blogging-a-to-z-challenge

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April A-to-Z Reflections

Published May 7, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

I think the big take-away from this turn through April A-to-Z is that I need to stop setting such ambitious themes.  It’s really hard to keep up with something like this, especially when I’m trying to draw from so many different cultures, most of which I don’t know all that much about.  My first A-to-Z was really easy for me, because it was purely Greek myth, but the second year’s was horribly stressful, and this one started getting pretty rough by the end, too.  So next year, I’m going to do something where I have a book on hand to consult.  I came across three books in the course of the online research for this year’s (one on goddesses from across the world, one a bestiary of ancient Chinese lore, and one on a handful of French dragon tales) that I plan to buy, so I’ll probably base it around one of those.  (Well, not the third one; as it only features a handful, it wouldn’t be anywhere near enough!)

Next year, I hope I will also remember to fill in the daily link lists after April actually starts:  I did links for the ones I had written before April started, and then didn’t remember to put the rest in until “W” had gone up, but it doesn’t let you add to the list after the fact, so anyone using the daily link lists later on to go through the posts will think I stopped after “F”!

I also realized that I left out some important information from the posts themselves.  Since all my posts featured art from games of the Megami Tensei series, I should have credited the artist responsible for all those wonderful monster designs, Kazuma Kaneko, whose work I usually love.  (There are the occasional exceptions…)  A few character portraits showed up, too, and those are by other artists, but…the bulk of the game art I showed is Kaneko’s work.

I also never gave anyone any good glimpses into the world of MegaTen as a whole.  (Which, admittedly, was not the point.)  I probably wouldn’t mention that if I hadn’t come across a YouTube video that would have been the perfect thing to post a link to from my theme reveal.  (Too bad I only found it half-way through the month!)  It’s a video compiling video footage from the first 30 years of the MegaTen series, from its start on the NES with the original Megami Tensei in 1987 through to 2017’s (Japenese) releases/announced releases:  a cell phone game (unclear if it’ll come over, but it looks awesome), next month’s remake of Shin Megami Tensei:  Strange Journey, and Shin Megami Tensei V on the Nintendo Switch (I already wanted to get a Switch, but now it’s a necessity!), which has been announced for Western release, but without a release date (as of the last time I checked, about two weeks ago).  The video can be found here, but of course keep in mind that it’s entirely in Japanese, and a lot of the games covered in it have never been made (officially) available in English.  The ones in the video that are available in English include: SNES Shin Megami Tensei (which got a now-defunct-until-it’s-updated-for-iOS10 iOS port) from 1992 is at about 1:20, the original Persona from 1996 at 6:50, and at 7:50 we get to the original version of Devil Summoner:  Soul Hackers (which got a 3DS port a few years ago that was translated), and from that point on, a lot of them (though not all) are available in English.  (And it would be rather tedious to go through and list them all…plus watching that footage makes me want to replay them all, and I don’t have that kind of time on my hands!  (Especially not with how many games I’ve bought that I haven’t played at all yet.)  If there’s one post-Soul Hackers that you’re curious about, you can ask me what it is, as I can probably identify it, even if it’s not available in English.)

Okay, so all that being said, let’s recap the month!  Especially looking at how well (or poorly) I did in mixing it up in terms of the cultural origins of the beings each post covered:

  1. Abraxas:  Gnosticism (Europe 1)
  2. Baldr:  Norse (Europe 2)
  3. Chernobog:  Slavic (Europe 3)
  4. Dzelarhons:  Haida (Native American 1)
  5. Erlkonig:  German (Europe 4)
  6. Fuxi:  China (Asia 1)
  7. Girimehkala:  Sri Lanka (Hindu 1)
  8. Hanuman:  India (Hindu 2)
  9. Inti:  Inca (Native American 2)
  10. Jahi:  Zoroastrian (Middle East 1)
  11. Kijimuna/Koropokkuru:  Okinawa/Ainu (Asia 2)
  12. Lugh:  Irish (Europe 5)
  13. Mothman:  American (um…American 1?)
  14. Nyarlahotep:  Cthulu mythos (um…fictional 1?)
  15. Ogoun:  Vodoun (uh…African-fusion 1?)
  16. Python:  Greek (Europe 6)
  17. Quetzalcoatl:  Aztec (Native American 3)
  18. Rangda:  Bali (Hindu 3)
  19. Shiisaa:  Okinawa/Japan/China (Asia 3)
  20. Tzitzimitl:  Aztec (Native American 4)
  21. Ukobach:  Enlightenment-era demonology texts (Europe 7)
  22. Vouivre:  France  (Europe 8)
  23. Wendigo:  Ojibwe/Algonquin/Cree (Native American 5)
  24. Xi Wangmu:  China (Asia 4)
  25. Yurlungur:  Aborigine (Australia 1)
  26. Zaccoum:  Islamic (Middle East 2)

