART III (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 more detailed analyses of individual SMT creatures!
CHUPACABRAThe goatsucker was the last cryptid we reviewed, so it's just the right time to feature its Megami Tensei iteration! It's pretty much the design that people briefly seemed to agree upon as the definitive chupacabra, but with a slightly more skeletal-looking muzzle and teeth I can't complain about, a longer, lankier overall shape I also think works pretty nicely, and a pretty cool pattern on its forgotten gliding membranes, like it might flap its arms to attract a mate or ward off a rival.
LARVA/LEMUREBoth "larva" and "lemure" describe certain animals, but they also have their roots in supernatural terminology, describing often the lowliest and most wretched of evil spirits. A floating pom-pom with a sad skull head and bony hands is a design totally out of left field, but works great and definitely communicates the idea of a nasty but fairly weak demonic entity. This may even be somewhere in my top ten favorite SMT designs of all; it's just the perfect balance between scary and pathetic.
DYBBUKIn Jewish folklore, a Dybbuk is a lost human soul seeking a new body to possess, either for malevolent purposes or to complete some unfinished goal. Pretty straightforward, but this design is supremely dreadful. It has a more "space alien" vibe with its huge head, simplified features and smooth skin, which makes it all the more distressing to imagine stalking you from the shadows, peering through your windows and finally taking your entire body for its own.
I'm not gonna ask what kind of unfinished business this one had, though...or was this guy already Like That when the Dybbuk showed up?
FORBIFor some reason, English translations call this monster "Porewit," after an entirely unrelated slavic deity who merely has multiple, human faces. Forbi on the other hand is an evil, fire-breathing spirit completely invented by occult author Nakaoka Toshiya in 1968. Originally drawn with several hairy, dragon-like heads and a complete ungulate body, Megami Tensei simplifies the being down to nothing but a two-legged ball with a bunch of flame-spewing fleshy tubes. A fine and logical choice I support completely.
LADONLadon orinates from the trials of Heracles, where it was originally described as only a giant snake wrapped around the roots of a tree bearing golden apples. I definitely like this sort of eyeless, reptilian land-shark a lot more.
THANATOSThanatos is fairly straightforward in mythology, basically the ancient Greek equivalent to the Grim Reaper. In this series, Thanatos is covered in a lovely variety of enormous pustules, staring at us with one sad, glazed yellow eye from the recesses of his hood....or is that a smile? At first glance, I kinda interpreted it as teeth, like the huge pustule above it would be like a "nose." I don't think that was the intent, but it's hard for me to un-see.
SCYLLAI have pretty mixed feelings about this one. A muscular mer-woman riding an adorable giant octopus is great, but Scylla in mythology was such a disturbing being, usually a woman with entire ghoulish dogs and multiple serpentine tails (easily read as tentacles) where her legs ought to be. It's really quite surprising that this series would skip out on an opportunity like that one.
...And while still far removed from the original description, Scyllas older Megami Tensei design was better still, combining the woman with the octopus in a reasonably cool and menacing way. The face especially is a lot more bruteish than monster-women are often allowed to be. Just find a place for the aforementioned hideous dog bodies and this Scylla would be perfect.
ORGONE GHOSTThe concept of some special sort of "life force energy" is total fantasy, but in the 1930's, it almost entered quasi-scientific dialog under the term orgone energy. So, the Orgone Ghost would be a being of pure life energy, which explains its presumably infinite faces-within-faces. It's a pretty scary design, and the ghost is a major boss in Devil Summoner, where it takes over a television station with the help of three ghostly minions...
MIKIYAThis is the least interesting of the Orgone Ghost's underlings, but I'm including all three for posterity, and Mikiya still isn't that bad. He at least gets to have tentacle hair, and of all the colors a ghost can be, green is probably my favorite. Mikiya was once the keyboardist in a band called Moloch, but killed himself for unspecified issues with his career.
JULIAAnother under Orgone Ghost, Julia was a singer who killed herself because of her obesity, sadly pretty common in Japanese culture where the slightest fat is demonized far more viciously than you would expect in many other countries. She seems pretty happy as a ghost, however, and with a design you can't not love. This as you may know is my favorite kind of "human" ghost; one that caricatures and exaggerates the living person.
SPEEDYThe last of the Orgone gang to look at, Speedy was a rock musician who, of course, killed himself, though in this case it was due to a drug overdose and may or may not have been deliberate. This is easily the most elaborate and interesting of the three with his cool, subdued color scheme, punk threads, creepy cherub friends and of course that wild megaphone mouth to really push this from just any stylish heavy metal ghost to something disturbingly wacky.
JEZEBELI'm trying to save especially outrageous (or just adorable) designs for nearly the end of these, and Megami Tensei's idea of Jezebel is pretty high up on that list. The way her body branches into multiple huge flowers would already be fantastic enough, but her actual body parts also get to be scattered among them. Kind of odd that an ear gets its own flower but her eyes, forehead and hair all have to share one, though.
CTHULHUAnyway, here's Megami Tensei Cthulhu, and it's quite a bit more interesting than the typical Cthulhu I'm familiar with. It's still not how I really imagine Cthulhu, which is a whole lot more tumorous and psychedelic, but as far as cephalopod monsters go, this is a rather nice one. The fins are a nice touch, sort of filling in for the "bat wings" we see on most Cthulhus, I love those big, blue, adorable eyes under its mantle and I love its splayed ring of teeth.
All this, and we still haven't talked about the completely human ding-dong in the middle for precisely 0% any reasons.