A to Z: Quetzalcoatl

Published April 19, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

Unsurprisingly, “Q” is a letter with few choices.  Possibly the fewest choices, in fact.  (Well, maybe “U” gets that distinction…but it’s close.)

Image copyright Atlus, but provided by the MegaTen Wiki. Click for link.

In most of the MegaTen games, Quetzalcoatl’s appearance is a riff on the art above.  Which is certainly fitting, given that his name means “feathered serpent” in Nahuatl.  Though in traditional depictions of the feathered serpent, the feathers don’t tend to take on the form of wings like that.  For example:

Quetzalcoatl in the Codex Telleriano-Remensis (16th century). Wikimedia Commons

Feathered collars are also common in Mesoamerican depictions of feathered serpents.  Which, btw, date back at least as far as Teotihuacan, and are also common in Mayan art, though the two Mayan feathered serpent deities cannot simply be considered Quetzalcoatl by another name.  (As both of their names have the same meaning, and they all have a certain amount of overlap in social function, it seems at least possible — if not outright probable — that all three evolved either out of the Teotihuacan feathered serpent or from an earlier one that left  no trace in the archaeological record.)

However, MegaTen‘s Quetzalcoatl doesn’t always look like a feathered serpent.  Sometimes he looks like this:

Again, image copyright Atlus but downloaded from the MegaTen Wiki. Click for link.

And that, too, is not entirely wrong:

Another image of Quetzalcoatl from the Codex Telleriano-Remensis (16th century). Wikimedia Commons

So, art aside, who is Quetzalcoatl?  All four of the MegaTen games I’ve been consulting for this month’s A-to-Z posts have the same thing to say about him: Read the rest of this entry →


A to Z: Python

Published April 18, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

Okay, I know I said I wasn’t going to do any Greek stuff, but…I wasn’t really feeling most of the other “P” choices.  Besides, I have a…well, I’m not sure a “funny story” is quite the right way to put it…a “minor anecdote that I happen to find amusing because I’m anal like that” is probably the more accurate way to describe it.  (Really, I ought to do Pele for this.  But…I just wasn’t feeling it.)

Image copyright Atlus, but provided by the MegaTen Wiki. Click for link.

Yup, that dino skull with a snake-like cloud of smoke behind it is how they usually depict Python in these games.  Though I’ll have another image for you in a minute.  But first, here’s the game text describing Python in Shin Megami Tensei IV/IV Apocalypse:

A gigantic, black snake god born from the Greek goddess Gaea with no father.

He has unparalleled prophetic abilities and has protected oracular shrines since days of old.  Python is said to have been the guardian of Delphi, site of Delphic oracles.  He is sometimes called “the king of deceitful spirits” and gave prophecies that would only be in his favor, but he never gave prophecies that went against Gaea’s will.

The same text was also used in the two Devil Survivor games, except without the word “deceitful.”  Which is a pretty freakin’ big change, I must say!  Those of you with some knowledge of who Python is in Greek myths may be agog at the massive omissions there.  But before I address those, let me show you the other version of Python I promised.  This is what you see in Persona 2:  Eternal Punishment when you face Python as an enemy.  (This, of course, being the way I first saw him in a MegaTen game.)

A bit more like it, except for the, y’know, wings and legs.  (Though as I posted once already, it’s hard for us to know what exactly the ancient Greeks had in mind when they used words that get translated to English words like “serpent” and “dragon,” so maybe this isn’t as far off as it might be.)  Python’s inclusion in Eternal Punishment has stuck with me all these years for a very specific reason:  Eternal Punishment was the first game (translated into English) to include a compendium giving the player access to little summaries of what the original myths/folktales/etc. were.  I can’t quote you specifically what it said, because goodness only knows where the heck my memory card is, but I can paraphrase it for you.  It said that Python was a monstrous snake sent by Hera to kill Ret.

It took me way too long to realize that “Ret” was a translation error made by people who didn’t know Greek mythology, and that it was supposed to say “Leto.”

