The History of Megami Tensei as Told by Creator Aya Nishitani - Game Design Gazette

Saturday 6 May 2023

The History of Megami Tensei as Told by Creator Aya Nishitani

This post is meant as an effort to preserve the Twitter musings of Aya Nishitani, the author of the original Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei novel and its sequels, which would go on to inspire the entirety of the Shin Megami Tensei series. In the event that the Twitter platform or Mr. Nishitani's Twitter account is no longer available someday, this post will hopefully preserve said musings for future researchers, historians, and fans. Nishitani tweeted in both Japanese and English, and this page archives his English-language posts. No edits have been made to his posts.

Apr 1, 2023:
When I woke up this morning and started up my laptop, someone had written "Happy birthday to 女神転生!Today is the 37th anniversary...
I 'm not at home right now, so I don't have the book.
I checked the "Megami Tensei" page on to see if it was today 3/31

Come to think of it, isn't this the first time I got a "Happy birthday" on the publication date in the back of a book?
I don't think Japanese readers were aware of March 31, because at that time in Japan, it was customary to publish the book a month before.

But I am glad that you remember what I did 37 years ago.

Apr 2, 2023:
Thank you all for congratulating me on the birth of my novel "女神転生".
This was my first time tweeting in English, but thanks for all the messages.
For the past 20 years, I've been writing about yin-yang and  shrines. This year, I'd like to write a novel about Kifune Shrine.

I usually tweet in Japanese,  but if you want to know what it says, just let me know. I'll try to tweet in English as well.
Someday, I hope to be able to publish a translation of the novel "Digital Devil Story" series into English.
See you soon.

Apr 3, 2023:
My readers in Japan are divided into two groups: those who like 女神転生, and those who like 神々の血脈(means bloodline of the Gods).
Most of my friends and critics prefer 神々の血脈.
But many readers prefer  女神転生.
Both books are important to me.

神々の血脈 is the story of the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1980s, which in turn leads to the collapse of the world.
These illustrations are by Makoto Kobayashi, a well-known illustrator, modeler, and animation director!
I was young then, and so was he.

For 女神転生, I asked the manufacturer to make it into a game.
The makers of "神々の血脈" wanted to make a game of it, but I refused. 
The story was too complicated and I didn't think it could be made into a game.

女神転生 was initially told that it couldn't be made into a game because it’s not good educationally.
At the high school I graduated from, when a junior read it and submitted a report on it, she's warned by the teacher that she should not read such educationally unsound book.

I don't think it's that bad educationally, dangerous as it may be.
But this was 37 years ago, and in those 37 years the entertainment market has changed.
Come to think of it, before I wrote my novel, I wanted to be a rock musician and played in clubs.

Apr 4, 2023:
A senior in my college was close to Mr. Garriott, the creator of the Ultima series.
Through this connection, my senior said to me: play Ultima IV and if you are inspired, write a novel about it.   I did, and it was a wonderful, great game.
So I wrote these three books.

I wrote this book in a setting where the world of Ultima and present-day Tokyo are connected.
In the second book, it took me a month to draw six pages of a sailing ship.
The illustrations are so beautiful and powerful that Jun Suemi, the illustrator. Thanks to my senior.

There is a band in the first volume of the novel Ultima.
I wrote it with the image of a guitar called Les Paul, but my editor disagreed and I pulled up the manuscript after an argument.
Kadokawa Shoten published the manuscript.

Apr 5, 2023:
By the way, do you know what '女神転生' means?
It means the reincarnation of a goddess, whose name is Izanami.
In Japanese mythology, our country is created by a couple of gods, Izanami and Izanagi. The wife, Izanami, dies in childbirth.

Her husband Izanagi goes to the land of the dead and almost brings his wife back to life.
But breaking his promise and seeing her rotting body, Izanami is unable to bring her back to life and curses her husband.
There’s a similar story in Greek mythology. Orpheus..

As a child, whenever I heard this story, I thought what a fool husband Izanagi was.
I could have helped her.
Then I came up with the idea of using the system of reincarnation, which had taken root in ancient Japan, to help Izanami.

Reincarnation is an ancient Buddhist concept, and until the 13th century, many stories using the reincarnation system were written in Japan.
But in the 13th century, a Buddhist monk called Shinran appeared and taught that people could go to heaven without reincarnation.

Then the reincarnation stories stopped being made, so I decided to revive them.
Interestingly, the secondary and high schools where I studied were created by Shinran's successors.

Reader: I am curious as to what inspired you to make izanagi’s reincarnation into someone like Nakajima, seeing as he does some rather deplorable things in the novel

Nishitani: This is because Izanami has fallen in love with a selfish person called Izanagi. 
Izanagi is born as Nakajima to improve and is killed by the heroine at the end of the DDS series.
He then appears to the people as a perfect being at the end of the new DDS.
 From now on…

Reader: Do you play the more recent 真・女神転生games? An online resource says you originally liked chaos endings more, but now you prefer law. Is this true? What about neutral?

Nishitani: The first Shin Megami Tensei is my favorite game. But the rumor that I like the Chaos End is wrong. I played this game to get the law end.

