Persona 3: Reload is now available, and if you’ve played video games in the last 7 years, chances are you’ve heard of the popular turn-based role-playing and social simulation series from ATLUS. Persona is a spin-off of ATLUS’ Shin Megami Tensei series, which is an evolution of the Megami Tensei. The first games in this franchise are based on a series of books from the 1980s called Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei, which continue to inspire the Persona and Shin Megami Tensei games to this day.
The DDS: Megami Tensei books are light novels, a form of young adult fiction in Japan. The protagonist, Akemi Nakajima, creates a computer program that can summon demons, and is forced to defeat a powerful demon lord with the help of a loyal demon and a secret society. The themes and atmosphere of these books align with the more recent Persona titles, making them the origin and future of the franchise.
Author Aya Nishitani has conducted interviews over the years, emphasizing the importance of these books for the franchise. Despite creating the MegaTen approach to science fiction, Nishitani was less involved in the creation of the games. The games diverge greatly from the novels, but core elements come directly from the books.
There are no official translations of the Megami Tensei light novels, and the best way to read them now is through the DDS Translation blog, which stopped updating in 2007. This lack of recognition is a shame, as the dark, spooky atmosphere and the ways in which modern technology has brought humanity closer than ever to the occult and the supernatural are the backbone of each game by MegaTen.
Persona games are about how technology and culture intertwine, and how people can affect the world those two forces create. However, recent Persona games have faced criticism for their treatment of queer and female characters. Some decisions in the games have attracted attention, such as scenes involving homosexual predators and the objectification of female characters.
The conservative policy in the games dates back to the Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei books, which were a power fantasy for young male readers. The protagonist, Akemi Nakajima, offers female teachers and students to sexually assault demons, and her suffering is framed as a power struggle.
In conclusion, the DDS: Megami Tensei books have been an intrinsic part of the success of the Persona franchise and will likely continue to influence it as the series grows. While the books have inspired the games, they also reflect a conservative and problematic view of gender and power dynamics.
Entertainment, Gaming, Technology