The Bodyconians are one of the more peculiar demon types from Shin Megami Tensei and Shin Megami Tensei II, as they seem to represent more than what they’re leading on. They also appear inextricably tied to the era they originated from. Zombie women in short, one-piece dresses who dance crazy? If it seems dated, it’s because it definitely is–precisely dated, in fact.
To get to the bottom of what the Bodyconians represent, we need to return back to the late 80s, in the years preceding the burst of the Japanese economic bubble. Around this time, French fashion house Hervé Leger introduced a new type of revealing dress, dubbed the “bodycon,” short for “body-conscious.” Indeed, this is the very skin-tight dress worn by Kaneko’s Bodyconians, who derive their names from it. The provocative nature of the bodycon and its wearers garnered enough attention during this period that the Bodyconians would actually first appear in 1990′s Megami Tensei II:
But there’s more to the Bodyconian lifestyle than just a dress. On May 15, 1991, Tokyo’s nightlife was hit with a seismic shock: the opening of Juliana’s Tokyo, a discotheque in the city’s Minato ward. Replete with all the laser lights and smoky atmosphere you’d expect from a quality dance club, Juliana’s played non-stop, DJ-hosted dance music, like this mix, which begins with the truly evocative song “Yum Yum” (warning: hilariously explicit lyrics). By all accounts, crowds flocked to the club–and so did the bodyconians, many of whom were normal “office ladies” by day, who danced free of inhibitions in their transformative dresses by night. (One particularly notable Juliana’s patron is Kumiko Araki, pictured above.) Particularly iconic of Juliana’s bodyconians was augmenting their style with feather fans and boas, two accessories also seen on Kaneko’s SMTII Bodyconian.
Unfortunately for the bodyconians, Juliana’s time on the Tokyo stage was short: the club played its last set on August 31, 1994. This video purports to be from Juliana’s last day. However, Juliana’s revivals seem to happen on a regular basis, attended by some of the original bodyconians. Similar to SMT’s own Bodyconians, the instinctual desire to dance until daybreak must be difficult to abandon.
Sugu ni Kese: Tracing the Roots of Shin Megami Tensei's Infamous Urban Legend
With Halloween obviously approaching in a few weeks, this month has been as good a time as any for Atlus fans to either acquaint themselves with or rekindle old memories about すぐにけせ (sugu ni kese, or “turn it off”), an urban legend ostensibly involving the first Shin Megami Tensei game on the SNES that dates back to decade and some change on the Japanese Internet. While some ado has been made over the years to investigate the actual merits of it, few efforts have been launched to investigate the overall history of すぐにけせ and figure out just how it all started and how the details most commonly associated with the legend took off.
Luckily for us all, Japanese blogger Shibayama wrote up a detailed post investigating just that. As is often the case with these sorts of stories, the origins of this one might turn out to be a little anticlimactic for some, but the journey involved in getting there, one which entails digging through decade old 2ch threads and even some computer science, is, in my mind, throughly interesting and worth the read in and of itself.
So, with permission from Shibayama himself, here’s my English translation of his fantastic article. And if you happen to not know yet what すぐにけせ actually is, stick around. Learning it is practically a right of passage as an Atlus fan.
[Edit: Formatting fixed as best I can. I had to remove the YouTube embed of the original video, but a link to it and the NicoNico original remain. Thanks for your patience! It should be okay to reblog now!]
In the twelve year span between Shin Megami Tensei’s 1992 release and 2004’s expanded Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne, Kazuma Kaneko brought to life hundreds upon hundreds of demons. In the almost twelve years since 2004, you can count his new demons on your digits. With such a dearth of new designs, you’d think that by now Atlus would have exhausted the stores of those prolific years, right?
Well, not quite. In this very special episode, Kaneko’s Crib Notes editors Soren and Eirikr discuss the original demon designs from 1992-2004 yet to reappear in the modern era of Shin Megami Tensei (SMT: Imagine excluded, as it’s its own beast), including what they would like to see–and what they expect to see–make a return. So now, join KCN for a comprehensive look at a veritable demon orgy that won’t leave you sore before sunrise!
It’s a really nice soundtrack release, the centerpiece of which is its three separate booklets, the first for the arrangement disc detailing Tsukasa Masuko’s trek in March of 1994 to record it with an orchestra at London’s famous Abbey Road Studios, the second for the original SFC version with comments from Masuko for each track and some SMT2 gameplay tips as filler, and finally a score book for the main battle theme. Sadly, no comics as were seen previously in the Megami Tensei I&II and SMT1 OSTs.
