The number 108 is a significant number in Buddhism. It represents the number of temptations that humans face, which tie them to the Wheel of samsara
. There are many religious elements related to this number — a bell is rung 108 times to bring in the New Year in Japan
. It is the number of beads on a Buddhist o-juzu
or rosary. A classic pilgrimage in Japan visits 108 temples. Also, it's 2 to the second power times 3 to the third power — obviously
Doubled, it becomes 216, which is "6 by 6 by 6"
This number crops up frequently in anime, video games, and other media produced in Japan. Like the numbers 13
for Western culture, it is ascribed a mystical significance far outside the original definitions. It has no readily comparable analogue to a modern Western viewer, however, though lots of similarities with the Medieval or Renaissance use of the number 9, which was considered perfect, the trinity of trinities, square of the first "real" prime (2 didn't count, sometimes, because it was even), etc.
You might know 108 from puzzles, though — in which case it's merely 12 x 9.
Compare Four Is Death
and its Western equivalent, the Number of the Beast
; however, note that the number 108 is not always used in a negative sense as these other two examples generally are.
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Anime and Manga
- In the Naruto series the 108th episode, titled as "Invisible Crack" Sasuke starts to completely break his bonds with Konoha and Naruto. With this episode the saga of the hunt after Sasuke begins and it brings mortal danger to nearly all of the named characters of Naruto's age group while fighting to bring Sasuke back, including Naruto himself whilst fighting Sasuke.
- At 13 minutes and 21 seconds into the 24th episode of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Gimmy exclaimed that 108 units of the creepy Buddhism inspired Anti-Spiral ships were destroyed. In addition, 13 minutes and 21 seconds totals up to 801 seconds, the reverse of 108. Right when he mentions this, everything starts going straight to hell as the enemy suddenly launches a massive counter assault.
- Bleach uses the motif several times.
- The manga had a Back Story arc with chapters numbered in negative numbers, starting with -108.
- In Hueco Mundo, Uryu fights the Arrancar Iceringer, who can shoot up to 108 shots.
- The Fake Karakura Town and Deicide arcs run 108 chapters (316 - 423)
- In one of the first chapters Rukia tells Ichigo that the fake soul she's installed in his body was designed by 108 shinigami scientists. Too bad she grabbed the wrong package...
- Anime episode #214. In the fake origin story for Kon's being turned into Karakura-Riser, it was stated that he was an alien turned into a hero of justice by "Professor" Urahara. He could only return to his normal form by destroying the 108 hollows that killed Professor Urahara's daughter.
- The Triad organisation in Crying Freeman refer to themselves as The 108 Dragons.
- In Ai to Yuuki no Pig Girl Tonde Buurin, Karin has to collect 108 pearls in order to become any superheroine she wants. However, due to her Shapeshifter Mode Lock as Buurin after her classmates find out her secret, she uses it to turn human again instead.
- In Ranma 1/2, when Shampoo is captured by the Ghost Cat, Ranma has until a bell is rung 108 times before a curse takes effect.
- In another arc, Ukyo is doing training for her okonomiyaki martial arts that requires making 108 okonomiyaki a day (or it might have just been 108 total).
- In the Angel Sanctuary manga, when Yue Kato is explaining his Dark and Troubled Past, he states that "108 bells would not be enough to cleanse my soul".
- In Neon Genesis Evangelion, the Marduk Institute is a coalition of 108 companies — all dummy corporations owned indirectly by SEELE and NERV.
- In the Halloween special episode of Comic Party Revolution, the characters explore a near-abandoned old school building. One of the characters breaks out a book listing 108 ways to deal with scary situations.
- Shaman King has a magic rosary called The 1080, because it contains 1080 beads. Also, the Nakaoni ("Medium demon") is formed by 108 onis, and the Oh-oni ("Big demon") is formed by 1080.
- In Code Geass The Emperor of Britannia has 108 wives.
- In the episode "Love Attack!", Sayoko sets Lelouch up with 108 girls for dates while standing in for him, under the belief that being a manwhore is Lelouch's normal behaviour. It's not.
- Zoro from One Piece has an attack called 108 Pondo Hou. It translates to "108 Pound Cannon", but with the kanji used, it can mean "108 Phoenixes of Passion and Desire". This and several other attacks with similar names are ironic as he is an atheist. The number 108 appearing here is not "coincidental" or cosmic though, Zoro himself says when first executing the "36 Pound Cannon" with only one sword that is represents 36 sins. It basically foreshadows the "108 Pound Cannon" since Zoro is THE 3 sword style swordsman.
- The fallen monk Urouge has a bounty of 108,000,000 Berries.
- The Death Note manga was deliberately paced so as to have 108 chapters, which has led to some fan complaints about the resultant slow pace of the second arc.
- Similarly, Fullmetal Alchemist ended at chapter 108, but it was longer overall because each chapter is about twice as long as a chapter of Death Note.
- When the goddess Yurie draws a temple fortune in the final episode of Kamichu!!, she naturally gets number 108. In the spirit of the series, though, it turns out to be a pretty average fortune.
- In Devil Hunter Yohko, Yohko is the 108th devil hunter.
- Soul Eater, chapter 12. Soul placed 108th in the class on the exam.
- Chapter 108 is when we find out Asura and Death the Kid are brothers.
- Get Backers' Kuroudou Akabane wields 108 scalpels as his weapon.
- In Prince of Tennis, Gin Ishida has invented 108 variations of his Hadokyuu tennis shot.
- In the 21st episode of Ouran High School Host Club, Haruhi gives her class representative, who is afraid of "dark places, horror movies, ghost storytelling, getting scared from behind, and commercials for horror movies" a book entitled "108 Ways to Get Through Scary Situations".
- In Sekirei's elimination contest, there are 108 combatants. Almost all of them beautiful girls, of course.
- In TOKKO, there are 108 Phantoms, each of whom contains a piece of the magic box the protagonists need to reassemble in order to close the gate to hell.
- In D.Gray-Man, there were originally 109 instances of Innocence (before the Millennium Earl started destroying them). Since one of these is the Great Heart, this leaves 108 regular Innocences.
- Faeries Landing is about a high schooler named Ryang Jegal, who is destined to have 108 doomed relationships.
- In Robotech, Roy Fokker claims to have shot down 108 enemy pilots in the previous war.
- In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, the Ground Force unit that Major Genya Nakajima commands, and of which Ginga is a part of, is Battalion 108.
- Kai Shiden, the conflicted Deadpan Snarker from the Mobile Suit Gundam compilation movies pilots a Guncannon labeled 108.
- Mokona from Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle claims to have 108 secret techniques. The real-life Mokona (one of the four CLAMP members) also claims this, apparently.
- In Shikabane Hime, the amount of corpses that Makina must kill is 108. Akasha uses 108 tortured souls to power his unholy zadan technique.
- Virgo Shaka of Saint Seiya keeps a Buddhist rosary with 108 beads. Every time one of Hades' (108) Specters is killed, one of the beads goes dark. He terrorizes the battalion of Specters invading the House of Virgo by showing them how few beads remain.
- In Amaenaide yo!!!!, Ikkou rings the shrine bell 108 times for New Years in episode 12.
- Ninja Nonsense has a couple of 108 jokes. In the baseball episode, Onsokumaru splits the ball into a bunch of copies to make it impossible to catch, but Miyabi does the same with her glove and gets them all.
- In another episode, when Kaede's mom tells Onsokumaru to be careful of the knife she's holding, he says "Hey, hey, Paula. I'm the hundred and eighth president; your comments don't mean anything to me." No, her name's not Paula.
- In Gundam 00, second season episode 22, the number of units A-laws use to take on Celestial Being equals 108.
- The space pirate guild which Hazanko rules (and to which the Anten Seven belong) in Outlaw Star is named The 108 Stars. May have been partly a Water Margin/Suikoden reference, but it still counts.
- Hayato Furinji of Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple is said to have invented this many techniques.
- Yomi is stabbed 108 times in Ga-Rei Zero-.
- In Fist of the North Star, there are 108 schools of Nanto Seiken, although almost all of the branches outside the Nanto Roku Seiken (the Six Sacred Fists) are never named in the manga with the exception of the Golan Colonel's Silent Fist, the Harn Brothers' Twin Hawk Fist and the Twin Slice Fist practiced by two of Thouzer's minions. Many of the later Gaiden spin-offs showed some of the other branches as well.
- In Muhyo And Roji Ebisu attempts do to "Maneuver 108", which involves surrounding the scene of a haunting with a "barrier" of spiritual-energy infused "needles". Unfortunately he runs out of energy before he can finish the barrier and decides to set it off anyway. At first it seems to work but it soon fails, causing Ebisu to be fired. It should be noted that Ebisu's ruthless, greedy, and ambitious (male) boss wears a miko-style outfit.
- In the beginning of the Kyoto Field Trip arc of Mahou Sensei Negima!, onmyou gods shaped as frogs attack the class while traveling to Kyoto via bullet train. According to Fei Ku, the students round up 108 of the little buggers.
- In Negi's second fight with Evangeline he has 108 secret tools of the mage.
- The anime OVA Suikoden: Demon Century was loosely based on the classic Chinese story The Water Margin, mentioned below.
- The Bio-Meat production facility has 108 sections.
- In Sands of Destruction, there are 108 Laws of Clockwork Robotics.
- Touhou manga spin-off Inaba of the Moon, Inaba of the Earth once had a chapter where Reisen needed to borrow a book from Patchoulli for her master. Much to her horror, the "book" was actually comprised of 72 Heaven volumes and 36 Earth volumes, totalling to a whopping 108 volumes that Reisen needed to carry all the way back home.
- In chapter 51 of the Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei manga, the close of the chapter features a picture of Ikkyu taken from his elementary school's alumni association. It's indicated that it is from the 108th anniversary of the school.
- In Digimon Xros Wars, there are 108 Zones in the digital world.
- Two (probably) meaningless references in episode 5 of Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt: Oscar H. Genius holds a party for the 108th anniversary of the company he's president of, and Stocking is seen eating sweets made of 108% concentrated egg cream.
- Rosario + Vampire Season II has our hero Tsukune undergoing an emergency power-upgrade that involves 109 needles. He's able to handle 108 of them.
- In Dragon Ball Z, Dende is the 108th son of the Eldest Namek.
- The Lupin III (Red Jacket) episode, "Have the 108 Bells Rung?" which takes place at a major New Year's Eve celebration; the bell ringing actually plays a role in Lupin's scheme.
- In the anime of The World God Only Knows (second season, episode 3), the school baseball team loses spectacularly; the other team scores 108 points in only a few innings. Which is probably impossible in an amateur league, but maybe their sheer Hot Bloodedness bent the rules?
- Togari is a manga, where a guy can escape hell if he catches 108 crimes in 108 days.
- In Kamisama No Lottery / As The Death God Dictates 108 cubes appear in Japan where the "winners" of bizarre, game-themed school massacres are being held. After the survivors of the battle inside the cubes are released there's a rumor that visiting all 108 cubes will grant good luck, a shout-out to the 88 temple pilgrimage. It's later revealed that the eventual winner of the world-wide slaughter will become a god, according to the insane naked guy who's apparently running the show, at least in Japan.
- A Pokémon called Spiritomb is said to be made from 108 evil spirits being punished for their misdeeds. It's possible for a persistent 10-year-old to capture one and bring it into inhabited areas.
- In Kyon Big Damn Hero Tsuruya will be the 108th family head when she assumes that position.
- In Fair Vote the protagonist uses 108 phurba ritual daggers instead of chalk to make his summoning circles.
- In Highlander II: The Quickening, Connor Macleod is shot 108 times.
- In The Fifth Element, the captain of the hotel ship orders the helm be taken to 108.
- π involves the discovery of a mysterious 216-digit number that lies at the root of chaotic systems and may represent the true name of God. 216 is, among other things, 108 plus 108.
- In Osmosis Jones Frank nearly dies at a body temperature of 108.
- Fantastic Mr. Fox: Boggis, Bunce, and Bean call all 108 of their employees to serve as snipers during their Roaring Rampage of Revenge against Mr. Fox.
- In The Green Mile, Paul Edgecombe states he is 108 years old during the Framing Device on the tail end of the film.
- From Annie's opening narration in Bull Durham: "There are 108 beads in a Catholic rosary and there are 108 stitches in a baseball." Annie's confusing a 59-bead Catholic rosary with a 108-bead Buddhist rosary, but she respects the number's cosmic significance nonetheless.
- This is the weight Vicki Vale gives when being rescued by the Dark Knight in Batman. Significant because she's lying, which results in there being too much weight for the extension gun to lift them both so that Batman has to fall back to the ground so she can escape.
- Case #1108 is our introduction to the world of Minority Report.
- Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?: Martha is 108... years old.
- This book of Japanese folktales (published in 1942!) has 108 stories.
- The classic Chinese novel Water Margin describes the rise of 108 heroes who overthrow a corrupt government. Some Westerners may be more familiar with a loose adapation of the novel — the video game series Suikoden.
- In the Chinese fairy tale Journey to the West, Sun Wukong (who becomes Son Goku in the Japanese translation; yes, that's based on it), can travel 108,000 li (54,000 km by the modern definition, or about four-fifths that by the one in use at the time) in one somersault. This has led to "108,000 li" being a common aphorism for long distances.
- The killer in Ryu Murakami's novel In the Miso Soup basically keeps the protagonist alive because he wants the guy to show him the best spot in town to hear the Japanese New Year bells, and because he wants to learn from him about the 108 parts of Bonnō ("bad instincts") that are supposed to be cleared up by listening to them. He claims to be curious about whether listening to the bells can absolve him of his own Bonnō.
- In Eliezer Yudkowsky's Failed Utopia #4-2, the new god was carelessly programmed to only respect 107 human desires.
- In The Stand, Mother Abagail is 108 years old.
Live Action TV
- LOST: The lottery numbers (4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42) add up to 108, the numbers have to be entered into the machine in at the Swan station every 108 minutes, and more than a few other appearances. Unsurprising given the Buddhist references surrounding the DHARMA Initiative... Oh, and the rescue party finally arrives after 108 days on the island.
- In an early episode of Supernatural, a demon possesses plane passengers and causes their planes to crash. One such incident occurs during the timeline of the episode, and the number of passengers killed is 108.
- In an episode of Ghost Whisperer, a ghost is haunting room 108 on a ship.
- In Once Upon a Time, 108 is the Mayor's house number. Appropriate, as she's the Big Bad.
- In Deadliest Catch one of the largest pots for the Time Bandit's 2012 king crab season had 108 crab, which was so notable that Capt. Andy ran down to the deck, shouted "108!" several times, ran back to the cabin, shouted it a few more times, and reported the number to himself (y'know, to make it official).
- In 2013 HBO got 108 Primetime Emmy nominations.
- NBC's special on the Boston Marathon Bombings is called "108 Hours".
- "108 Hours" is also the name of a documentary about an Iraq war vet.
- Rap group Cannibal Ox has a track entitled "Iron Galaxy" which contains the lyric "...fuck five/I want 108 mics".
- "108 Battles (of the Mind)" by Kula Shaker
- "KAMIKAZE 108" by Teriyaki Boyz with lyrics "So let's get back to basics, I do work to a 108 tempo" (the Toridoshi Mix is pretty close to, if not exactly, 108 bpm).
- "108" by Sky Ferreira, which was, according to Word of God, inspired by vampires.
Mythology and Religion
- Hinduism: 108 is just as important in Hinduism as it is in Buddism. Some of the various uses of it are shown below.
- The Sudarshana Chakra, the weapon of Vishnu, and in particular, his avatar Krishna, is a serrated throwing disc with 108 serrations, making this Older Than Feudalism.
- The Gayatri Mantra is traditionally chanted 108 times in prayer. In auspicious occasions, it goes up to 1008.
- It is considered to be auspicious to chant 108 or 1008 of Vishnu or Shiva's many names.
- According to the mythology, 108 devas and asuras churned the Ocean Of Milk.
- Greek Mythology:
- In Homer's The Odyssey, 108 is the number of suitors coveting Penelope, the wife of Odysseus.
- The SCP Foundation has a few of these.
- Dr. Clef's version of SCP-001, The Gate Guardian, is an angel with a sword guarding the Garden of Eden. Observers have described it as having up to 108 wings.
- SCP-065 is a spherical area that causes bizarre effects in living tissue. When it was originally created it had a radius of 108 meters.
- In Bliss Stage, your character must make an exit either by dying for real at 7 Trauma... or in a slightly less deadly manner when you go over 108 points of Bliss. This is a deliberate use of the trope: Word of God says it's a deliberate reference to the 108 Buddhist temptations. He also intended to print only 108 copies of Ignition Stage, for the same reason.
- Your average Mahjong set will have 108 suited tiles, with the rest being Honor or flower tiles. This is a result of each of the 3 suits of 9 tiles being replicated so that there's 4 of each. (3* 9* 4 = 108).
- Dungeons & Dragons module WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun. The guardian daemon will pursue intruders for 108 feet before returning to its room.
- North Pole Publications' generic RPG adventure The Serpent Islands. The second largest island was once the site of an evil monastery. 23 years ago an earthquake submerged the island, taking 108 monks to their doom.
- R. Talsorian Games' Cyberpunk supplement Pacific Rim Sourcebook (1994). An advertisement says that the guards at the Tiananmen Square flag raising ceremony march at exactly 108 paces per minute.
- In Tenra Bansho Zero, if your Karma Meter goes above 108, you become an asura.
- There are often a few ghost stories suggesting that someone died in "Room 108".
- As mentioned above, Suikoden, loosely based on the classic Chinese novel Water Margin. Each game in the series contains 108 recruitable characters, counting the hero.
- Generally speaking, having all 108 in Suikoden leads to someone being able to survive certain death, or recovering from it somehow.
- The Pokémon Spiritomb is listed as number 108 in the Sinnoh Pokédex, weighs 108 kg, is said to have been formed by 108 spirits, and its base Defense and Special Defense are both 108.
- In Ruby and Sapphire, The Ghost Ship S.S. Cactus is found on route 108.
- In Ōkami, the extremely difficult to obtain string of beads is made up of 100 stray beads and 8 power orbs. Given the large amounts of Japanese symbolism in the game, this is unsurprising.
- In Final Fantasy Tactics, the accessory "108 Beads" would prevent most, but not all, status effects. This, unlike most, is less a reference and more a direct mention — the "108 Beads" accessory is implied heavily to be the aforementioned Buddhist o-juzu.
- Brütal Legend features 108 Heavy Metal songs to unlock.
- In Animal Crossing: City Folk, after the New Year's Countdown, Peppy villagers will tell you it is good luck to count 108 fireworks.
- Muramasa: The Demon Blade has 108 collectible swords. Quite appropriate to the plot and bosses, also.
- In the second Ace Attorney game, Phoenix can inspect an ancient tapestry, which has a list of 108... ways to make money.
- In Viewtiful Joe 2, one stage has Joe (or Sylvia) hitting a giant bell 108 times in order to continue on (though knocking an enemy into the bell counts as 10 rings.)
- In The Legend of Dragoon, it was said that there were 108 races in the world, including humans, dragons, and many others unique to the world. However, all but a handful are extinct by the time the game begins. Furthermore, the Moon Child is said to arise every 108 years, while Rose is said to have saved the world from the Moon Child's emigration to the Virage Embryo a total of 107 times, failing on the 108th.
- The Elder Scrolls uses and abuses it (with variants: one and eight, one hundred and eight, one thousand and eight). The Dragon Break (localized temporal anomaly) lasted for 1008 years for example. See also "O Aka! I beg you one hundred thousand and eight times!" from the Alduddaggas.
- In The World Ends with You's bonus chapter, Joshua's registration number in the Tin Pin tournament is 108.
- Chapter 4 of Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World features an NPC who boasts that the Lezareno Company's life insurance covers you to the age of 108 (More half-elf discrimination, of course, as they live much longer).
- In the Ace Combat series:
- In Knights in the Nightmare, Capehornus was exiled from his people one hundred and eight days before the death of Willimgard's predecessor.
- There are 108 badges you can collect in the N64 version of Mario Golf by getting a birdie or better on each of the 6 courses' 18 holes.
- In Shadow Hearts: Covenant, the Big Bad explicitly say that The Very Definitely Final Dungeon will toll the bell a 108 times before unleashing its power. Yuri and co. will always get there in time, even after exiting to do some sidequests for Infinity Plus One Weapons and Armours.
- In FusionFall, an NPC that has a mission you must take is known as Numbuh 108.
- In Disgaea Infinite, Laharl boasts of the 108 cruel punishments he gives to disobedient Prinnies.
- DJ Hero 2 features musical appearances from 108 artists.
- In Super Paper Mario, the 7th chapter has a sentient door that asks you questions to get through. While the set up to the question is pretty much unrelated to what is actually asked, the set ups do include pretty much every unlucky number you'll find. Except that instead of 666, they had 667.
- In Ben Jordan: Paranormal Investigator case five, the maximum points you can receive is 108.
- Liara T'Soni is one hundred and eight years old as of Mass Effect 2. She's turned one hundred and nine by the third game.
- The X-rated Visual Novel Zanjibaru is set in an alternate future Japan. The year in which the game is set is 2033 CE (or the 108th year of the Showa Era).
- Guitar Hero Warriors of Rock has unlockable venues, characters, instruments, cheats, galleries, and accessories for every rank up to 108, with the last one being the Neversoft Eyeball.
- Kid Icarus: Uprising has exactly 108 different weapons.
- While a majority of the Vaults in the Fallout universe had sinister ulterior motives resulting in plenty of terror, Fallout 3 notably included Vault 108 which was assigned an Overseer expected to die of cancer within 40 months with no directives for succession or assigning positions of power, and given a main power supply intended to malfunction eighteen years before the Vault was to be opened, a backup power supply that was insufficient, an overstocked armory and no entertainment recordings. It also had a cloning lab which churned out hostile clones that murdered non-cloned residents. It was definitely intended to be one of the more chaotic Vault experiments.
- There are 108 half-human, half-machine hybrids loose in the world as of the endgame of Binary Domain.
- The Happy Feet Two video game has a trophy/achievement for clapping 108 times.
- In Great Mahou Daisakusen, there are 108 treasures to collect.
- The events of I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream take place 109 years after AM first started torturing Ted, Benny, Gorrister, Ellen and Nimdok.
- The video game company Irem is known for posting strange April Fools' Day pranks on its website. In 2001, their prank was the announcement of a (fake) Dating Sim known as Doki Doki Suikoden - which was supposed to have 108 different "heroine" characters.
- When the internal human body temperature reaches 108F, the person usually dies.
- Wat Thamkrabok is a Buddhist monastery in Thailand that has gained a reputation for being the toughest rehab center in the world. One key aspect of their treatment, besides Buddhist meditations and spartan living, is a daily detox via Gargle Blaster-induced vomiting. The recipe is a closely held secret, but all that is known about it is that it was revealed to the founder in a dream and it consists of 108 herbal ingredients.
- The angles of a regular pentagon are 108 degrees each.
- Before it received its permanent name Hassium, element #108 had the placeholder name Unniloctiumnote with the corresponding symbol Uno. That is to say, element numero uno. Oh, by the way, the Uno card game has 108 cards.
- Giving someone 108 roses is a form of asking for someone's hand in marriage.