Apr 6, 2023:
Yesterday, I paid a visit to Tsukiyomi Shrine in Ise.
This place is dedicated to the three deities Tsukiyomi, Izanagi, Izanami, and Tsukiyomi's Aramitama (spirits with power).

Some Japanese readers have visited the shrine because of  Narukawa who is excellent police officer and the reincarnation of Tsukiyomi in the Digital Devil Story 2.
Tsukiyomi is the son of Izanagi and Izanami

The novel "女神転生" spawned a game of the same name.
Years later, the game "真・女神転生" was born.
This game was the most interesting game I had ever played in my life.
This game inspired me to write the novel "真・女神転生: El Salem.

Naomi Aizaki drew very good illustrations. Japanese comic artist and illustrators are often reluctant to draw evil children. But Aizaki drew it without hesitation. Thank you, Naomi Aizaki.

Reader: [Account suspended]

Nishitani: I had been writing comic book scenarios, for five years or so.
I wrote scenarios under the name 朱砂syusa.
The best known manga is called Fortune-Telling Academy. I believe it has been translated in Taiwan and South Korea.

Reader: [Account suspended]

Nishitani: Of course, there are. But the No 1 for me is Shin Megami Tensei.
It's mainly the balance of the game.
I think this has to do with a person's character and many other things. It is only for me.

Apr 8, 2023:
About 30 years ago, when I went to Israel, I was suspected at Tel Aviv airport and taken to an interrogation room.
 Luckily, I had a book I authored, so I showed him the book and told him I was a SF writer, and he asked me about Arthur C. Clarke and Bradbury.

When I spoke about their movements, the officer contacted someone by telephone and he let me go. 
In those days, a book's author's proximity was more reliable than a passport.
So I was saved by 'Ultima'.

When the officer asked me about Arthur C. Clarke, I told him Arthur C. Clarke lived in Sri Lanka.
He said, "No, he's British", so I said, "Check it out", the officer checked outside and said, "It seems you really are a science fiction writer. I'm sorry" and he let me go.

Also, it was a US military officer I happened to know who told me, "Of course you can trust a recent photograph of a book more than a passport".
However, it might be different in an age when it is so easy to produce books as it is today.

Reader: Today in the world ranking, the power of Japan passport is the highest of all countries.

Nishitani: I know. But in the 1990s, Israel was extra tough. I was only the third Japanese to enter the country after the Gulf War.

Reader: Third? That's amazing. You were already making history back-to-back while i was a toddler.

Nishitani: It's not such a big deal.
At that time, I bought a book on Islam in a nice second-hand bookshop in Jerusalem, and I had it. I think that's why. It's a serious research book.

Apr 8, 2023:
In 1992, I was suspected at passport control in Tel Aviv because I had this book.
It was a serious research book, and I bought it in a bookshop in Jerusalem, but the metal detectors reacted to this book.
Considering the danger of terrorism, Israel's response was unavoidable.

I thought that I'd bought the book in a bookshop in Jerusalem, that shouldn't have been a problem.
 It was the same feeling as buying a book in a bookshop in Tokyo or New York.
But the political situation at the time, I probably should have bought the book after a peaceful time.

This is a safe, serious, statistical book. I don't think they know the contents. Perhaps the title caught their attention. And they wanted to know me. That's all.
 I think they still have files on me. As a bit of a silly SF writer.

Apr 9, 2023:
Me and illustrator named Hiroyuki  Kitazume worked together from 1985 to 1993.
There are 17 books for which I wrote the novels and Kitazume drew the covers and characters.
Kitazume, myself, and editor talked about Japanese deities and Western angels and demons many times.

At that time, I’d like to write stories like the Old Testament psalms in Japan today.
That is the story of three books called 'The Mark of David'.
I painted my work with images from Israeli ruins and the Negev Desert.

In 1992, when I saw the bulletin board, I was happy to see the writings from a reader saying that Nishitani was seriously working on this work.
My collaboration with Kitazume began in 1985 with 女神転生and ended with The Mark of David.

Perhaps the two of us were at the height of our creativity at that time.
When we met again around 2006 to publish a special book of "女神転生", I felt that we had had a good time because he had been with me for eight years.

Reader: Hi! I’m a big fan of your work and would be willing to do an English translation. I previously did a fan translation of TYPE-MOON’s 歌月十夜

Nishitani: The request for a translation must be based on the assumption that it will be a job.
Currently, it's not possible to request a translation as a job. So, I will try to translate some of it, although it will not be in good English.
It all starts with that.

Reader: You've worked with many Illustators over the years, what piece of art stood out the most from a collaboration with you?

Nishitani: Time Dive1986
Most of my works were written with the reader in mind, but only this one was written for myself. Half of it is an autobiography.

Reader: Mr. Nishitani I have a question!
Why did the Cerberus from Megami Tensei was designed that way? It ended up influencing the rest of the SMT franchise, but it always struck me why it had only one head, instead of 3. Was it just a hell hound Nakajima called Cerberus?

Nishitani: At first Kitazume-san said "Shall I go with the myth? "
But I said "Make it one head"
I asked him to make Loki as beautiful as David and Cerberus as cool looking.

