Created By: Prime32 on July 23, 2012 Last Edited By: Prime32 on August 6, 2012
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Killing Intent

When you intend harm to another person, it exerts an invisible pressure on the surrounding area.

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Particularly common in Eastern works is the idea that when someone intends to inflict pain or death, their "Killing Intent" can be felt as a slight pressure or chill, even to people unaware of their presence. The effect is amplified if you look into their eyes, or if they want to hurt you in particular. Trained and vigilant warriors generally radiate low levels of Killing Intent at all times, while anyone who constantly radiates high levels of Killing Intent is either evil or obsessed with combat. There's generally a noticable difference between "hot-blooded" and "cold-blooded" Killing Intent too. Sometimes this is considered a form of Ki, or has an effect on Ki.

While most people can only detect Killing Intent subconsciously, people who have enough combat experience (or are just perceptive) can notice it so well that it borders on Spider-Sense or Detect Evil. Likewise, some particularly vicious characters hone their Killing Intent to the point where it can leave people nearby paralysed with fear. In either case, this will be treated as a mundane skill and not a supernatural ability. Some people will even tell you it's possible in Real Life.[[note]](sometimes adopting the less mystical explanation that it's really detecting slight differences in air pressure, temperature, smell and so on)[[/note]]

While having some degree of Killing Intent is normally required to fight effectively, sometimes a character will be able to attack without exuding any Killing Intent at all (through Lack of Empathy, controlling their emotions or even spacing out while fighting), making them an unpredictable combatant or even a Hero Killer.

Since it's hard to depict a sixth sense through a visual medium, Killing Intent is often represented in Anime and Manga by a Battle Aura (the metaphorical version), though this has become less common over time. When Killing Intent is considered a form of (or augments) Ki, it can be represented by a non-metaphorical aura.

A villain who can detect The Hero's Killing Intent will sometimes use it to claim they're Not So Different.

Compare Detect Evil, Allergic to Evil, Spider-Sense and Kung-Fu Clairvoyance. See also Ki and Magic Realism.

Examples

(As something which is practically an Omnipresent Trope in certain media, this should probably be a No Examples/"just to explain the term" page - notable uses can fit under other tropes)

Anime and Manga
  • In Naruto most experienced ninjas can explicitly sense killing intent, and using it to paralyse enemies is a recognised strategy (most famously used by Orochimaru). This ability explicitly does not use Ki.
  • In Bleach the force of Kenpachi Zaraki's killing intent causes Ichigo to hallucinate that he is being stabbed as he approaches.
  • The martial artists in Ranma can sense if someone is about to attack them. Ranma is so good, he sometimes dodges attacks in his sleep. Unfortunately for Ryoga, his "danger sense" is also affected by his terrible sense of direction.
  • In One Piece, this is one of the functions of Haki.
  • In Lone Wolf and Cub, every half-way decent martial artist possesses this ability.
  • Rurouni Kenshin uses this, while leaving it ambiguous whether it's based on Ki or just body language. The only time Kenshin had significant trouble fighting against someone of a (slightly) lower skill level was Soujirou, whose combination of being a Stepford Smiler and super speed made him both difficult to read and difficult to react to.
  • In the manga version of Fullmetal Alchemist this is how Riza figures out that Selim Bradley is actually the homunculus Pride.

Literature
  • In Full Metal Panic! Sousuke's past as a Child Soldier has given him the ability to sense killing intent, which he uses to set traps for assassins targeting him.
    • This was also used to torment him. One of Mithril's agents would observe him via the scope of a rifle, and find that Sousuke actually got visually agitated when he did this. It's implied that much of Sousuke's misbehavior in school is caused by him sensing the agent's killing intent without being able to tell where it's coming from, causing him to lash out against people nearby.
  • Sword Art Online refers to the ability to sense killing intent from monsters in the game as "Hypersense", which may or may not actually exist.

