Digital Devil Story 2: Warrior of the Demon City By Aya Nishitani

The consequences of summoning demons into the human world have not ended with the defeat of Loki. The Demon Summoning Program has created a link between the demon world and the human world, allowing greedy humans to bring forth the great evil god of ancient Egypt. Akemi Nakajima now has a greater enemy to face, as he tries to protect the woman he loves and the world he lives in, both now at risk because of him. Digital Devil Story 2: Warrior of the Demon City


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While the writing is admittedly better than the previous novel, it's still rather mediocre and the pacing is really awkward towards the end, it feels as if the story builds up towards one point then suddenly just goes flaccid. Only recommended for fans of the SMT series, as it provides some insight into what eventually became a decade of games. Digital Devil Story 2: Warrior of the Demon City

When I read Digital Devil Story: Goddess Reincarnation I characterized it as a mediocre book with bland characters that had amazing descriptions of body horror but not much else. Granted, it did sow the seeds of one of my favorite video game franchises of all time, but it was a shell of what I expected.

While this book is still slightly hokey, the main character, Nakajima, is written slightly less unlikable, so at least you can relate to him this time around. The secondary cast is decent and the villain is cool. Most notably, this chapter brings in tropes like a somewhat post-apocalyptic setting and a demon-fighting mechanic that proved so popular that even Pokemon ripped it off years later.

This was very much better than the first book. I still can't bring myself to give it more than an average score, but this might just be worth reading. I wish I could read part three, but as of 2016 there is yet to be any sort of English translation. Digital Devil Story 2: Warrior of the Demon City This sequel to the worst book I read last year improves on its predecessor in many ways -- the drastic reduction in sexual violence comes to mind -- but still isn't even close to being good. Also Ronald Reagan is in it? That was wild. Digital Devil Story 2: Warrior of the Demon City This is still some trashy sci-fi horror but it is much better than the first book. It has a much more interesting plot and the characters are much more developed in this one. If you read the first one it is totally worth reading this one. Digital Devil Story 2: Warrior of the Demon City Second verse, same as the first. Well, to be fair, the second novel in the Digital Devil Story trilogy does more than the first one did, directly continuing the tale where the first book left off, and expanding the mythology and consequences of demon summoning in 1980s Japan. Nakajima returns, undergoes a redemption (reuniting with his mother and working to save the world), and gets the girl.

The girl who, I might add, spends most of the book being used as a sort of battery for Set to manifest physically in this reality so that he can start his takeover. Set, who was introduced at the very end of the previous novel, uses the body of Ohara’s unborn child as a jumping-off point in his plan to manifest. I suppose it’s something of a small mercy that Ohara had been killed by this point, given the rather gruesome way the fetus burst from her body…

Nishitani uses an interesting mix of mythology in this series, drawing from the works of Lovecraft and various real-world myths and histories, as well as throwing his own original interpretations into the mix. The overall feeling is of something quite creative, even if the characters themselves are a little shallow. The length of the novels prohibits a greater amount of development, sadly, and most of the story feels like you’re reading a synopsis rather than a book.

Much like with the first novel, I can’t help but compare this to the series of games that these books inspired. It’s amazing to see the seeds of what would eventually become major parts of the games (the book’s “biological Magnetite” is what started the concept of Mag being needed to summon demons in various SMT games). Fascinating to see, though many of the things that interested me wouldn’t really hold any appeal to those who aren’t fans of the game series. Digital Devil Story 2: Warrior of the Demon City The same things I said about the first book are to a large extent true for the second. This is terribly written with characterization on the level of an absolute beginner, where plot elements and new characters come completely out of left field, leave often just as fast and mostly written on the level of a kids cartoon show. How much of that is due to the translation by a fan and not a professional I can’t say, but I doubt it’s just due to the translation.

One thing you can’t accuse the book of is not having enough plot. Plot is really the driving force here and while everything else is just terrible to behold, at least the ideas and concepts that drive everything are somewhat solid and I think one reason why this attracted people in the first place. It’s just a shame the execution is so dire.

After having defeated Loki in the last book and foreshadowed Set’s rise, a new character is introduced, an evil American sorcerer going to Japan to summon both Set and taking over the world. His good brother, working for MIT and connected to the highest level of the American government (even Ronald Reagan has an off-stage appearance in the book), contacts Akemi to work together to undo his brother’s work and Set’s rise.

But the opposition is too strong, killing off both Akemi’s and Yumiko’s family, taking over various politicians of the Japanese government (with some chilling body horror where snakes dissolve spines and magically control their dead victims until they fall apart) and finally using Yumiko herself to summon Set. This leads to thousands of Japanese people getting sucked into an ectoplasmic blob and finally the US government trying to re-summon and imprison Set on a space station.

Which is where the final confrontation takes place, with Akemi fully awakened to his powers battling a half-summoned Set in the body of a massive snake in Earth’s orbit. This and all the preceding events are a lot to take in and my summary doesn’t even come close to convey the frantic pace of the novel overall.

Yet for all that, it was really tedious to get through (and it’s not a long novel at 145 pages, Kobo digital counting) due to how terrible the writing is. The interiority of all characters is so utterly simplistic, in a way a kind of mental uncanny valley that at every moment reminds you that these are fictional characters imagined by somebody with a limited ability to describe complex human beings. There’s good pulp fiction that makes limited characterization work by giving you only the broadest strokes and evoking complexity without going into all the details. Here it feels like a child describes grown-ups and it just weird and off-putting and not much fun to read.

I can’t really recommend this or even the first book. They are among the worst stuff I’ve read in terms of writing quality, but at least they are short and so over the top that it was over pretty fast. That said, I’m still kinda sad the third novel (Demise of the Reincarnation from 1988) wasn’t translated, but at least you can get an overview here ( just plug it into google translate). Basically, the final conflict is with the Lord of the demon world, Lucifer, who hunts down Akemi, trying to get him publically executed. It ends with Akemi killed by his love Yumiko as her last resort while he was under the thrall of a delusion.

One thing I haven’t talked about is the AI Akemi and others use in both books to help summon demons, that seems widely more powerful than anything even available today and just utter science fiction, but is portrayed completely no-nonsense style and matter of fact as if it was just normal, which I found both ludicrous and hilarious.

I’ve long held the conviction that the best stuff to adapt isn’t great works, but really subpar works with some good ideas. And the Shin Megami Tensei/Persona mega-series of Japanese RPGs took some of the weakest books and crafted their ideas into one of the longest-running and enduring RPGs series covering tactical RPGs, dungeon crawlers and much more, and almost all of them of a much higher quality than the source material. That’s a pretty good legacy for Aya Nishitani’s novels. Digital Devil Story 2: Warrior of the Demon City