Apr 10, 2023:
In 1985, when the novel was ready and the project began, there was a meeting about what the title should be. I came up with three titles: "女神転生" "Digital Devil Story"  and "転生の絆(Bonds of Reincarnation).

All the attendees, except one, said Digital Devil Story was the best.
Only Toshio Suzuki, the editor-in-chief of Tokuma Shoten, said "Definitely 女神転生"
Since he was the project leader, everyone agreed.
Digital Devil Story" became the subtitle.

As a result, the name "女神転生Megaten" has been well known for 37 years, and I think that is a good thing.
Toshio Suzuki is now the president of Studio Ghibli and continues to create wonderful animated films.

Reader: Is nakajima's hair brown, blue, or black?

Nishitani: Kitazume-san drew three or four types.
My first image is black. I was not sure which one was the real one.

Apr 11, 2023:
Some people pointed out that the Norse, Celtic, and Greek deities are similar to the Japanese deities.
It may be true, but there is one difference.
Japanese deities are still enshrined and respected in shrines.
This illustration  shows the battle between Hela and the Sarutahiko.

We still visit shrines where Sarutahiko is enshrined.
So we feel that Hela is just as real as our deities and make her appear in our stories.
That is one of the reasons why MT and SMT were felt so novel by people overseas.
The Hela might be felt as a Valkyrie by Europeans.

Foreigner also visit Japanese shrines.
During the 2002 FIFA World Cup, the England soccer team prayed for victory at a shrine.
European often come to Kifune Shrine to pray for success in love. A Catholic told me, it's OK , it 's in Japan and no idols in the shrine.

In Japan, there is a custom to cherish the deity of the land of one's birth, called Ubsunagami.
Ubsunagami means the deity of the land of one's birth.
My birthplace god is Izanami.
That is why I love Izanami and feel that Izanagi is an inadequate husband.

Reader: In a sense, Shinto deities still have power in the Japanese collective subconscious, whereas European deities of old and such don't have that impact on people's minds anymore. It all boils down to how active those religions are when compared.

Nishitani: I agree with you, but sometimes I think the Shinto is really a religion?
There is no scripture. There are no idols. Everybody can believe it freely. Everybody can freely renounce it.

Reader: I remember a documentary that aired here in Mexican TV some years ago, where the host talked a little about the uniqueness of Shinto and how it adheres to the more practical mentality of Japanese believers. In Mexico, Christians are really devote and afraid of God's wrath.

Nishitani: Japanese deities differ from Christian GOD.
Japanese gods created Japan but not the world.
They have little to say about how the world should be. They are like human beings. And there are no idols at all.

Reader: Europeans today don't even care about catholicism or christianity neither, people from there are either atheists or agnostics, or simply indifferent. Dont japanese feel offended when their deities are used in pop culture as a form of entertainment instead of being see as sacred?

Nishitani: Most Japanese are not offended.
For example, when my DDS series was selling well, there was an increase in the number of people visiting certain shrines, and the shrines were pleased.
Kami for the Japanese are no different from human beings.

Reader: Mr. Nishitani, you practice Shinto religion? Also, did you ever read or hears anything about south American folklore and myths, like Brazilian myths? There's a lot of interesting creatures, gods and monsters from here to know. I'd love to see them more depicted in media.

Nishitani: For the Japanese, Shinto is as familiar as air.
I have visited many Inca ruins during my stay in Peru, and we have seen some South American deities in SMT.
But I don't know about Brazilian mythology. I would like to find out more about it anytime!

Apr 12, 2023:
I have been asked by many people if you have played SMT and I will answer.
I have played every Atlus game released between SMT and SMT2. But by far, SMT is my favorite.
For me, SMT has excellent game balance and plays like skiing down a gentle slope.

For me, SMT was the best game I have played in my life.
I played it three times.
Two of those times I played it with the goal of revealing the game system.
I will give you more details tomorrow with a simple diagram.
I'll leave you here for today.

Apr 13, 2023:
Have you ever hit a T-junction in a game and wondered whether to go right or left?
When I first started playing SMT, I felt that if I went left, a good balance can be achieved going forward, but if I consciously tried to go right, I 'd become unbalanced. That bothered me a lot.

And when I observe normal people playing, they turn left 60-80% of the time.
I realized that this seems to be a natural human behavior.
That's when I remembered something SMT game designer Kazuya Suzuki said.
Going left is chaos. Going right is Low. [sic]

So the second time I played, at every T-junction, at every building, I tried to go right as much as possible. Then that first comfortable game balance was broken.
But when I chose to go left, the comfortable game balance came back.
Of course, I don't know how others felt about it

I once asked Kazuya Suzuki, who designed SMT, about this, "Are you intentionally forcing the player to go left?"
His reply was, "I didn't intend it that much. It happened naturally. But there may be some vestiges of MT in this.

The first game designer of MT is Kazutoshi Ueda.
I would like to show you a program in which Kazutoshi Ueda, who is not often exposed to the media, appeared.
Without Kazutoshi Ueda, there would have been no MT.

Reader: I find myself naturally going Right but if I do go left it's because I remember my Fiances advice of "Always go left, no matter what!" but for some reason it always is the wrong way!!