Video Games
  • Street Fighter utilizes this as a major element known as the Satsui no Hadou (Aura of the Murderous Intent). Akuma is considered a master of this energy and as such fights and kills anyone who faces him. Ryu also temporarily gets possessed by this energy as Evil Ryu, and tends to go further than Akuma. This is an especially present element in the Alpha series and the Ryu Final Manga.
  • In the Nasuverse skilled fighters can do this. In the Unlimited Blade Works route of Fate/stay night Shirou is able to sense that he is being followed by Archer because he is taunting Shirou with his killing intent. When Shirou calls him out on it he is impressed that such an unskilled magus could detect it. Shirou also uses Archer's killing intent to tell from where he is launching his attack against Berserker during their fight in the graveyard, and notes that it's directed at more than just Berserker.
  • In Vampire Savior/Darkstalkers 3, B.B. Hood, a bloodthirsty Special S-Class Darkhunter, is so malevolent that her stare alone can instill a paralyzing fear into the lower-ranked Darkstalkers of Makai. This same darkness in her heart was what caught Jedah's attention and allowed her to enter his Majigen.
Community Feedback Replies: 16
  • July 23, 2012
    TwoGunAngel
    The Japanese word for this, primarily used by those who practice Ninjitsu, is sakki, which is short for satsu ki. According to Narutopedia's page on Killing Intent, the word can also mean "thirst for blood."
  • July 24, 2012
    dalek955
    Troping tip: a page should not link to itself more than once. If the name comes up more than that in the page, ordinary text will do.

    Technically pages should never self-link, but doing it once in a well-chosen spot is a useful signal that you've cleared the background and are actually talking about the trope now.
  • July 24, 2012
    NimmerStill
    As someone who's never seen the straight use even once, I think we could use some examples. However,

    • Minority Report has something like this, where the Precogs see deliberate murder, and if it's premeditated they see it much further in advance.
  • July 24, 2012
    Prime32
    It gets a lot of throwaway mentions, more explicitly in text-heavy mediums (it seems to be conventional martial-arts wisdom). In an anime/manga, if a person looks at someone and they seem to be surrounded by darkness or sinister images, that's killing intent they're "seeing". Right now there's a few examples on the Spider Sense page, particularly in the Anime/Manga section. Plus:
    • In Naruto most experienced ninjas can explicitly sense killing intent, and using it to paralyse enemies is a recognised strategy (most famously used by Orochimaru).
    • In Bleach the force of Kenpachi Zaraki's killing intent causes Ichigo to hallucinate that he is being stabbed as he approaches.
    • Sword Art Online refers to the ability to sense killing intent from monsters in the game as "Hypersense", which may or may not actually exist.
    It's been a while since I've seen Minority Report, but this trope doesn't involve precognition.
  • July 27, 2012
    MrRuano
    Street Fighter utilizes this as a major element known as the Satsui no Hadou (Aura of the Murderous Intent). Akuma is considered a master of this energy and as such fights and kills anyone who faces him. Ryu also temporarily gets possessed by this energy as Evil Ryu, and tends to go further than Akuma. This is an especially present element in the Alpha series and the Ryu Final Manga.
  • July 28, 2012
    CapFox
    In the Nasuverse skilled fighters can do this. Early on in Fate Stay Night Shirou is able to sense that he is being followed by Archer because he is taunting Shirou with his killing intent. When Shirou calls him out on it he is impressed that an unskilled magus such as Shirou could detect it.
  • July 28, 2012
    Arivne
    Anime and Manga
    • Bleach
      • Anime episode 263. The zanpakuto spirits Zabimaru and Senbonzakura are trying to escape a trap. They attempt to convince Captain Mayuri's zanpakuto spirit Ashisogi Jizo to let them out but Senbonzakura gets angry and his murderous aura frightens Ashisogi Jizo away.
  • July 28, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    • In Hero, the king's candles betray Nameless's intent assassinate the king.
  • July 29, 2012
    Ashseti
    Uh... there is a place holder page for Killing Intent already.
  • July 30, 2012
    Prime32
    Eh? What do you mean?
  • July 31, 2012
    nitrokitty
  • August 2, 2012
    X2X
    Video Games
  • August 3, 2012
    Prime32
    Anyone got a good page quote?
  • August 3, 2012
    MrRuano
    This also was used as a final test in Fist Of The North Star. The test involved Kenshiro and Raoh being face-to-face with a tiger. When the tiger backs away from Ken, Raoh takes this as a sign that the tiger thinks Ken is too weak and then kills him. In truth, the reason the tiger backed away from Ken was because he exerted so much power in comparison to Raoh that he feared for his own life.
  • August 6, 2012
    TBeholder
    it's very badly defined - "physical manifestation of ill will", Detect Evil (with No Except Yes style wandering about) and a few other existing or potential valid tropes are dumped together.
  • August 6, 2012
    Prime32
    The difference with this trope is that no one has the power to Detect Evil; evil (and anger/determination/etc.) is inherently detectable. This trope is to Detect Evil what Made Of Plasticine is to One Hit Kill - it's a property of the setting, not a character.

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