But let’s set the games aside now and talk about the real Python.  (Not the one with the Flying Circus…) Read the rest of this entry →

A to Z: Ogun

Published April 17, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

Right before I came in here to write this post, I was reading the book I’m currently in the middle of, and I came across a passage about Ogoun (as the author spells his name) and the serendipity was too great to ignore.  So, here’s a post about Ogun!

Image copyright Atlus, but provided by the MegaTen Wiki. Click for link.

I’ve got the text of two compendium entries for Ogun.  First, from the two Devil Survivor games:

A heroic warrior god of Voodoo.  Worship of him involves the use of rum, which he enjoys.

He has many aspects such as warrior, guardian, and victim, as well as governor of fire, politics, and of course, war.  His name comes from the Nigerian god of ironsmithing.

And, although it’s not very different, here’s his entry from Shin Megami Tensei IV/IV Apocalypse:

A heroic warrior god of Voodoo.  Worship of him involves the use of rum, which he enjoys.

He has many aspects, such as governing fire, politics, and of course, war.  His name comes from the Nigerian god of ironsmithing.

Before I say anything else, I have to make the stylistic comment that “such as” in those two sentences feels really, really amateurish.  (I realize I’m no one to talk on that subject, but I’m not a paid professional (outside of very specific circumstances), so it’s a bit different.)

Ogun will always have a special place in my heart (and probably the hearts of many others among the older MegaTen players), because he’s the first Persona acquired by fan-favorite character Mark.*  (Though in the crappy original translation (which I spent a while talking about yesterday) they changed Ogun’s name to Shaman.)   It was probably coincidental that it was Mark who was chosen to be changed into an African-American for that original PS1 translation.  (Actually, it almost certainly was due to the fact that he was the only one wearing a hat to hide his hair.)  The MegaTen Wiki provided a cool image from the manga adaptation of the original Persona, showing Mark summoning Ogun:

Image copyright whoever wrote the manga. And Atlus. And whoever published the manga.

In that manga panel — much more so than in any of the official game art — it’s easy to see similarities between Ogun’s face and some traditional African masks.  (No idea, off-hand, if any of those masks are from the right cultures, but…I’ll give them credit for effort, either way.)  Doesn’t look anything like the Nigerian statue of him pictured on the Wikipedia page, though.

And that seems a good place to switch to talking about the real Ogun, continuing with that passage I just read.  It’s from the book I’m reading for the social science challenge for Read Harder 2018, and since I plan on giving it a very long review when I finish it (EDIT:  should be this Sunday, as I just finished it the day before this post is scheduled to go up), I don’t want to go into too much detail about the book, or even what it’s called.  (I’d feel dishonest if I didn’t at least give credit here to the author, Wade Davis, but I won’t be specifying anything else until the review goes up.)  Anyway, here’s the passage, from a sequence discussing spirit possession:

Ogoun has the warrior’s passion for fire and steel, usually brandishes a machete, and often handles glowing embers.  And why is it that when Ogoun does pass the flames, the one possessed is not harmed?  It was upon these unanswered questions that my logic wavered.  There may, in fact, be a natural explanation for these extraordinary abilities, but if so it lies in regions of consciousness and mind/body interactions that Western psychiatry and medicine have scarcely begun to fathom.  In the absence of a scientific explanation, and in the face of our own certain ignorance, it seems foolish to disregard the opinions of those who know possession best.

In the glossary at the back of the book, Davis has this to say about who Ogoun is:

A vodoun loa, the spirit of fire, war, and the metallurgical elements; the blacksmith god.

In a later passage, discussing the history of the revolutions that turned the French colony of Saint Domingue into Haiti, he talks about a meeting of about 200 slaves representing the thousands across a large section of the colony.  The meeting was the launching of the revolution, and the decisive moment came when one of the women was possessed by Ogoun, who made it clear that it was time to fight.

