I said that I'd be re-reviewing creatures from Shadow Hearts II, now that I not only have better images to work from but several monsters I actually missed years back. PLUS, my original review also pre-dates my efforts to describe images more thoroughly!
THE REVENGE OF SHADOW HEARTS II
We'll start off with one of the "new" additions, and we'll mark all newcomers to this website with an !excalamation mark, though even some returning faces have entirely new characteristics to show us!
"The Queen of Darkness. She may grant a night of power to a woman of proud bearing who calls upon her. The long veins of her right hand are deadly weapons."
See, for the Night Queen alone I needed to come back to this game. From the waist down, she's got a big, fat, sluglike snake tail, slimy and mottled and with an underbelly that looks more like a raw, pink lower intestine showing through a split in her flesh. From the waist up, she's a a repeating tower of four big-breasted torsos, but instead of arms they have flaps of pale grey skin that wrap around her back to form what kind of looks like a series of entire manta rays worn like a multi-layered cape. Her uppermost torso has humanoid arms and a head, but a sort of large, eyeless mask of that same grey flesh covers her face from the nose up, and what the bio calls "veins" are modeled closer to a tangle of giant earthworms or more intestines growing out of her right arm. Finally, she has a pair of giant black bird wings for good measure.
Everything about this design seriously kicks ass and is instantly one of my favorites, even if the wings feel a bit redundant with the stingray-cape things. The stacked torsos (I mean literally, on top of each other, duh) give her a more worm-like or caterpillar-like appearance and feel more imposing than if she only had one, while the "vein" whips are just an awesome concept in general! It's a wholeheartedly fitting design for apparently being the Queen of All Darkness in a setting where pretty much everything is always "of darkness" anyway.
"A creature that has lived in the bushy undergrowth for over one-hundred years, and changed into a being called a Futtachi. This Futtachi holds a grudge from when it was an ant, burnt under a magnifying glass, gaining a huge body so that it can prey on humans"
Though this is one I reviewed before, its only available screenshots were once so poor in quality I took it to be faceless, and it was even one of the things that stood out to me as cool about it! Turns out it does have a face, but not quite where I expected one, either. An insectoid head simply forms its small "torso," with maniacal red eyeballs and a grin full of tiny, humanlike teeth! Its four arms sprout from this, two ending in thick, hooked appendages and two much smaller arms ending in straight spikes. A thin waist like a spinal column connects to a pair of large legs, also ending in simple points, and then a massive round abdomen that looks more like a huge, papery hornet's nest, complete with a gaping hole it disturbingly aims forward. All six limbs look striped, though the "stripes" are actually raw, red tissue exposed where the exoskeleton is missing.
What I originally took to be this thing's head, finally, is just some strange, fleshy stem growing off the back of the torso, ending in two prongs. Mid-way up this stem is a flaring, roundish bulb with two large, pointed ear-like projects, so you can see how I was reading it all wrong!
As I explained long, long ago in reviewing this creature, its name comes from "Futsutachi," a term for any animal that has reincarnated into a youkai. In a lot of mythology, this happens to animals that achieve exceptional longevity, especially if they manage to live for an entire century, but this description implies that an abnormally long-lived ant only went yokai after someone fried it to death, which would make anyone this angry. Though I'm not sure I like its torso-head more than my past interpretation, I still love how eerie and unnatural it looks, and that you can easily tell it's related to ants despite not technically actually looking like an ant.
"Wasp pupa infested by a parasitic snake. Known by some as the god of wasps and bees, it relies on the snake in its mouth to seize its prey."
ZOSIM (AN EMERGENCY TRANSPLANT)
Somehow, some way, I accidentally put this monster in my Shadow Hearts III review weeks ago, so I'm not only going to just cut and paste it here, I'm going to keep the same description and review as before, like nothing happened: Its gorgeous head looks like a blind, Gigeresque deep sea fish, a veiny dark dome for the top of its head, a much longer lower jaw and looong, thin, pale teeth. It has a single pair of cute little bee wings on the top and it's all erupting from what looks like a wasp abdomen, but like the description says, there's also a snake in its mouth! Just a whole normal looking snake! And the snake is somehow parasitic?! It turns the pupa of a normal wasp into all this??? I want to say it isn't fair for the god of wasps and bees to actually just be created and puppeted around by a reptile, but, I guess there are human religions with animal-based gods anyway. If wasps worshipped any non-wasp I guess it WOULD be something like a parasitic snake.
