Without the Shin Megami Tensei series, we would not have the Persona franchise and the website you are reading right now. Like perhaps many of you reading this, I first started with Persona and then branched off into the SMT games, beginning with Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne. One major part of that particular title was the mechanic I will go over in this Kagutsuchi guide.
When it comes to SMT games, the third mainline numbered entry is ranked among the best. For many, it is the number one game in the series. Me, personally, I would rank it at around second place. It was a phenomenal title that more than deserved its HD Remaster recently. With so many new players diving into the game for the first time, you might wonder what the Kagutsuchi mechanic is. Thankfully, I’ve got your back in this Kagutsuchi guide with everything you need to know.
Bottom Line Up Front
Kagutsuchi is known in Japanese lore as the son of the iconic gods Izanami and Izanagi. Within the Shin Megami Tensei games, though, it is mainly an in-game feature that changes up battles and negotiations. The general idea is that Kagutsuchi represents the different phases of the moon that cycle through as you walk around.
Different phases of the Kagutsuchi moon will result in stronger, weaker, or more easily negotiated demons. This feature is a constant presence in SMT III: Nocturne, and a rendition of it also exist in the recent Shin Megami Tensei V.
Kagutsuchi, much like everything else in the SMT and Persona series, takes its origins from the real world. In the case of this crucial part of some of the SMT games, the Kagutsuchi derives from Hinokagutsuchi. This is an actual Japanese god from the past of the island country.
Without diving deep into this tale since it is pretty long, the general idea is that Hinokagutsuchi was the ill-begotten son of the legendary gods in Japanese culture known as Izanami and Izanagi. You may know those two as the essential founders or parents of the entire island nation in ancient times.
However, Hinokagutsuchi had a troubled life right from the start as his mother died, and he was torn apart to create more gods that would take their place in the Japanese legends. In many depictions, he is seen as the Japanese god of fire, which is interesting since his depiction in the Shin Megami Tensei games is a little bit different.
As you may know, the SMT games and, in turn, the Persona titles take their demons and shadows from real-life religions, legends, lore, and mythologies. Kagutsuchi is no stranger to this, despite not being a traditional demon you can recruit in the series (yet at least).
Instead, he is featured as a significant mechanic and later character in the SMT series, most notably in one mainline game. The series’ transition from 2D to full-on 3D saw some major mechanics introduced. The Kagutsuchi was one of them, not being that of a fire element as you might expect but a moon feature.
The Kagutsuchi was featured in mainly one title in the SMT series. Still, it was popular enough to essentially be part of another game in the series, even if it was not entirely by name.
Featured SMT Games
There are two main games in the Shin Megami Tensei series where you will find the Kagutsuchi. The debut of the feature and character was in Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne. This is where the god of fire makes his debut in the JRPG franchise, but not in the way that you may have expected.
Whereas some characters like his own father, Izanagi, are demons that you can actually recruit in the Persona series, such is not the case at this time for Kagutsuchi. Instead, he was featured in SMT III as a primary mechanic always looming over the background of the entire game.
There is no move you can make or a thing you can do in the game where it is not being affected by the Kagutsuchi. It is almost like he is the all-seeing eye over the third mainline game in the series. This was one of the prominent features that Nocturne introduced alongside the Magatama and other elements.
This is the most notable place for the Kagutsuchi for me since SMT III was the first game in the series that I played. I remember getting my first PS2 that was not borrowed from my older brother several years ago. This was due to a donation at my old work (think YMCA-style program), where we did not need the older console.
I got to take the system home, and it came with a ton of games. Since I was already a Persona fan, I had to see the origins of it through the SMT series and began purchasing games, including Nocturne. I adored that JRPG and what it was going for with elements like the Kagutsuchi, which differed from what the Persona series’ target was.
However, SMT III was not the only game where the Kagutsuchi was featured. Or, well, sort of. Without going into too many details, the moon phase system that the Kagutsuchi represents returned in Shin Megami Tensei V, the most recent mainline game in the series.
It is worth noting that it is not by the name that Kagutsuchi returns in that game, but the system that he represents is still there nonetheless. It is more of an honorary appearance in a way since SMT V is so inspired and built upon what Nocturne did in the past.
Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne Kagutsuchi
There were a lot of new mechanics that SMT III: Nocturne introduced, one of which was the Kagutsuchi. For the most part, this is a unique feature that you will not find in the other games. Or, at least, in this particular format. It has to do with the moon and its various phases.
No, there is nothing here about fires or anything like that as you might expect from the Japanese god of fire. It is possible that the moon was chosen to represent Kagutsuchi in the JRPG due to the moon playing an important role in his family of deities.
