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Literature / Quantum Devil Saga: Avatar Tuner

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"The future is not set in stone. It is always in motion. But he has chosen; that cannot be changed."
the Black Cat

Quantum Devil Saga: Avatar Tuner is a series of five books written by Yu Godai and are an Alternate Continuity on the game series Digital Devil Saga. They were first released in Japan in 2011, and then the first two have been officially published in English in 2014, translated by Kevin Frane.


  • The tropes in this page cover entries that have been released in English. However, it does contain spoilers about entries that have yet to be officially translated.
  • Any reference to "the game" or "games" is about Digital Devil Saga.


This book series provides examples of:

  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: The hidden tunnels beneath the Junkyard are described as massive.
  • Adaptation Name Change:
    • Serph Sheffield to Shin Minase.
    • Heat O'Brien to Kazuki Homura.
    • Terrence E. Beck to William van Beck.
  • Adaptational Badass:
  • Adapted Out: The various Mauve Shirts littered in the first game, such as James Mason and the Hip Hop Brothers, are nowhere to be seen in the novels. Also David Gale.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot:
    • Halfway through the second volume, it becomes obvious that the Church is completely under the control of Angel and Avatar's faction and that the system is incapable of acknowledging and analyzing the changes in the Junkyard.
    • Advertisement:
    • This is exactly what Shin Minase thinks of the residents of the Junkyard, which is why he is so shocked to see that Cielo can disobey Sera.
  • Alternative Continuity: To the Digital Devil Saga duology. The first two volumes cover the events of the first game with a number of deviations, and from the third onwards it derails completely.
  • Amnesia Missed a Spot:
    • While Sera remembers nothing about herself other than her name and that she's there to "help everyone", she knows everything else; from laws of physics to literature to mythology to daily life facts. Some of these come in handy.
    • Lupa still has all the abilities he had in his previous life and a general sense of familiarity with Serph and Heat.
  • An Arm and a Leg:
    • Cielo did manage to stop the Solids from taking Sera, but he lost an arm in the process. His Healing Factor allows him to retach it.
    • Bat has his wings burned off in his final encounter with Heat, along with several other injuries.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: Book 3 is a prologue for the entire plot, from the POV of Kazuki Homura.
  • Androids Are People, Too: Serph and the other members of the Embryon strongly protest that just because they're artificial, they're not mindless puppets.
  • Anyone Can Die: Lupa and Jinana, who are proper party members in the books, both pull a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Apocalypse Wow: The destruction of the Junkyard. First, the whole place, including the impossibly tall Karma Tower are covered by the black ooze, killing anything still breathing. Then, the ooze vanishes in an instant, and the whole Junkyard disintegrates into a gold light.
  • Arc Words: "Om Mani Padme Hum" (Om, jewel in the lotus, hum). It is the command phrase that allows people to shift to their Atma forms, and it's also inscribed on the gates of the Karma Tower.
  • Artificial Human:
    • All Newborns are made in a processor at the bottom of the Karma Tower. The party is completely creeped out by the sight.
    • "Biomechs", anyone?
  • Attack Drone: What the Warrior Priests turn out to be. There are more standard drones as well.
  • Badass Crew: The Embryon's five core members stand out for containing abnormally high combat process in a mere five individuals, which allowed them to take over Muladhara with minimal numbers in record time. The Embryon also has the highest number of High Atma than any other tribe, while they are actually the smallest.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill:
    • Seems to be Lupa's Modus Operandi; he has such an air of authority that he can give orders to people who don't know him and that severely outrank him, without anyone ever questioning him.
    • Shin Minase convinces Varin Omega that's he's a Bishop by wearing a hood and the Church's sigil.
  • Beneath the Mask: Atma is the true nature of one's character.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: The Church monitors and controls everything; from the births to the laws to religion to their very thoughts. Atma changes all this.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Just like in the game, Cielo shows up right in the nick of time to save Sera after Bat dropped her.
    • Cielo and Gale attempt to do this in the end of the second volume in order to save as many people as they could from the black sludge. They fail.
  • Blank Slate: Before Atma, everyone was like an emotionless machine. Serph doubts that they were even capable of thought back then.
  • Blob Monster: Harley Q turns into a huge mass of the black goo during Embryon's battle against him. This thing turns into quite an important enemy later on as it transforms into an Eldritch Abomination version of itself and starts to devour everything in the Junkyard.