"Monster from Spain. It appears on the tenth day of the tenth month and is said to be the incarnation of husbands wishing to punish their unfaithful wives."
Disturbing as ever, Tammuz! This thing looks like a grey, slightly stretched out human being standing on its head, legs dangling backward, but the "arms" and "head" merge together into just a sort dark, chitinous ball it rests on, and the tail of a fat scorpion is erupting from what would be the humanoid's back, though this is the side that faces "forward" in its design. What I COMPLETELY missed the first time around is that the lower legs are also mouths. From the ankle to the crook of the knee, the flesh of each leg is split open and filled with small teeth, so it's almost like the legs have become two eyeless dinosaur heads with feet for noses.
This freak actually managed to get weirder on me, and that's saying something for a headless, upside-down stinger-donged cuck demon. A headless, upside-down stinger-donged cuck demon with his own Holiday, it bears repeating. In the Shadow Hearts world this is just another Easter Bunny or Santa Claus, though maybe not invited to the same parties...or maybe just not the ones we get to hear about.
"Serpent expelled from Heaven. It now gnaws on the roots of the World Tree. Once quite intelligent, a head wound has reduced it to a mindless brute."
So...Jormungander, but its name seems to be a mangling of Fafnir? This is one I'm really shocked I missed before, because it means whoever screencapped most of the rest of the bestiary didn't see fit to share something this magnificent. A bony skeletal serpent whose vertebrae and ribs get larger and larger towards its head, which consists of a completely exposed, bloody brain with a thick "trunk" or "neck" sprouting off the front of it, formed from nasty blue and pink tubing. At the end of this is a cracked, white mask of a human face with curved ram-like horns, many thin red tendrils sprouting from its openings and a long, nasty looking tongue!
To top it all off, the brain is impaled with multiple swords, which seems like a bit more than just "a head wound," or I guess despite this extreme degree of injury, only one wound managed to lobotomize it? I wonder if it even looked like this before its defeat; was the "mask" originally retracted, directly protecting the brain?
"Magical life form with the ability to see all that happens. Its eye gives off powerful electrical waves that penetrate anything in its path."
This is almost too normal for a Shadow Hearts monster! A fleshy ball with almost nothing but a huge eye, surrounded by a few rounded tentacles and with two cute little dangling legs. A kind of design you might see everywhere in other, more traditional "magical fantasy" RPG's.
"Native god of snakes, he also governs over all bad fortune. It is said that those who see him become infertile for three years."
Waiiit a minute...snakes HAVE a perfectly fine god, thanks! Besides, this guy already has misfortune and infertility to his name, does he really need to hog snakes, too? Greedy! Cool design though; its lower body looks like a faceless, tapering slug, or even like a large leech, but sticking up from that is a thick, segmented, tubular torso with a monstrous humanoid face on top. The oversized mouth and massive teeth, including four tusk-like fangs, reminds me more of some kind of walrus monster than a snake god, and it does also have four arms ending in flippers like a sea lion. One pair up near its head, and one bear near the base where it meets the "leech body." The color scheme of mostly greyish white and greyish blue also reads more as an Arctic creature than some kind of reptiloid. All pretty interesting!
"Physically warped himself, he is the lord of warps and distortions. He is the most demonic of all the demons, determined to shatter peace where it exists."
Amazing. This guy has a relatively "normal" human head and upper body on top, dressed up like a prince, but it runs into the beginning of a horse body, like a centaur, and then absolutely all hell breaks loose. The horse body stops halfway through and gives way to a huge, dangling insect abdomen lined with ten membranous dragonfly-esque wings, which is in addition to the gigantic moth wings that hang like a cape from the human torso. Then, at the end of the insect abdomen, we have three horrendous tongue-like petals of pink flesh, each with an entire pale, nude female figure embedded in the inner surface. These figures also appear to have colorful bird wings instead of arms, or something; it's hard to judge when they're so flat against the pink flesh.
