By William Haderlie / April 20th, 2016
|Release Date||March 31, 2016|
|Genre||Action Fantasy Visual Novel|
|Age Rating||All Ages|
When we were within the threshold of the gate,
in disuse because of human souls’ evil love, which
makes the twisted way seem straight,
I heard it being closed again, resounding; and if I
had turned back my eyes to it, what would have
been a worthy excuse for the fault?
-Dante Alighieri, Purgatorio Canto 10
The new Visual Novel release from Propeller and translated by MangaGamer, Tokyo Babel, was a fascinating experience, particularly for an Atheist such as myself. But I am an Atheist that actually enjoys studying mythology, and that includes the Occidental Mythology, which is where the inspiration and spirit of this tale lies. To be clear, this example of the Occident is primarily focused on the mythologies of the Levant as existed from the Mesopotamian period until now. The most prominent sources of its story and characters are The Holy Bible, The Qur’an, The Divine Comedy (quoted above), Paradise Lost, The Tale of Gilgamesh, The Talmud, Timaeus, and the apocryphal books of the Gnostic and the Kabbalah. That gives you a general outline for the experience that you can expect. This is a tale that posits the idea that all of those texts were absolutely true all at the same time, and what that would mean for the state of the world. Especially if something went wrong, in particular with the God worshiped by the Semetic tribes. That is the world in which our characters function and where the story begins… in Tokyo Babel, the new Purgatory.
The main character is a demiurge named Tendou Setsuna. He has known that he is one for all of his life, and eventually goes on to pronounce himself the Aeon of Sophia, Yaldabaoth. Given his status as a demiurge, it is meant as the mythic version from the Apocryphon of John, not the angel from the (apocryphal) Gospel of Judas. Instead of being sourced from Sophia, they use the multiverse theory of physics to posit that he came from a world where humanity disregarded religion entirely and chose to create their own god.
Lilith is the next main character, and in this story, she is a Demon. But she is not like other demons; her powers and her source make her a bit different. Lilith flat out tells Setsuna that she plans on using him for her own devices until he is worn out and broken. The source of her version here is that of a literal translation of The Holy Bible, as it currently exists, which mentions two separate first women during Genesis. The one being created along with Adam and then the other born of Adam’s rib. This follows a tangent myth that developed in the early days of Christendom that said Adam had two wives, the first of which was born from the dirt along with him named Lilith, and the second one born of him was named Eve. This is because the legends that formed what people now call Genesis were sourced from two different competing mythological systems that formed what is now known as Judaism, the Lilith source comes from the more pluralistic cult of Elohim, and Eve from the more purely patriarchal cult of Yahweh. The tension between those two thought systems is still rife within this Visual Novel, so I felt it necessary to point out along with her source.
Raziel is an Angel, that much can be gleaned easily from the picture above, and is known traditionally as “Keeper of Secrets”. In this story, she is entirely, although innocently, female but is still of the pantheon of Angels that she is traditionally associated with, in this case the Cherubim. That does make her a powerful Archangel indeed, as they are second in rank only to the Seraphim by Kabbalistic thought. However, it is not her physical or magical prowess that makes her such an integral part of this story, it’s her association with her (in)famous text, the Sefer Raziel HaMalach. This text is rather famous throughout mythological history and is said to have been passed down from the days of Adam and Enoch clear to King Solomon, depending on which myths you would like to believe. Said to contain all possible knowledge, it could very well have been the cause of the Apocalypse that is the story, or it could be its cure.
The last of the main characters is Kugutsu Sorami. For all intents and purposes, she appears to just be a regular Japanese School Girl. However, she does have some interesting qualities. First, she has no memory at all of her past before she is rescued, really you know as much about her as she ever does, no matter which route you choose. Also, she seems to be much more adaptable to her situation than humans normally are, and it is a question whether that is a supernatural ability or is she just simply such a ditz that she just doesn’t understand anything. And finally, she was given a gift (or curse) by the Angel Gethel of all-seeing eyes, which is an ability that is coveted by many on both sides of the occidental divide. That said, she still does not have the fighting power of either an Angel or a Demon, so she needs the help of the other three to look after her physical well-being. By trade off, they can look to her for their mental and emotional well-being. I don’t want to get too much more into her background or what makes her special, though, because that would involve major spoilers. And while the other two ladies also have spoilers in their past and their true nature, they happen much later in their character arcs than Sorami, so it’s best to keep her identity a mystery.
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