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Artikel mit dem Stichwort ‘NISHITANI Aya’

Megami Tensei: Novel turned game turned novel

Freitag, 24. September, 2010

NISHITANI Aya, born in 1955 in Mie prefecture. Graduate student of economics at Hokkaidō University. Mostly known for his Digital Devil Story books but also for other horror/fantasy light novels.

While the Megami Tensei series never quite enjoyed the same kind of success the other two big JRPG series Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy have, it still is one of the major RPG franchises in Japan, spawning many sequels and countless spin-offs which in turn often grew into their own series, like Devil Children for Game Boy or Devil Summoner for disc based consoles. The anime-heavy Persona spin-off series even surpassed the original series‘ success and also put Atlus on the Western JRPG publisher map during the Playstation era. After the first real Megami Tensei game published outside Japan, Shin Megami Tensei III Nocturne, was released in the US in 2004 Atlus USA started slapping the SMT moniker on every spin-off title including the recent Persona games but not many Western players are aware of the roots of the franchise which is based on a light novel series by NISHITANI Aya published starting in 1986.

DDS1: Megami Tensei (1986)

Megami Tensei was actually the subtitle of the first book in the Digital Devil Story series1 Digital Devil Story might remind some readers of the Digital Devil Saga games for PS2 which were named to allude to the series‘ roots. which started as a trilogy but got an even longer running sequel. Like other light novels the DDS books feature manga-styled covers and both color and b/w illustrations, the former at the beginning and the latter spread throughout each volume, drawn by KITAZUME Hiroyuki. The story is a mix of SF, fantasy and horror and its aesthetics and subject matter strongly appeal to fans of manga and games which is typical of light novels. The original trilogy follows the adventures of genius programmer NAKAJIMA Akemi2 中島朱実. NAKAJIMA’s first name is sexually ambiguous, like many Japanese names it can be both male and female, this one being more commonly female. This fits in with NAKAJIMA often being described as effeminate and rivaling a girl’s beauty. The author’s first name Aya is equally ambiguous. and his female classmate SHIRASAGI Yumiko. NAKAJIMA writes a program that unleashes digitally summoned demons into the world, in part because, like any genius scientist who discovers something new, he can, but also because he wants to get revenge on two other classmates, the ruffian jock KONDŌ Hiroyuki and TAKAMIZAWA Kyōko, who instigated KONDŌ to beat up NAKAJIMA for allegedly harrassing her the day before. Realizing what he has done he rises to become the hero to fight the demons he himself unleashed. He gets help from the recently transferred3 Yumiko being a transfer student (転校生、tenkōsei) is linked to her being reincarnated by the characters used to write the word. If just one is left out tenkōsei becomes tensei, which means reincarnation. Yumiko, who not only becomes his lover but also turns out to be a reincarnation of Izananami-no-mikoto, an ancient goddess,4 Fußnotenauszug: Izanami-no-mikoto is also the mother of the world. In the Japanese world creation myth a human-like goddess gives birth to the world after discovering sexual intercourse with her husband, Izanagi-no-mikoto. This myth is much more concrete and founded in real life experience than the Judaism/Christian equivalent, i.e. in the bible world creation (by an abstract being) and discovery of sexuality (by... hence the title Megami Tensei (Reincarnation of the goddess).

Yumiko finds out about the demon summon program making her a target of Loki.