The cherry on top of the whole design is the blood, skinless looking giant eyestalk sticking out from the center of the "petals," the lidless eyeball on the end even larger than the guy's dorky human face. I definitely prefer to read this end as the "real" face of this being. It's also splendidly disturbing that it manages to feel so lewd without immediately resembling any reproductive anatomy. I'd say it's just the perfectly disgusting combination of the eyestalk's phallic shape, the flower imagery and the fused angel ladies.
"Three tanukis stuffed animals. Filled with thousands of squirming maggots, they move along with the wriggling of their wormy inhabitants."
This enemy is literally, as described, just three stuffed tanukis. Adorable, fat little plush toys lined up in a row. No visual indication that they are apparently animated by maggots.
"Worm-shaped spirit with a single eye held in its mouth. Its azure-colored feathers cause its victims to witness strange and disturbing hallucinations"
This beautiful organism is a chitinous, segmented worm that holds itself upright, its tail end concealed mostly by segmented, yellowish "wings" that oddly give it a kind of duck-like or swan-like silhouette in my mind. Its head is mostly smooth and featureless, with an eyeball filling a toothless, gaping mouth you can also sort of read like the open visor of a knight helmet, and then it has these flat, elongated, transparent things encircling its head kind of like a row of insect wings, the "feathers" of its description, though they actually kind of look thick and gelatinous to me!
It really FEELS like a creature that would cause hallucinations, for sure.
"A spirit of maggots that welled up from the corpse of a villain called "Tsunemoto" who was executed four hundred years ago. Regularly, millions of Tsunemotomushi would spring forth, and bury the execution grounds in a swarm of Tsunemotomushi"
ADORED this little fella when I first reviewed it, though at the time, there weren't terribly good images of what else it can do, which is this:
AWESOME. The creature usually resembles something like a sickly blackish isopod with tumorous, diseased flesh poking out from beneath its armored back, two gnarled little arms ending in chickenlike feet and a large, globular polyp dragging behind it, but when it lifts up its front end, all that's underneath is a gaping, hollow cavity housing a secondary head and torso resembling a skinless baby. WOW that's grody! I could see this as the main common enemy in an entire horror game, actually.
The lore is taken from an actual Japanese fable, too, in which a wicked samurai is buried at the foot of a tree, only for the tree to produce nasty insects with his own face. So these "maggot spirits" don't just arbitrarily look like skinless babies inside; they're like vestigial, incomplete copies of the original guy! I finally know exactly what I want to happen when I'm also a corpse in the dirt some day. You better be nice to my mushi's because they will not be going anywhere. You will just have to live with them.
"Having never evolved the ability to photosynthesize, this plant relies on meat for energy. Its wing-like leaves allow it to fly in search of prey."
This is another I only just barely left out of the old review, which feels pretty foolish of me in retrospect. "Skeeter" behaves just like a giant mosquito, but it's a flying plant! A tangle of green vines with four large leaves for wings and a pretty little lavender flower for a "head." Wonderful! My only complaint is that, if it never evolved photosynthesis, it shouldn't be green! Non-photosynthetic plants, having no need for chlorphyll, are typically pale white, yellow, pink or even blue, basically any color other than green!
"A carelessly buried corpse and a snake merged together to form this monster. Its scales are packed with bacteria and often spread disease to its victims."
Ekimmu is a reskinning of Wormgaur, with the same segmented worm-neck rising from the same chitinous body that looks like a legless bird. Thanks to those newer wiki uploads however, I now know that the chitinous "bird wing" parts of the body are multi-layered and can fan open! Cool! The head differs from Wormgaur by having actual teeth, no eyes at all, no transparent "feathers," and there's something kind of like an insect abdomen on the back of its head, like the head is the "thorax" of a cricket-like creature. In fact, every aprt of this monster looks like cricket or locust anatomy if you chopped it up and turned it into a winged snake!
