Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei Anime OVA

The animated Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei, based on the novels from Aya Nishitani, has something of a strange history. In fact, many Megaten fans don't even seem to be aware of its existence to begin with. But why? The answer to this question is nothing mysterious or strange, in fact it's quite simple. Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei is old....really old.

It was released in Japan in 1987. At that time the only Megaten game around was the Famicom release of the same name and it was well before the franchise became the Japanese and international hit that we know of today. Due to this fact, and probably a million others, it's quite understandable as to why many Megaten fans may have overlooked this classic piece of Megaten history. Below is the official "explanation" of the story taken from the back of the English retail release:

"Digital Devil is the name given to a menacing force created with computers, born from the mind of a teenage genius; a force so evil that it demands human sacrifice. Yet this story is more than a science-fiction horror tale. For it also carries the timeless messages of forgiveness and reconciliation, along with the charm of a love story.

Handsome high school student Akemi is a computer genius. One day a new girl, Yumiko, transfers to his class from another school. She quickly falls in love with Akemi but, absorbed in his computers, he pays her no attention at all.

The reason for his absorption is the monster he has created with those same computers. Digital Devil has become his own evil genie, and Akemi summons this devil after school and sets it to work wreaking revenge on his enemies. First to be sacrificed to the hunger of the devil ROKI is Akemi's homeroom teacher; soon to follow are other teachers and leaders of the high school gangs. But first, Akemi intends to unleash ROKI on poor Yumiko.

The tables quickly turn as ROKI runs wild, slipping from the teenager's control to begin attacking all the students, including even Akemi himself..."

Written and directed by Mizuhi Nishikubo, the sound, music and animation of Digital Devil Story are firmly planted in the 80's. But you shouldn't let that put you off. Even after the good ole test of time has been applied Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei still manages to stand up quite nicely given it's age. Although there are few of them (two good guys and one evil demon, with a digital tiger demon thrown in for flavor), character designs are unique and easily distinguishable from one another. The general animation quality also holds up pretty nicely with one or two noteworthy scenes standing out by way of either artistic quality, or by use of dynamic camera angles. The animation also drives home the horror themed atmosphere of the story by surrounding its cast in an almost perpetual darkness throughout. Of personal interest is the art style itself, which is quite obviously similar to the artwork accompanied with the original video game release of Megami Tensei.

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The sound features only Japanese audio with your standard good guy, good girl, evil demon voice actors. Each does a fine job of sounding natural and hitting their cues with nobody sounding out of place or weird, which is always nice. The background music, meanwhile, is hardcore 80's and makes liberal use of synthesizer tones and guitar pieces throughout. Effects aren't anything special with the normal "twing!!” “gawunk!” noises you hear so often in older anime titles, particularly when any sort of blade is being used.

The only version released in the West came from Kiseki Films in 1996 who, with a shortened title (now just Digital Devil) and added subtitles, gave the OVA a limited VHS release. Their subtitles, however, have received some criticism thanks to a couple of strange localization decisions. The most obvious being that the main demon throughout the animation, Loki, is referred to as “Roki”, pretty much destroying its frame of reference.

If you're interested in seeing Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei for yourself then there are a few options available to you. One way is to pick up the DVD re-release from 2001 from Kiseki and Revelations that also includes another anime title called The Cockpit. It’s still available from SendIt for £14.99 but whether or not the subbing on this DVD version was cleaned up is unknown.

The other option is to head on over to the fansub group Shinsen Subs (It's not listed on their website but it's there, trust us) who, although only offering the original recording of the Japanese video, have done a great job in cleaning up the subbing issues.

Either way, whether you choose to buy the DVD, watch the fansub, or ignore it completely, one thing is true. Digital Devil: Megami Tensei is a classic piece of Megaten history that should really get more love than it deserves. At least, we think so anyway.

Scanned in and included below are a handful of original, painted cels and some pencil drawings from Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei. Thanks for these go to Tony, check out his original writeup and personal opinion on Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei in the digitaldevildb.com archives. link »

Animation Stills

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Original OVA Cels from Tony's private collection

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© wolfzau

14 Responses to “Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei Anime OVA”

  1. yksehtniycul Says:

    Those Loki cels are to die for!! An excruciating death in the carnivorous clutches of squishy pink protoplasm… hmmm protoplasm~

  2. Digital Devil Database Says:

    We’d love to see this OVA on Youtube. Please let us know if you can help make it so, or might already know of a quality upload already available to be streamed online.

  3. RegalSin Says:

    plenty offense but,

    You, reviewer suck. You suck so hard. How could you bad mouth the prestine wonder that is the lat 1980’s. The era of balance. When metal was metal, rap was rap, and smooth jazz was all the rage.

    Soeaking of which, many keyboard players and proffesional musicians use synthesizers all the time. Even today. Michael jackson has a whole room with endless machines of the sort. Also these instruments could be program via floppy or flash card. In fact up to the NES and SNES, mods was used in game systems. Getting better sound then mp3, mp4, and any other format used today. PCM is the only way to go also.

    One more thing to think about is many game systems, and electric music tools was made from japan. They made the music just for there kinda of sounds. Not for westerners. Rock was an exception.