In one of the earlier passages, he mentions that Ogoun’s colors are blue and red.  There’s no mention of rum in connection with Ogoun, though there’s been a fair chunk of rum elsewhere in the book.  The Wikipedia entry on him does confirm the rum thing, though.  (It isn’t entirely surprising that various details might have been omitted, as Davis’s book is not about loa or the specific beliefs about them, but about vodoun itself, in a very particular Haitian context.)

Regarding the pre-Vodoun Ogun, according to Wikipedia, he’s a Yoruban god who started out as an early mortal king.  (It’s more complicated than that, of course, but since the game’s only talking about the New World version, I figure that’s about all the detail we really need in this context.)  However, he’s not exclusively a god of metal-working, as the game suggests, but rather already represents all the same things he does in Vodoun.

There’s probably more I could/should say, but I think I’ll leave it here, to make up for yesterday’s stupidly long post.

*Always remember:  Mark danced crazy!

A to Z: Nyarlahotep

Published April 16, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

Okay, so this post is even more off than yesterday’s.  Er, no, wait this is a Monday post, isn’t it?  So that’d make it Saturday’s post.  (The perils of pre-writing…)  However, I promise I’m back on track with traditional mythology tomorrow!

Image copyright Atlus, but provided by the MegaTen Wiki. Click for link.

This time, I’m going to deviate from my standard practice, and start out by talking about who the original version of Nyarlahotep is (as best as I can), and then talk about him in the MegaTen games, because to give him a really full description will require some pretty massive spoilers, and I don’t want to start the post with the spoilers.

However, I will preface the discussion with the disclaimer that I have never read anything by Nyarlahotep’s creator, H. P. Lovecraft, and that my brief summary is, therefore, entirely based on his Wikipedia article.  So it may well be deeply wrong in places, and if so I apologize in advance.  (If any Lovecraft fans want to let me know about mistakes, I will, of course, correct them.)

Of course, right in that previous paragraph, you’ll already notice where today’s post differs from all the others in this A-to-Z:  Nyarlahotep is a fictional character, rather than a mythical or folkloric one.  I figured he was acceptable to use in this for a couple of reasons, though.  First of all, obviously, he’s in the games, and my theme this year is to highlight a figure used in MegaTen games and then talk about the original myth that the figure is based on.  Second, the complex mythos created by Lovecraft in his works has been embraced and enhanced by a couple of generations of writers by now, and is approached by many in the same manner as they might approach another culture’s mythology.  Also, of course, A-to-Z rules are pretty flexible (aside from the following the alphabet bit) and mostly self-imposed, so a little fudging like this seems perfectly acceptable.

So, Nyarlahotep was introduced in the 1920 prose poem Nyarlahotep, in which he wanders the world in the guise of an Egyptian pharoah (for some reason), gathering followers, who…well, I’m not entirely clear on what happens to them from the summaries on Wikipedia.  I thought I had an idea when I read the one on the entry for the entity, but then I read the summary on the entry for the prose poem, and it didn’t seem to fully correspond to the other summary.  All I can tell is that it seems the end of the world might be involved.  (Wow, that was informative…)

*ahem*  Moving on.

Nyarlahotep appears in four more works by Lovecraft, though one of them is essentially a re-telling of the original story.  He’s also mentioned in several more, and is known as the Crawling Chaos.  When he appears, it’s not always looking like a pharaoh.  Sometimes he looks like a “tentacled, bat-winged monster,” or other forms; in fact, he’s said to have a thousand of them.

In fact, the Wikipedia article has a whole table of his forms and where they appear…but it’s not very picky about if a form really counts as a form of Nyarlahotep or not:  it lists Stephen King’s recurring villain Randall Flagg as being an avatar of Nyarlahotep just because someone in one of King’s books once compared Flagg to Nyarlahotep.  I’m not clear on which of those forms are referred to in actual Lovecraft works, which are in works written by others using Lovecraft’s mythos, and which are, like Flagg, merely comparable, so I’m not going to try to go into them, because I would just end up making a mess of it if I did.

