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Atlus JRPGs are a tale of characters across both the Shin Megami Tensei and Persona games. I will admit that from my time checking out every single mainline game in both series and most spin-offs that some games have better characters than others.
One such game is Devil Summoner: Raidou Kuzunoha vs The Soulless Army, a title and Persona character you rarely hear about. I hope to break that wall down in this Raidou Kuzunoha guide.
Raidou Kuzunoha the 14th is the star of the Devil Summoner spin-off game on PS2 and its direct sequel. Though he is a silent protagonist, he made waves in those games, affecting titles that are still coming out today, more than 15 years later.
He left a legacy felt throughout the Shin Megami Tensei series and created a fan base dedicated to him and all of the other Kuzunoha members of his family. Find out about the greatest devil summoner in our Raidou Kuzunoha guide.
Bottom Line Up Front
The Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner spin-off series began with the Soul Hackers first-person dungeon-crawling RPG back in the 1990s. The series didn’t garner its true popularity until nearly ten years later with Raidou Kuzunoha and his action-RPG spin-off on the PS2.
As the most powerful member of his family and all devil summoners in the world, he was able to get a sequel game soon after, and his legacy is still felt today. Even now, he is referenced in games like SMT III: Nocturne and Soul Hackers 2.
Raidou Kuzunoha Overview
It all started with the Megami Tensei games back in the 1980s, themselves based on a trilogy of novels from around the same time. Since then, Atlus has made the main Shin Megami Tensei series, the Persona sub-series, the Digital Devil Saga, Devil Survivor, and so many more series.
It is crazy and so convoluted when you think about the different series and genres represented in the Atlus JRPGs. It can even be so overwhelming and bloated that you could be a massive fan of the SMT and Persona games and not even know about specific series.
One particular series that goes so far under the radar is the Devil Summoner games. In total, there are five of these games that have been released, and even they have two different sub-series going on at the same time.
It all started with the original Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner back in the 1990s, which was pretty similar to the origins of the Atlus JRPGs. But it all changed in 2006 with the release of the third entry in the series known as Devil Summoner: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army.
It starred none other than Raidou Kuzunoha the 14th, a young man who was recently promoted to the lead demon summoner of his prestigious family. A few intriguing factors made this game and the character of Raidou stand out compared to everything else that Atlus had made up until that point.
For one, it was the first significant action RPG from Atlus that switched up the traditional turn-based gameplay for something wholly new. In addition, it was a historical period piece for the first time, set in Japan’s Taisho era before World War II’s onset but still during the time of growing pains and industrialization.
In a series that had been, up until that point, dominated by futuristic and modern-day games, Raidou Kuzunoha offered something fresh and intriguing.
Even to this day, the young samurai-style devil summoner is unique compared to the other protagonists around. So much so that he received a sequel in Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon, and I hope for a third game someday.
Raidou Kuzunoha is a handsome little devil with a character design that is fitting of the SMT 3D PS2 days, matching the face of characters from games like Nocturne and Digital Devil Saga.
He has short black hair with distinct sideburns that are pretty nice. He wears an old-school Japanese uniform that is militaristic in nature but still somewhat stylish. I especially love his cape.
For the most part, Raidou’s appearance doesn’t change all that much throughout the games he is featured in. He keeps the same iconic, simple, clean look he is going for with his sword and gun at his side. Raidou may not have the most extravagant appearance for an Atlus character, but his looks are memorable enough for me.
Key Moments in the Devil Summoner Series
Keep in mind that going over this next section will constitute some spoilers for Raidou Kuzunoha and the various games that he is part of. On a side note, I was waiting for a long time to write this guide because I had never secured a copy of the PS2 Devil Summoner games that Kuzunoha stars in.
As such, I was biding time until I got the games or was able to finally do it on my Steam Deck, which I have now done. With this in mind, I can give you a fresh perspective on the events that happen with Raidou Kuzunoha in his games. It all starts with Devil Summoner: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army.
Keeping it brief and not too spoilery, the beginning of the game sees Raidou tested to become a true devil summoner and representative of his famous clan. After being named Raidou Kuzunoha the 14th, he goes to Tokyo, where he meets up with a detective and begins investigating the supernatural events that are happening there.
Before long, he is wrapped up in a case of a girl who wishes to die that ends up seeing her kidnapped in the process. This, in turn, becomes a massive tale in the first Raidou game about him investigating the mysteries behind the girl, who kidnapped her, and why.
In the end, it turns out that The Soulless Army and even Russia’s greatest love machine, Rasputin, is behind the events happening in the world. A whole lot of craziness ensues with talking cat companions (something that would be used later on in Atlus games), massive mechs, and the destruction of Tokyo.
Raidou Kuzunoha succeeds in the end, cementing his place as the successor of the most excellent devil summoning family out there. He returned not too long after to Tokyo in a sequel game in which he investigated King Abaddon and the latest attack on the capital of Japan, once again becoming a hero with some familiar faces along the way.
What you might find intriguing about Raidou Kuzunoha is that he isn’t all that different from the characters you know and love from recent Atlus games like the Persona series. It just so happens that he pre-dates everyone from the core franchises that Atlus works on.
As such, he is a demon summoner like everyone else in the Atlus games, able to harness his innate powers of commanding the spiritual realm. He is able not only to see demons with the naked eye but speak with them, fight them, and even add some of them to his team.
He doesn’t have the modern-day amenities and technology like COMPs and the like, so he solely relies on his supernatural powers. In addition, he wields a katana and gun in battle to help him fight alongside his demon partners. Of course, he can command some elemental magic at the same time.
By far, the most unique aspect of Raidou’s abilities is his detective skills, both in the real world and in the other version of Tokyo. He is a master of strategy and finding people, using his supernatural skills to venture into the other version of Tokyo where demons roam.