However, it is odd since there is someone like Tsukuyomi, the literal sibling of Hinokagatsuchi, who could have filled that role, too. After all, Tsukuyomi is literally the moon god or princess, depending on the depiction of the character.
Nonetheless, Kagutsuchi as the moon representation in Nocturne affects everything you do in the JRPG. From the moment you take a step in the world to basically the end of the game, the moon dictates so much of what happens.
It affects everything from the battles that you randomly encounter on your journey to the way that you even acquire new demons in the game. From fusion to negotiations and everything in between, Kagutsuchi plays such a crucial role that you must understand if you wish to succeed well in Nocturne. Thankfully, that is where I come in.
How the Different Moon Phases Work
For all intents and purposes, what you need to know about the Kagutsuchi in SMT III: Nocturne is that it is basically the moon. As you know, the moon has different phases to it that it waxes and wanes over the course of roughly an Earth month.
It goes from the new moon to the full moon and back again, going through this cycle over and over. The same general idea is exactly what is going on with the Kagutsuchi in SMT III. These cycles of the moon happen in the game but extremely quickly and much more frequently than our real moon.
There are a total of eight phases that you will find in the game. The very first phase in the cycle is the New Moon, where the moon is hidden from the naked eye. It goes through each individual step, growing until it reaches the Half Moon stage in the middle, where you can see half of the moon shining.
From there, it continues even further until it reaches the eighth and final phase, the Full Moon. After it reaches this point, it will now go in reverse, going back through the eight phases, the Half Moon, and slowly disappearing until it reaches the New Moon phase once more.
At this point, the cycle will begin once more, just like in real life. That part is easy enough to understand. There are eight phases to the moon, and, for the most part, the two that you need to know about and keep in mind the most are the New Moon and Full Moon phases of the Kagutsuchi.
How Phases Affect Battles
These two are the phases that will affect your gameplay the most, so they are worth mentioning. This all starts with the battle system that Nocturne has. In the turn-based battles, you will find that the New Moon phase is the most lucrative when it comes to fighting enemies.
Since the moon is not revealed, its power has not been bestowed upon the demons. As such, they are relaxed, and it is much easier to talk with the demons than usual. At the same time, the enemies are not powered up and can be handled at their base power when you fight them.
However, as you might already expect, the opposite is true when you have a Full Moon. The moon is in its full force, giving power to the demons below on Earth. Because of this, you will find that this is the time when it is the hardest to fight enemies in battle.
They will be stronger than usual, not hold back when they attack you, and they will make it very difficult for you to escape from a battle. But there are some trade-offs to this phase that somewhat make it worth the effort in battle.
For one, the Full Moon is where you can have some of the easier negotiations in the game. Though the demons are more willing to listen in the New Moon, their negotiations are more straightforward in the Full Moon. They will ask easy questions that are no problem at all.
In this way, they can be easier to add to your party. However, their aggressive nature makes them more likely to reject negotiations at the same time. Also, until you acquire a particular skill in the game, the Full Moon is the only time you can understand and recruit certain demons.
The moon phases cycle through almost every step you take in the game, no matter where you are. So, it makes it hard to manipulate the phases of battle since they are random encounters.
Other Uses for This Moon Feature
There are more uses for the Kagutsuchi system beyond just the usual battles. For one, there is a unique boss battle that you can fight in the game that benefits greatly from this system. The boss battle against Ongyo-ki in the Ikebukuro Subway Tunnel dungeon is a difficult one from a glance.
Like much of the challenging game, he can decimate you if you are not ready for this fight. However, if you know a little trick to this fight using the Kagutsuchi moon phases, this is essentially a walk in the park. You render his gimmick useless if you fight him while the Full Moon phase is out.
He makes copies of himself that can all deal damage. But if you hit the real version of the boss, the copies instantly disappear, which makes this fight relatively easy and straightforward. The only way to know the real one is to look for his shadow while in the Full Moon phase. Thankfully, because this is a set boss fight, you can manipulate the moon phase before talking to him.
Also, in the case of fights, there are even some skills that work better or are more powerful depending on the moon phase. Some of them are better when there is a Full Moon, while some are more powerful when the New Moon phase is out.
The other primary use for the Kagutsuchi is in the case of fusions. Certain moon phases can make fusions go crazy or have a higher chance of accidentally resulting in something else. Furthermore, certain chests in the game have a better chance of giving a rare item if a Full Moon is out.