I’ll just say one more thing from the Wikipedia entry before I move on to the games.  It quotes a letter Lovecraft sent to a friend of his, talking about a terrifying nightmare that had inspired the character of Nyarlahotep.  Scholars, according to Wikipedia, have speculated that the nightmare was inspired by the reputation of inventor Nikola Tesla, who was at the time holding public lectures that left people feeling he was a sinister figure.  (Edison’s PR machine at work?)  Because of that speculation, there’s apparently been a graphic novel adaptation of the prose poem that illustrated a version of Nyarlahotep based on Tesla.  Not terribly relevant, but I thought it was interesting.

Okay, so, moving on to the games, at long last.  The picture waaaaaay up above is Nyarlahotep’s standard appearance in the games, but he’s looked different in the ones where he’s part of the plot.  But first, the ones where he isn’t connected to the plot.  His compendium entry in the two Devil Survivor games reads as follows:

A god of the Cthulhu mythos.  He came to Earth in ancient times from outer space and is known as the Crawling Chaos.

He acts as a proxy to his masters such as Azathoth, who have no intelligence to make their desires manifest in our world.  Because he can assume various forms, he is known as a faceless god.  He is particularly known as the Hunter of the Dark, and he seems to have other guises on Earth as well.

“The Haunter of the Dark” was the name of a 1936 story that also featured Nyarlahotep (that’s the one featuring the tentacled, bat-winged appearance that clearly influenced his game appearance, in fact), and I strongly suspect that in one direction or the other, that’s a translation error.  (Whether “Haunter” became “Hunter” on the way into Japanese or on the way back into English, I don’t know, but I’m sure it could happen pretty easily in either direction.)  The bit about him being a “proxy to his masters” agrees with what’s in the Wikipedia article (which goes on further to identify Azathoth as Nyarlahotep’s father), but as the citation is to one of Lovecraft’s letters, I’m not sure if that detail was in any of the stories, or if he was just telling someone about backstory he’d never had a proper place to insert into a story.

Anyway, in most of the MegaTen games, Nyarlahotep serves the same function as 95% of the other figures in the game:  something to fight, summon or both.  (Usually both.)  There are three exceptions, and one quasi-exception.  These are all from the Persona sub-series, the three PS1 games, in fact.  So if you haven’t played those and think you ever might want to, stop reading right now.  (And yes, they’re worth playing.  A little grind-heavy at times, and very much a product of their era, but they’re good games.  The PSP remakes of Persona and Persona 2:  Innocent Sin should be available for download purchase on the Playstation Store (possibly only on the Vita?) and the original PS1 version of Persona 2:  Eternal Punishment should likewise be available (and that one’s not going to be Vita-only) but sadly Atlus declined to translate Eternal Punishment‘s PSP remake.) Read the rest of this entry →

A to Z: Mothman

Published April 14, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

Doing something slightly different today, in that today’s selection isn’t a figure from ancient myth or folklore, but from modern…um…well, if the exact same stories were being told a couple hundred years ago, they’d be called folkloric, but I have a feeling that people don’t usually extend the same courtesy to modern tales.

Regardless of what category one wants to put him in, today’s post is on the Mothman.

Image copyright Atlus, but provided by the MegaTen Wiki. Click for link.

Look how cute that little guy is with his crazily spindly legs!  I’ve got two versions of compendium text for him.  First, from the Devil Survivors and Shin Megami Tensei IV/IV Apocalypse:

A cryptid sighted in West Virginia from the 1960s to the 1980s.

It has red, shining eyes and was known for the finlike appendages on the sides of its body.  It’s said to walk on two feet and fly without moving its appendages.  It can keenly sense blood to track its source and feed on it.  Eyewitnesses say that a UFO was sighted when Mothman appeared, so some believe that it is actually an alien.

And second, from Persona Q:

A cryptid sighted in West Virginia from the 60s-80s, named for the finlike appendages on the sides of his body.  Said to keenly sense blood, so as to track the source and feed on it.