The demons lead by the norse god Loki aren’t willing to retreat from the world once summoned and soon endanger Yumiko. With her divine abilities and NAKAJIMA’s demon summon program they manage to fight back Loki, getting help from another demon, Cerberos, who NAKAJIMA befriends. The demons represent NAKAJIMA’s violent and dangerous feelings, resulting in Loki killing NAKAJIMA’s classmates, as much as his potential for heroism, wielding a flame sword and riding Cerberos. In the world of the DDS novels NAKAJIMA’s ability to program computer games that make professional efforts pale in comparison, as his friend TAKAI comments, is exaggerated in the fantasy narrative enabling him to summon real demons by simulating their every detail on his computer. The esoteric and mysterious sounding assembly code becomes actual spells, IT becomes the spiritual successor of Kabbalah and witchcraft. It seems like a childish fantasy but is actually an interesting allegory for how games can be perceived by the player. It’s like the gruesome scenes seen in some games have become reality. Every game has its hero fighting the cruel villain but NISHITANI actually acknowledges the programmer’s role in also creating the adversary, the adversary actually being a part of the creator.5 Fußnotenauszug: Hero and villain necessitating each other also is common theme in American superhero comics since the late 70-ies, when the mutant heroes of the Uncanny X-Men were becoming as feared as their evil counterparts. Should the victims be thankful of the hero saving them from the villain or the hero be thankful of the villain for making his adventures more interesting than saving cats from trees and cat...

Coming to the rescue

But the story is also one of coming of age and of sexual awakening. Like Yumiko NAKAJIMA is a reincarnation of an ancient god, Izanami’s husband Izanagi. Rescuing Yumiko from the demon attacks, like Loki’s tentacles, he often gets to hold her naked body aftwards. The aggressive sexual assaults of the demons are juxtaposed with NAKAJIMA’s own timid affection towards Yumiko. Unlike Kyōko, Yumiko is kind and doesn’t ridicule him for his effeminate looks, unlike his absent working mother she is there for him and stands by his side. A reincarnation of a kind ancient mother goddess she’s the one he chooses to protect, to be his lover.

DDS2: Mato no senshi (1986)

In the second novel Mato no senshi (The Warrior of the Demon Capitol) NAKAJIMA’s teacher EBARA, who was raped by Loki in part one, gives birth to Seth, another demon adversary, but only after killing NAKAJIMA’s mother before his and Yumiko’s eyes to get revenge for him slaying Loki. The demons infiltrate more and more of the world including the sphere of politics and the younger brother of Charles Feed of the MIT (a friend of Richard Craft who helped NAKAJIMA write the demon summon program) decides to use the demon summon program again even though NAKAJIMA chooses not to. Yumiko is summoned to a mythical plane to be trained by the real Izanami how to use her divine abilities while NAKAJIMA and his American friends keeps the demons at bay in their home town. They even go to outer space from where the demons start their big invasion.

Snake in Outer Space

When faced with the decision to either save the whole world from being overrun by demons or save Yumiko from dying he chooses to save his lover. After losing his mother, first to her career, then to his evil pregnant teacher (who in a way is the antithesis of his mother as the villains Loki and his son Seth are the antithesis to the heroic NAKAJIMA), he cannot bear to also lose the girl that is supposed to be her substitute, the reincarnation of the mother goddess.

DDS3: Tensei no shūen (1988)

In the last volume, Tensei no shūen (End of the Reincarnation), NAKAJIMA and Yumiko face off with Lucifer himself, whose advent to the human world is heralded by a spreading cult which the frightened humans succumb to. But first NAKAJIMA has to find a cure for Yumiko’s loss of her eyesight. NAKAJIMA seems destined to become the world’s Messiah but like Jesus he is seduced by Lucifer and unlike Jesus he cannot resist Lucifer’s control over his actions. Izanami has to kill NAKAJIMA as he turns on Yumiko. Of course the story doesn’t end with NAKAJIMA’s death, there’s a 6 volume sequel series, Shin Digital Devil Story (The New Digital Devil Story) which continues the battle against Lucifer.

Digital Devil Story Megami Tensei (1987)

The game adaption, which NISHITANI also wrote the scenario for, shares the same title as the first novel, Digital Devil Story Megami Tensei6 The only difference is that Story is written in Chinese characters instead of Latin or Japanese characters like in the novels but it still is meant to be read as Story. and adapts the story of NAKAJIMA. The game skips the exposition and depictions of real life Tokyo and instead starts right with NAKAJIMA and Yumiko entering the demon lair and is basically one big dungeon separated into five areas. NAKAJIMA and Yumiko have to fight off and negotiate with demons to make the needed allies to get through the dangerous mazes until their final confrontation with Lucifer. Unlike the book NAKAJIMA can become the Messiah this time. The series‘ mainstays like befriending demons and the fusion system to make stronger demons are already introduced in this first installment. Unlike most other original Japanese RPGs of the time it also used a first-person perspective and an alignment system differentiating along the axis of Good-Neutral-Evil, which both were common in Western RPGs.

