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The Yamata no Orochi is a eight-headed and eight-tailed serpentine monster in Japanese Mythology, similar in appearance to the Lernaean Hydra but with one less (or alternately, one more) head. According to Shinto legend, the Orochi was defeated by the storm god Susano-o, who answered a request for aid by two earthly deities who were forced by the Orochi to hand over one of their daughters every year to be devoured by the beast, and were now down to their eighth and last one, Princess Kushinada. Just to distinguish the tale from Western dragon slaying myths, Susano-o first lured the Orochi out by disguising himself as Kushinada, and then killed it by setting out a bowl of strong sake for each head, letting it drink itself into a stupor, then lopping them off. Inside Orochi's body Susano-o found the sword Ame-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi ("Sword of the Gathering Clouds of Heaven") that was later re-named "Kusanagi" ("Grass Cutter"), and is one of Japan's Three Sacred Treasures.

According to a wide assortment of Anime and video game series, the Orochi is alive and well and at large in present-day Japan. Sometimes it's literally Orochi, or anything from a Monster of the Week to a Big Bad with snake-themed powers. The trope holds pretty strong and is different than simply being associated with snakes; if your story has a Crystal Dragon Jesus, Orochi will be its Devil.

Examples of Orochi include:


Anime and Manga

  • Ranma ½ had one that shared a personality almost identical to its mythological counterpart; when it stirred itself, it did little more than just wanting to eat women and drink booze. However, it appeared to have only seven heads. Turns out the eighth is in back - it's the size of a small mountain, with the seven smaller (though still huge) dragon heads and necks sprouting from the back of the main head's skull. Kind of like a dragon version of a Beholder. This Orochi had magical moss growing on its main head that was a powerful curative- even drinking water that had flowed past the moss could sustain a person's life, as well as making animals grow to unnatural sizes. Notably, the male characters also had to dress in drag in order to lure it out (while Akane disguised herself as a boy to avoid it.) Unfortunately, they all looked so hideous the Orochi wasn't fooled.
    • Another spiritual example/reference is Happosai, a sake-swilling Dirty Old Man who goes into withdrawal if he is unable to sate his perversion and perhaps the most powerful martial artist in the series. In his Backstory, he was only beaten when his students left out enough sake for him to drink himself into a stupor, after which they sealed him in a cave with a bundle of dynamite by means of a Shimenawa-adorned boulder. He of course returns to bug Ranma, and finds himself thwarted time and time again by his intended victim - a Hot-Blooded "Manly Man" acting as a perfect Susanoo figure, complete with an Attractive Bent Gender curse that Happosai always falls for.
  • Blue Seed. Unless you read the subtitles, which tend to mistranslate it as "Orochi no Orochi".
  • Kannazuki no Miko
  • One of the main villains of Naruto is Orochimaru, a rogue ninja with the ability to summon snakes (And oddly, the Kusanagi sword.) In this case, he's actually based on the character of the same name from the folktale Jiraiya Goketsu Monogatari (As are Jiraiya and Tsunade, of course). However, since the original Orochimaru was likely named after the Orochi, we'll keep him here.
    • Also, later on, Orochimaru briefly displays the ability to turn into one with a technique called Yamata no Jutsu. Shortly afterward, he is killed by Itachi using a technique named Susanoo in a pseudo - Shout-Out / Mythology Gag. The sword wielded by Susanoo is even made of sake.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! (Yamata Dragon, one of Noah's monster cards in the Virtual World Arc.)
  • Digimon Tamers has Orochimon, whose heads are armored, and each somewhat different. They grow back after being damaged by most attacks, too.
    • Inverted in that drinking sake made it stronger, not weaker.
    • There's also a Susanoomon. He also has a BFS, though - named Orochi. [1] Sadly, he and Orochimon never met, and Susanoomon being an end-of-season super-duper mode and Orochimon being a mid-season Monster of the Week the previous year, they're not really in the same league.
  • In Shaman King, Bokuto no Ryu's spirit ally Tokagero's Oversoul form is an eight-headed dragon on top of a Formula One car. In addition, one of Ryu's strongest attacks is his "Ame-No-Murakumo that slew Yamato-No-Orochi", which surrounds his wooden sword in cloud-like swirls of energy before slashing. A bit of a mix-up of the legend's particulars[2], but cool either way.
  • In Ayakashi Ayashi a main character just happens to be Orochi himself, and the fight with Susanoo is re-enacted in the end (well, more or less), with interesting results.
  • In Hell Teacher Nube, the most powerful Yokai of all (surpassing even Baki) is the great and terrifying Yamata No Orochi, whom a Mad Scientist summons from the netherworld using ancient technology and mystic rituals. It would have devastated all of Japan if not for Nube and his students' intervention.
  • Mugen Densetsu Takamagahara: Dream Saga, based on Japanese myth, has a chapter re-enacting the Orochi story.
  • In Sekirei, Tsukiumi has an attack called Yamata no Orochi
  • In the manga Tenjho Tenge, the story of Susanoo and Orochi is presented as a symbolic allegory for the story of the founding of the Gaoshiki clan, to which most of the characters in the series belong. the story goes that a shogun who was referred to as "Susa" discovered that the rivers of his domain were being polluted by the runoff from iron mines run by eight clans (portrayed as the eight heads of Orochi). Susa invites the eight clan heads to a party, tricks them into lowering their guard and then decapitating them. Going a bit further, Susa then rapes the clan heads' daughters, who commit suicide, all except one, whose attempts fail, thus putting her in the role of Kushinada, albeit considerably less willing than the traditional version.
  • Akazukin Chacha and friends defeated a nine-headed snake who ate virgin girls by getting him drunk on sake.
  • One of the Childs of the Hi ME in Mai-HiME has "only" six heads but is otherwise modeled after the orochi ( Kiyohime, Child of Shizuru Fujino, to be precise).
  • The Yamata no Orochi dragon appears in the penultimate story arc in Yaiba. Is revealed that his body actually IS Japan, and when revived he turns into a country-sized, planet-wrecking abomination.