SMT III Kagutsuchi Boss Battle Guide
There is more to Kagutsuchi than meets the eye. Before I go any further, I would like to put out a heavy spoiler warning for this next section. If you have not played Nocturne yet, this is a significant spoiler for some of the endings you get in the beloved JRPG.
With that out of the way, there are multiple endings to Nocturne, some of which even affect the bosses that you fight. In several endings, the final boss is none other than Kagutsuchi, who seems to be pulling the strings behind much of everything happening in the game.
If you don’t like this mastermind behind everything and disagree with what he stands for, you can take him out yourself. The Kagutsuchi boss fight is one of the more challenging ones in the entire game, but it is not one that is too hard if you are prepared.
For starters, he is at level 85 when you face him. For this fight, I recommend no less than 85 at this point, but you are much better off if you are at least level 90. His health is quite massive at 20,000 HP, which means that this will take a long time.
He has no significant resistances or weaknesses other than that he is immune to all status ailments, expel, and death skills. With that out of the way, here is where things get tricky. You see, Kagutsuchi controls the moon phases and is empowered by them.
As such, he takes less damage the more that the moon is out. So, in the Half Moon phase, he takes typical damage. Anything higher than that, and he has reduced damage. Anything below that, though, and he takes more damage than usual. Adjust each turn accordingly.
He has access to all significant elemental attacks in the game, so you need to ensure that you have no weaknesses that he can take advantage of and get more turns from. Furthermore, when at Full Moon, he will use Vast Light, which is an insanely powerful Almighty attack.
The other part to note is to not bother to buff or debuff him during this fight, as he will simply remove those on his next turn. With all that in mind, use the moon phases smartly and deal the most damage possible when you have the chance.
Heal up when he takes less damage, and be sure to guard against those Vast Light attacks. Keep this method over and over throughout the grind of this fight, and you should be able to win it, so long as you come prepared and leveled up properly.
Shin Megami Tensei V Moon Phases Explained
What you will find is that the most recently released game in the series, Shin Megami Tensei V, also features the moon phases. This is nothing new, as games before Nocturne did this, too. However, SMT V is noteworthy for being heavily inspired by Nocturne and seemingly being a sequel to it.
In this vein, the moon phases in SMT V may not be named after the Kagutsuchi for obvious reasons if you played Nocturne, but they are similar. The phases are the exact same, starting with the New Moon and then going through eight phases until reaching the Full Moon and going backward from there.
The results of the moon phases are roughly the same as the ones in Nocturne, too. In SMT V, you will find that the demons will not be recruitable during the Full Moon phase. Unlike Nocturne, though, there is no chance of recruiting them at this time, so be wary of that.
In addition, the Full Moon phase will result in a much higher chance of fusion accidents happening. This isn’t that bad, though, as you can end up with demons that you usually should not be able to fuse at your level or current point in the story this way. It is likely that this moon phase system is here to stay and will be present in the sixth mainline game someday, too, but we will have to wait and see.
Question: Is Kagutsuchi a god SMT?
Answer: Yes, Kagutsuchi is both a god in Japanese lore as well as in the Shin Megami Tensei games. Or, at least, in Nocturne. For some odd reason, he is seen as the god presiding over the moon in those games.
Question: What level should I be for Kagutsuchi?
Answer: You should be, at the very least, level 85 to match the boss’ level, but this will be an insane challenge even at this point. Because of this, I always recommend that you be 90 or higher if you want to truly be prepared for the battle ahead.
Question: How do you get to the Tower of Kagutsuchi?
Answer: To reach the Tower of Kagutsuchi, you must head to The Obelisk at the Assembly of Nihilo. Once you get here, you want to take the elevator to floor 140. From there, you should be able to find the nearby lift that will take you to the 142nd floor. There, you will find a light that will let you reach floor 150. At this point, you will find the Tower of Kagutsuchi that you can now enter.
Question: Is the Kagutsuchi in the Persona games?
Answer: Sadly, no, the Kagutsuchi does not exist in the Persona games at this time. There are no moon phases or anything like that featured in those titles. At the same time, the god Kagutsuchi is not available as a Persona summon, despite his family being part of those games.
The Kagutsuchi is such a fascinating feature that reminds me why I love SMT games. The idea of having to watch out for the moon’s phases adds an extra level of detail to the gameplay. I would actually like to see this implemented in the next Persona game as I think it could make the turn-based battles even more engaging and tactical.
For now, though, we will have to wait and see as we are still a ways off from the next Persona title. That said, I do think that Persona 6, or whatever it will be called, will be announced quite soon. You can find out more about why I think that is and when I think it will be announced and eventually released in my Persona 6 release date and speculation post.
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