Welcome to Atheist, a tiny tribute to Adil of the Lokapala from the video game Digital Devil Saga 2.
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Earth, 2025 A.D. Five years ago, the Sun, God, has gone mad. Now burning black, like a hole in the sky, it turns everything exposed to its rays to stone. Only two group of people are left: the Karma Society, living under the dome of Karma City, protected from the Sun's harmful rays, and the Lokapala, living underground to protect themselves and hide from the Karma Society, which hunts them down for food.
Precisely no canon information is given on Adil in an artbook or characters guide as far as I know. However, some information about him can be gathered or inferred from his actions and his words in the game.
While Roland is drunk off his ass, which means most of the time, Adil acts as the de facto leader of the Lokapala. This can be seen in the very beginning, when Fred brings the Embryon back to the Underground City. Though Roland, when asked about it, is of the opinion that whoever is on the other side will get through eventually, it is Adil who give the order to unlock the gate of the city.
During the fateful meeting where Roland explains where the Embryon came from, Adil is in the background, listening. I believe he is there as second leader or second in command to Roland, because if he was a mere bodyguard, he would be vastly outnumbered and outpowered by the three Embryon who they know can Tune.
Later on, Adil is in charge of giving the Embryon the supplies necessary to reach the surface, which he promised himself. When interacted with outside the meeting room, he will give healing items to the Embryon, despite his mistrust of them.
At the Meat Processing plant, though unlike Roland he hasn't turned into "a monster", he is there leading his man in the assault and defense of the access to the plant. Ahead still, he is there leading the assault on the Power Plant and keeping the Society at bay with the Lokapala. Sadly, that assault will be his final one, as the Society releases Meganada, the Killer of Indra.
Adil is downright negative. His in-game model has him constantly frowning, and he shows little positive emotion in the few times he is on screen or can be interacted with. Then again, it's understandable: like all the Lokapala, he is a hunted man, but on top of that, he is trying to keep a guerilla army and its leader together while one is becoming increasingly hopeless and the other drowns his sorrow in alcohol day in and day out. To add to his trouble, they have just captured a Tuner who is not on the Society's side. Though Roland seems to think it would make a great bargaining chip with his comrades, Adil, given his fear and hatred of the avatars, probably would have preferred to have him killed like the Lokapala test subject. Even with the Embryon cooperating, he doesn't brighten up: his leader turns into one of "them", he still can't live on the surface, and the Society still vastly outnumbers and outpowers them.
Despite this main negative trait, Adil is fiercely loyal to Roland and their common cause. When Roland turned into Indra, Adil could have easily shot him dead like a dog, started a coup to take control, anything but serve under a monster. But no. He continues to assist Roland, accompanying him in the trek to the surface, even bringing Cielo and Fred along, and leads the Lokapala while Roland is out tearing limbs with the Embryon. He continues to fight because he must, if not for him, then for Fred, so he can have a future, unlike them.
Adil (عادل), meaning "the just", is a name of Arabic origin. According to Wikipedia, it is common in muslim countries and sometimes used by Coptic Christians in the Middle East.
What is most interesting about this name, however, is the ethnic diversity it implies. Digital Devil Saga is a series set in America, unlike other Shin Megami Tensei games, and just from the leadership of the Lokapala we have: Roland, a typical nordic caucasian, blue eyed and blond haired, with a very English name (he is named Roald, like the children's writer, in the original); Adil, a man with darker skin, dark hair, dark eyes and a typically muslim name; and Fred, the son of the original leader, Greg, who, if one goes from his DDS1 appearance as Lupa, had dreads and dark skin.
It's interesting to note that this ethnic diversity is not reflected in the membership of the Karma Society, the utopian society living on the surface under the protection of the dome. There, people are uniformally pale, dressed in a white unisex uniform, and most even have black hair. Normally, this would be blamed on the lack of assets, but the Lokapala do show a certain amount of difference, so this can't just be a stylistic choice. The America of DDS2 might have discovered that God exist, with scientific proof to back it up, even how to communicate with Him, but it still hasn't solved its racism problem, apparently.