Admittedly, that was just an abbreviated form of the other one, but…

So, who or what is the Mothman outside of Shin Megami Tensei?  Probably the most commonly applied word for him is “cryptid,” a catch-all term for strange beasts that some modern people believe in and most don’t.  Cryptids include the Loch Ness monster, yetis and Sasquatches, jackalopes, chupacabras, all that kind of thing.

Rather than try to paraphrase it, I’m going to just quote the story from Wikipedia:

On November 12, 1966, five men who were digging a grave at a cemetery near Clendenin, West Virginia, claimed to see a man-like figure fly low from the trees over their heads.[5] This is often identified as the first known sighting of what became known as the Mothman.

Shortly thereafter, on November 15, 1966, two young couples from Point Pleasant, Roger and Linda Scarberry and Steve and Mary Mallette, told police they saw a large grey creature whose eyes “glowed red” when the car’s headlights picked it up. They described it as a “large flying man with ten-foot wings”, following their car while they were driving in an area outside of town known as “the TNT area“, the site of a former World War II munitions plant.[6][7]

During the next few days, other people reported similar sightings. Two volunteer firemen who saw it said it was a “large bird with red eyes”. Mason County Sheriff George Johnson commented that he believed the sightings were due to an unusually large heron he termed a “shitepoke”. Contractor Newell Partridge told Johnson that when he aimed a flashlight at a creature in a nearby field its eyes glowed “like bicycle reflectors”, and blamed buzzing noises from his television set and the disappearance of his German Shepherd dog on the creature.[8]

Of course, rational explanations were offered, most in the form of large birds that had strayed outside of their usual territory.  A lost sandhill crane (7-foot wingspan) seems to be the accepted “best fit” explanation, but of course many prefer the cryptid to a mere bird.  In 1967, a bridge in the area collapsed, killing almost fifty people, an incident that became tied to the legend of the Mothman, giving him the reputation as a harbinger of disaster.  But after that, there weren’t any significant sightings until 2016 (of course that had nothing to do with the 50th anniversary of the original), when a man took photos of something large hopping from tree to tree above the road, and sent them in to the local television station.  The TV station has its news story on the subject posted online, and I had a look at it.  The photos don’t look very convincing to me, but that’s irrelevant.

Regardless of the short duration of the original sightings and the way they were quickly and easily explained away by the scientific community, the Mothman seems popular in his hometown of Point Pleasant.  They started a Mothman Festival in 2002 and erected a statue of him in 2003:

Personally, I think the statue looks like an Ultraman monster.  Or maybe what Arthur from The Tick wishes his costume looked like.  I’ll always prefer this statue(ette):

Mothman has been popular outside of West Virginia, too.  There was a novel in 1975 called The Mothman Prophecies that was adapted into a(n evidently lackluster) movie in 2002.  A search on Etsy will turn up plenty of Mothman-themed works.  And Shin Megami Tensei isn’t the only Japanese game series to incorporate him:  the Castlevania series has also included him, though he didn’t appear in the series until there was a game set after 1966.

Image copyright Konami. From Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow.

A to Z: Lugh

Published April 13, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

This one is going to prove to be more of a challenge than I expected when I picked him…

Image copyright Atlus, but provided by the MegTen Wiki. Click for link.

Lugh appears in a number of Shin Megami Tensei games (though in the two Persona 2 games, he’s called by one of his other names, Idanach/Il-Dana), but in Devil Survivor 2 he’s a vital plot element.  The Devil Survivor sub-series functions around the premise of limited-range, hyper-accurate predictions of the future, specifically, death predictions which the player can use to prevent the deaths from taking place.  (There are a few characters whose deaths have to be prevented (including the hero, obviously!), but most of the others, if the player messes up, they’ll have to either go on with that character dead, or they’ll have to load a saved game.)  In Devil Survivor 2, a secret organization has sealed powerful demons throughout Japan, and is now having to unseal them in order to fight off a threat to the whole world.  Of course, it’s the player character and his party who are actually doing all the unsealing (and most of the fighting), but Lugh’s seal was compromised, requiring a lot more work, and a medium to facilitate the summoning.  And if the player did the wrong things before the battle, the summoning can cause the death of the medium.  (From what I hear, it’s a particularly horrible death, too.  Thankfully, I haven’t seen it myself.)