  • Blood Knight:
    • Serph when he first transforms; he absolutely relishes the feeling of power that gives him. Averted after the first time.
    • Heat has no problem with his Asura transformation and outright loves battles.
    • Bat betrays the Maribel to Mick because he thought of Jinana as soft for aligning with the Embryon's more peaceful approach.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: At least the games bothered with censoring the blood during battles. No such luck here; all the gore is described in loving detail.
  • Body to Jewel: The effects of the Cuvier Syndrome turn the human body into crystal with amazing light refraction abilities.
  • Born as an Adult: The so-called Newborns are already battle-ready adults that merely are less competent fighters than the more experienced ones.
  • Brain–Computer Interface: The Bishops' most unique trait is that they can connect to the Church's databases with their specialized implants, as well as upload their own memories to computers. Technoshamans can do the same, but there is no limit to how much control they can exert, and have no need for implants.
  • The Cake Is a Lie: By the end of the second volume, nobody's really buying the Church's promise of Nirvana. They are proven correct.
  • Cannibalism Superpower: Atma gains more power by feeding. Mick the Slug takes it Up to Eleven by being able to obtain the abilities and memories of those he devoured.
  • Canon Foreigner: A number of them.
    • The leader of the Wolves isn't Lupa but a man named Canis Volk.
    • Jinana has two High Atma aides named Zaphir and Granato.
    • Shin Minase had a younger twin sister named Kei.
  • Cats Are Magic: The black cat with the telepathy and teleportation abilities.
  • Character Development: A central part of the story is all the characters coming to terms with the changing rules of the Junkyard and their own nature following the awakening of their emotions.
  • The Church: The Church of the Arbiters of Karma. It is the absolute authority of the Junkyard, responsible for all the laws and the creation of new life. The whole area it sits at is considered sacred even by the emotionless drones that inhabited the place, and the mere concept of disobeying it was unthinkable. That is, until Atma came.
  • Color-Coded Armies: The tribes. Embryon is orange, the Vanguards are green, Maribel is red, the Solids are yellow, the Wolves are white and the Brutes are blue.
  • Combat by Champion: During the Embryon's negotiations with the Maribel, Jinana declares that she will only join an alliance if the Embryon can prove their strength. As a result each side choose one to represent them in a one-on-one match. Heat for the Embryon and Bat for the Maribel.
  • Crapsack World:
    • The world of the Junkyard is a world with nothing but constant war and perpetual rain with not even a hint of release in sight.
    • In the real world, due to the Cuvier Syndrome and the sun's destructive rays, most countries have ceased to exist - Japan included - there are food shortages worldwide, and only the elite got to live in domed, protected cities.
  • Curtains Match the Windows: Unlike the games, here everybody has matching eyes and hair from the get-go. This includes characters that are not from the Junkyard.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Implied. Gale is revealed to be a Bishop, and those have a whole bunch of cybernatics in their brains to help them strategize. They need to be emontionless for the job and are described as being more machine than human. This leads to all Bishops except Gale to go insane due to the sheer difference between their conditioning and the Atma's impulses.
  • Cyborg: Everyone in the Junkyard receives basic implants to connect them to the Church - though not interact with it - and enhance their senses and combat abilities.
  • Death by Origin Story:
    • The third volume is this for Homura, as he is revealed to have died prior to the events of the first.
    • Same goes for Kei Minase, whose existence is revealed in the third volume.
  • Deceptively Human Robots: The Warrior Priests that guard the Temple. As it turns out, they are robots with organic nerves instead of wires.
    Heat: Wonder if you taste any good, puppet. [Sees the inside.] Ugh, maybe not. Bet you'd cause quite a stomachache.
  • Designer Babies: Shin Minase and his sister Kei are revealed to be this, thus why they're so pretty. Apparently they're common enough that a salesman claims that if one dies they can just make another. Other qualities that can be installed is an bizarre aura that can get anyone to do whatever the designed person wants. Hell, there's an actual catalogue of traits.
  • Diabolus ex Nihilo: Towards the end of Volune 3, a random dude named Marcus assaults Homura while yelling SMT Law slogans and then transforms into Archangel Michael and destroys the EGG.
  • Dramatic Unmask:
    • Jinana inflicts this on herself in the meeting between all the tribe leaders by stepping out of the obscuring screen that hid her appearance.
    • A goggles variant: the face reveal of Shin Minase. Serph is understandably shocked.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: When Serph, Heat and Argilla sneak into the Solids' base, they cover their orange Embryon markings with the Solids' yellow. It doesn't last for long.