And the big thing I see here is that Europe got waaaay too much representation.  Other things I see can’t really be helped.  For example, Africa was pretty much absent, aside from the vodoun god who is a version of an African god, but there are very few African figures in the MegaTen games, except for Egyptian gods.  (Speaking of which, I’m somewhat astonished that I didn’t use any of them!  I guess they felt boring to me because they’re much more common than some of these…?)  If I’d been actively trying to cover everywhere as evenly as I could, it would be a badly skewed list, but for mainly just picking by whatever I fancied in the letters, I think I managed to spread things out pretty well.

So…let’s see…anything else I should say here?

I guess I should probably answer the (unasked) question of what MegaTen games the uninitiated might want to play, and/or what’s the best introductory game.  The one problem with MegaTen games is that (like most Atlus RPGs, really), they’re produced in very small quantities.  So if a game isn’t really new, and you want a physical copy, you’re probably out of luck.  However, these days games are made available digitally pretty much as long as the console is still supported online by the manufacturer, so most of the ones that were officially translated into English are probably available for digital purchase.  (As to unofficial translations, those are both free and illegal, so I won’t go into that.)  Some of the PS2 titles may not have been added to the Playstation Store, though.  (I know the Persona and Digital Devil Saga games are available, but I’m not sure about the others.  I’ve never really looked into the PS2 titles available on the Playstation Store, because I already had physical copies of pretty much everything on the platform that I wanted.)

The main thing to consider in looking at the MegaTen games is whether they’re main line or sub-series games.  The main games tend to be lighter in plot (though not always), lacking well-defined player characters, more heavy-handed in theme, and to have multiple endings.  My general rule is to try to enter a series as early as possible (which is why my first Final Fantasy was V, because that was the oldest one available to me at the time), so unless you happen to have an iPad/iPhone still running iOS9 (or you want a fan translation), that would be Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne (which is a slight revamping of Shin Megami Tensei III, with an extra dungeon, and the extra character of Dante in his Devil May Cry 2 outfit) which is an absolutely awesome game and made me completely fall in love with the series.  However, if you want something a little lighter, you should probably look to the Persona series, which is really two series if you ask me:  the three games on the original Playstation, and the new ones starting with Persona 3.  The PS1 games are very dated to their era (even in the PSP remakes), but still good, solid games.  Persona 3 was very popular (and is quite good), Persona 4 was even more popular (and is way better), and Persona 5 is apparently one of the greatest things since sliced bread, from how everyone else is reacting to it.  (It’s killing me that I still can’t play it!)  The Digital Devil Saga duology is…uh…the first game was brilliant, and the second game was…not.  The same thing can exactly be said for the two Devil Summoner Raido Kuzunoha games.  The Devil Survivor games are a surprising mix:  they’re as full of characters and plot as any of the other non-main games, but they’re just as heavy-handed as the main games (especially the first Devil Survivor), and they have even more endings than the main games.  They’re good games, but the first one is not recommended for those who are deeply religious and take offense easily where religion is concerned.  (The same must be said for the main series, I should add!)  I do not recommend starting with Strange Journey Redux.  Not unless it’s way better than the original one was.  (Highly unlikely.)  I’m excited to see its release next month, but I didn’t actually love the original (or even really like it all that much).  Except for its soundtrack.  That was amazingly cool, and very different from the soundtracks of the other games in the series.

Hmm.