Digital Devil Story Megami Tensei II (1990)

The sequel Digital Devil Story Megami Tensei II was made without NISHITANI’s involvement and continues the story established in the first game ignoring the novel sequels. It actually has a much stronger narrative than the first game and introduces another element typical of the later Megami Tensei games, choice. The player still can’t choose or in any way affect his alignment, which remains fixed at Good, but depending on a few choices at crucial plot points he can get a different ending than the standard one.

Blinded Yumiko, NAKAJIMA and Cerberos

The story is set in a bleak future after World War III. The atom bomb has been dropped on Tokyo and people hide in shelters. In one such shelter a boy and his friend, both named by the player, play a video game called Devil Buster7 In the ending Devil Buster is revealed to be the demon summon program written by NAKAJIMA Akemi.. It is very similar to the first DDS: MT game but with a top down perspective switching to first person for the battles, reminiscent of the Dragon Quest style of presentation. A male hero is coupled with a magician girl, like NAKAJIMA and Yumiko in the first game. They befriend demons to beat the boss of the dungeon. Once the boy and his friend clear the dungeon something weird happens. A demon addresses them and tells them about demons coming to their own reality. He explains to them how they can use the game soft to summon demons in the real world and that they have to use them to save the world. When they stop playing they find themselves in the shelter which is seen from a first-person perspective indicating their return to the „real world“. The Dragon Quest-style game fantasy has been replaced with the more realistic game setting of Megami Tensei again.

NAKAJIMA chooses Yumiko.

The boy’s friend takes the place of the girl from the game and they travel ruined Tokyo together. Until they make their way to Tokyo Tower where they meet the girl from the game in the real world.8 The girl in the game is of course a symbol and a projection of the hero’s image of women as based on his closest female reference, his mother. Finding her in the real world outside the game is an allegory for the shift from affection towards the mother to love for same age girls. She seems to know how the player can become the Messiah but the boy’s friend doesn’t want him to listen to her. The player doesn’t have a real choice here and must ask the girl into the party at some point which causes him to have to split up with his male friend. Who then becomes an evil demon summoner trying to stop the player from restoring the world.

Lucifer battling Izanami

At a later stage the player can show mercy to a defeated boss turned frog. This decision leads to the possibility of uniting him with another boss to restore the god Ba’al who then can join the player. With Ba’al in his party the player doesn’t have to fight Lucifer who instead explains to him that devils are just gods of other religions.9 The two demons reunited as Ba’al, Bael and Beelzebub, are actually both interpretations of the same god Ba’al as an evil devil. The player can then choose polytheism over becoming the Messiah of a monotheistic god. This is actually the true ending which leads to the world being restored. If the player decides to become the Messiah he helps build the biblical 1000 year kingdom in which according to the game only the strong survive.10 This becomes the law ending in the later Shin Megami Tensei games. This can be seen as an expression of the mixed feelings of the Japanese towards the patriarchal values of post war Japan stressing importance of education and achievements in school and the work place and the suppression of some more lenient Japanese values like maternal kindness.

Shin Megami Tensei (1992), PSX Version (2001) Opening

For the next installment developer Atlus chose to reboot the series and interpret the original narrative of NISHITANI’s novel in new ways. The title was shortened to just Megami Tensei but with the prefix Shin added. Shin usually means new, as in the New Adventures of or the New Tales of, but here it is written with the character indicating true. In the opening someone is entering cryptic computer code that turns into ancient spells and when he enters the title Shin Digital Devil Story the beginning part Shin is at first converted to the usual New, then to God and finally to True. Digital Devil Story is then converted to Megami Tensei making the title read The True Reincarnation of the Goddess.