  • Drone Deployer: The Karma Temple's main form of defense.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Blob Monster that was once Harley Q turns into this. It is described as the collective Karma and despair of everything it has devoured.
  • Elemental Powers: Each of the core members of the Embryon have some sort of elemental power associated with them.
  • Emergent Human: The psychological variant of this trope; the residents of the Junkyard never had actual emotions in the past, so dealing with them and seeing the changes in the people around them becomes a great source of discomfort - not that they can fully explain what discomfort is...
  • Empty Piles of Clothing: One of the first things that clue the Embryon in on that something is wrong at the Vanguards base is the clothing and weapons spread about but no bodies to be found.
  • Everything Fades: Bodies left behind by dead soldiers tend to stick around for about three days after which they become part of the rain and are cleansed of their karma before being reborn.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: The Karma Tower. The elevator ride from bottom to top takes hours, and it is the place where the Newborns ard created, hosts the gate to Nirvana and is used by a hideout by Angel.
  • Five-Man Band: The five Embryon core members make up one.
    • The Leader: Serph. He actually is the leader of his tribe and tries to support his followers as well as win battles.
    • The Lancer: Heat. He is the second in command and one of the founding members, equal to Serph in combat prowess, and is openly antagonistic towards him due to their vastly different philosophies.
    • The Smart Guy: Gale. He was literally made to be this, as his Bishop implants are made especially for analyzing data and strategies.
    • The Big Guy: Heat also fits this role, as he is the brawnier of the tribe members, but so does Cielo: while physically small, he has powerful lightning magic and never thinks things through.
    • The Chick: Argilla, the only female member of the squad.
    • Sixth Ranger: Jinana and Lupa, who both belong in different tribes.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The third volume is a Prequel told by Homura's point of view. Given that he's stated to have died before the events of the first volume, the ending is rather obvious.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • When Angel first sees Serph, they freak out much like in the game... but then they calm down, mutter to themselves a little about how "he would like to know about this" and continues as normal. The reason behind that change is because in this continuity, Serph Sheffield/Shin Minase is still alive, leading Angel to realize their mistake.
    • A lampshaded example: Lupa's existence - as in, him being identical to his past incarnation - is a hint that the Newborn recreation program has started to malfunction.
  • Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke: Designer Babies can be instilled qualities such as a magnetic aura that makes other people follow their desires and ethereal beauty.
  • Grew Beyond Their Programming: The denizens of the Junkyard are supposed to be completely incapable of free will and emotion, something that changes rapidly once Atma is unleased in the world. The epitome of this is when Cielo manages to disobey Sera, who is supposed to be his creator.
  • Healing Factor: It comes with the Atma Virus. It is first showcased when Serph instantly recovers from a shot on the heart at the very beginning, but the greatest highlight is when Cielo manages to reattach his severed arm.
  • Heroic Mime: Averted, as Serph talks regularly in the novel.
  • Heroic RRoD / Villainous RRoD: If someone doesn't eat regularly or after a serious battle then their Asura will try to eat the host in order to try and get sustenance. This process will cause the victim to slowly turn into a black tar-like substance.
  • Hero Killer: The Black Ooze that originally formed from Harley Q turn into one of the most dangerous foes the Embryon has to face with it killing pretty much everyone still in the Junkyard, culminating with Lupa and Jinana pulling a You Shall Not Pass! type Heroic Sacrifice to keep it from reaching the top of the Karma Tower.
  • Hopeless War: The war for Nirvana. Even as tribes fight against each other, the Newbies ensure that there are always more soldiers to replenish the losses and more tribes to fight.
  • Horror Hunger: In order to keep themselves alive they have to eat each other or the black goo that others have become. The only alleviation for this is Sera's blood. Unusually, the Embryon prove that the blood is capable of bringing someone (Jinana) back to their senses after she's lost herself to the bloodlust. However, it takes a lot more blood (Jinana needed a transfusion even after being fed most of the blood the Embryon gave the Maribel), it had to be done immediately after Jinana went crazy, and the process was a lot more dangerous.
  • Identical Stranger: A plot point in the series, as Serph, Heat and Argilla are all revealed to have these, with Cielo implied as well.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: The price for Atma? The consumption of human flesh.
  • I'm Melting!: When someone is overcome by their hunger, their body will start to melt into a black tar-like goo.
  • In the Hood: Bishops such as Gale all wear hoods that hides the many, many implants in the back of their heads. This is also how Shin Minase convinces Varin Omega to help him.