Nishitani: I think your Fiances is right.
In real life, many stores are designed to make it easier for customers to shop when they turn left.
In fact, I have used that in a psychological test for a recently released game.

Apr 14, 2023:
Someone asked me if there was an SMT strategy book.
Of course there was.
 “All About Shin Megami Tensei," which was the most well-received book at the time.
This book had all the characters and all the maps. And it was so easy to read that I read it until it was torn to shreds.

Daisuke Narisawa, the creator of this wonderful book, passed away in 2015 at a very young age.
In the summer of that year, his friends from that time got together in his memory. This is a photo from that time.
It looks like a heavy metal music jacket photo.

Gathered there were Namco manager Mr. Tsuge.
SMT and SMT2 game designer Kazuya Suzuki.
Mr. Tsukasa Masuko, who created the music for MT and SMT.
Nobuyuki Shioda, Narisawa's partner and writer of "All About Shin Megami Tensei".
Nobel writer Benny Matsuyama.
And me.

If we don't call the names of the gods, they will disappear, and I'll keep on calling them.
By the way, "All About Shin Megami Tensei" had a wonderful cover drawn by Chiaki Ogishima, but I lost it after reading it too much and it became tattered. My apologies to Chiaki Ogishima.

Reader: Im sure youve been asked this before, but how much input did you have in the creation of the megami tensei games and shin megami tensei?

Nishitani: I would say  limited to MT,  it requires knowledge of Western magic, mythology from around the world, and Buddhist reincarnation.
And how to put my idea of summoning demons with a computer into the story? The combination of these was important.

Reader: You probably get this question a lot but have you played any of atlus' "original" games that derived from your works? (not the megami tensei adaptations)

Nishitani: I think I have played them twice.
But I have not done it since because I could not feel the excitement I felt from SMT. It's just my feeling, so it doesn't matter if it's right or wrong.
So, in the 1990s, I probably played more games than you might think, and I made some games.

Apr 15, 2023:
A reader who became a hero for me.
Siitake aji knows MT and the history of Nishitani during this period better than I.
Around 2000, I stopped talking about MT because it's too much trouble for me. 
He got all kinds of information out of me and presented it through the Internet.

His power and research is incredible, and readers from that time believe what siitake aji says rather than what I say.
The first part of his twitter page, "1986 – 女神転生沿革" is chock full of things that ordinary people don't know.

He was the first to find out about when and in what magazine I'd published "Summoning Demons Using computer," which I plan to talk about in the near future.
He admired Akemi Nakajima and became a system engineer as well.
However, he never try to summon demons...I believe.

Reader: Why it was a trouble for you to speak about it ?

Nishitani: Because too many people were involved in the project, rights and relationships became complicated.
This is all I can say at the moment.

Apr 16, 2023:
Today I wanted to write about how I got the idea of summoning demons on PC.
But when I was organizing my father's house , I found a note from my mother to me.
It was written long ago and she planned for me to see it after she died.
When I read the poem on it, I stood in shock.

(The poem )
No matter how long you wait, he's not coming.
This used to be a field where millet was planted. It was a wonderful sight to see the stalk swaying in the wind.
But now it is a wilderness.
Cowering in the north wind, you saw the roots of dead trees.

This is part of a Japanese nursery rhyme. What a cruel nursery rhyme... but I understand what my mother meant.

Thanks for reading my mother's story.
I am sure my mother is grateful to all of you.
It's time to talk about something you all might be interested in.

Reader: It seems like a rather deep poem from how it's written.
"No matter how long you wait, he's not coming"
If I may be wrong or not, this implies waiting for someone without knowing the person either passed away or got lost into the unknown.

Nishitani: Both of your interpretations are correct.
If we interpret the nursery rhyme as it is, he is dead, as you say.
But my mother wanted to say that he (perhaps   me) had gone to a different world and would not be coming back. I think she wanted to say that she knows that.

Reader: When I first read this, it struck me as being quite depressing. But as I read into it more, it seems to be suggesting that time moves forward, and all things go with it. Focusing on the past will only stall you, and looking to the future is how we move forward. Very interesting

Nishitani: It is a poem that can be interpreted in many ways.
I think what my mother wanted to say was like this
I am waiting for you. But I know that when you grow up, you will never come back to me again. So, it's okay.
There will come a time when you will feel that way, too. That's life.

Apr 18, 2023:
I got the idea of summoning demons on my PC from three experiences.
When I was young, I worked for a company called Toshiba. I had opportunities to write programs.
At that time, I felt that a PC is a big empty box, and a program is to create an environment for an app to run.

When I was young, I was interested in Western astrology.
When I asked my wife to marry me, I calculated and drew our horoscopes and showed them to her, saying, "Look how compatible we are.
In the 1990s, I made astrological software for Philips game consoles and for Windows.

In the 1980s, comics about demon summoning were popular in Japan.
Demon summoning is creating an environment in an empty space where demons can appear. As I was thinking about it, I thought that if I could create a pseudo-environment inside a PC, I could summon demons like an AI.