The fact that that's what you get when a snake somehow "merges with a corpse" is bizarre, but I get it. I'm also glad it attacks with bacteria and disease. Why is that my favorite kind of monster power? I guess because it's scary, but it also implies some fascinating symbiosis with pathogenic microbiota. Few things in nature do anything similar, except that parasitoid wasps reverse-engineer a modified virus to manipulate their host's metabolism. There's also the fact that tetrodotoxin, the most popular poison AND venom among marine life, is derived entirely from symbiotic bacteria!
"Fiendishly intelligent sea monster that rules the space between ocean and sky. Although it appears to be here, it actually exists in another dimension."
"The space between ocean and sky" is an interesting notion, since I think most people wouldn't consider there to be any such space at all, which I guess is where this monster's interdimensional nature comes in! It looks like a jellyfish with a ribbed bell, like an umbrella, each rib also sporting a tiny, bloodshot eyeball. You can see brain matter just under its transparent tissues, and then it has a ring of short, thick tentacles, and then it has a reddish, segmented "tail" or "brainstem" dangling below that, in my mind, almost looks like a bunch of skinless fish fused together head to tail, though that's just me. Finally it has two extra large, pale tentacles ending in fleshy paddles, lined with barbs!
Beautifully alien, evoking a cephalopod and a cnidarian without actually matching the anatomy of either group!
"A unique sea creature that evolved in an alien dimension. It is a servant of the Grail Gazer and its able to fight opponents that its master cannot."
How lovely that Grail Gazer comes with its own little pals, too! Star Gazer is a star-shaped arrangement of five curved, sharp looking claws, webbed with flesh, and with an eyeball in the center. Quite simple! There's also a small socket near the base of each claw, housing a dull blue nodule of some sort. Some kind of sensory organ or gland?
"A devil with the body of parasite that rides in the brains of cattle. Because it defiles sacred cows, it was driven from India by Hindu mystics. The cattle are manipulated by its cranial nerves, so the parasite always pushes its host's body to the very limit."
So this thing is a bit difficult to parse without seeing it from multiple angles, but the wiki editor thankfully had the same thought and provided a whole range of alternate views. We should only really need two of them to form the full picture here:
This beast's hunched body looks more like a segmented, biomechanical sewage pipe than anything else. Its four meaty limbs are more dinosaur-like than bovine, splayed out like a lizard and each ending in thick talons, not to mention the forelegs are MUCH larger. The enormous head nearly drags on the ground, including its huge, black horns that curve down and sweep forward. The face is the tricky part to transcribe: the forehead is dark and bony, like a helmet, with a flared rim. There are no visible eyes, but there's a tiny human nose just under that rim. Beneath this is a small circular mouth dense with fine, needly teeth, but below that is a bigger, wider snarling maw full of knife-like fangs, and below that is a second lower jaw with blockier more herbivore-like teeth, and a chin that almost looks like a small ribcage covered in dark flesh.
You almost didn't need to tell me that this was the result of a parasitic demon. That would have easily been in my top five guesses. It sure did a number on that poor cow, though; without the horns, you'd have never guessed it was ever a bovine at all.
"Tree spirit formed from hardened sap. It continues to ooze nutrient-rich sap as it plods along. So wherever it walks, flowers bloom the following year."
Effervescent. This entire creature just looks like a big, gooey brown cone, like a stalagmite or a long-necked slug, ending in a little knob you'd never guess was a head for face without the two tiny, beady green dots it has for eyes. Its only other facial feature is a clump of fat, pink maggot-shaped growths where a mouth would be, and it some much larger ones on its back, almost like a cluster of tubular pink mushrooms. And you say it's a tree spirit made of sap? That's a creative idea! That's like a spirit of humans made of just blood, which also makes sense to me! This is also the most benign-sounding entity in the entire bestiary, literally just one of those lovely nature spirits that invigorates the flora in its path. And you're going to just beat it up, eh?
"This strange creature sprung to life from an scroll painted by an impoverished sage using his own hair as paintbrush and his own blood as ink."
This was once one of the first monsters I ever saw from this series, when only a fraction as many of its monsters could be found online at all! Can you imagine how tantalizing it was, for years, to know almost nothing about this game except for THIS design!? A human brain with a tattered canvas scroll seemingly nailed to it, encircling its back and sides almost like a head of long, dangling hair. Like any good brain creature, it still has its eyeballs, but this one has additional, even larger eyeballs randomly floating around it! I like how these also have nubby red stalks of flesh on the back, so each is kind of shaped like a lightbulb. That's cute! And it gives the design a logical place for all those veins to be coming from!