Comic Books

  • In one Usagi Yojimbo arc, Grasscutter, the tale is told as the origin of the story of the sword Kusanagi.

Film

  • In Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack, King Ghidorah is alluded to be an immature Orochi-- having only grown 3 of his fated 8 heads.
  • Toho's 1994 movie Orochi: The Eight-Headed Dragon had a very chubby Orochi. It also bore an notable resemblance to Ghidorah, another Toho creation. The monster's model kit was sold by D-tech, though it is now sold out http://d-tech-pro.com/en/detail/D-0009.html
  • In Onmyouji II, the two chosen children, who are actually reincarnations of Susanoo and Amaterasu, are each marked with a four-headed serpent tattoo that combine to make the Mark of Orochi.

Tabletop Games

  • In Magic: The Gathering's Kamigawa setting, the term 'orochi' refers to a race of forest-dwelling four-armed bipedal snake-people. O-Kagachi, the biggest and baddest of all spirits, is a take on Orochi proper.
  • In Legend of the Five Rings, Orochi are simple (one-headed) sea serpents.
  • The first appearance of the Yuan-Ti Anathema in Dungeons and Dragons 3rd Edition resembled a giant, multi-headed, vaguely humanoid snake.

Video Games

  • The King of Fighters (specifically, the '95 to 97 Arc) has the literal Orochi. He's technically sexless but is referred to as a "he" due to plot developments and for convience's sake. In this series, he's a fanatical servant of Gaia who believes that Humans Are Bastards and considers the very beings that Gaia made a threat. Similarly to the myth, he is defeated by the Kusanagi, Yasakani, and Yata clans, who sealed him away. Unfortunately his influence spread to the Yasakani and they made a contract with him to gain power. This caused a civil war with their former allies, much to Orochi's glee. He's also got a cult of servants known as the Hakkesshu made up of a musical band, (Chris, Yashiro, Shermie) a Sinister Minister, (Goenitz) two sexy secretaries, (Mature and Vice) a homicidal maniac, (Ryuji Yamazaki) and the father (Guidel) of a hot soldier girl (Leona) who was killed by the Sinister Minister because he decided to bow out on Orochi's plan, and his plan is to gather enough energy so it can be fully revived and destroy humanity (alonside a back-up plan consisting on the ritual sacrifice of a Naive Everygirl who happens to be the reincarnation of Princess Kushinada). He doesn't make an actual appearance until 97, where he possesses Chris to act as the Final Boss (an Anticlimax Boss, given his predecessors). In the end, he is defeated by the Three Sacred Treasures. (Chizuru, Kyo and Iori) In a last-ditch effort, he tries to turn Iori against Kyo and Chizuru by stirring up Iori's half-Orochi blood and turning him into Orochi Iori. This fails, as Orochi Iori ensnares Orochi long enough for Kyo to deliver the deathblow (under approval of the spirit of Iori's ancestors, who regret what they've done), thus letting Kushinada's incarnation Yuki escape her destiny and giving Chizuru the chance to seal him away again and prevent The End of the World as We Know It. Orochi, on his death throes, decides to wait and observe humanity to see if they're truly deserving of his "judgment".
  • Okami takes this trope even further by retelling the original legend, featuring the characters Susano (who deals the final blow to the monster) and Kushi (the woman who was to be sacrificed to it). It is a long, two-phase battle that involves force-feeding Orochi the legendary sake, then taking out its heads one by one, before Susano jumps in to deal the final blow. The player even receives their first sword/glaive as a prize from the battle, although it's not the Kusanagi blade. You get that from a different boss entirely.
    • When the same battle reoccurs in the past, Nagi is even dressed up in Nami's sacrificial robes.
  • Likewise, Golden Sun: The Lost Age has Susa and Kushinada who fill similar roles. You also get to keep the sword in this case.
  • Shin Megami Tensei. Orochi can usually become one of your Mons.
    • Hilariously, in Strange Journey (where the protagonist wears full-body-concealing armor), telling it you're a beautiful woman will cause Orochi to join instantly.
  • A loose reinterpretation of Orochi is the Big Bad of the game Warriors Orochi, where he's a demonic, humanoid Blood Knight with his own army.