I feel like I’m still not saying something I should be.

Oh!  This is probably not what I was forgetting, but I should mention this, since I’m doing all this talking about MegaTen.  One of the creators of the Megami Tensei franchise, and one of the composers, are working on a visual novel that’s currently seeking funding on Kickstarter.  (As of the first of the month, they were almost at 70% funded.)  It seems to be a dark, fairy tale-inspired game, with a very different visual style than the MegaTen games.  If that sounds like it might be interesting to you, please check it out.

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A to Z: Zaccoum

Published April 30, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

Ah, finally at Z!  There were a surprising number of “Z” choices, but it was much harder to find one that wasn’t Chinese.

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

So, let’s follow standard procedure and start with the Compendium text.  In this case, it’s from Shin Megami Tensei IV/IV Apocalypse:

A tree believed to grow in Jahannam, the Islamic hell.  It bears fruit shaped like the heads of devils.
Its existence is mentioned in the Qu’ran.

And before I move on any further, let me start out by saying that I do not know what spellings are viewed as the most correct when transliterating from Arabic to English, so I apologize right now if I use any that are incorrect.  Obviously, the ones in the text quoted from the game are not mine to change, and in all other spellings, I’m following what’s on the Wikipedia page, because while it’s not a completely reliable source, it’s…well…easily accessed.  (Because I suck.)

According to said Wikipedia page, the Zaqqum is not mentioned very frequently:  looks like it’s only in four verses.  (Now that I think about it, that’s not actually surprising.  Something that only exists as part of the torments of sinners after death would hardly be mentioned frequently in a religious text.)

As you might be able to tell from the game art, the Zaqqum is a tree with fruit shaped like heads.  It’s actually supposed to be devil heads, not human heads, though.  The game’s art is vague enough that it works either way, but in this other art I found of the Zaqqum, the heads look human:

By Shahhh [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The fruit from the tree is fed to the sinners — one of the only foods they’re allowed to eat — in order to increase their suffering, burning and tormenting them from within.  Or the fruit is the fruit of all the sins they committed in their lifetimes, so the more evil a sinner is, the bigger his personal Zaqqum is, I guess is what that’s saying?

According to Wikipedia, there are three real types of plant that have been nicknamed “zaqqum,” but looking at the pages about those plants, I’m not entirely clear as to why.  (Well, one of them is poisonous, so I guess that’s why in that case, but the other two are less clear.)

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Well, that was an underwhelming post.  Sorry.  A-to-Z burn-out, I guess…

A to Z: Yurlungur

Published April 28, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

Aaaaaand we have another one I really shouldn’t be doing.  But this was one of the ones I really wanted to cover, you know?

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

This colorful fellow shows up quite frequently.  His compendium text for the Devil Survivor and Shin Megami Tensei IV games is:

A snake with a rainbow body from Murngin lore.

He is a fertility deity who controls the weather and resides in a holy pond filled with rainbow-colored water.  He is a grand entity that transcends good and evil.

Although actually, that last sentence is only in the Devil Survivor games, not the Shin Megami Tensei IV games.

But setting that aside, let’s start with the basics.  Unless you happen to be particularly well versed in the cultures of that part of the world, you’re probably wondering what “Murngin” means.  It refers to a particular aboriginal group in Australia, but it’s actually an outdated term:  Yolngu is the currently accepted name for the group.  Anything more detailed than “they live in northern Australia” would either end up with me making mistakes and or spouting misinformation/misunderstood information, so I’m instead just going to point you in the direction of the Wikipedia page on them if you want to learn more.  (It cites a lot of sources; even if the page itself is less than useful, the sources are probably good.)

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A to Z: Xi Wangmu

Published April 27, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

This one is daunting, but after the last few, it’s refreshing to know that when the post is over, I’ll sit back and say “that is way too lacking in information” not because there isn’t any information, but because there’s too much of it.  Um, naturally, it’d be better if I didn’t sit back and say that at all, of course, but…I’m up to X.  Of course I’m experiencing a little burn-out…

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

Xi Wangmu has been a pretty frequent inclusion in the more recent MegaTen games, but she didn’t start appearing until the PS1 era.  Dunno why.  Anyway, this is her compendium entry from the two Devil Summoner games:

A goddess revered in ancient China who grew popular during the Han Dynasty.  Her palace was said to be atop the mythological Mt. Kunlun.