"Angel that fell to Earth just before it received its wings. Its body and soul has become warped with the evil of this world turning it into a cruel beast."
In my old review, I thought this was one of the most frightening, unsettling and compelling designs I've ever seen for a "fallen angel," and many years later, that's still true. They still tend to have "epic" and "impressive" designs in most media, even when they do get to look horrendous and decrepit in some way. Muscida, however, just looks like an obscenely magnified, hunched over baby with a bloated stomach, scaly and warty blue skin texture, and an unpleasantly recessed, concave face with an upside-down nose, a dark-lipped little mouth and what is either a second, identical mouth above the nose or a tightly closed eye. It's similar in many ways to what human embryos look like when they fail to complete their bilateral symmetry, resulting in a "cyclops," but this is something still even weirder and more abnormal than that. To top it all off, it attacks primarily by lashing out with a long tongue!
It would be unsettling enough regardless of origin, but I'm truly fascinated by the idea of this being a failed angel. It's not even explicitly "fallen" in the sense of rebelling against Heaven; the description simply says it fell before it could get its wings, so it really IS like an embryonic form that couldn't complete its development properly. The idea of a divine entity falling to Earth, spiritually contaminated by our world's imperfection, and continuing to grow into this mockery of life is fascinatingly haunting.
"An evil being who made its name by carving its way to the top of the demonic hierachy. By absorbing human bodies it can live for over a thousand years. Many historical figures and celebrities who died mysterious deaths, continue to live on as its flesh and blood."
So this creature looks more or less like a hairless, veiny, floating head with seven eyes, two long, tapering protrusions kind of like giant "ears" or fleshy horns, and two dangling lower appendages that really look like thin, curvy human legs, albeit with simple, dark points instead of feet and a skin surface like pale yellow chitin, the thighs segmented almost like an insect's abdomen. Truly something straight out of some mad hallucination, but by far the most grotesque detail is the mouth, which only comes across as a mouth because of the fine, rib-like "teeth" flanking it. The mouth is otherwise nothing but a dark pit directly between the legs, and it doesn't help that the "teeth" are shiny red or that the surrounding flesh looks pinkish.
This would be why Luvart was one of several monsters originally dropped from the final game for looking too obscene; the old Mr. Friendly treatment! But unlike the craven cowardice of Valve Entertainment, Luvart and its fellow vulgarities were restored in a "director's cut" release some time later, allowing gamers all around the world to finally enjoy this floating crotch monster as the creator intended.
What? Some of you still don't see it?
It even does a little split when it casts spells! Ha ha! Man, the teeth look nasty when you look in close. So needly sharp. It even looks like they're forked on the ends, and they curve inward. Watch your fingers, weirdos!!!
"Trapped within a hideous body of molten lava, the human soul inside is doomed to spend an eternity in its burning prison."
Funny enough, I'd had this one in my old review at some point in writing it, because I still refer back to it in that article, but I guess I cut it at the last minute in favor of some other critter. What a horrid damn concept this is, though, wow. The concept of a soul eternally burning is so well known, people take for granted just how grisly and unspeakable that would actually be in reality - it's pretty much fodder for nothing but empty insults and cartoon gags anymore. This simple monster design, however, really drives home the true horror of the trope, with a wailing human figure encased in a skintight membrane of molten rock, black and crispy but still glowing through the cracks, and from the waist on down it's just one gigantic slug-like heap of magma. They can't escape the lava because it just goes with them as a permanent part of their form.
The description says nothing about why this happened, but even the worst person to ever live wouldn't deserve it forever.
"Once a normal woman, she died during childbirth and now walks the night as a hideous demon in search of her lost child."
