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Atman

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I am Atman, the executor of spiritual sacrifice. I bring death to your soul.
~ Atman

Atman is a optional, and all but hopeless to beat, Super-Boss of the video game Shadow Hearts. Atman is summoned by The Four Masks to reap and annihilate Alice Elliot's Soul when she offers it to save the life of Yuri Hyuga, the hero. Atman exists beyond the door of darkness in the Spirit's-graveyard, connected to Yuri's spirit and is a manifestation of Malice and death.

A Harmonixer's Malice

Yuri Hyuga is a harmonixer, a being with the power to fuse the spirit's of monsters he has slain into a monsterous body for him to inhabit. As a result of a childhood trauma inflicted by the sage Dehuai, Yuri became spiritually fractured, making him more powerful than most harmonixers but at the same time putting him at risk of being devoured from within by his own inner demons which fused with the vengeful ghosts of demons he killed; The Four Masks were the embodiment of this. After attempting to fuse with the divine harbinger known as the Seraphic Radiance in order to prevent it from wreaking havoc Yuri went insane and lost control of his fused body, overcome by the Seraphic Radiance's Malice, and while he did manage to tame beast somewhat Yuri lost himself in the creature allowing the Four Masks to seize control of his body while his mind was shattered.

Yuri's friends spend the beginning of the second half of the game looking for him searching for him, when they find him they come to realize Yuri has become completely insane and was subject to his inner demon's wish's. After beating the possessed Yuri enough to temporarily pacify him in a weakened state, Alice Elliot, an exorcist who was steadily becoming Yuri's love interest uses her powers to enter Yuri's heart.

Soul Contract

Inside Yuri's heart Alice finds the spirit-graveyard, where Yuri spiritually went to beat his absorbed demonic ghosts into submission. In the graveyard Alice found the Four Masks who revealed to her the nature of Yuri's heart and why they were there to plague him. The Four Masks said their servant Fox-Face was attending to Yuri's soul in the deeper parts of the graveyard and they had no intention of letting Yuri go once his will was finally overshadowed. Alice said she was willing to do anything to save him, intrigued by the bizarre concept of love the Mask's indulged the offer, saying they would allow Alice to attempt to revive Yuri's soul if she offered payment of her very soul in exchange; Alice agreed to the terms. After mortgaging her soul Alice was allowed into the deeper part of Yuri's heart where she was horrified to find Yuri's amnesiac soul was being made to dig it's own grave by a man resembling Yuri's father who was wearing a fox mask.

Alices attempted to awaken Yuri from his trance but to no avail however her attempted interference was met with a backhand from Fox Face, seeing Fox Face strike Alice was enough to break the hold of Yuri and he fought and beat Fox Face. With Fox Face beaten Yuri was again in control of his own body and he and Alice left the spirit-graveyard. Alice never told Yuri about what she had done to reach him and spends the rest of the game with the creeping dread that her soul would soon be destroyed.

The Atman, cometh

Atman and Alice

Alice standing before Atman

After the finsl dungeon of "the Float" appears the party will be asked to rest up at the house of the alchemist, Roger Bacon, while he works on his teleporter to allow the party acess to the Float. While the party sleeps Alice is once again brought to the spirits-graveyard by the Four Masks. The Masks were  surprised and disappointed that Alice was able to help defeat their servant Fox Face but were all to happy to be able to take away one of the last pieces of happiness Yuri had and told Alice the time had come to face her final judgment. Alice had come to accept her fate and having no regrets bravely walked into the Door of Darkness which the Four Mask's guarded as gateway to the deepest part of the spirit-graveyard. In the darkness Alice hears a voice, the voice of the executioner, Atman. Atman said he existed to enforce spiritual contracts and was their to devour Alice's soul bringing permanent death to her very being. Alice looks around, being used to having her friends by her side, but is only left more solemn as Atman mocks her futile hope and lonesomeness. The player is then given a chance to fight Atman with just Alice as a party member.

Bad Ending

Atman, Eradication

Atman's Eradication move.