Major story motives of the original, like the demon summon program (this time written by Steven, a man in a wheel chair), the death of the hero’s mother, the friendly demon Cerberos (who is created by fusing the hero’s dog Pascal with any demon), politicians controlled by demons11 In the game the American ambassador Thorman turns out to be the Norse god Thor who drops an atom bomb on Tokyo because of the Japanese millitary allying themselves with demons. Thorman (トールマン) is obviously a play on words; if one character is displaced it becomes Truman (トルーマン), alluding the ambassador’s decision to the historical bombing of Hiroshima in World War II. and cults spreading are reinterpreted. Also a new alignment axis is introduced: Good-Neutral-Evil is changed to Light-Neutral-Dark and Law-Neutral-Chaos is added12 These are the same two types of alignment also present in D&D, the original RPG to come up with the alignment system in the first place.. This latter alignment changes with the player’s actions. There’s also two more heroes, the law hero who is accused of having killed his girl friend and the chaos hero who is beat up by ruffians. The law hero actually dies and comes back to life after 3 days to become the actual Messiah13 The alleged murder of the law hero’s girlfriend can be seen as a symbol for war crimes the generation of the law hero haven’t themselves committed. The law player seeks to distance himself from this past and becomes a Messiah type hero. while the chaos hero seeks strength so desperately that he decides to fuse with a demon to gain its power14 Being frequently bullied the chaos player seeks a way out of being pushed around, resulting in radicalization.. Both try to convince the player to join their side but it’s up to him to remain neutral or choose either one. Law is linked to the Messiah church and chaos to the Gaia church, the former representing patriarchal systems like Christianity in which the mother only serves to enforce male values, the latter maternal goddesses of the world which are similar to Japanese folklore.

Choosing when to fight, choosing who to treat as friend or foe, choosing your own actions and ideology to follow, if the game is a virtual mirror of the real world then giving the player this kind of freedom must be empowering. Shin Megami Tensei also avoids associating either religious stream with light/good or dark/evil. In fact both the law hero and the chaos hero are aligned with light.

Shin Megami Tensei Jerusalem 1 (1994)

This element of choice made a big impression on the Japanese gaming scene and NISHITANI was inspired by this game to revisit his creation, writing his own version of Shin Megami Tensei (The True Reincarnation of the Goddess). The hero-heroine team of reincarnated ancient Japanese gods is replaced by a heroine becoming the mother of god and a secondary hero protecting her (or failing to protect her from the demon rape). In the afterword of the first volume NISHITANI explains his aim with this new novel:

I belief that no work of art is ever created by just one single individual. The music of Wagner for example could only exist because of traditional German folk tales, opera, the environment of his family and the harsh historical background he lived in.

The Pillow Book15 Makura no sōshi, written by court lady SEI Shōnagon in the Heian period. also is a literary work which could only exist because of the overripe culture of the nobility, the life at court and the author’s hereditary genius.

A great artist is like a priestess medium, sucking a certain something out of his era. The part emerging as a work of art is but the tip of the iceberg and in the depths of it there is a hidden huge core, of which the artist isn’t even aware.

The bigger this hidden core is, the deeper its layers and the more profound its meanings. The game Shin Megami Tensei seems to me like a large bloom coming out of the border line of such a core.

I’ve heard that most of the development staff of Shin Megami Tensei created the game leaning towards chaos or neutral.

Among the people close to me at least there is no one who played the game taking the lawful route.

As for myself, I only beat the game the lawful way.

Many people assume that the lawful hero route is, in a nutshell, just like any other RPG, but I don’t agree.

Law is not about doing what is right but believing in an absolute ruler and accepting the fate you’re given.

The conduct of a typical benevolent hero like the one in Ultima is not what you would call lawful virtue in theological theory. That is nothing more than a relativistic law. In fact Shin Megami Tensei is the only RPG that contains a lawful standpoint in the true sense of the word.

But there’s something severly missing from the lawful world portrayed in Shin Megami Tensei.

I’m speaking about „Mary“.

Christianity, which represents the lawful ideology, could only become a world religion because of Mary worship. The protestants deny Mary worship but in catholic belief Mary, who in theology is positioned only slightly beneath Jesus, sustains Christianity.