She is mostly human in appearance, with a distinctive headdress, as well as the tail of a panther and the teeth of a tiger

Originally she was said to govern the Five Calamities, but later came to be depicted as a beautiful sage and enshrined as the ruler of Mt. Kunlun.

Among her legendary encounters was Sun Wukong, who stole and ate the Peaches of Immortality.

And a more abbreviated entry from the Shin Megami Tensei IV games:

An ancient Chinese goddess who ruled over the Kunlun mountains.  She was worshipped during the Han Dynasty.

She looks like a human, but is said to have the teeth of a tiger and tail of a leopard.  She kept the peaches of immortality, which Wu Kong stole and ate.

Admittedly, the biggest difference there is that one says tail of a panther and the other says tail of a leopard, but…

Let’s move on to the real Xi Wangmu!

Er, to a small sliver of the real one, anyway.  There’s a lot there.  (Like, whole books of it.)

It should come as no surprise — given that the games tend to be at least relatively accurate, and that they get more accurate the closer to home things are — that what the game says is pretty much correct.  It leaves out a lot, but it’s not wrong about anything, as far as I can tell.  For about the first thousand years (give or take a couple of centuries) of her known existence, she was ferocious, and had…well, the Wikipedia page only mentions the teeth of a tiger, but I doubt the game simply made up the tail.  After she became part of Taoism, though, that’s when she became the “Queen Mother of the West” that she’s been ever since.  (“Queen Mother of the West” being the translation of Xi Wangmu, btw.)

Pao-Shan Tomb Wall-Painting from the Liao Dynasty (907-1125). Wikimedia Commons

This painting could easily be an influence on the game art, don’t you think?  (Well, maybe not.  But the colors are very similar!)

Anyway, after she ceased to be a dispenser of pestilence, then she did indeed become known as “the dispenser of prosperity, longevity, and eternal bliss” at about the time that China was prospering due to the added trade from the Silk Road, and the different regions were better able to get to know each other.

According to legend, she met with countless famous figures, including a long list of emperors, a number of heroes, and even the father of Taoism…and in one account, it was actually Xi Wangmu who wrote his famous Dao De Jing, one of the foundations of Taoism.  (Or is Daoism the correct way to write it?  The various pages on Wikipedia are inconsistent on that score…and I’m so tired I actually wrote “correction” instead of “correct” just now…)

Her home was not always said to be on Mt. Kunlun, but that seems to have become the default after a while.  Likewise, sometimes she was said to grow the Peaches of Immortality, other times different peaches that only extended life, and other times they were merely nearby.  She’s known for serving them to her guests, though, regardless of where they grew.  (In that respect, she could be compared to Idun or Hebe, with their golden apples and ambrosia respectively…)  And yes, Sun Wukong did steal them from her once, though I had to go through about five different Wikipedia articles to confirm that!  (It was my own fault, though.  When Xi Wangmu’s page didn’t say that, I should have just looked his up straight away.)

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Bah.  I need to stop writing these posts at night when I’m tired from work.

A to Z: Wendigo

Published April 26, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

I’m sure I had lots of other choices for “W”.  Well, some other choices, anyway.  But Wendigo is the only one who ended up in my list as I went through the games where I could easily access the compendium.

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

Aside from the horns, he seems more like a yeti than a wendigo, really.  But he’s a suitable sight for the terrified central trio of Devil Survivor, who meet him at the beginning of the game, before they’re used to seeing demons everywhere, and the next morning are given the prediction by their future diaries (lol, anime inside joke) that they’re going to be killed by him that day.

Anyway, this is what his compendium entry says in four of the five games available to me:

An abominable snowman of Canada.  Its height is over five meters.

It has a face that looks like a skull and its thick fur lets it run quickly in the snow.  It appears in villages and eats humans.  Sacrifices are common to avoid being attacked.  It is also said to be a type of spirit that dwells in mountains.