I thought that the pseudo-environment could be created with a horoscope. 
I thought of this short story.
The protagonist invoked a demon with the intention of being an AI.
But the demon was so smart that it moved from the world where he existed to our world in physical form.

In 1985, I wrote a short story like that. It was well received.
A lot happened in the process of turning that short story into a full-length feature.
Tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, I will write about that.

Reader: Fascinating. When you mentioned about demon summoning concept being a huge hit for manga series in the 1980s, any series you know has it before and after Megami Tensei?

Nishitani: The legend of "Mephistopheles & Faust" has long been known in Japan.
The first Japanese comic to hit the market was "Akuma-kun" by Shigeru Mizuki; in this period "Ekoeko Azarak" by Shinichi Koga.
And many Japanese read some of Lovecraft's works as stories about summoning demons.

Reader: How did you feel about artificial intelligence at the time? I think it's a wonder to think about, a program can do work or hold a conversation without specific instructions. As of late we've got some crazy AI tools, but 80's have a lot of stories about computers coming to life.

Nishitani: I had no idea that computers could have feelings.
I had an acquaintance who developed the first neural network in Japan, but I thought that AI was to extract something more likely to be used out of a lot of data.

Nishitani: But then I came across the question of what human emotion is.
 I wondered if we are like AI, which is designed to make random and erroneous choices.
That's where my thinking stopped.

Reader: What's even more interesting in my opinion is how both Digital Devil Story and Teito Monogatari were released in the 80's. Both works were really influential in the sci-fi/fantasy genre (and unfortunately both Digital Devil Story and Teito Monogatari are not translated)

Nishitani: In the 80's, there was the potential for humanity to go in many different directions. Whether it was for the better or for the worse.
We didn't know, so our imaginations ran wild.

Reader: A similar comparison would be made several years later in A Certain Magical Index. Magic was essentially stripped from its correlation to RPGs like Dragon Quest and drawn closer to computers, programs and the like. Fascinating.

Nishitani: A Certain Magical Index which started in 2004.
It is a very good book. I recommended it to my students when I was teaching at a college or university.
But I think I was the first in Japan to come up with the idea of summoning demons.

Reader: Mr. Nishitani, Megami Tensei paved the road for SMT to exist, which is consideres one of the key inspirations to game such as Pokemon, which made a giant success in the late 90s. So basically, MT is one of the 1st ancestors to Pokemon. How do you feel about it?

Nishitani: It is a great honor.
But it was my college senior and the director of  Nintendo who gave me the inspiration to make the game adaptation of 女神転生.
I will talk about that again.

Apr 19, 2023:
Thanks for reading my tweets.
I got a few questions yesterday, and I realized that not many people experienced 1986.
At that time in Japan, the market for home video games was only one-fifth of the publishing market.
Games were not yet recognized as culture.

I believe that home video games have grown into a huge market, more than publishing, because Nintendo checked every game that was released, set too strict rules, and then created masterpieces of games.
I've been disappointed at times, though...

Around 1993, I visited several NY bookstores and everywhere I went, I was surrounded by kids saying, "Are you the guy who makes Mario?
Nintendo's ideas and creations were so well known in the U.S. that just mentioning the word "Japanese gamer" made most people think of Mario.

But first, I have to tell you the story of how I finished writing a full-length novel.

Apr 20, 2023:
The magazine that I wrote about summoning demons by computer is a Softbank magazine called Oh! PC.
Oh PC was a monthly magazine, and I had a series of SF short stories in it.
Softbank is a big company now, but in 1985, the editorial office was in a room in a small building.

Goro Hashimoto was the editor-in-chief, and he always told me that my short stories were interesting.
Demon Summoning was one of those stories.
On day, Takao Inoue, an animation producer read my stories and introduced me to 徳間書店(major publisher), saying it was interesting.

Then Toshio Suzuki, editor-in-chief of "Animage" magazine, who had read my stories, said to me “Summoning of demons by computer was the most interesting.”
And he asked me if I'd like to make it into a full-length novel. If you do that, we can consider making it into an anime.

At that time, I wanted to try.
But I felt sorry for Goro Hashimoto, so I went to him to get his approval before I wrote it.
He was the one who first inspired me to write it.
He seemed a bit chagrined but said, "You should give it a shot. I was relieved.

I haven't written a full-length novel yet, but I am under the care of three people, Goro Hashimoto, Takao Inoue, and Toshio Suzuki. I can't do anything alone.
When games are involved, the number of people who help me will increase, but that can wait until later.

Apr 20, 2023:
Let me write something important at this point.
I started writing 女神転生, but before I showed it to my editor, I had a college senior (I call him Mr. X) look at it and ask his opinion.
My talent for ideas is second to none.
He was the first person to tell me so.

I asked Mr. X to read it to me halfway through, but his reaction was not good.
I thought about it for days without sleep.
I think the problem was that my writing style was intended for short stories and not for longer ones.
But there was something more important.

I was trying to make my hero a hero.
But then I thought.
A high school student who summons demons because he is dissatisfied with the status quo should not be a hero.

The protagonist should live with his sins.
With that in mind, I knew this story had to be designed to be a tragedy.
And it might have turned out to be a slightly better novel.
I had Mr. X look at my manuscript before I submitted it to the editorial office.

