To put this piece in the correct perspective, a superficial understanding of two sets of events is required. The first occurred from three to five thousand years ago. The second was a hundred times more recent and proportionately more shameful to humanity.

The first thing

Kind of like a Bizarro Venus of Willendorf, really. In the Middle to Final Jomon period of Japanese history, between approximately 3000 and 400 BC, numerous doguu1) statues were sculpted; specifically of interest were a number of shakoukidoguu2), a curiously evocative style distinguished by their stiffly placed hips and shoulders, sweeping, vaselike waists, and prominent, slit-crossed eyes which resemble the slitted snow goggles made by many Northern tribes. Who these Japanese natives were, how they lived, and how and why they made these statues is entirely irrelevant.

The other thing

I didn't need to put these up but I think they look pretty cool, sort of cyberpunk but with more whalebone (this may already be a genre) In the late nineteen-sixties, Erich von Daniken busted out onto the scene brandishing an armful of bad science, a razor-sharp selective disregard for the evidence, and the hotly contested idea that anything at all done by people more than two thousand years ago (or about five hundred for people who aren't white) that seems in any way odd to modern perceptions of cultural normality, or ascribes to the peoples in question more than paleolithic construction abilities, was unquestionably the work of aliens.

This sparked a sensational crossfire of copycats and hangers-on furiously scrabbling to connect ancient cultures to extraterrestrial interference. Naturally, prehistoric Japan was a sitting duck.

Both of those things, actually hey "Synthesis" would be a great name for this section, I'll edit that in l

DO NOT CLICK THIS IT WILL BREAK YOUR MIND LIKE IN SNOW CRASH I SWEAR. And so somehow it was decided that the stiff, bug-eyed shakoukidoguu figure was, quite unquestionably, a representation of one or indeed several ancient alien astronauts who visited the Jomon-era Japanese and no doubt built any permanent structures they had and impregnated their women with freakish off-world seed and all those great things bug-eyed aliens do. Or maybe the Jomon people had interstellar flight capabilities themselves, and felt the need to leave us with no evidence but some pictures of them in their ugly, uncomfortable space-suits. Or maybe, according to one particular Branch Of Science, they were privy to the deepest secrets of physical science ever revealed to man, and encoded them in some chubby little clay statues for the ages.

Yes that's the stupidest thing I've ever heard too

But those figurines remained in the public consciousness, or at least in those parts of the public consciousness prone to wild flights of delusion and incapable of relinquishing an idea once they clench their jaws around it. And as it turns out, a prominent subset of that group constitutes Japanese video game developers.

The idea is, of course, perfect for wedging into a video game, especially to a mind soaked life-long in science fiction, stories of technological wonders of the ancients, and UFO conspiracies. Not only that, but they do have a definite visual appeal, with a certain hint of the otherworldly.

The length of this preamble really belies the fact that all I wanted to do was write a little about how these little bastards keep showing up in video games, though, so let's take a look at those.

Startropics (NES)

Hoodoo Doll? I... never mind. Fine. It's a Hoodoo Doll. Appearing as the Hoodoo Doll, this doguu is a mid-boss of Stage 6-2, at least according to the substantially more reliable source, “the rest of the internet”. It says you should use the Shooting Star on it, whatever that means. I kind of wish I'd played this game, but mostly because I can't find a picture of this guy in his natural habitat anywhere online.

Chelnov (Arcade/Sega Mega Drive)

He jumps around and tries to crush you, and occasionally tosses out TINY DOGUUS. It's adorable I swear To be honest that screenshot there is from the later Megadrive port, which was exactly the same but with much better graphics. Seriously, this game was ugly as sin in the arcade and I don't know how it got popular enough to warrant a home port. The whole game actually has an “ancient astronauts created the wonders of ancient civilization (and now they've come back (and so you have to put on an atomic suit and shoot them all))” theme, so this guy's presence fits in pretty neatly.

You have to shoot his eye, then shoot his other eye. Maybe he dies then? It's been a long time, I can't remember. I think he shows up as the boss of two different stages, painted different colours each time, and on the second one his head comes off and flies around on rockets, as documented when the first complete shakoukidoguu were uncovered in 1905.

Dynamite Headdy (Sega Mega Drive)

This one OPENS HIS EYES sometimes when you fight him. This is DOGUU SACRILEGE and also LOOKS KIND OF FREAKY. This is a VERY SPECIAL DOGUU, because if, as a student of ancient Japanese statuary, you look at the cage he's standing on there, you'll see that he's also imprisoned a pair of Haniwa statues! After the fashion of the game, you need to headbutt that cage to the right until it falls in a hole, at which point the doguu up there will fight you. I know he spins those little claw hands of his around and sucks you in with WEIRD ALIEN GRAVITY, but I'm sure there's more to him than that. Anyway, beat him (with more headbutting) and the haniwa statues burst out of their cage and dash for freedom, at which point it is of critical importance that you headbutt them until they explode, as the game will award you a Secret Bonus Point.

Darkstalkers (Arcade)

My mother is a psychiatrist. She looked at this and diagnosed this guy with ADHD, just like that. “What are you talking about?!” my detractors screeched, “That's nothing more than an ancient Aztec stone robot left four thousand years ago to guard Earth against terrors of supernatural and interstellar origin! Or possibly to subjugate Earth at the command of those same terrors, we can't remember and don't want to look it up.”

My detractors reveal that they share several traits with me, but they are WRONG. Yes, look at his head. Look at those eyes. Look at that cute little tiara he has on. That's right! He has a DOGUU HEAD.

Obviously while thwarting and/or furthering terror and chaos across the globe, Huitzil here was spotted by some keen-eyed Japanese hunter-gatherers, who reached for their clay and snapped a quick sculpture so they could prove to everyone back at home that they really saw that bug-eyed robot again. However, sculpture manipulation techniques were well-known by that point, so of course nobody would believe that it was authentic.

Doguu Senki ~Haoh~ (Dreamcast)

Doguus. There must be HUNDREDS of them in there. And I'll never know! Okay well this is plainly the mother lode. It's a game about doguus. A whole entire game. Now, I know absolutely nothing about it, as it was never released in English, and there are no English-language fan sites in existence for it, which tells me it was probably irredeemably terrible.

As a certified Doguu Maniac, however, I find this game to have a quite uncontrollable allure. I may never play it, which is probably for the best, but to know that it exists makes my life a bug-headed joyride, I tell you what.

Shin Megami Tensei / Persona series (Famicom/SFC/PlayStation/PS2)

His in-game sprite in the older games kind of hovers a little above the floor, just like that. An Ominous Doguu. My less burnt-out compadres who are still capable of picking up a fifty-plus-hour RPG tell me Persona 3 is just the latest in the series to feature doguus, this time by the name “Arahabaki”. I assume all he does is hover around waiting for a dungeon-crawling party to come bonk him on the head and maybe get recruited or smushed together with some of his Demon Chumz from time to time. However, he is also a representation of a much older current which has evidently been informing game designers for CENTURIES3) now, and may be the key to new and hitherto unseen depths of the Doguu Mystery. Keep watching the skies, true believers. (doguus will only approach if they think you are not looking at them)

1) “Clay statue”, literally, but used for these statues so frequently as to refer to them by default
2) or “snow-goggle doguu
3) Two of them. OKAY PARTS OF TWO OF THEM.