That's just exactly what the mythical Langsuir is, except it usually still looks human. In this interpretation, the Langsuir appars as a big, fleshy orb with a sharp-toothed, vertical mouth down the front, four crablike legs, and two limbless, ashy grey human torsos sprouting out of the top, fused back to back. They almost look like human bodies in either an incomplete state of formation, or the early stages of degeneration, and the latter definitely feels more fitting. Given the mythology, it's easily interpretable as having evolved into a monstrous, carnivorous womb. All it knows is that it doesn't like being empty...and all it has are teeth.
"Legendary dragon that lives in the Wear River in Englad. In warmer weather, it wakes from hibernation, preys upon fishermen and devours their hearts."
This design is modified from that seal-flippered "snake god" from early, but this has a whole lot less flesh, the head now a bare skull! Not much else is different visually, except that the color scheme is now in dull creamy shades of brown with a slick, slimy wetness to it. Lovely!
There's also an original concept sketch for this one, and the way the lower body's rearing up really emphasizes that it's like a big leech or a slug. The whole demonic walrus-man-skeleton part might even just be its "tail," really.
"Giant fungus possessed by an evil spirit. At some point, it became fused with the tree god, Kukunochi, creating a being of overwhelming power."
Shaped like an upside-down flower, forming a bell or umbrella configuration out of large, sharply tapered "petals," and they're covered in luminous blue rune-like markings. A single thin, sharp appendage emerges from within, pointing straight down, and I'm not sure, but it almost looks like there's a very, very tiny, white, humanlike face poking up out of the top, where the "petals" meet? I have to say, it's exactly as surreal as I think a fungus, an evil spirit, and a tree god should look all mashed up.
"Creature of Chaos, born from the negative energy created by centuries of war and strife. He rejects every possible system of order and seeks their ruin."
This guy again! The iconic Shadow Hearts Baby Ball! This time, it's just a nasty veiny cyst with an additional layer of transparent skin, multiple different grey-white humanoid arms, the usual creepy white baby on top, and some winged cherub babies randomly stuck face-first in its surface, which is really funny. Not much else I can say, though; it wouldn't be until the next game that they'd add a giant, naked humanoid torso to the back and a giant baby face to the front. How much more heinous could they have kept making this design, I wonder?
"Poison moth spirit hidden beneath pretty clothes. She pretends to be a little girl being attacked by a moth to lure her victims close enough to strike."
Looks just like a little human girl in a purple gown, but the gown conceals a gigantic moth abdomen! She also dangles by one hand from a string of silk, and she's accompanied by large, brown moths with eerily human eyespots. It's interesting that she doesn't display any wings or other insect appendages, which reminds me of various real-world moths whose females are just naturally wingless as well. In bagworms, the females can be devoid of legs or even heads, and the way Kathering hangs from silk, while common to many caterpillars, is perhaps most "iconic" in bagworms. Is the human disguise essentially just the "casing" this insect has formed??
"Demonic Prince of Hell, Lord of lies and deception. His greatest pleasure is to reek havok upon the world with his wicked machinations."
Another weird and wacky demon! This one's upper body forms the shape of a bird entirely from green vines and leaves, the tendrils caging a pale, nude human torso with the large nipple-less breasts this game loves so dearly. Below this is a giant pink flower that points downward like a dress, but sprouting out from under that is just even more green foliage, including a ring of giant palm fronds, four tentacles ending in eyeballs (YAY!) and finally more roots, twining around a glowing blue crystal or core of some sort.
It's a great design in or out of context, but it's funny to realize that it's kind of "derivative" within its own game. Another plant that can fly, another naked booby torso growing out of a monster, another monster whose eyeballs are on appendages that dangle down from its floating body, even another "prince of hell." All that's missing is something to do with snakes and something to do with dead babies!
"Otherworldly snake that swallowed a pregnant woman whole and absorbed the fetus into himself. The human half is in agony and screams constantly."
...See?! Like I was just saying! BOY do snakes get up to some weird, weird stuff in this world. The description refers to her as having a "human half" but it's more that there's just a woman's face and chest sticking out of the unpleasantly vertical, unpleasantly thick-lipped orifice on the creature's front or underbelly. Above this is a very strange head, I think, that's just kind of a greyish lump with a round dark mouth hole. To either side of the lady, the scaly snake skin flares out a bit like a cobra hood, but the edges of the hood are lined with these thick red knobs. In battle, each of these actually houses a long, retractable spine! Below this whole hideous cobragina prison, the serpent body swells a little and has a distinct segmented, red belly section with four waving, tick-like red legs, before a more ordinary grey snake tail completes the creature.