A few years back when I visited Jerusalem I went to a graveyard church built on mount Golgotha, the most holy of places.

The statue of Mary standing there didn’t smile gently like the depictions of the holy mother usually do.

She was grieving for her crucified son, shedding tears and calling to the heavens.

As I saw her sobbing expression all the doubts I had about Christianity were suddenly cleared up.

The world portrayed in the game is truly like the year 0. It’s the world just before Mary would give birth to the son of god.

Just like the prophets of old were telling of coming change this game is now telling of something being born.

I’m giving my all to draw out the lawful element in this.

NISHITANI understands that his novel has taken a life of its own, that it has grown into something bigger than what he created. His world is now shaped by the software developers he teamed up with earlier. So maybe he seeks to claim his part in forming this techno pseudo religion. But he also stresses that Shin Megami Tensei’s achievement isn’t just to provide an alternative to the standard good RPG hero. He points out that this law stance is unique to Shin Megami Tensei and that it might have more in common with the chaos stance than is first apparent. For NISHITANI law is still a viable choice and Shin Megami Tensei includes this option as well.

  1. Digital Devil Story might remind some readers of the Digital Devil Saga games for PS2 which were named to allude to the series‘ roots. []
  2. 中島朱実. NAKAJIMA’s first name is sexually ambiguous, like many Japanese names it can be both male and female, this one being more commonly female. This fits in with NAKAJIMA often being described as effeminate and rivaling a girl’s beauty. The author’s first name Aya is equally ambiguous. []
  3. Yumiko being a transfer student (転校生、tenkōsei) is linked to her being reincarnated by the characters used to write the word. If just one is left out tenkōsei becomes tensei, which means reincarnation. []
  4. Izanami-no-mikoto is also the mother of the world. In the Japanese world creation myth a human-like goddess gives birth to the world after discovering sexual intercourse with her husband, Izanagi-no-mikoto. This myth is much more concrete and founded in real life experience than the Judaism/Christian equivalent, i.e. in the bible world creation (by an abstract being) and discovery of sexuality (by humans created in god’s image) are split up into two stories. Izanagi and Izanami are thus at the same time similar to Adam and Eve and to the Jewish/Christian creator god. []
  5. Hero and villain necessitating each other also is common theme in American superhero comics since the late 70-ies, when the mutant heroes of the Uncanny X-Men were becoming as feared as their evil counterparts. Should the victims be thankful of the hero saving them from the villain or the hero be thankful of the villain for making his adventures more interesting than saving cats from trees and catching bank robbers? In the end both are projections of the comic creator. Same is true of novels and games. []
  6. The only difference is that Story is written in Chinese characters instead of Latin or Japanese characters like in the novels but it still is meant to be read as Story. []
  7. In the ending Devil Buster is revealed to be the demon summon program written by NAKAJIMA Akemi. []
  8. The girl in the game is of course a symbol and a projection of the hero’s image of women as based on his closest female reference, his mother. Finding her in the real world outside the game is an allegory for the shift from affection towards the mother to love for same age girls. []
  9. The two demons reunited as Ba’al, Bael and Beelzebub, are actually both interpretations of the same god Ba’al as an evil devil. []
  10. This becomes the law ending in the later Shin Megami Tensei games. []
  11. In the game the American ambassador Thorman turns out to be the Norse god Thor who drops an atom bomb on Tokyo because of the Japanese millitary allying themselves with demons. Thorman (トールマン) is obviously a play on words; if one character is displaced it becomes Truman (トルーマン), alluding the ambassador’s decision to the historical bombing of Hiroshima in World War II. []
  12. These are the same two types of alignment also present in D&D, the original RPG to come up with the alignment system in the first place. []
  13. The alleged murder of the law hero’s girlfriend can be seen as a symbol for war crimes the generation of the law hero haven’t themselves committed. The law player seeks to distance himself from this past and becomes a Messiah type hero. []
  14. Being frequently bullied the chaos player seeks a way out of being pushed around, resulting in radicalization. []
  15. Makura no sōshi, written by court lady SEI Shōnagon in the Heian period. []

Jahresstatistik 2008

Donnerstag, 1. Januar, 2009

Bisher hatte ich auf der Seite keinen öffentlichen Besucherzähler, was sich aber die letzten Tage geändert hat. Nach einer kurzen Versuchszeit zählt der seit heute meine Besucher. Für alle, die es interessiert, möchte ich aber auch meine Google Analytics-Daten für das vergangene Jahr hier zugänglich machen.