…y’know, I’m not sure that was actually relevant information to the post…

Okay, moving on, this is what the Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker compendium has to say about Lugh:

A sun god of Irish lore.  His name means “flashing light.”

He is skilled in many arts, carries his spear Areadbhar, and is known as the Long Arm.

He is father to Cu Chulainn and is said to have many wives, including Bui.  His grandfather Balor was also his greatest foe; during the battle of Magh Tuireadh he pierced Balor’s evil eye with a magic stone.

All right, so first and foremost, since the game text is vague on this point, I’ll be clear:  Lugh is the Irish name for an important god who was present throughout the Celtic world.  He’s not an exclusively Irish figure, though what I’ll be discussing today is strictly the Irish version.  (In the same way that if I was discussing a Roman god, I wouldn’t insert stories about his Greek counterpart.  Not without identifying them as such, anyway.)

Read the rest of this entry →

A to Z: Kijimuna and Koropokkuru

Published April 12, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

This time, I couldn’t quite decide which one to do, and since they seem closely related (despite being from opposite ends of Japan), I thought I’d do them both.  (There must be something about K that makes it double:  the other contender for today’s post was the vampire hunter/vampire pair of enemies Kresnik and Kudlak.)

We’ll start with Kijimuna:

Image copyright Atlus, but provided by the MegaTen Wiki. Click for link.

This little cutie is an Okinawan spirit.  (And on the 3DS screen, that body looks more like a green pine cone than something covered in leaves.  Guess there’s something to be said for a bigger screen…)  His text from the two Devil Survivor games is as follows:

A tree spirit of Okinawa.  They are about the size of babies and are covered in hair.

They are the spirits of old Chinese Banyan trees and are also known by the names of Kijimun and Bunagaya.  They love fish and crab, but if they eat one eye of a fish, they get tired of eating the rest and discard the remains.  They hate octopi and will run at the mere sight of one.

So, for those unfamiliar with Japan, Okinawa here refers to the island of Okinawa (it’s also the name of a Prefecture of Japan) one of the most southern islands of Japan.  (Or is it the most southern?  I’m a little unclear on whether the smaller islands that were formerly part of the Ryukyu Kingdom were annexed along with the rest of it.)  Okinawa is part of the Ryukyu chain of islands, which curve around very close to Taiwan.  Because of the short distances involved, Okinawa (and the rest of the Ryukyu Kingdom) had a large Chinese population, so Okinawan culture and language is different from that of the majority of Japan.  The Ryukyu Kingdom was annexed by Japan in the 1870s after a couple of centuries of Ryukyu paying tribute as a vassal state.  Okinawa remains distinctly different from the rest of Japan, more than a hundred years later.  (It’s also still the site of numerous US military bases, though what possible excuse there can be to still have military bases there more than seventy years after the end of WWII, I can’t imagine.)

Read the rest of this entry →

A to Z: Jahi

Published April 11, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

This is another one, I have to admit, where it was the character design that cemented my choice.  Looking at the real story behind this one leaves me all the more intrigued, though…

Image copyright Atlus, but provided by the MegaTen Wiki. Click for link.

It’s hard to know quite what order to present my thoughts, but I guess I’ll follow structure and start out by giving you the game material.  So, that’s the portrait of Jahi in the recent games she’s appeared in (and, according to the wiki, that’s what her original character design was back on the SNES as a boss in Shin Megami Tensei if…)  The only compendium entry I have for her is this one, which according to my file came from both Devil Survivor Overclocked and Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker:

A female demon of Zoroastrian lore, said to be Ahriman’s lover.  Just as her name means “ill-natured woman,” she is an ill-natured creature.  She was also called Jeh in Medieval Persia.