A horrible distressing origin, eternal suffering, snakes, toplessness, and various anatomical features so odd I didn't even know what to compare them with. This really is like the epitome of a Shadow Hearts design.
"Demon born from the raw union of a girl and a crow, in dedication to a baleful god. It likes to drink the life fluid of humans. Depending on the time of day it can transform its body into that of a beautiful young woman or a pheasant; but its clawed-hands remain the same."
Speaking of toplessness, Baphomet's always rocked that look, though that's oddly enough the one and only thing this monster has with its namesake. It's otherwise an eerily emaciated, elongated humanoid whose legs are fused together into a sharpened point, while its stretched out arms end in "bird talons" formed from more crustacean-like armored digits, and fringes of black crow feathers sprout from just beneath the weird, bulbous shoulders. The head is smooth, slick, mostly featureless purple flesh, but with a slightly more humanlike nose, mouth and chin sticking out, the skin as inky black as the surrounding frill of feathers.
It may be misnamed, but it's a RAD design. Who would have thought something at once so terrifyingly formidable and ethereally beautiful could come from some kooky dame's corvid fetish cult?
Do you think its parents are still around? Do they visit???
"From Ethiopian folklore comes this two-headed snake. The head on the right can bite with a deadly poison, causing certain death. But should its victim cry tears of supplication, a detoxifying bite from the left head can cure it."
AGAIN with the serpents, though this is certainly more than a "two headed snake." It's more like a giant green chameleon, complete with the curly tail, but with mis-matched limbs - its left side having only a single, stunted appendage like a plucked bird wing - while its two heads look sort of like reptilian sharks with backswept dragon horns, and can actually extend on retractable necks! The entire creature also has a somewhat "decayed" appearance, its slimy looking green skin missing various chunks and patches. Even if it doesn't have a head at each end, like the original amphisbaena, I can't not love this rotten, toxic sharkameleon!
GIGA FILARIA: "Born from an Idar Flamme egg, its role within the castle resembles that of intestinal bacteria, breaking down invaders and turning them into nutrients."
MEGA FILARIA: "Life form that could be called the antibody of the Idar Flamme. It consumes invaders before evicting them from the castle, whereupon its own life ends."
MOTHER FILARIA: "The mother of all the Filaria that live in Idar Flamme. Acting as the castle's aorta, it absorbs a portion of the nutrients to nourish the eggs inside it."
I've rolled all the Filaria into one entry; named after parasitic nematodes that infect the skin and lymph tissues, the castle mentioned in their bio entries has a technorganic interior straight out of a Giger painting, and I love the idea of these monstrous worms acting as its digestive processes and immune system! Otherwise, they have fairly straightforward "killer worm" designs: a sluglike body and a head that splits open into five petal-like jaws. Each jaw does have its own little eye on it however, and the Giga Filaria even has an additional row of red eyes down each side of its sluggy body!
"Embedded in stone while still alive as a sacrifice to an evil god, the spirit created by this evil deed now haunts the Earth in search of vengeance."
If you're tired of monsters with big tiddy torsos sticking out of them, I promise this is the last one. If you're not tired of them, I apologize that this is the last one. This is however easily the most fetishistic looking, a blindfolded and tattooed woman bent backward with her arms and legs sunken in a stone monolith, plus I'm pretty sure those are the biggest proportionate boobles we've seen here, and they decided to render them so shiny we can only assume she's greasy, which in MY opinion would be the absolute worst of her various problems. Cannot stand any part of me being greasy, personally, ugh, like not even for a second! Disgusting! How could they do that to somebody!
But anyway, the idea of a big rock floating around with a vengeful human sacrifice shoved through it is a very cool concept, and I'm especially intrigued by her hoses. There are multiple tubular appendages, the same sickly corpsey grey-blue as her skin, with nasty looking raw, red ends, and two of them are just waving around like a couple of tentacles or antennae. It's as if her angry spirit compensated for her impairment by growing crude new limbs to work with, but didn't quite know how to make proper human arms or simply didn't feel the need to try. If you CAN have squishy tentacles, you always might as well.
