Friday, June 30, 2017

Japanese-Jewish Common Ancestry Theory & Shin Megami Tensei: Pseudohistorical Fantasies into Anti-Semitic Nightmares

"...We used the Japanese-Jewish Common Ancestor Theory as the base." -Yusuke Miyata, Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse scenario writer (source)

"If we were to follow the theory that the [Japanese] Imperial Family is part of the Hebrew lineage, then [Masakado] would also become the one who opposed the Jews. The imperfect hero, so to speak. It would be cool if that kind of man existed."  -Kazuma Kaneko, series artist and creative director (source)

Japanese-Jewish common ancestry theory is the most important idea in Shin Megami Tensei you've never heard of.  Its nature is self-evident, proposing that the Japanese are secretly descended from an ancient tribe of Israel. It sounds crazy, but it's no theory that its ideas have received some serious endorsements from Atlus staff, from a series scenario writer all the way up to top dog Kazuma Kaneko himself.

This article promises to be the most in-depth investigation possible of Shin Megami Tensei's usage of Japanese-Jewish common ancestry theory--including a dark side of anti-Semitism, as alleged by the title. But even as the series shoots itself in the foot with its handling of certain matters, SMT's application of Japanese-Jewish common ancestry theory is surprisingly broad and deserving of the diverse range of discussion topics contained within, including:

  • The history of the theory and its main arguments, as pertaining to SMT
  • Elucidating the series' portrayal of YHVH
  • The supernatural force that actually powers demon summoning in the series
  • The significance of Nocturne's Baal Avatar
  • Why certain Japanese demons are Jewish
  • Explanations of some of Kaneko's weirder comments
  • Why Raidou Kuzunoha actually serves YHVH 
  • And of course, a full analysis of the anti-Semitic themes that emerge from misuse of the theory
This is a huge subject, the revelations of which have huge ramifications for Shin Megami Tensei and Atlus. It is unlikely you will view SMT the same way again after discovering how the theory permeates myriad aspects of the series both anticipated and unanticipated. To know Japanese-Jewish common ancestry theory is to understand Shin Megami Tensei's inner workings!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Taira no Masakado: History vs. Legend (vs. Lemon)

Taira no Masakado has been variously depicted as an iron giant, a rebellious demon worthy of divine retribution, a vengeful floating head, a cosmic deity, and the bellwether of Tokyo's fortunes. All of these fantastical descriptions speak to a grand personality of great importance, but what of the historical Masakado, the 10th century samurai? What exactly did he do to deserve such mythical aggrandizement?

And because of Masakado's prominence in Shin Megami Tensei, it's useful, even essential, to survey the beheaded samurai's biography and the superstitions that quickly surrounded his posthumous image. Though not meant to be comprehensive, the following examination of his fabled life nonetheless reveals where the lines are drawn between Masakado the man and Masakado the angry spirit of folklore and SMT--plus a little "extra," let's say. Bottom line: You just can't keep a good samurai lich down.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Dissecting Dagda

"Role-wise there was a discrepancy in the game with the generally transmitted image of a good, food-loving god, so I broadened the definition." -Masayuki Doi, from Shin Megami Tensei IV Apocalypse Official World Setting Collection + Journey Towards the World of Mythology 

This was Doi's initial comment describing Dagda's Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse design. And what was the first thing mentioned? A "discrepancy."

I myself glossed over the juicy implications of this quote while editing Dijeh's translations of the artbook contents, as this was before the release of SMT4A's English version and with it the definitive information about the game's "broadened" version of Dagda. Still, it was right there, plain as day, and from a key member of the development team, no less! So just how profound must the differences be if even Shin Megami Tensei's new main artist has to admit right off the bat that SMT4A's take on Dagda is at odds with the mythological version? 

Friday, January 27, 2017

Jyoji Hijiri: Tragic Asshole

What follows is a response written to answer this ask on Tumblr wondering what I meant by a previous statement, that Hijiri's expanded backstory in the Maniacs version of Nocturne conflicts with other aspects of the game's narrative.

My response got so long that I thought it best to post here rather than Tumblr, for better legibility. But click beyond and you’ll find a complete summary of Hijiri’s cutscenes, the Lady in Black’s extra backstory for him, and my comments! I never thought I’d get vibes of SMT4/A-level shenanigans from Nocturne, but some of the story additions from Maniacs are suspect...and I think I know exactly why.  

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Nocturnal Revelations: In Review

Now that Nocturnal Revelations: The Legacy of Shin Megami Tensei's First Localization has been fully completed and published on Persona Central, it's time to put it to work!

Not familiar with Nocturnal Revelations? It's an exhaustive look at the best and worst of Nocturne's journey into English, with a special focus on how the choices made over a decade ago have affected the Shin Megami Tensei series' localizations going forward. Short descriptions and links to all three parts are available below! 

Friday, November 4, 2016

Eirikr's Personal Canon

Let’s face it, Tumblr sucks as an archive. A shame, as there have been some good questions and discussions over the years and it would be a shame for them to be lost forever to the ether. So what better way to protest the ephemeral nature of Internet content than to make my own archive? 

Below are links to just about every major thing I've written online, including website articles, Tumblr asks, etc. It will be updated periodically as warranted! Right now consider it a work-in-progress (formatting is a little rough), but all the links should be live.

LATEST UPDATE: 4/7/17! The latest additions are in boldface

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

From the Precipice of the Garbage Can: Musings About Ann Takamaki 

[IMPORTANT INTRODUCTORY NOTE: PERSONA 5 is happening, so it wouldn’t make sense not to have something to say about it, right? As a matter of fact, I almost did a number of months ago, only you didn’t hear about it because, well, I didn’t think it was quite up to snuff. Intended to be published to Persona Central, the following article examines Ann’s mixed-race heritage and how Persona 5 could frame it within the discriminatory context of modern Japanese culture. (A different article on Nocturne--more my speed--will be available shortly.)

Even though this Ann article is missing that je ne sais quoi (probably due to my lack of passion for the plight of a unfamiliar character from a game I’ve never played), there’s still some stuff I like about it, particularly the conclusion, which forced me to change some of my existing assumptions. Seeing as this is probably the final day anything about its content could even hope to be relevant, it was time to release the article into the wild or delete it forever. Hopefully it’s worthwhile for at least one of you! ]

Of the scant information released thus far about Persona 5, the tidbits concerning party member Ann Takamaki in particular caught my attention: Described as “one-quarter American,” that ethnic split, and the resulting personality trait stereotypes, allegedly make her unable to gel with her Japanese peers. Upon hearing that for the first time, I thought it was a joke. How could a small fraction of a particular ethnicity (especially as potentially nebulous as “American” can be) not only define a character but also elicit such severe discrimination?

Nevertheless, this is an issue that will likely define much of Ann’s early characterization and her persona arc, so it was worth investigating further: Was it plausible or not? Armed with my own contrary experiences from teaching for two years in a Japanese public high school, I went looking for evidence that Ann’s scenario wasn’t just an ignorant attempt to acknowledge the series’ burgeoning overseas fanbase. What I found, however, was at once surprising and, sadly, predictable.