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.
I was about to say we don’t have a Kaneko explanation and until then we can’t know for sure, but looking again at the quote I was going to paste here anyway, it’s more of a direct acknowledgement of the design than I realized. Here it is, translated by Dijeh here:
Kaneko: Seth was Satan’s predecessor. Seth, Sat, Saton, Satan. Thought I’d play a little with that. He’s a demon that has been sealed in Makai, and even Lucifer is afraid he might destroy that place.
Now, this etymology is total bunk. Nevertheless, it makes it possible to explain the Seth dragon as being a primordial version of Satan, or in parallel to later Christian traditions that see Satan as a serpent or dragon. Besides what happens with Seth in SMT2, there’s also the fact that you fight Seth before you fight Satan in DDS2. Deliberate connection there, no?