Alchemy is as complex as it is fascinating. Much more than the pursuit of transforming base metals into gold, alchemy possesses an enormously rich symbology with a huge body of texts and illustrations that offer deliberately cryptic hints at its processes. Needless to say, alchemy can also be quite befuddling even if you’ve familiarized yourself with it.
That brings us to Mercurius, who appears early in Shin Megami Tensei II. Kaneko’s Mercurius is surely based on that of the illustration above, which first appeared in a German alchemical manuscript of the 17th century. But this demon is more than just another name for Mercury, the Roman god; the alchemical imagery connects primarily to the element Mercury, aka quicksilver. The element Mercury was considered “prime matter” to alchemists, owing to its unusual properties such as being a metal that was a liquid at room temperature.
But that doesn’t explain everything that’s happening within the original illustration or Kaneko’s version. Firstly, why is the original named “Python”? A description of the illustration has this to say:
Python [Mercurius as three-headed dragon]: symbolic representation of an alchemical process within a flask.
Mercurius’ dragon form is very deliberate, as dragons (or serpents, hence “Python”) represent the volatile, chaotic early stages of alchemy. Clearly something violent or transformative is happening in this representation of Mercurius. In his Alchemical Studies, psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung interprets the “Python” illustration:
The spiritus mercurialis and his transformations represented as a
monstrous dragon. It is a quaternity, in which the fourth is at the same
time the unity of the three, the unity being symbolized by the
mystagogue Hermes. The three (above) are (left to right); Luna, Sol, and
coniunctio Solis et Lunae in Taurus, the House of Venus. Together they
form ☿= Mercurius.
In simpler terms, the “coniunctio” (conjunction or, in this case, coitus) represents the alchemical “sacred marriage” or union of opposites: the female moon with the male sun, as seen in the first two heads. Combined with the horned Taurus (♉), whom astrologers considered to be ruled by Venus, this results in Mercury/Mercurius (☿) itself, the third head. These heads represent the element, but because they are attached yet to the volatile dragon, they are still as one. This complete figure is thus the quaternity, which symbolizes the reactions of Mercury in the alchemical flask.
Ultimately, Mercurius represents a single step of the alchemist’s journey, but is nevertheless a potent symbol in its own right. For more of Kaneko and alchemy, check out the very first Crib: Ouroboros!
And so the archiving of old Atlus phone games continues unabated. This time around, it’s Shin Megami Tensei 20XX, originally uploaded to NicoNico here. Developed by longtime feature phone game collaborator Bbmf, 20XX is a prequel to SMT2. In it, players take the role of an amnesiac protagonist with a nagging obsession for getting stronger for reasons they’re unsure of, constantly getting into street fights in Valhalla until one day a mysterious guy seeking someone just like you scouts you out and gives you a COMP, intent on training you up to be more than just a mere street punk.
Although this is the most footage I can find for the time being, the whole script for the game is actually online over here. From what I understand, this is one of the more well regarded phone-only spinoff games, so maybe one of these days I’ll get around to translating it or at least doing a synopsis. We’ll see!
I miss a good chunk of the pop culture demons such as Betelgeuse, Friday, and Chris the Car.
I absolutely love that Betelgeuse is a demon. Shame it’s flagrant copyright infringement (even with the costume change and Batman ‘89 references, who else could it be?), since I think it’s so easy to imagine the real movie Betelgeuse in an SMT environment or as he’s meant to appear in SMT2′s version of the Expanse and just fitting right in. Makes SMT2 even crazier!
An upcoming KCN will feature more pop culture references, some obscure ones in particular.
have you ever thought about law and chaos factions with some new ideals other than law being pretty much "brainwash for your own good"/ "know kill all bad people/demons" and chaos being "survival of the fittest"? I feel like theyre overused at this point and a fresh goal both factions for the next smt could spice things up
I have! I was also literally just thinking how tired the Law vs. Chaos dichotomy is. That’s not to say it hasn’t been done well over the years, but I think the series does tend to paint itself into ideological corners with the way it presents the demons, that is, literally. Bring back the abstract! An abstract Law world is something we’ve never had; SMT2′s was fairly grounded, at least in comparison to Nocturne.
Rest assured though that these creative limitations are something I’ve brooded over quite a bit for the secret project. I have a different idea that will also hopefully be as adaptable as there are different interpretations of religion.