When the decision was made to publish a full-length book and Tokuma Shoten began selecting illustrators, Mr. X matched me with someone unexpected.
He was the director of Nintendo, the famous developer of the Family Computer.

He read my novel and said that it was interesting and that he would consider whether my company could adapt it into a game. I'll see if my company can adapt it into a game," he said, and took the manuscript with him.
A week later, however, he called me and said he was sorry.

"I think it could work, but there's a strong opinion that a demon-summoning game couldn't be released under the Nintendo brand.
Why don't you try something other one?
He suggested another creation, but I refused.
" I couldn't do any other title because I was fixated on 女神転生"

That was the beginning of it all.
Since only a few people in Japan know this story, I have not told it publicly until now.
But now I think I should tell it to you, so I do.

Apr 23, 2023:
Mr. X introduced me to Mr. Harano, the president of Atlus, and Mr. Ueda, the director.
At the time, Atlus had just started up and it was difficult to release a Nintendo game under their own brand.
I was told that they decided to ask Namco to release the game.

The PC version was developed and released by Nippon Telenet.
It is now called an action game, but at the time it was called an "action-adventure game.
It was completely different from the Atlus product and was loved by a different group of fans.

Namco's 女神転生 sold well.
The novels were also fair hits. In particular, Digital Devil Story: 魔都の戦士 sold even better than Digital Devil Story: 女神転生.
The production cost of the anime was recovered by reservations from Europe before it was released in Japan.

However, Tokuma Shoten, the producer of the anime, did not make an anime of "Goddess Tensei II.
Why? This is a question that many people have been asking to me since long ago.
I know one of the reasons. The other two are just guesses, but I will try to tell you about them

Before that, 女神転生 was a novel, an anime, and a game that started almost simultaneously.
This is unthinkable in this day, but that is how strong the  Tokuma Shoten was.
If I don't talk about the reasons for this, the fans of today won't understand. See you tomorrow.

Reader: I wonder there was any problems with theme of the novels/game, especially teens summoning demons?

Nishitani: There wasn't in Japan; there hasn't been a hit like that since the 1960's. The problem with DDS is that dozens of students died in the first place by the demons invoked by the protagonist.

Reader: Do english versions of your novels exist?

Nishitani: None that I have checked.
However, I have heard that there are people who have translated or read up to the second volume, regardless of me.
The most popular volume in Japan was the tragic volume three, which is why I would like to translate it.

Apr 24, 2023:
In 1985, Tokuma Syoten was the strongest publisher in the field of animation and video games.
With the success of its GUNDAM feature, the company made the world recognize that animation was considered entertainment for adults. They were the first to publish a magazine on the NES.

At the time, many people in the animation and game industries thought that working with Tokuma would bring their works to the attention of the largest number of people.
In fact, the three Digital Devil Stories novels sold 450,000 copies because of the Animage editorial department

When deciding on an illustrator, Toshio Suzuki, editor-in-chief of Animage, showed me two candidates and told me to choose one of them.
Both were promising young artists, and one looked like he would be outstanding at drawing demons.
The other was Mr. Kitazume.

Without hesitation, I said I wanted Kitazume to draw it.
In my mind, the story I was writing was going to be a tragedy.
I thought that if I could depict it with Ms. Kitazume's lovely character, it would soften the tragedy of the story. I think I succeeded.

I think that Kazuma Kaneko's role in the Atlus game must have been similar.
Instead of creepy demons, they were cool or cute demons, which made the atmosphere of the game smart, and because of Kaneko's drawings, many players would have wanted to be friends with the demons.

Apr 25, 2023:
In 1987, the NES was the focus of worldwide attention, so many games were created, and everyone was hooked.
If it was not for Tokuma Shoten's advertising power, it is possible that "Megami Tensei" would have been buried among them. But...

The production cost of the anime "女神転生" probably didn't cost $120,000.
(This is just my estimation.)
Besides, Tokuma Shoten's anime has a good reputation in the EU, and I think the production cost could have been recovered just from overseas.

On the other hand, the production cost of the game "MT" must have cost more than $250,000.
Then, there were many video games being released, and there was no guarantee that the production costs could be recouped.
MT was a hit, but there was a dissatisfaction among game makers.

I was worried that no one at Tokuma Shoten would think about it.
One night, I met with Tokuma Shoten's executive producer to discuss the next anime. (He was not Toshio Suzuki.)
I had planned to talk about games at that time. But the conversation took an unexpected turn.

He asked me to stop using the title "女神転生Megami Tensei".
(Now, I can understand his feelings. But at the time, I was filled with anger.)

Apr 26, 2023:
When Tokuma Shoten's executive producer asked me to stop working on "Goddess Tensei," my first thought was whether its reputation for being educationally unsatisfactory had reached the CEO of  Tokuma Shoten.

But he said.
' I like the concept of reincarnation and summoning demons. I want a protagonist who isn't a goddess. I came up with the title Male god Reincarnation. What do you think?"
I was stunned at the time and replied, "No," and got up from my seat.

The events of the evening will result in a great opportunity for ATLUS, do you understand? For ATLUS fans, this is the most important part!
Anyway, the executive producer did not like the title "Megami Tensei".