Besucher

2008 kamen fast 2000 Besucher auf kay-hermann.de, riefen fast 4000 Seiten auf und verweilten im Schnitt 1 Minute und 24 Sekunden. Fast alle (95%) verwendeten das Betriebssystem Windows, die verbreiteste Verbindungsart war DSL (41%), die meist genutzten Browser waren Firefox (58%) und Internet Explorer (33%). Also hier wenig Überraschungen. Die meisten Besucher (88%) kamen nur ein einziges Mal, vielleicht verfolgten aber einige davon das Blog zumindest über die vorhandenen Feeds weiter, dazu unten mehr. Immerhin 4% besuchten die Seite ein zweites Mal und über 5% neun Mal oder öfter. Fast 2% kamen sogar mehr als 50 Mal hierher. 76% fanden über Suchmaschinen hierher, 16% über Verweise auf anderen Seiten wie dem FFF-Forum und dem Nintendo-Online-Forum, wo ich Beiträge schreibe, und 8% griffen direkt auf die Seite zu.

Übersicht (pdf)

Suchmaschinen und Suchbegriffe

Fast alle (95%) suchten und fanden diese Seite mit Google. Wenn man sich die Suchbegriffe ansieht, merkt man, dass die meisten auf der Suche nach Komplettlösungen waren, die sie hier natürlich nicht fanden. Deshalb hatte ich die meisten Zugriffe (bis zu 60 täglich) im Juni, als SSMB in Deutschland erschien, und im Dezember, nach der Veröffentlichung von Professor Layton. Besonders das Interesse an der Fortsetzung führte im Dezember wieder viele Leute zu meinem Blog.

Suchbegriffe (pdf)

Aber welche Besucher, die meine Seite zufällig gegoogelt hatten, verweilten auch etwas länger hier? Sowohl einige der Lösungssucher fanden die Seite interessant genug, um bis zu 28 Minuten hier zu bleiben. Aber besonders Leute, die nach speziellen Themen gesucht hatten, blieben besonders lange. Dazu gehörten mein Name, seltene Spiele wie Bahamut Lagoon oder , der Autor von Megami Tensei, , oder Filme wie Blue Spring.

Suchbegriffe mit der längsten resultierenden Besuchszeit (pdf)

Und welche Besucher, die über Suchmaschinen hierher kamen, sahen die meisten Seiten an? Jemand, der nach „artikel von kay hermann 1998“ gesucht hatte, griff auf immerhin 18 Seiten zu (obwohl ich 1998 keinen Artikel veröffentlicht habe und er wohl einen anderen Kay Hermann suchte). Auch Glory of Heracles und Professor Layton brachten mir Besucher, die bis zu 15 Seiten angesehen haben.

Suchbegriffe mit den meisten resultierenden Hits (pdf)

Inhalte

Die meist angesehenen Seiten waren der SSBB: Subraum Emissär-Artikel, das Blog selbst, der Professor Layton 2-Artikel und die Startseite. Hier die vollständige Liste:

Inhalte nach Titel (pdf)

Feeds

Feeds lassen sich nicht mit Google Analytics erfassen, weshalb ich hier auf meine Webalyzer-Daten zurückgreife. Fast 10 000 Mal wurden meine beiden Feeds abgefragt, 93% davon entfallen auf die RSS-Feed und 7% auf die Atom-Feed. Waren es im Februar noch gut 300 Anfragen, erreichten die Folgemonate zwischen 860 und 1320 Anfragen. Im Oktober entfielen mit 17%, was 231 Anfragen entspricht, mehr Zugriffe als sonst auf die Atom-Feed.