"A bringer of plagues such as smallpox, and a variety of infectious diseases, while simultaneously possessing the knowledge to cure any disease he's spread. In exchange for the cure this baleful insidious spirit requests offerings of liquor and women."
One of my old favorites as a design, the idea of a disease spirit grifting people like this is pretty funny, maybe less funny given the human sacrifices, but if it's anything like the countless mythological ogres, dragons and trolls that also demand women, it PROBABLY just kills and eats them to extend its life, assuming it doesn't just have a lot of housework piled up and really obsolete ideas about how to divvy responsibilities. The design was never terribly clear to me back in the day, but I already knew I loved it from this angle alone; something like an armor plated, trumped-shaped grubworm teetering on two skinles, saurian legs, its face just fleshy red, vertical mouth flanked by an oversized pair of disgustingly puffy, bulging pink "lips" with tiny, hooked teeth. Oh, you KNOW this is another "Director's Cut" monster! But as much as I already liked this one, newly available images double its appeal:
First, I now know that there are six holes behind the creature's lips, I had always noticed the meaty red, white-veined tentacles on its sides, but it evidently has such a tentacle hidden in each of these fleshy pores! I also appreciate that said pores have inflamed looking red edges; they really went the extra mile giving so many monsters in this game some additional, subtle dashes of ickiness wherever they could.
Next, and most dramatic, is the fact that the creature's mouth opens up HUGE! Practically the whole front of its worm-body splits completely in half, and its got a charmingly nasty worm-like esophagus inside that also splits in half, albeit without any teeth, just one more of those "little icky touches" they didn't have to do, but you should thank them for.
"The soul of a footman that was killed in battle, and took on the appearance of a carrion fly. Calling, "Itsumade...", it will attempt to curse you to a similar likeness; Stopping this will require some skill. If you are looking at its hideous face, it will haunt you til your dying day."
At long last, we're back to my #1 favorite in the game, this utterly abstract "carrion fly" spirit, and another that I originally knew from only the front of the design! To recap what that's all about, it's got a body like a giant fly but stands on a pair of filthy looking horse or mule legs, while its head, its exquisitely flawless head, is a flower-like ring of five thick, fleshy, boneless fingers ending in fishlike googly eyes, joined by a bit of frilly membranous webbing, with a shiny, tooth-lined red sphincter at the center constituting its mouth. Why yes, Itsumade is in fact our third and last monster to have been Mr. Friendly'd, probably because its face looks like a swollen anus, yes, though it also looks quite a bit like the center of some real-world corpse flowers, especially Stapeliads, which do typically have five petals and attract carrion flies as their pollinators!
Never have I loved a monstrous fly this much without any of a fly's actual facial features, which I usually find to be their entire appeal! I guess the flesh-anus-flower is just bizarre enough to rival the novelty of the insect's usual big-eyed, hose-mouthed fashion sense, and the five goofy eyes give it enough silly, awkward character to appeal to me as well...but still, there were multiple things I never knew about this monster until recently!
All this, and it's even a reinvention of a pretty cool youkai; the original "itsumade," which translates as basically "til' when?" is a dirty, unsettling bird with uncannily human-like features and sharp teeth, often associated with outbreaks of plague; its cry is even understood, in some tales, to be asking how long the bodies of plague victims will be left to rot before a proper burial.
I feel like I've said this about a few franchises by now, but I really wish there could be a "Shadow Hearts Monsters" game, collecting enemies from across the series, in which case I believe this would be my most satisfactory team:
We're not quite done yet, though. In my old review, there was a very special monster I presented first. This time, we're putting it last, to be the bookends of our time reviewing this particular game, and I'll let its own bio be the only commentary it needs:
"Toy made up of three ducks. From the front, their names are Moe, Jdog, and Sqwalk. They are connected by an invisible string that someone must control."
Once again, very special thanks to the administrator of the Shadow Hearts Wiki, whose tireless labor compiling so much information and creating so many images has seriously enriched my entire life.
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