Curiously, the wiki claims that her compendium entry in Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker was the same as the one they provide from Devil Summoner:  Soul Hackers, only adding in a typo:

An evil witch of Zoroastrian lore, said to be Angra Mainyu’s mistress. She is the cause of menstruation in all women, and she is the ruler of courtesans across the world. Skilled at the seductive arts, she leads humans astray, and the cold, derisive aspect of women is the fault of Jahi.

I’m not sure why my notes and the wiki disagree on her compendium entry from the same game.  (It does mention her being a DLC demon, so maybe they patched the game to give it the less incendiary text at some point between when they copied the text and when I played the game?)

Read the rest of this entry →

A to Z: Inti

Published April 10, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

Maybe a little too well-known, but I haven’t done any from South America yet this month, so today’s post will feature the Incan sun god, Inti.

Image copyright Atlus, but provided by the MegaTen Wiki. Click for link.

Had to shrink the image down to medium-sized; at full-size, his sun disk was looking very creepy to me.  (Maybe I’m just too tired to be doing this, but I don’t have any choice, because I’m falling behind; my number of buffer posts has fallen from 6 to 4.)

So, the text from Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker and Shin Megami Tensei IV/Shin Megami Tensei IV Apocalpyse about Inti is as follows:

The Inca god of the sun, revered as a creation god.

He and his wife, the moon goddess Mama Quilla, were worshipped as great gods and loved by the Incas.  The Inca king Manco Capac was said to be Inti’s son, and was also worshipped as a sun god.

Pretty straight-forward, and more or less correct, although I’m not sure “creation god” applies at all.  Not in any sense I’m used to, anyway.  Wikipedia points out that rather than being simply the sun god, Inti is “more appropriately viewed as a cluster of solar aspects, since the Inca divided his identity according to the stages of the sun.”  (Ugh, I hate myself for relying so much on freakin’ Wikipedia for this.  I really suck…) What the game’s text leaves out is that Inti is usually said to be the son of Viracocha, who is more generally considered the true creator god of the Inca.  (Though there is some debate over that, too.)

Read the rest of this entry →

A to Z: Hanuman

Published April 9, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

Today, we’ll be looking at Hanuman, the monkey god of India.  (And other places strongly influenced by Hindu and Buddhist traditions.)

Image copyright Atlus, but provided by the MegaTen Wiki. Click for link.

Hanuman appears in a lot of the MegaTen games.  I’ve got two versions of his demon compendium text.  From Devil Survivor Overclocked:

A heroic monkey god of Hindu descent who is renowned and popular.  He is extremely nimble and has extraordinary knowledge.

He is known to have helped Vishnu in the guise of Prince Rama and performed many heroic deeds in the Ramayana.  His name means “jaw,” and he has golden skin, a red face that shines like a ruby, and an extremely long tail.  Since he is the son of the wind god Vayu, he can fly and change shape into many forms.

And from Shin Megami Tensei IV/Shin Megami Tensei IV Apocalypse:

A hero of Hindu descent.  He can transform into anything, fly, and has great strength.  He performed many heroic deeds in the Ramayana.  He is depicted as a monkey.

Again, image copyright Atlus, but provided by the MegaTen Wiki. Click for link.

(His Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne appearance, above, is more like his other portrait, but since I’ve actually encountered him in Nocturne, and didn’t get far enough in the original Shin Megami Tensei to meet him, I thought I’d use the 3D version.)

As to the original Hanuman, there’s a lot there to talk about.  Hanuman is one of the major characters in the Hindu epic the Ramayana.  I have actually read a translation of that, many years ago, but mostly all I really remember about it was how much Hanuman reminded me of Sun Wukong (Son Goku in Japan), from The Journey to the West.  (Despite that I haven’t actually read the latter.  I’ve just read a lot about it.  Because it’s very, very long.  And hard to find in translation unless you want a butchered version from the 1940s.)  According to Wikipedia, I’m not the only one to see the similarity between Hanuman and Sun Wukong:  it says that “scholars” say unreservedly that Hanuman absolutely was the inspiration for Sun Wukong.

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