    • The very premise of "Warriors Orochi" is that Orochi himself essentially got bored and squished Japan's Sengoku era and China's Three Kingdoms era together (represented by characters and areas from the "Samurai Warriors" and "Dynasty Warriors") in order to fight history's greatest warriors. Predictably, he's the final boss of every story mode in the first game and is rather difficult to beat. Although it takes a fair amount to unlock Orochi in the first game, you're able to play him right off the bat in the second. And in both he's still about as absurdly powerful when you're in command of the giant snake man with the funny hat as he is as a boss!
  • The portion of Dragon Quest III taking place in a Japanese Fantasy Counterpart Culture is a loose retelling of the Orochi myth, with your party in the place of Susanoo.
  • The same is true of the primary sidequest of the Japan-inspired village in Metal Saga. This is strange, as it's an After the End game.
  • In Gotcha Force, the green-haired main antagonist although if you win all the optional missions against her she does join your side of the game was named Orochi.
  • Orochimaru is depicted as a pretty blue haired bishounen and one of the hero characters in the Tengai Makyou (Far East of Eden) games.
    • Also a Jiraiya Goketsu Monogatari reference, as his partners are Jiraiya (although spelled differently, as Ziria) and Tsunade.
  • In Bleach DS: Blade of Fate and its sequel Dark Souls, Yamata no Orochi is Head Captain Yamamoto's ultimate attack, consisting of sending a large snake-like pillar of fire straight upwards, which then comes back down as eight smaller streams. Subverting the trope, this character is actually a protagonist and ally.
    • Furthermore, his basic special attacks are all numbered heads. Useable are heads 1 through 5, though sound test data reveals there were heads 6 through 8 planned.
  • In Final Fantasy II's Soul of Rebirth mode in Final Fantasy I & II: Dawn of Souls, the Yamata no Orochi is available as an optional boss, as a Palette Swap of Tiamat.
  • The first Mega Man Zero game has the Guard Orotic, a Boss occupying a factory that La Résistance must take over. Two heads represent each of the three elements (fire, ice, lighting), while the last pair is non-elemental.
  • In Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom, the Orochi is actually a monster made of... bananas.
  • The Black Beast of Blaz Blue bears a heavy resemblance to Orochi in its appearance. It was created from The Murakumo Unit (ν-13), and defeated by the wielder of The Susanoo Unit (Hakumen). It was a failed attempt to create The Kusanagi Unit, and destroy The Master Unit Amaterasu.
    • Phase 0 reveals that Caelica A. Mercury was engineered to be a sacrifice to the Black Beast to temporarily halt its rampage, making her a Kushinada figure. Oddly enough the one who rescued her from this fate is not the Susanoo figure. The original Bloodedge fought against the Black Beast to ensure that her sacrifice would not be necessary.
    • Hazama who helped make the Black Beast also invokes Orochi imagery; one of his attacks involve creating a swarm of snake heads behind him. To make things even odder he used to be in the Susanoo Unit.
  • In Otogi: Myth of Demons, the Yamata no Orochi (or its equivalent) is the guardian of the tower that separates the afterlife and life. Raikoh must climb the tower while avoiding the creature, as it is almost impossible to kill without the Moonlight Sword. If one has the sword, though, they can kill the Orochi in about one hit, and the prize for doing so is the Orchid Malevolence, a sword that kills everything in one hit, but also makes Raikoh a One-Hit-Point Wonder.
  • The Pokémon Hydreigon is partially based on one.
  • In Asura's Wrath Gohma Vlitra's True form is a eight headed Orochi made of rock and lava, and is probably the biggest depiction of an Orochi ever.

Notes

  1. Well, maybe it's the doohickey that projects it is named Orochi. Not much difference there, though. How big? It's more of a BFG whose beam has a fixed length. Imagine a lightsaber the length of a football field and the width of a tree trunk.
  2. as mentioned above, the ame-no-murakumo was found after the orochi was killed
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