The battle with Atman's is hopeless and cannot be won. While Atman may use dark magic and basic physical attacks his favorite move "Eradication", instantly does full damage on Alice, since it is not a death effect the "Leonardo's Bear" accessory can not nullify the attack, while a small charm called the "Replacement Man" can revive Alice, or any character, once this does not deter Atman and only buys Alice one extra round before Atman simply uses Eradication a second time. Once killed in the battle Atman begins to devour Alice's soul and tells her to leave and enjoy her last few hours as he spent them devouring her life-force and then soul. Alice remains alive long enough to help defeat the main villain, Albert Simon and the final boss, Meta-God, but shortly afterward Alice dies on a trainride with Yuri to meet her aunt and uncle in Zurich, Yuri is denied his oppertunity to live a happy life with Alice, Alice's soul ceases to be, Yuri buries Alice's body in Zurich as her uncle Gepetto watches, Yuri becomes embittered and despite his non-nonchalant demeanor becomes massively depressed just as the Four Masks wanted.

As this leads to the events of the sequel game Shadow Hearts: Covenant it is considered the canon ending and the good ending in addition to requiring a lot of work is non-canon...or so it seems at first...

Good Ending

The good ending plays out somewhat differently but only if the player does a variety of extra, easy to miss and challenging steps.

  • First the player -must- have allowed Yuri to go berserk in the fight against Albert Simon's demonic benefactor Amon, thus allowing Yuri to acquire the fusion for himself after the battle.
  • Third the player -must- beat all Four Masks when they come to attack him once his Malice is fully charged, the Masks are much easier to beat if Yuri has the Holy Grail item, which can be missed entirely.
  • Fourth, Yuri -must- examine a small grave in the spirit's graveyard, marked for the soul of Alice Elliot.

The above steps all need to be completed before talking to the witch Koudelka after the battle with Amon, if not the options never arise.

  • Fifth, and perhaps most challenging, Yuri -must- defeat and acquire the Seraphic Radiance as a Fusion.


Atman and Alice...and Yuri!

Yuri to the rescue

If all these steps are completed a slightly different sequence of events occur when resting at Roger's house and Alice is called to the spirit's-graveyard. Alice meets Atman, just as before however as he mocks her lonesomeness Yuri busts through the Door to Darkness to defend Alice. As Atman's Eradication move can not affect Yuri the additional back-up of having Yuri in the battle with Alice makes the battle winnable, even more so with the power of the Seraphic Radiance at Yuri's command. Atman is destroyed, Alice is released from her contract and the power of the Four Masks is destroyed as they slowly fade away into nothingness without their benefactor. When Alice awakens Yuri appears to have no memory of helping Alice and was still clueless that Alice was ever in trouble in the first place but Alice comes to fully embrace her feelings for Yuri. Events continue to play out as normal after Meta-God is defeated but this time Alice is still alive on the train ride over and she and Yuri retire to Zurich to live happily.

Since there is a sequel game, Shadow Hearts: Covenant, which is built on the fact that Alice died this second ending appears to be non-cannon according to the new game...at first. At the end of Shadow Hearts: Covenant Yuri and his friends go to stop Yuri's bereaved friend Kato from undoing time. After winning the battle Yuri tells his friends to return home by thinking of their fondest memories and using them to find their way out of Kato's time distortion. Thanks to a curse on Yuri's soul he knows he can not return with them and chooses instead to die in the time collapse as himself rather than lose his soul but spends his last moment's thinking of Alice. Alice, who had taken refuge in Yuri's soul comes for Yuri and with her help and Yuri's memories Yuri travels back in time to the moment he first met Alice at the beginning of the first game, thus justifying both games' New Game+ option. -In affect this means the good ending comes a full game later after the events of Shadow Hearts: Covenant which allows Yuri's latent memories of future events to act at specific times in changing things leading up to his defeat of Atman.

Trivia

  • The name Atman is based on a Hindu concept that references the deepest and truest part of one's soul.

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