Digital Devil Monogatori: Megami Tensei (Digital Devil Story), directed by Mizuho Nishikubo. 45 minutes. March 25, 1987.
The Digital Devil Story OAV was based upon a Role Playing Game that was itself based upon the Megami Tensei s-f/horror trilogy by Aya Nishitani. The novels are about Akemi Nakajima, a high-school computer genius/nerd who creates a program that lets him summon “demons” from their dimension. His goal in the first novel is to get revenge on another boy who beat him up, but he ends up summoning Loki, a demon too powerful for him to control. Akemi and Yumiko Shirasagi, the girl girl transfer student, try to fix the damage that Loki causes. Yumiko is more than just Akemi’s girlfriend; though she does not realize it, she is the reincarnation of the main Shinto goddess, Izanami-no-Mikoto, devoted to protecting Earth from the demon dimension. (Megami Tensei means Goddess’ Rebirth.)
I assume that the novels and RPG were much more popular than this OAV, which is really bad. Ugly art, extremely limited animation, minimal characterizations, a sickening amount of gore, risqué dialogue, and unbelievably inappropriate music. Have I missed anything? Or was this OAV made primarily for the fans of the novels and the RPG, who already knew the plot and the Shinto references, rather than for the general public?
Digital Devil Story does date from the period when computers were shrinking to industrial monsters to desktop models; and while they weren’t really common household items yet, they were becoming standard in offices and schools. The average teenager could get access to them in school. And nobody was really sure what the limitations of computers were.
A prologue shows Akemi in the Japanese clothes of 1,500 years ago wandering through darkness with a torch. He meets a young girl, who turns into a withered corpse and attacks him. He wakes up – it was all a nightmare. (Followers of Japanese mythology will recognize this as the god Izanagi going to Yomi, the land of darkness/the dead in search of his recently dead sister/wife Izanami and finding her a rotting corpse. He is frightened and flees, and she pursues to keep him in Yomi.)
Juusei Academy (High School) is, presumably, in Tokyo. All the students are wearing very formal uniforms. Yumiko Shirasagi, a new transfer student, is welcomed into the class of Miss(?) Obara. She notices that when the class is told to greet her, everyone responds except one boy who ignores her, concentrating on his computer. The boy, Akemi Nakajima (a computer genius), tells Yumiko that she had better not get too involved with him.
Akemi’s warning is because the other students have been ordered not to associate with him by the class bullies, sexpot Kyoko Takamizawa and thuggish Hirayuki Kondo. Kondo even intimidates the Juusei staff, as illustrated by showing Professor Iida deferring to him. Kyoko had tried to flirt with Akemi, who had ignored her. Angered, she accused him of assaulting her and ordered her lover, Hirayuki, to beat Akemi up. Now Akemi plans to avenge himself on both of them by writing a computer Demon Summoning Program that will bring the demon Loki into our world to kill them. He has already found out that his own computer is not powerful enough to use the DSP, so he plans to use the computers in the Academy’s Computer Aided Instruction room, or Computer Study Room. He has ordered his teacher, Miss Obara, to meet him in the CSR after class. (Either the novel or the RPG clarifies that the students have been previously hypnotized by Loki through a computer and ordered to obey Akemi. So presumably Miss Obara is also hypnotized and under Akemi’s orders. The OAV offers no reason why Akemi should be able to order his teacher around.)
Akemi’s DSP program looks like a combination of computer technology and an old-fashioned black-magic demon-summoning spell. Akemi specifically says that he has brought the attractive Miss Obara to please Loki, through a head-circlet connection to the computer through which Loki is watching. Loki still can’t materialize, but he can “have fun” with Obara, who has an orgasm. Yumiko, secretly watching, is shocked. (Note that Akemi’s pentacle has two hypnotized students guarding it. Akemi also refers to Electronic Beast Cerberus, another being in Loki’s dimension.)
While Akemi is helping Loki “have fun” with Miss Obara, he has another vision of himself and Yumiko as Izanagi and Izanami in Yoma – while awake this time.
Yumiko, outside school, goes to a bookstore, presumably to learn more about Japan’s origin myths and the first Shinto gods.
Akemi gets instructions from Loki on how to write his DSP to bring Loki into our world. The action shows that Akemi is having second thoughts about trusting Loki, and both he and Yumiko are having visions of their past lives as Izanagi and Izanami. Loki asks, “You desire power, right?” Akemi has a flashback to being beaten up by Kondo, reminding him why he wants power and reinforcing his resolve to bring Loki through.
At school, Miss Obara tells her class that it will be held in the Computer Study Room. Her students going to the CSR except for Yumiko act obviously hypnotized. As they enter the CSR, they begin to brutalize Yumiko. Akemi, already at the room’s computers, tells Yumiko, “You’re the star of the show today,” and orders the hypnotized students to “prepare the sacrifice”. By implication since this isn’t shown, he is acting under orders from Loki to sacrifice Yumiko.
A red bloodlike mass pours from the computer screen and engulfs the hypnotized students and Miss Obari, who are oblivious. Akemi yells, “Stop it, Loki!”, too late. The red mass, which is analogous to the tentacle-rape monsters of more R- rated OAVs, turns into Loki and enacts Akemi’s revenge against Kondo and Kyoko (and Professor Iida). The computer screens read KILL KONDO! KILL KYOKO! KILL! KILL! Akemi tries to stop Loki, who says, “You’re nothing but a nuisance now,” and starts to cover him and Yumino in the red mass. (Miss Obara is trying to have sex with Loki.)
An ethereal voice, presumably Izanami’s speaking in the third person, tells Yumiko not to give up; she is her modern reincarnation. “Fly with me.” She teleports with Akemi out of the school and away from Loki into a forest near Asuka. (An important location in Izanagi’s & Izanami’s story.) Yumiko is dying, but she begs Akemi to take her body to Izanami’s tomb in Asuka where she will be revived. He is revolted by the image of Yumiko turning into Izanami’s rotting corpse, but he is strong enough to do it.
Miss Obari and the other students, who are now completely controlled by Loki, have identified Sakurashi #3 Bank as worth taking over, presumably as Loki’s first step in world domination. Loki trusts Obari to handle this while he goes after Akemi and Yumiko. However, Akemi has brought Cerberus into this world to help them.
The climax of the OAV shows Akemi and Cerebus battling Loki to reach Izanami’s tomb, and Akemi fighting through visions of Yumiko/Izanami turning into the rotting corpse. Akemi apparently succeeds in killing Loki. However, the OAV ends with Miss Obara trying to reach “Loki-sama” on the computer, and getting Set (Seth), the Dark God of Egypt instead.
Digital Devil Story is highly unusual in not having any end credits – or if there are, whoever uploaded the OAV onto YouTube didn’t bother to include them. Instead it goes directly into the next OAV in this series, Shin Megami Tensei – Tokyo Revelation, despite the fact that it was made eight years later by a different studio and has a completely different plot – but it’s still about a student using a computer to bring demons into the world. I’ll cover it next week.
Next week: Forgotten OAVs #49