    There is nothign classic about the real Megaten series. That is the original series. Not the new type 1995 crap all the kiddies are high on. Also anybody else, that thinks little of the splendid later eighties wonders needs to get a clue and realize animation was at it’s best during that time.

    Nowadays all we have is newtype. Newtype, that is not even hand colored. Just drama after drama with barely any action. Yes this animated version of the book/game might be classed as b-movie but so is clerks. It was part of our world. When we had a real world without computers. When computers was just this thing in the background. Then people created forum software that makes every idiot into a computer expert.

    Digital Devil is just one of the many Computer ghost stuff out there. There is so many other ficitonal series just like Digital Devil, if given the chance could have the same fame.

    Also remember. Most manga artist at least have one animation. OVA are only there to allow uncensored material pass to the consumer.

    P.S. try watching the whole thing without sound. You might see something you missed.

  4. Digital Devil Database Says:

    Hey now… I agree, this is easily in my top 5 anime of all time list… and for serious artistic merit –yksehtniycul (current admin/now commenting)

    The original site founder wrote the original review (here)

    Which really offended me too… well at least it seemed very much overly editorial for the websites’ present format!!

    I believe Wolfzau actually just tried to take the old “review” and clean it up so it would not be so subjective. I’m not sure if he’s even seen the anime. We don’t do reviews, but if I was writing a review I’d just fawn over everything about this anime. It’s the single most impressive vision of Megaten ever alongside MT2 in my personal opinion.

    The website is really in the tank right now, but actually the last bit of activity a few weeks ago, Jessicat had promised to upload the movie to our server since we can host video now. She asked my opinion on format, and I thought we should go Ogg Theora for now. Hopefully she will get around to that. As well as the massive SMT documentary she has which was produced around time the release of Nocturne (it’s Japanese.)

    Hopefully things will start looking up around here. As always I’m just doing my best to make sure the site remains online for the sake of all the people who’ve contributed, and continues to exist so no one has any excuse for not having a venue from which to contribute to the community. Right now I’m focusing on getting sitewide search back up and repairing the place little by little since the last bit of trouble we had.

  5. Miren Says:

    I cant find this on the sub site! Its impossible!

  6. yksehtniycul Says:

    It used to be there ages ago (as a bittorrent) as I recall. But probably no one is seeding it. I really wanted to get this put on Youtube or something and embed the whole movie into this page.

    I have it on disc. If I can find it / it’s in good shape I will upload the .iso file soon. It’s not high quality but good enough for Youtube if anyone wants to put it up there.

    Personally I wish I had a highest quality version of this anime. It’s easily in my top five all time favorites.

  7. wolfzau Says:

    If you go to http://anime-fanrips.com/?page_id=352 they have a torrent up.

    However haven’t had a chance to check it out yet so quality and number of seeds is still unknown

  8. yksehtniycul Says:

    http://anime-fanrips.com/?page_id=352

    How do get at the .torrent files for these?

    I had meant to followup on my post but forgot, I guess because I could not find the disc with the anime on it. Looked everywhere I could think, but if I ever come across it, I will definitely get it up for direct download.

    UPDATE: The second torrent looks alive (found the graphic only dl button) … I will download it to the server / post a link when it’s done / try to do something with it eventually.

  9. wolfzau Says:

    First torrent works also, it’s the box with the arrow beside the torrent name, however just opened it up and it only has one seeder as of now.

    Second torrent is definitely the better bet, am downloading the file now and it currently has five seeders (for how long though is anybodies guess)

  10. yksehtniycul Says:

    The first works, but I did not see any activity on it.

    I’ve downloaded the torrent to here (http://www.digitaldevildb.com/tmp/A-FanRips_Digital_Devil_Monogatari_Megami_Tensei_H264_AC3_2E464608.mkv)

    In the meantime if anyone prefers you can download it or watch it directly with the likes of VLC if you can get it to work that way. The container (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mkv) sounds good. I get a picture with VLC but it doesn’t seem to be able to stream properly for me. Your mileage may vary. I’m assuming the file is good.

    I think this is better quality than the video cd iso I had before. I should’ve tried to watch it yesterday while I was in town, but did not think to.

    Eventually I’d like to see the whole thing on Youtube (or better yet, some non-Google video host) with each part embedded in this page somehow. I’ve uploaded it to this server. It’s an amazing server but not designed for hosting many large files (only 10GB to work with) so the link here is only temporary (ie. as long as it works)

    I still recommend bittorrenting if possible.

    UPDATE: Deleted this file today (11/25/2011) … see comment below for details.

  11. wolfzau Says:

    Nice work.

    Some people may also want to check out Tokyo Revelation as well. It’s quite obviously based off the Megami Tensei series as well. Watched it myself last night and was quite impressed by it. The torrent for that is here http://www.bakabt.com/147687-shin-megami-tensei-tokyo-mokushiroku-tokyo-revelation-h264-acx.html

  12. yksehtniycul Says:

    I started an rsync on the server the other day and decided to just delete the rip of the anime just now after I realized should rsync back it up it would constitute about half of the entire backup job! Stopping the job didn’t seem worth the trouble. The file has been up for a while without any kind of feedback.

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