  • Just a Machine: This is what Shin Minase thinks of the Junkyard warriors.
  • Kill 'Em All: The black ooze devours everyone in the Junkyard except for the Embryon's core members.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Behind the actions of Varin Omega lie Angel and Shin Minase. In fact, the Embryon theorises that such was the case for the Church from the very beginning.
  • Marionette Motion: The first thing that tips off Serph that the Warrior Priests are not human is that they move in this exact manner after receiving damage.
  • Mark of the Beast: Everyone in the Junkyard gets a black brand somewhere on their body after being infected with Atma. In fact, it is noted that there are two types of brands: the higher Atma, which are unique asuras with complex designs, and the lower Atma, the mooks that have plainer designs.
  • Master Computer: The Dissemination Machine, the central intelligence that controls the Junkyard.
  • Mental World: Kaz Homura had a program made for himself that allows him to enter the mental planes of other people. He uses it for the more difficult cases.
  • Mystery Cult: The Relief Temple of the Sun. Only thing known about them is that they strongly encouraged incest.
  • Mythology Gag: There is a number of references to Digital Devil Saga:
    • While a number of terms and phrases receive alternative translations, Gale's "I do not comprehend." is back at full force.
    • Heat considers eating a Warrior Priest before deciding against it because "it'd cause a stomachache". That was an actual status effect in the games; in fact, in the second game the party members would spit out items they ate because they were bothering their stomachs.
    • While Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors is not a thing in the books, Heat mentions that Serph doesn't seem to handle the heat too well. Cue Serph realising that his arm was steaming.
      Heat: Too hot for you? To be fair, being near you chills me to the bone, Serph.
    • The Solids' base is renamed "the Citadel" after the Embryon takes over.
    • Guess what? Random dude who transformed into the Archangel Michael Bonus Boss is still around.
  • No Body Left Behind: For people infected with the Asura virus they melt into piles of black goo upon death.
  • Offscreen Teleportation:
    • At the beginning of the first volume, Sera was found unconscious and was locked in a room with guards outside, still unconscious. Yet somehow she was able to find Serph and the others in the Vanguard's territory. The door was never unlocked, and the guards saw no movement. In fact, she could not have possibly know where Serph was to begin with. The Embryon is completely baffled by all this.
    • The black cat is also capable of this. It appears in places that nobody should be able to get to, from behind locked doors to the Newborn production system.
    • So is Shin Minase. That's how he gets in Varin's private quarters.
  • The Omniscient Council of Vagueness: The Church starts off as this, but then they are hijacked by Angel and their faction.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: If somebody is acting out of character, they are either going through Character Development of something groundbreaking has just happened.
  • Organic Technology: At the end of the second volume, Serph finds out that he was an abandoned prototype for a combat biomech. By the time that revelation comes, Serph has had so much crap thrown his way that the news don't faze him at all.
  • Painful Transformation: Serph describes the sensation of turning into a demon as if his cells were exploding one by one.
  • Perception Filter:
    • Mentioned by name. The denizens of the Junkyard have a kind of filter imposed on them that makes them not notice some basic things such as the massive waterways just underneath the surface for instance. Bishops like Gale have additional filters added on to them to help them filter out unnecessary data and help them focus on the task at hand.
    • Serph believes that there's now a perception filter over the Church's own systems, as they cannot acknowledge any anomalies in the Junkyard.
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • Argilla, upon being told about the nature of Atma, cannot contain herself and let's out the following line:
      Argilla: "The Church can go fuck itself!"
    • Gale saying "Damn", which is very out of character for him. The reason? The entire tribe was being devoured by the black ooze.
  • Prequel: The third volume details the Backstory of Shin Minase and Kaz Homura.
  • Purple Prose: The narration occasionally indulges into this, typically to show the characters' expanded awareness of the world around them during combat.
  • Race Lift: Expanding from Adaptation Name Change, both the spoiler-marked names were originally Caucasian, while now one is Japanese, while the other is still Caucasian (but German instead of American).
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: After falling for the Embryon's bluff and stealing a decoy (which they think is the source of the Atma-controlling chemical), Mick and Bat try to join up with the Brutes. Varin Omega is unimpressed with either of them, has their machine confiscated and both tossed in a cell.
  • Robotic Reveal: The Embryon discovers as much for the Warrior Priests after they defeat a number of them. They're not really surprised.