How to Master Playing Raidou Kuzunoha the 14th
Part of what I like about the Raidou Kuzunoha duology is that they are so unlike what Atlus has done before. They are action RPGs, so they feature a combat system that has nothing to do with press turns or trying to outsmart your opponent with the best move possible each turn.
Instead, players have a relatively simple hack-and-slash system that they use to take on enemies. For the most part, you only have a couple of attack buttons that you use to string up quick combos to slice up your enemies using your katana weapon.
In addition to that, Raidou has a pistol that he can use in combat, too. This has limited ammo, though, so players sometimes have to conserve and worthy about when they use their gun. But Raidou has the benefit at least of having access to both physical melee and gun skills, giving him an edge against enemies.
In addition to that, you have your demons. You can switch between demon partners, and they will fight alongside you on the battle screen, similar to the main SMT series. The difference here is the action-based format, which also plays into how you command them in battle.
At any moment in the middle of battle, you can open up the command screen to see the skills that you currently have. Depending on the demon that you have as your current partner, your skills will change, and you will be able to use different types of elemental magic.
All the basic trappings of Atlus games are here, like Agi, Bufu, and the many other elemental skills you can use in battle. They cost some SP to use, so not too different from the turn-based counterparts; the only difference being that you are using them in the middle of an action gameplay system.
What I find intriguing as someone who just went from the first game to the second Raidou Kuzunoha title one after the other (through emulation, sorry) is the difference in combat. Not only is the UI a little bit different and sleeker in the sequel, but the overall gameplay seems a little faster. Everything from slashing to shooting the gun is more fun and exciting to do.
Though Atlus rarely dipped its toe into non-turn-based games until the onset of these two Devil Summoner games, this wouldn’t be the last time they did so.
Persona 5 Strikers, the pseudo-sequel and spin-off of Persona 5, has a somewhat similar style. The battles are much more vast with tons of enemies onscreen and flashier attacks, but the general hack-and-slash and skill command gameplay is generally the same.
In many ways, Raidou Kuzunoha is the earliest point in the Atlus timeline. For the most part, the SMT and Persona games are connected to one another, placing Raidou at the starting point. As such, he left quite the legacy behind after his games, being referenced and appearing in several titles.
Outside of his two main Devil Summoner games, he also had a manga adaptation that he was featured in, which is technically a sequel, so check there for more on him. Later on, he appeared in SMT III: Nocturne as a DLC party member that you could add to your team in place of Dante from the Devil May Cry series.
He even made the crossover officially to the Persona series, confirming that his games possibly take place in the same universe. In Persona 4, Chie mentions Raidou by name. However, the one knock against this is that this isn’t featured in the Japanese dub, only in the English version.
Besides that, Raidou also appeared in the original Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers when it was re-released on the 3DS. In the remake, he is an extra boss you can fight as a final challenge in the game. In addition, his descendant, Kyouji Kuzunoha, is one of the notable characters in that title.
Connection to Soul Hackers 2 Explained
In fact, the descendants of Raidou Kuzunoha the 14th wouldn’t end with the original Soul Hackers. He had a strong bloodline of demon summoners and that continued even into the most recent Atlus JRPG (at least at the time of writing this), Soul Hackers 2.
Though the Devil Summoner name has been dropped, it is very much in the same series. The game isn’t out yet at the time of writing, but it should be by the time this article is up. In Soul Hackers 2, one of the central characters involved in the story that you are looking for is Mangetsu Kuzunoha.
He is the descendant of Raidou and the current demon summoner head of the family. However, it turns out that the family isn’t doing all that well at the time of the near-future Soul Hackers 2 events. As such, Mangetsu is currently homeless and living in the abandoned subway lines due to some other events happening in the world.
There is yet another somewhat minor connection to Raidou beyond Mangetsu and his presence in the story, but going any further would constitute spoilers for that recently released game. If you would like to know about the legacy that Raidou left in that game, I highly recommend checking out Soul Hackers 2.
It might not have the action-based gameplay of the Raidou games, but the idea and conflict of the Yatagarasu against its hidden enemies remain in both titles. Who knows? Maybe we will see Raidou Kuzunoha again someday if Soul Hackers 2 does well enough.
A Devil Summoner 3 action RPG with much better and smoother gameplay on modern systems sounds like a fantastic idea to me.
Question: What Year is Raidou Kuzunoha Set in?
Answer: The first Raidou Kuzunoha game is set in Japan’s 20th year of the Taisho era. In Gregorian terms, that would be roughly around 1932. Ironically, this year doesn’t exist since the Taisho period concluded in 1926, so it’s a bit of historical fiction.
Question: Is Raidou in SMT V?
Answer: No, Raidou Kuzunoha isn’t in Shin Megami Tensei V. At least yet. There is a chance for DLC someday that could include him, but I doubt it at this point.
Question: Is Devil Summoner 2 a Direct Sequel?
Answer: Yes, Devil Summoner 2: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon is a direct sequel to Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army. However, they are prequels to the other Devil Summoner games that came before, like Soul Hackers. This includes the more recent Soul Hackers 2.
Which Devil Summoner to Meet Next
Raidou Kuzunoha is one of the most memorable characters in the pantheon of JRPGs that Atlus has created. Though he is the classic silent protagonist, I will not soon forget his surprisingly fun story and devilishly good-looking design.
I hope that Atlus hasn’t forgotten him, either, and plans to bring him back in a brand new Devil Summoner 3 game.
In the meantime, though, there is another demon summoner that I would like you to meet. That person is none other than the Demi Fiend from Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne.
He not only is a summoner, but he connects to Raidou Kuzunoha on another level. Raidou appears in Nocturne as a DLC character that you can add to your party in the current remasters on modern systems.