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Shin Megami Tensei III demon reviews

It's another solo review today. This colourful little bird will probably end up as fusion fodder, since by the time you encounter it you're probably too high level to find it a useful companion.

Wilder Zhen

"A bird in Chinese mythology said to have poison in its feathers, because it eats poisonous snakes. Dipping a feather into wine will turn it into a deadly poison, able to kill anyone with one drop."


SMT III in-game model


Atlus official artwork, better showing the curled tail

Toggle image description

Kaneko's Zhen design is very faithful to the written descriptions in Chinese folklore. A 4th Century commentary describes the zhenniao as having a purple abdomen, green-tipped feathers, a long neck and a scarlet beak. Kaneko's design has all these apart from the purple. An 11th Century dictionary describes the bird as being goose-like, dark purple, and having a long copper-coloured beak. The SMT zhen has only a hint of purple, but it does manage to look like a demonic goose blended with snake-like attributes, presumably referencing the serpents the bird is said to eat.

In the late 20th Century, the hooded pitohui, a bird native to New Guinea, was confirmed to be poisonous! It is one of only 3 poisonous birds, or 5 if we include the two whose toxicity is diet-dependent. This discovery propels the zhenniao from pure fantasy to potential cryptid status!

I love the design of this demon! It's looks like a fearsome jabbing poisonous phoenix, and its wing fenestra give it a monstrous silhouette. A superb beast!






Images sourced from the Megami Tensei fandom wiki except where stated otherwise.
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