  • Sanity Slippage:
    • Harley Q is driven insane by fear. That insanity lasts him well after his death.
    • Both Mick and the various Brutes members say that Varin had been slowly losing his mind.
      "Every time he talks to that man he comes back a little weirder."
    • Mick himself undergoes this due to his increasing hunger and extreme injuries. In the end he barely has any semblance of sanity, much less a goal.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Serph decides early on that the Church's laws are not to be followed because they are cruel and dehumanizing. He then proceeds to make allies with anyone who has the same mindset.
  • "Second Law" My Ass!: The first hint that the Junkyard residents Grew Beyond Their Programming is that they are able to disobey the laws of the Church.
  • Shout-Out: Each chapter starts with a quote from some book. There are also some other shout-outs in the chapters themselves. So far they include:
  • Starter Villain Stays: Harley Q is the very first person the Embryon has to fight after awakening their Atma, and nobody really pays him any mind afterwards because they made more than sure that he's dead. Unfortunately, that didn't cut it because he comes back as an Eldritch Abomination and devours the entire Junkyard.
  • Super Prototype: The body that Serph finds himself in at the end of the second volume is revealed to be an abandoned prototype for a combat biomech. Serph marvels at how much his combat prowess is enhanced by it.
  • Supernatural Gold Eyes: If someone gets golden eyes, beware: it is a sign that they are frighteningly close to losing control.
  • Technicolor Eyes: This is what happens when you combine the You Gotta Have Blue Hair and Curtains Match the Windows tropes. The results are non-existent eye colours such as pink, rare eye colours being ridiculously common (like red), unnatural shades of actual eye colours (mint green, for example), and a complete absence of normal eye colours such as brown or black. This is the case for everyone in the Junkyard.
  • Tempting Fate: At one point, Serph and Jinana have a private conversation in Serph's private quarters, with Serph having ordered the tribe not to listen in. By the end of it half the tribe is sitting out of the door listening in.
  • There Can Be Only One: All the tribes are fighting to be the last one standing and get he rights to ascend to Nirvana.
  • There Will Be Cake: The prize for dominating the Junkyard will be opening the gates to Nirvana, which is supposed to be paradise.
  • Transformation of the Possessed: Implied to be the case in the end of the second volume. A guard reports that the Biomech he'd been guarding "has taken the form of a young man with silver hair", implying that its original appearance was different.
  • Truce Zone: The area of Sahasrara where the Church of Karma is located is a place where any sort of fighting is strictly forbidden.
  • Uniqueness Value: High Atma are extremely powerful, rare types of Atma that are each owned by one or a few select people and have the approximate strength of twenty lower Atma.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Sera likes to fill the halls of the EGG facility with sculptures of Shin. Everyone who works there is just used to it.
  • Utopia: Nirvana is supposed to be this.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: When Serph regains his consciousness at the end of the first chapter, the first thing he does is empty the contents of his stomach. They are described as looking red like used oil.
  • Weird Sun: It's black.
  • Weird Trade Union: The real world has a psychic guild, and their existence is openly acknowledged. Kaz Homura was forced to take a leave after he was deemed unsuited for work due to emotional instability.
  • Wham Line:
    • An In-Universe example: early on in the first book, Serph asks the others if they would follow a tribe that would potentially kill him, just like the law dictates. All he receives are negative answers.
      Cielo: So okay. None of us wants to join another tribe. Then that means-
      Serph: It means that the laws have already lost their effect.
  • Wham Shot:
    • In-Universe example: The squad discovering the Newborn production system.
    • Another In-Universe example: Cielo breaking out of the Technoshaman's control.
  • Wind Is Green: The winds that Gale generates are described as "emerald-green".
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Every character have some kind of distinct hair and matching eye color. This leads to some confusion for Serph since Sera's black hair is completely unheard of.
  • You Kill It, You Bought It:
    • It is the general rule of the Junkyard that the members of a defeated tribe join the victorious one.
      • Serph and Heat defied this rule in the backstory via Loophole Abuse: they killed the enemy leader before the death of their own leader could be confirmed, thus leaving both tribes without leaders. Then they reformed their tribe under the same name.
      • Serph also goes out of his way to defy this rule by making alliances everywhere - in fact, when the previous leader of the Wolves dies, instead of making them join the Embryon, Serph appoints Lupa as their new leader.
    • It is stated that by devouring other people, Atma gains more power. Mick takes this Up to Eleven by pulling stunts such as eating Bat to get his wings.

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