He is one of the contributors to the growth of the Japanese animation industry.
Many of the works he has produced seem to be royal road anime in which honest and strong heroes overcome difficulties and grow up. Come to think of it, "Male god" is a title that fits his policy.

I like weak protagonists like the one in MT, and I wasn't going to change that.
My falling out with him made it difficult to animate Goddess Tensei II, but I still thought I could turn it around with the power of my novels. That's how well received the second volume was.

Apr 27, 2023:
Even though the executive producer of Tokuma Shoten told me that the title "Megami Tensei" was not good enough, I thought that if the novel was a big hit, I could make an anime.
I thought Toshio Suzuki, the chief editor, was very fond of this title.

When we met at the planning meeting for the third volume, Toshio Suzuki looked at me with expectant eyes.
I presented a plot that I was confident would be a hit.
However, contrary to my expectations, Toshio Suzuki became silent with a pained expression on his face.

I thought that the protagonist, who had caused the deaths of so many people through demon summoning, had to atone for his crime somewhere.
That is why I planned a story in which Akimi Nakajima is put on trial and sentenced to death in Lucifer-occupied Japan.

But that was not what Toshio Suzuki expected.
The conference room was silent and no one opened their mouths.
At that moment, only one editor shouted, "This is fine! “ Nozomu Takahashi, the editor of this series.

He said. No matter how much Akemi Nakajima worked for the good of humanity, his first sin will never be erased. Therefore, this is a natural consequence.
It was as if he knew what I was thinking.

Thanks to this, Toshio Suzuki said, "All right. Let's do it," he muttered in a hushed voice.
The project for "転生の終焉" was approved.
Although the book was in such a state, it sold out 30,000 copies in a few days after its release.

Reader: Honestly, I had hoped there was going to be a longer road for Nakajima's redemption, and a longer story. But I understand. When I first read about it, it reminded me of the Devilman manga.

Nishitani: Perhaps the editor-in-chief thought the same thing.
And I think that ,Davilman was not lonely. I think Nakajima was much lonelier than  Devilman.

Reader: I found a YouTube video of someone doing a synopsis of MT and MT2:

Nishitani: I'm really, really happy that MT and MT2 are being translated!
But you see, I'm a professional writer. So I can't say 'great' to something that was made without my permission.
Please understand that.

Nishitani: Also, MT3, the novel, is a very hard text, and unless you are very good at Japanese, you can't translate it, and machine translation won't understand what it means.
So I'm thinking of doing it myself.

Apr 28, 2023:
I think that "The End of Reincarnation" was the most successful book I had ever written, and it seemed to reach the hearts of readers.
After a week, the post office started bringing letters from readers in cardboard boxes. I corresponded with more than 1,000 people by letter.

But, of course, I knew that MT was not a popular work of royalty.
In the U.S., it might resemble Lovecraft's work.
So, no matter how well the book sold, the executive producer did not want to make an anime of MT2.

Until 1988, my novel "Bloodline of the gods" by Kadokawa Shoten was more popular.
This story is about a "god trait" in human genes that creates a group of people and causes them to fight. This is the story I had envisioned since I was a student.

When I predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union (Russia) in 1986, it really happened. I was desperate to complete the 10-volume story to keep up with reality.
(I used a drone in my story, back in 1987. Pretty early, isn't it?. Makoto Kobayashi's illustrations are excellent.

For the next two years or so, my surroundings were in turmoil.
I got into trouble because the game I invested in couldn't be launched.
Also, Mr.X, who had always encouraged me, left the entertainment business, and Kazutoshi Ueda, the director of Atlas, left the company.

Toshio Suzuki left the company and founded STUDIO GHIBLI. Nozomu Takahashi went to STUDIO GHIBLI.
Mr. Noriaki Ikeda, he was my editor at Kadokawa Shoten, has left the company. He was probably the editor I was most comfortable with throughout my life.

One day, I came out of the room where I had been holed up writing novels, I saw that the scenery had completely changed.
At that time, a friend called me and said, "ATLUS would like to talk to you.

Apr 28, 2023:
It is impossible for a novel MT or a game MT to be appreciated by 80% of the population, like Mario.
No matter how great our work is, in Japan we see an upper limit. That's why they went abroad and were welcomed. That's what I mean by being similar to Lovecraft.

Apr 29, 2023:
Before meeting the ATLUS executive, my legal representative said.
'Tokuma Shoten has not wanted to make MT 2 anytime soon. So ATLUS wants to make a game directly from your original novel ”Digital Devil story& New DDS . What do you want to do?

When I heard this, I had mixed feelings. The reason why MT became a hit was because of the power of each work, but Tokuma Shoten's advertising power was huge.
So I wondered whether it would be right to pass over Tokuma Shoten and sign a direct contract with ATLUS or not..

I was unsure, but the agent told me to knock it off.
'Tokuma Shoten didn't apply for the trademark rights for MT. That's why ATLUS has acquired the trademark right. I was surprised and angry at the same time.

Initially, a contract was signed for MT, with me as the author, the anime as a secondary use and the game as a secondary use of animation.
In cases like this, it is common in Japan for publishers to obtain trademark rights to protect the author.

