Friday, October 24, 2014

It's Finally Friday: Lovecraftian Mythology in Anime

While not exactly a real-world mythology, the extensive mythos developed by popular science-fiction writer H.P. Lovecraft has had enough influence on popular culture that it's even manged to find its way into anime; as such, it's next on my list of mythologies in anime to look at.

Example 1: Kishin Houkou Demonbane

Kishin Houkou Demonbane is an anime adaptation of the second entry in the Demonbane series, a series of science-fiction/action visual novels concerning the titular mecha Demonbane. The series draws heavily on Lovecraft's work, particularly in regards to the main setting of the series; the majority of events take place in the fictional Arkham City, a city central to many of Lovecraft's stories, particularly in relation to Miskatonic University, itself also a location in Demonbane. Several other locations in Lovecraft's work are either featured or alluded to, including the coastal city of Innsmouth, the country town of Dunwich, and the sunken city R'lyeh. Additionally, several characters in the series are directly based on some of Lovecraft's characters and concepts, most notably the personified grimoire Al-Azif being based on the madness inducing Necronomicon and a certain mysterious stranger (whose identity won't be specified due to spoilers) who is actually Nyarlathotep, the living embodiment of the almighty Outer Gods; several other characters are referenced in one form or another, including the legendary high priest Cthulhu, the ocean-dwelling Dagon, the Wind-Walker Ithaqua, and the Outer God Yog-Sothoth.

Example 2: Nyaruko: Crawling with Love

Easily the strangest interpretation of Lovecraft's mythos in this list, Nyaruko: Crawling with Love is a romantic comedy series staring the titular Nyarlathotep, one of Lovecraft's most powerful and infamous monsters. As the title would suggest, the series is very direct in terms of its references to Lovecraft's work; various characters are share the names, titles, and general descriptions with multiple beings in Lovecraft's stories (including Hastur, Cthuga, Shantak, and Lloigor), and the human protagonist of the anime is stated to be a big fan of Lovecraft and frequently references his works, usually to point out how different the beings he's interacting with are from the eldritch abominations he was expecting. More specifically, why terrifying and malicious beings like the Crawling Chaos Nylarlathotep or Him Who Is Not to Be Named Hastur are appearing as relatively friendly humans, and especially why the former would be romantically interested in him.

Example 3: Digimon

Interestingly enough, even a relatively lighthearted anime like Digimon has managed to sneak in a reference to the Lovecraft mythology. Specifically, the villainous being known as Dragomon bears a striking resemblance to the infamous Cthulhu, both being towering, octopus-headed monsters that arise from the sea in order to wreak havoc and destruction. Dragomon also derives his name from the god Dagon, originally a Mesopotamian god that was later adapted by Lovecraft into his mythos as a surprisingly peaceful underwater giant. Additionally, in the same episode in which Dragomon appears, a certain snippet of the fictional DigiCode language can be translated as "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn", the infamous chant of the worshipers of Cthulhu, thereby further establishing Dragomon's basis in Lovecraft's mythology.

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