Zugriffe auf Feeds

Ich weiß aber nicht, wie ich die Feed-Auswertung interpretieren soll, da wahrscheinlich ein Großteil von Crawlern wie Technorati oder Google Blogsearch verursacht wurde.

Kommentare

2008 wurden in meinem Blog 12 Kommentare geschrieben, davon 9 von meiner japanischen Brieffreundin, die die Artikel aber gar nicht versteht. Auch erhielt ich etwa 400 Spam-Kommentare, die ich natürlich alle wieder gelöscht habe. Seit ich ein Spam-Quiz eingerichtet habe, hat sich dieses Problem in Wohlgefallen aufgelöst. Natürlich würde ich mich freuen, 2009 mehr Kommentare zu erhalten.

Kyūyaku Megami Tensei

Samstag, 9. Februar, 2008

Kyūyaku Megami Tensei (auf deutsch: das alte Testament der Wiedergeburt der Göttin) ist ein Remake der beiden RPGs Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Story I und II. Original wurden diese für das Famicom (NES) 1987 und 1990 von Namco, das Remake hingegen für das Super Famicom (SNES) 1995 von Atlus veröffentlicht. Entwickelt wurde die Serie von Anfang an von Atlus, die sie 1992 unter dem Titel Shin Megami Tensei (die wahre Wiedergeburt der Göttin) neu startete und ab diesem Zeitpunkt auch selbst veröffentlichte. Unter diesem Titel sind mittlerweile auch zahlreiche Spiele im Westen erschienen, jedoch ist nur der dritte Teil, in Deutschland unter dem Titel Lucifer’s Call erschienen, in Japan offiziell Teil der Serie; die anderen im Westen veröffentlichten SMT-Spiele sind größtenteils Spin-Offs.

Die beiden Spiele MT I und II führten das Konzept des Verhandelns mit gegnerischen Dämonen ein. Sind diese von der Gesinnung Gut oder Neutral, kann man sie durch Bestechung und Beschwichtigung vielleicht dazu überreden, sich der eigenen Party anzuschließen. Die Party besteht dann auch aus zwei Menschen und bis zu vier Dämonen, wobei man noch einige weitere in Reserve halten kann. Dämonen steigen anders als Menschen keine Level auf und werden stattdessen an einem speziellen Ort (der Kathedrale der Finsternis) paarweise oder dreierweise zu stärkeren Dämonen fusioniert.

Desweiteren verwendete man die, in westlichen Computer-Rollenspielen damals übliche, in Japan aber kaum verbreitete, 3D-Ego-Perspektive.

Ich beschreibe nun die Handlung der beiden Spiele. Diese Beschreibungen enthalten Spoiler, u. a. auch für SMT. Allerdings sind diese Spiele sowieso nicht im Westen erschienen, weswegen auch der interessierte Megami Tensei-Fan einen Blick riskieren kann.

In Teil 1 spielt man grob die Geschichte der gleichnamigen Bücher von NISHITANI Aya nach. Der Schüler NAKAJIMA Akemi ist ein genialer Programmierer und schreibt eine Software, mit der man Dämonen in die menschliche Welt beschwören kann. Mit diesen rächt er sich an seinen Mitschülern, die ihn immer gequält haben. Als die Dämonen jedoch versuchen, die Welt zu erobern, schlägt er sich auf die gute Seite und bekämpft die Dämonen und ihren Anführer Luzifer.

An seiner Seite kämpft seine Mitschülerin SHIRAZAGI Yumiko. Sie und Akemi entpuppen sich als Wiedergeburten der Götter Izanami und Izanagi, was auch der Ursprung für den Titel ist. Yumiko ist sozusagen die Urmutter der japanischen Schöpfungsgeschichte.

Von der komplexen Handlung bleibt im Spiel, dessen Szenario auch von NISHITANI geschrieben ist, nicht viel übrig. Man durchquert zahlreiche Dungeons, um schließlich Luzifer zu besiegen.