(The fifth, Persona Q, doesn’t feature wendigo.  He doesn’t seem popular in the Persona sub-series, which is odd, because you’d think he’d fit right in.  Though actually, the last sentence was only in two of the four games.  The rest was in all four.)

As with some of the other demons I’ve looked at (yesterday’s, for example), the description of the wendigo seems to be based on something very specific, something that isn’t the original belief, but I don’t know what, precisely.  Since it was made the title character of a 1910 short story by Algernon Blackwood, the wendigo has taken on an entirely new and ever-changing life outside of the culture in which it originated, to the point that some people probably don’t even realize it started out as a native monster from before the arrival of Europeans on this continent.  But a lot of that is in horror fiction and/or horror movies, all of which I avoid, so I’m gonna skip the wendigo’s second wind as a monster (even though that’s the one that seems to be the game’s real point of reference) and go instead to the original one.

The beast we call the wendigo actually has a lot of names, coming from the Ojibwe, Algonquin and Cree languages.  As that might indicate, the original belief was widespread across what is now the northeast United States and eastern Canada.  The wendigo is a man-eating beast that symbolizes gluttony, and the insatiable results of simply giving in to gluttony and greed:  every time a wendigo ate a human, they grew proportionately by the amount of meat they consumed, meaning that next time they fed, they would need even more meat, in an endless cycle, which is why the uncontrollable glutton was also always emaciated and starving.

The actual, supernatural wendigos are not cannibals (despite usually being labeled as such) because they don’t eat each other.  However, a human being could become a wendigo if they gave in to their greed too readily, or if they spent time with real wendigos.  Those human wendigos were cannibals, eating whatever humans they could.  The Wikipedia page on the wendigo mentions several documented cases of cannibalism that were said to be humans becoming wendigos, one of them dating back to 1661!  Of course, the only cure for a human who became a wendigo was death.  Thankfully, such cases dwindled in the 20th century.

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I feel like there was more I needed to say here.  Probably shouldn’t be trying to write at midnight.  Maybe I’ll remember later and edit this.  (Or maybe this nonsense will still be here when the post goes live in five — er, four and a half — days.)

In any case, I wanted to close this post with a link to another (long completed) enamel pin Kickstarter (yes, I’m obsessed) that has a very different take on a wendigo.  The pins are cute little faces of monster girls, but there’s also non-SD art of the first three, which is, well, not quite NSFW, but very close to it.  (So probably don’t click the link if you’re at work…)  And yes, if you were wondering, the wendigo pin is one of the ones I’m getting.  (Hey, be glad I didn’t do this on Mothman, too.  I had one there I could have linked to, too…)

A to Z: Vouivre

Published April 25, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

Today’s demon is one I first met in Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey on the Nintendo DS…the 3DS remaster of which will be releasing on the 15th of next month!  YAY!  (I am frankly astonished that I somehow managed to go this long through this process without mentioning that…)  Okay, “YAY” might be a bit of an exaggeration, though;  Strange Journey was even more ham-fisted in certain story aspects than the rest of the Shin Megami Tensei games, but I can’t help being excited every time a new MegaTen game comes out in English, you know?  Besides, I never forced myself to get the Law and Chaos endings of it the first time around, so this way I can do the smart thing and start with them, so that the Neutral ending becomes my reward.  (Thankfully, I had learned that lesson by the time Shin Megami Tensei IV came out…)

Right, lengthy digression over with.  Let’s get on to today’s featured entity…

Image copyright Atlus. Provided by the Stealing Knowledge blog on tumblr. Click for link.

Yeah, this was one of those demons where my first reaction was “WTF?!”  (Though it’s nothing compared to the bondage Angels…)  When I finally got one in my party and could read the information in the Compendium, that didn’t really help explain to me why she was half human and half red, winged Silurian.

This is her entry from Shin Megami Tensei IV/IV Apocalypse:

A female dragon with bat wings.  Sometimes depicted as a beautiful female spirit.

They have bat wings, eagle legs, and a snake tail, and are all female.  The secret of their power is the garnet gem in their forehead.  If it is stolen, they lose their power and must obey the gem’s owner.