What does it mean for Adil, presumably a Muslim, to know that God actually exist? It's unclear if people know that the Sun-God watching over Earth is Brahman, the supreme spirit, and not YHVH or Allah or any other god. However, that seems to be of little consequence for Adil, who can be found outside the Meat Processing Plant, with a fist raised in the air, declaring "This Sun is no god of mine!" Given that all those exposed to the rays of the mad Sun in the last five years have turned to stone, that the Cyber Shaman of the Karma Society doesn't seem to have changed God's mind about that and that the Lokapala are pretty much trapped between God and the people who talk to Him, can anybody really blame the man for turning to atheism?
His views of the “demons”, or Tuners as they are called in DDS, are even worse. Though their avatars are those of demons (gods, angels, proper demons, etc.), Adil classifies them all as monsters. How could he not? All Tuners must eat human flesh to survive, be it by hunting the Lokapala down directly, like the soldiers do, or by capturing them and processing them into canned meat to be eaten by the general population of Karma City. This fear is so great that after the Lokapala obtain the demon virus and test it on a man, Adil helps killing the test subject in case he loses control, not even taking the time to understand what happened any further than “it works”.
It makes his quick acceptance of Roland's transformation all the more surprising, or rather, it shows how much trust there is between the two men for Adil to accept that Roland, through doing something so crazy, has finally taken a step toward solving things.
Adil is Roland's shadow through the first part of the game, following him, watching over him, taking action while Roland talks and drinks. After Roland finally sobers up and takes the virus, Adil acts as the leader of the Lokapala while Roland is off fighting with the Embryon. He probably was already leader, since alcoholic Roland would have needed someone to hold the Lokapala together while he was too drunk to do so. I believe that, after Greg's death, the Lokapala leadership fell to Roland, but that Roland and Adil became a two-headed leadership for the organisation, with Roland holding the moral authority and Adil running it day to day.
As I have mentioned before, Adil and Roland trust each other completely. Roland because he does not hesitate to have Adil lead operations, even in his presence, and Adil because he continues fighting at Roland's side when the latter becomes Indra. I cannot express how big of a deal this apparent lack of reaction is. Adil is one of the most vocal haters of Tuners and the “AIs” in the Underground City. He could have taken the Lokapala and turned on Roland the moment Roland turned into Indra. He could have done anything but accept it. I'm not saying he didn't freak out. What I am saying is that the relation of trust between these two men was strong enough to survive one of them becoming a cannibal monster to save the world.
Fred is Greg's son. After his father's death, Fred was left in the care of Roland. Given that Roland became an alcoholic after that, it would probably be more correct to say that Fred was left in the joint care of Roland and Adil. A child is a full time job, so Adil probably had to take care of the boy while Roland binged, as if dealing with the Lokapala wasn't enough.
The “Gardians of the Gods”, of which Adil is a member and leader, follow his orders without questions, as they are probably used to Roland being far to drunk to command efficiently. Unfortunately, without Roland, the group suffers from a lack of direction that is only resolved when Roland takes the decision to let go of the bottle already, kick his own ass and turn into Indra.
Adil suffers the same fate as the other Lokapala when he is attacked, then devoured alive by Meganada, the Indra Killer.
As much as Adil hates the “AIs” as he calls them, he cannot deny that it's all thanks to Gale if Roland got off his drunk ass and decided to do something with his life that didn't involve alcohol and bad ideas. Even before that, because Roland recognized that hey, maybe the soldier AIs trained by the Karma Society are the best weapons we have against said Society, Adil gives them supply for them to make their way to the surface. In the end, even if he can be heard asking what the world is coming to, he helps the Embryon, who end up returning the favour by saving the world.
Alas, the fandom for this man is completely inexistant. It's in part why I wanted to build this shrine. I know he plays a minor role, and mostly off-screen, but he does help the Embryon secure victory regardless. In my mind, he gets reincarnated in the end too, along with Roland and Greg.
Adil intrigues me a lot. Despite his limited role and his gruff attitude, when you stop and think about it, even as a minor character he has a lot of depth. His death made me quite sad and using Roland to beat up Meganada during the end game was quite satisfying. Plus, you rarely see game characters of Arabic descent who are not the bad guys.
Thanks go to Amassment for enabling me into making these tributes!
Link back to http://onepage.nyxslounge.ca/adil/
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Site opened on June 22nd, 2014. Last updated on June 22nd, 2014. Reopened on September 11th, 2017.