Teil 2 spielt viele Jahre nach dem 3. Weltkrieg. Tōkyō ist von einer Atombombe dem Erdboden gleichgemacht worden. Der Held und sein Freund spielen in einem Bunker ein Videospiel namens Demon Busters, das sehr an das erste Megami Tensei Spiel erinnert, aber in 2D dargestellt wird. Auch hier streitet der Held an der Seite eines Mädchens zusammen mit Dämonen, die man durch Überzeugung der eigenen Party hinzugefügt hat.

Als die beiden das Spiel durchspielen, geschieht etwas Seltsames: die Dämonen aus dem Spiel tauchen plötzlich auch in der realen Welt auf, die in 3D-Egoperspektive dargestellt wird. Der Held und sein Freund verlassen den Bunker und kämpfen im verwüsteten Tōkyō gegen die Dämonen. Wie sich zeigt, ist der Held in göttlichem Auftrag unterwegs: als Messias soll er der Welt Erlösung bringen.

Am Tōkyō-Tower kommt es zum Bruch zwischen dem Helden und seinem Freund. Dort treffen sie das Mädchen aus dem Spiel wieder. Es überzeugt den Helden, sich ihm anzuschließen, woraufhin sein Freund die Party verlässt. Er wird ein böser Dämonen-Trainer und misst sich im Verlauf des Spiels wiederholt mit dem Helden.

Das Besondere des Spiels ist es, dass man sich mit dem vermeintlichen letzten Boss, Luzifer, verbünden kann. Er ist von der Gesinnung Gut, vertritt den Polytheismus und will zusammen mit dem Helden Y.H.V.H aufhalten. Nachdem man Satan besiegt hat, einen Vertreter Luzifers, der im Auftrag Gottes das Böse in der Welt repräsentieren soll, kann man mit Luzifer gemeinsam gegen Gott/Y.H.V.H antreten.

Es gibt dann auch zwei Endings: Hat man sich gegen ein Bündnis mit Luzifer entschieden und den göttlichen Auftrag erfüllt, erschafft man eine neue Weltordnung, in der nur die Starken überleben. Hat man hingegen zusammen mit Luzifer Y.H.V.H besiegt, verschwinden die Dämonen aus der Welt und die alte Weltordnung, von vor dem Krieg, wird wiederhergestellt.

Diese Möglichkeit, eine Entscheidung zu treffen, wird im Nachfolger Shin Megami Tensei weiter ausgebaut. Dieses hat ein komplexes Gesinnungssystem und gleich drei verschiedene Endings, je nachdem ob der Held am Ende rechtsschaffen, neutral oder chaotisch ist. Das oben beschriebene, erste Ending von Megami Tensei II kehrt in SMT als Law-Ending (rechtschaffener Held) zurück. Law wird wie in MT II durch die Messias-Kirche repräsentiert, die an amerikanische/westliche Kultur angelehnt ist. Ein Vertreter der Messias-Kirche ist z. B. der amerikanische Botschafter Thorman (eine Anspielung auf Präsident Truman), der sich als nordischer Gott Thor entpuppt und Tōkyō mit dem göttlichen Hammer, der Atombombe, dem Erdboden gleichmacht.

Die Entscheidung gegen Gott zu kämpfen, ist also eine Infragestellung westlicher Kultur, die in Japan Einzug gehalten hat und auch in Videospielen enorm vertreten ist. Auch in Dragon Quest beispielsweise spielt man einen göttlich gesegneten Helden. Das vermeintlich Richtige ist aber ein Bruch mit der japanischen Kultur.

Natürlich kann dies leicht ins andere Extrem umschlagen: die chaotische Gesinnung wird in SMT durch die Gaia-Kirche repräsentiert und durch einen japanischen General namens Gotō, der durch seine antagonistische Haltung den amerikanischen Atomschlag überhaupt erst ausgelöst hat. Er steht für japanischen Militarismus. Das optimale Ending in SMT ist daher auch das neutrale, das zwischen den beiden Polen abwägt und die Balance hält.