Yup, not…not…not really explaining anything, is it?  (Her wiki page has her Strange Journey entry, and it’s not significantly different.)  Honestly, I have a feeling that what we have here might be another Porewit situation, only the wiki hasn’t caught on to this one.

You know why I think that?  This is the only image off the appropriate Wikipedia page:

From the Liber Floridus, circa 1448. Via Wikimedia Commons.

It describes the vouivre (Franc-Comtois dialect), or guivre (old French), as having “a long, serpentine body and a dragon’s head” and “venomous breath.”  Aside from living in small bodies of water (EDIT:  when I wrote this last night, that said “small bodies of language”; I must have been more tired than I thought) and having a strange tendency to be embarrassed by (or afraid of) naked people, they were pretty much just plain old dragons, if perhaps rather small ones.  In fact, Wikipedia claims that the English word “wyvern” comes from “guivre,” and that “guivre”/”vouivre” had in turn come from the Latin “vipera”

None of that has much to do with the highly specific MegaTen description.  The closest I could come to that in the Wikipedia article was this bit here:

in The Drac: French Tales of Dragons and Demons, the vouivre is depicted as a female creature with dazzling, green scales which emanate sound as the vouivre flies. The vouivre is depicted as greedy, her head crowned with pearls and a golden ring about her tail. The beast in this story stayed in a cave for most of her time, then left to bathe only for a few minutes.

The page didn’t actually cite the book properly (like listing author, year of publication, etc), so I had to look it up on Goodreads.  Turns out the book was published the same year I was born!  Given that the sole Goodreads review mentions that one of the other dragons in the book is the Tarasque, another odd MegaTen demon with strangely specific compendium entries, I have a feeling that someone among the MegaTen staff has a copy of that book.

And yet what little Wikipedia and the review has to say about the voivre in that book doesn’t quite fit with the compendium entry, either, so it still feels like something a bit weird is going on.  Exactly what, though, is hard to pin down.  Did that book’s version of the vouivre become popular enough in Japan to receive a fictional version that became so well known as to feel like it was the real thing to the average Japanese reader?  Did some name substitution go on somewhere?  Or is that really what that book has to say about the vouivre?

Needless to say, I plan on buying a copy and reading it to find out!  (That makes three books I’ve come across in this process that I’ll be buying…)

So this post has ended up being a bit more of a mystery than I intended.  Sorry about that.  (I’ll (hopefully) come back and edit in a bit more after I read that book, but that won’t be much use to those just passing through for A-to-Z…)

A to Z: Ukobach

Published April 24, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

Whew, the end is finally in sight!  (Like last time, I’ve had to promise myself a reward for finishing…)

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

Ukobach is an old stand-by for the MegaTen series, though he’s not a surefire to be in every installment.  (Um…no, that was not supposed to be a pun…)  His appearances are so randomly spaced that I only have one compendium entry for him (only one out of five recent games had him, in other words), from Persona Q:

A subordinate demon of Hell, ordered by Beelzebub to stock the fires that heat its iron pots.  He also throws coal into the fire to torment humans trapped in Hell.

Yup, that’s deeply informative.  His MegaTen Wiki pages has a couple more entries, but they don’t really say anything different, they just phrase it slightly differently.  They also mention that he’s the first demon you get in Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army, which I might add is one of my favorite MegaTen games…except for the clunky combat.  (I even have a Raidou Kuzunoha action figure!)  I loved watching demons (including Ukobach here) trailing along behind Raidou through the streets of Taisho-era Japan…

Anyway, this is one of those demons that I knew had to have either tons of information or almost none.  Because you see him all over the place.  In Japanese video games, anyway.  (Probably in American ones, too, but I don’t play as many of those, for whatever reason.)  For example… Read the rest of this entry →

A to Z: Tzitzimitl

Published April 23, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

I wonder if Nahautl names look as daunting to native speakers of other languages as they do to native speakers of English?  Though Tzitzimitl is actually fairly tame, as Nahautl names go.  (Quechua names can also be pretty intimidating.  Actually, maybe it’s just long names in any language that isn’t either Germanic or Romance that look impossible.  I even stumble over Greek names sometimes…)  Of course, right now, I have a killer visual migraine going on, and everything looks daunting.  So I should just get on with the plot and hope the caffeine kicks in to get rid of the flashing lights in front of my eyes.  (I wonder how many people in older times thought they were crazy and/or having visions just because they had an odd form of headache?)

