THE GREATEST SHIN MEGAMI TENSEI DEMONS: PART IV (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!
THE JERSEY DEVILMy god...they get it! They really, really get it! This design follows directly from the newspaper illustration that spooked me out so very, very long ago, but colorized and updated in a way that doesn't lose its charm. Sure, it's a little farther over the top how the face looks half-skinned here, but it works! It's an only slightly different kind of terrifying, and it is definitely terrifying!
KUEBIKOAlso terrifying is this hulking, brutal heap of rock and soil whose maniacal, ghoulish face is formed in part by a tuft of grass. Have I mentioned how much I love slot-shaped eyes like this??
This is more than a little removed from its namesake, however. Kuebiko is actually a shinto god of agriculture who typically takes the form of a motionless scarecrow. I guess he got a little restless.
CHERNOBOGIn most Megami Tensei games, Chernobog is just some blue guy in a red cape, but in Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers, he's a blue guy with a mushroom skull head and blue fungi eerily emerging from under his black robes. Since this design positively kicks ass in every way, it's the only one I'm willing to accept.
OMOIKANEThis is another one based on a Shinto god, and you get no points for guessing that he's a god of knowledge. As far as big brain creatures go, this one's fairly distinct, with a funny little nose between its discerning eyeballs and a clump of tentacles that also sort of evoke a stately beard.
It's interesting to think about just how modern brain creatures are though, isn't it? Most cultures didn't really associate the brain with thought, so the brain as a conscious being in itself wasn't really a popular concept.
In Megami Tensei IV, Omoikane would get a more humanoid design that, surprisingly I kind of do like a little better. I love disembodied brains and all, but you've seen one, you've seen most. This being, evocative of some kind of humanoid ram but with a body still comprised of veiny brain tissue, is definitely something I have not seen before.
RAHUBecause we can't have a look at Megami Tensei demons without a schlong somewhere, here's Rahu, an Asura in Hindu lore whose head was severed from his body shortly after he became immortal. Now, his head periodically stops by to swallow the sun, resulting in eclipses, and none of this explains why Megami Tensei decided to glue a big ol' johnson to his forehead, or why it has to be ribbed.
GNOMEMan, Soul Hackers gets all the good stuff. The Gnome in every other game is just a little hairy man, like we might expect, but in Soul Hackers it's this awesome little coconut-faced lava man hatching out of a geode. I can much more believe that a gnome might actually look like this than the underwhelming version we've all grown so accustomed to. The earliest description of a gnome was pretty much just a very small earth elemental, capable of moving through stone like it was nothing but liquid. The beards, pointy hats and love of gardening all came later.
TOUBYOUAccording to in-game text, this is a sort of Japanese spirit resembling a snake, capable of possessing a human body, and housed in a clay pot by those who would employ its abilities. I can't find much of anything about this outside the context of Megami Tensei, so it's probably another monster they spelled funny or exaggerated in some way. I appreciate making the snakes so much weirder with singular eyes in their throats and no teeth. It feels just a little more like something that would live by possessing bodies and just looks a lot like a snake.
CHONCHONIn some accounts, this monster from parts of Chile and Argentina is a malevolent owl whose cries foretell death and disease. In other, more popular stories, the Chonchon is a sorcerer whose head can detach from their body, fly around on its magically enlarged ears and sometimes suck human blood, like a vampire. This one seems to be having an understandably grand old time of Chonchonnery. How could anyone be sad while they're doing this?
HARLOTThis is obviously supposed to be the "Whore of Babylon" associated with "The Beast" and the end of the world, which is generally assumed to be social metaphor, but that's just nowhere near as fun as any image you can get out of any literal interpretation. Both the whore and the beast are stylish as hell here, and look like they just deliberately crashed a party they know full well they weren't invited to.
PRITHIVISo there is absolutely, positively no reason whatsoever that anybody chose this design for a Hindu goddess, and we won't bother talking about it in that context. It's simply a great design, whatever name you arbitrarily attach to it, sleek and surreal and alien with a surprising amount of personality in those grumpy-looking boob-jaws.
HEQETHeqet is an Egyptian fertility goddess whose name is spelled with the character for frog, so of course she's been associated with frogs in various ways, but Megami Tensei has decided that she actually is a frog; an adorable, precious, perfect little frog with the cutest little hairdo and the cutest little outfit. She can do no wrong and you're a bad person if you don't like her little face, sorry.
AUDREY...But, oh right, we're supposed to be doing horror! In our first demon review we saw Chris the car, a reference to Stephen King's Christine, and now we've got Audrey, lifted straight from Little Shop of Horrors! I love how common this actually is. I've seen tons of plant monsters called "Audrey" in various video games, because you can claim copyright on neither a plant monster nor a regular, human first name. Of course it would actually be Audrey II if you want to get technical, but I don't think Audrey II would choose to keep the II anyway.
With her cool pink and yellow flower-pods and fanged, red lips, this is an Audrey II perfectly worthy of a High School musical production. I love the extra little touch that she's smiling, too, the petals curling ever so slightly at the corners of those lips.
DECARABIAA classical demon of the Ars Goetia, Decarabia was said to be a Great Marquis of Hell in command of thirty legions worth of demons, and worth summoning if you need a demon to teach you about precious stones, herbs or spices. Apparently, he usually only appears as a giant pentagram, so here he's a big fleshy starfish, which is great. This is one of his older, slightly creepier illustrations, but he's mostly hung on to a more or less similar design since.
Also....I've really gotta get around to actually playing these games. I mean, look at this: