The Yamata no Orochi
is a eight-headed and eight-tailed serpentine monster in Japanese Mythology
, similar in appearance to the Lernaean Hydra
, give or take a head or two. According to Shinto legend, the Orochi was defeated by the storm god Susano-o, who while Walking the Earth
after getting booted out of Heaven 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 anime or manga story has a Crystal Dragon Jesus
, chances are that Orochi will be its Devil
Anime and Manga
- Ranma ˝ 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 Back Story, 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 has an Orochi whose 'necks' are giant mecha.
- 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, who is a cyborg with seven robotic heads and one biological one. 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. * 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*, 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 HiME 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.
- In Kanokon the female protagonist Chizuru is revealed to be its reincarnation.
- In one Usagi Yojimbo arc, Grasscutter, the tale is told as the origin of the story of the sword Kusanagi.
- Orochi (though not mentioned by name) appeared in Toei' Animations 1960's film The Little Prince and the Eight-Headed Dragon, where Susano (who appears here as a cute little kid), battles him in by killing the heads one-by-one in a 21-minute long battle that takes up a quarter of the 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.
- 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.
- The Big Bad of the Kamen Rider Hibiki movie is actually Orochi, but it only has one head. But other elements of the legend are used : the villeagers are forced to give one of their daughters as sacrifice each year, and Ibuki disguises himself as the sacrifice.
- Orochi is also the name of the event at the end of the TV series, where if it is not stopped "everything will be destroyed", but Orochi itself doesn't appear.
- Various legends around the world, such as Hercules and the Hydra, or the legend of Mount Kanlaon, involve a warrior slaying a multi-headed serpent, whose heads vary from seven to a hundred.
- 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 & Dragons 3rd Edition resembled a giant, multi-headed, vaguely humanoid snake.
- 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 convenience's sake.) In this series, he's a fanatical servant of Gaia (yes, that Gaia) who believes that Humans Are The Real Monsters 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 (a scant amount of official artwork and The King of Fighters: Kyo actually depicts Orochi as a woman during this period, implying he reincarnated into a female host back then). Unfortunately his influence spread to the Yasakani and after a time, 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, who in the present are 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 (Gaidel) 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 (alongside a back-up plan consisting on the Human Sacrifice of a Girl Next Door who happens to be the reincarnation/descendant of Princess Kushinada). He doesn't make an actual appearance until '97, where he possesses Chris to act as the Final Boss (an Anti-Climax 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 (who also happened to be Kyo's girlfriend) 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."
- Whereas the second KOF saga (The NESTS Chronicles) had a plot that resembled a bad sci-fi movie, the third and current saga (The Tales of Ash, which started in 2003) seems to be sticking closer to the original Orochi Saga. Not only is there a Nebulous Evil Organization known as "Those From the Past" trying to undo the seal on Orochi (and they've partially succeeded, thanks to their hold over Chizuru in 2003), but the Villain Protagonist of the saga, Ash Crimson, is going around with the facade of a weak and unassuming fighter, only to pop up and steal the powers of Chizuru and Iori (as Orochi Iori, no less) at the end of 2003 and XI, leaving Kyo as the only remaining non-depowered descendant of the three clans that sealed Orochi. Of course, Ash has singled out Kyo as his final target.
- In XIII, it turns out that Ash is a mix of Fake Defector, Well-Intentioned Extremist and Guile Hero whose actions have been one long Batman Gambit to counteract the ambitions of his time traveling identical ancestor Saiki, the leader of Those From the Past. In an unforeseen Heroic Sacrifice, Ash attempts to take Saiki's own powers, and when Saiki performs a Grand Theft Me on Ash (the infamous SNK Boss Evil Ash), Ash regains control and stays in the future, creating a Temporal Paradox: as Saiki is stuck in the present, Ash will be erased from history, with Saiki in tow. All to protect the Lady of War who was supposed to battle Those of the Past instead, Elisabeth Blanctorche, who doubled as Ash's Only Friend and Cool Big Sis. This causes a massive Cosmic Retcon, which reverts everything back to the way it was before 2003. End of story? Orochi's still sealed away. And Ash became a post-mortem hero for at least half the fandom.
- 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. The sword you do get is a reborn version of Tsukuyomi, which is a sword in the game. Fitting that the same event would bring together Amaterasu, Susano, and Tsukuyomi.
- When the same battle reoccurs in the past, Nagi is even dressed up in Nami's sacrificial robes. Defeating him that time earns you the Thunder Edge, which seems to be based off of the Ame-No-Murakumo, the Kusanagi Blade's original name.
- Likewise, Golden Sun: The Lost Age has Susa and Kushinada who fill similar roles. The party has to solve a puzzle involving mirror redirection before Susa's sake gambit can work, though. After the Orochi dies, the party can return to where his body is, and retrieve the Ame-No-Murakumo, titled Cloudrender in the game.
- Shin Megami Tensei. Orochi can usually become one of your Mons.
- Hilariously, in Shin Megami Tensei 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 third game has the more familiar form of Orochi called Hydra (lit. "demon snake"/Youja in Japanese), which is stated to be the actual Orochi's power running wild after his defeat in the previous game(s).
- The portion of Dragon Quest III taking place in Zipangu 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 BlazBlue 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 Pokemon Hydreigon is partially based on King Ghidorah, who is based on Orochi.
- In Asura's Wrath, the true form of Gohma Vlitra is an eight-headed Orochi made of rock and lava, and is probably the biggest depiction of an Orochi ever, literally having his heads so big they cover the entire circumference of planet earth. It makes the Yaiba version above seem tiny by comparison.
- In Mutant Ninja Turtles Gaiden, the curse that caused the death of Splinter and devastated the turtles originated from the slaying of the Orochi and the creation of the swords Kusanagi and Tokuta, the latter being the cursed sword from the prologue.