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

So, this is the way Tzitzimitl looks in most of the MegaTen games.  (Her appearance in the two Persona 2 games was a lot like this, only toned down a bit, and as to Devil Children…well, the less said about that the better all around, it seems from what little I know about it.)  In Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker and Shin Megami Tensei IV/IV Apocalypse, her compendium entry says this:

Aztec goddesses of night and fear.

They constantly attack the sun and cause solar eclipses.  They demand a sacrifice once every 52 years.

In Persona Q, on the other hand, her compendium entry says this:

Goddess of Aztec myth governs night and fear, symbolizing death and evil.  Her war with the sun caused a catastrophic solar eclipse.  She seeks a sacrifice every 52 years.

Obviously, you notice there are some discrepancies there.  The first three games refer to Tzitzimitl as more a type of being than a single goddess, and the fourth one mentions a single goddess.

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A to Z: Shiisaa

Published April 21, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

Somewhat ironically, my return to Japanese mythology is again visiting non-standard Japan.  Specifically, we’re looking at an Okinawan mythical being again.

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

Though he didn’t show up in the earlier MegaTen games, Shiisaa has been a standard since the PS2 era.  (Though his earliest appearances were before that, he didn’t become standard until the Playstation 2.)  So I’ve got a couple of versions of compendium text on him for you.  First, from the two Devil Survivor games:

A holy beast said to protect houses from evil and grant them fortune.

It is known to have the power to keep evil away.  Ceramic statues in its image are placed on the roofs of houses, in similar fashion to gargoyles.  In Okinawa, souls of the deceased become balls of fire and will burn houses, but Shiisaa keeps such spirits out.

And from the Shin Megami Tensei IV games:

A holy beast said to protect houses from evil and grant them fortune.  It looks similar to Shinto guardian dogs, but is actually modeled after a lion.  There are many stories about it in Ryukyu lore.

Persona Q‘s text is almost identical to that; there’s just a couple of words deleted for it.

And, because the wiki made it available, here’s his text from Shin Megami Tensei IMAGINE (which is, I believe, a PC MMO, and one that’s not being supported anymore at that):

A legendary creature said to repel disasters and misfortune and bring good luck to villages. Shiisa resemble a cross between a lion and a dog. They are revered as guardian deities in Okinawa. Their form is thought to be derived from the lions of the ancient Orient.

Shiisa are holy beasts that possess the power to repel demons and exorcise evil spirits that cause fires. Shiisa statues can be found in a variety of places, such as on the roofs of houses and outside temples. The statues are placed so that they face northeast (toward the Demon gate), south (to guard against fire), or the direction of a gate or cross-street.

Okay, so that’s a lot of game text (admittedly, much of it is repetitive), so it’s high time to move on to the real thing, eh?

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A to Z: Rangda

Published April 20, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

“R” is one of those letters where I really only considered one option.  Mostly because “B” had so many other options.

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

That’s her appearance in Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne, which holds a special place in my heart.  Aside from being 3D instead of 2D (in some cases), that’s what she’s looked like in all the games I’ve played.  (Though she’s had a few different looks over the years, one of which I’ll show you below.)  And this is what the Devil Survivor and Shin Megami Tensei IV games have to say about her:

A wicked witch and the symbol of evil in Balinese Hinduism.

When women who used magic held a grudge or went down the path of evil, they became this dreadful creature. She spreads plagues, causes natural disasters, curses people, and even uses evil spirits to do her bidding.  The holy beast Barong that symbolizes good is her eternal rival.  Even if defeated, she will come back to life, and their battle will have no end.

Persona Q had a slightly different version:

A wicked witch of Balinese lore, she represents evil and is Barong’s eternal rival.

Even if defeated, she will come back to life, and their battle will have no end.

As usual with the Persona Q version, it’s more an abbreviation than a different version.

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