Tokuma Shoten did not do its normal thing.
Later, this became a well-publicised case in the entertainment legal sector. It was never out in the open, though.
And I heard here and there that Tokuma Shoten's staff had a reputation for being irresponsible.

But I know the person in charge. He is very serious and would never make such a mistake.
After all, the executive produser does not like MT. When he heard that they were no longer going to develop the anime, he stopped acquiring the trademark rights. That's how it felt to me.

Suddenly I found myself in front of my agent, not speaking, but thinking about it.
He said, "What do you want to do? Do you want to stop?" He asked.
I said, "No, let's do it. This will make MT & SMT bigger".
Shin Megami Tensei was then released to the world.

May 1, 2023:
MT & SMT were prototyped by Mr. Ueda and developed by Mr. Suzuki and Mr. Okada.
That is true, but the sensibilities of the three are different. Especially after Mr. Ueda left the company, if there had been no one to unite them, the game series could have been a less unified one.

From the time ATLUS was founded, I had heard the company had been aiming to be listed on the stock market.
However, in the 1980s, there was one major obstacle for a game company to go public in Japan.

They think that if the company doesn't remain profitable for 5 years, it's not suitable for listing.
Even if you have one blockbuster series, it takes more than a year of production before you can release the next one. This makes it difficult to be listed.

Everyone was struggling to overcome this barrier.
I had heard that ATLUS was no different. 
Mr. Harano and Mr. Ueda were struggling to overcome it. That's why we needed someone to unite the concept of MT.

Mr.Yokoyama, another executive, united the creators.
In my opinion, it is doubtful that the post-MT works would have attracted as many fans as they did without Mr. Yokoyama. The worldviews of the works may have become disjointed.

Tomorrow I will share with you some of the powerful words he said after signing the SMT contract.
In fact, ATLUS is a company that has come up with a concept that is exactly as he said it would be.

I am being disrespectful in naming only three directors. Scenarios, music, graphics, so many talents made SMT blossom.
Please forgive me for mentioning only three names.

May 2, 2023:
Shiitake Aji, a well-known collector of the novel Digital Devil's Story, has finally acquired a handheld PC that belonged to Akemi Nakajima, for which I had written a program.(40years ago)

RT: @siitake_aji こんな感じでどうでしょうか!!!

The size is such that you can hold it in one hand.
It's a little big to hold in one hand! Will Cerberus be available?

May 2, 2023:
When I met Mr. Yokoyama after the contract was signed, he told me, " ATLUS does not make stars out of our employees.
All content created under the ATLUS brand belongs to ATLUS, not to individual employees. You must understand that.

I think this was also a warning to me. However, as Mr.Yokoyama said, ATLUS did not want to showcase its creators. For example, Ryutaro Ito would have been treated as a star by any other manufacturer. ATLUS wrapped everything in a brand curtain.

That would have been very helpful in unifying the worldview of the content. However, it was also the time when games sold better if the creators were brought to the surface.
In Japan, there was a synergistic effect where fans of creators became fans of the games.

I mentioned the names of three directors yesterday, but there is no way that a single director can create a game by himself. A good game can be created by a group of excellent people.
However, creators are selfish, so they need someone to unite them.

Years later, when I saw that ATLUS had finally brought Mr. Okada and Mr.Kaneko out into the open, I wondered how Mr.Yokoyama must be feeling.
I have had my conflicts with Mr.Yokoyama, but without him, ATLUS would not have survived, in my opinion.

May 3, 2023:
There is a scene I will never forget.
There, in a field, with the setting sun in the background, my friend bowed his head to me, saying, "I'm sorry.
It's all right, take care," I said.

But he never raised his head until I drove away from that field.
He knew it was his fault that I had lost my visualization rights to the MT&SMT in Japan.
And then he got sick and died.

I was going to keep quiet about it in his honor.
But recently I lost another friend.
I feel sorry for my other friends who have continued to protect me and for my readers, so I want to write the facts, taking care to avoid dishonoring those who are still alive as much as possible

"Dead men have no tongues, so beware."
I was told today by a friend of mine, a popular cartoonist.
I think her words were probably a metaphor, referring to online sabotage.
If it were real, I'd be scared...

What I am writing now is not intended to be a tragedy.
This is not an ending. I just wrote what everyone in Japan knows 99% of the time.
Rather, it is a story of rebirth, which is why I wrote this in the middle of the story.

May 5 2023:
What is written here may be too complicated for people abroad who do not know what has been going on for the past 37 years.
Let's delete it and write only one thing.

RT: Reader: ? i dont understand. please explain more thuroughly

My saying that I don’t distribute "Digital Devil Story" electronically in Japan has not directly related to the Games .
Readers for 30 years have told me that, This work can only be moved by the historical background of the 1980s.People who only know the present time don't get it

I think so too. That is why I don’t distribute them electronically. However, I would like to distribute it to people overseas who don’t know either Japan in the 80's or Japan today, to hear their impressions. Overseas, there would be no drama like Digital Devil Story Volume 3.

[More to come as Mr. Nishitani tweets it.]