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Film / Yamato Takeru

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Yamato Takeru (ヤマトタケル, also known in English as Orochi, the Eight-Headed Dragon) is a 1994 fantasy adventure film from Toho, loosely based on the Japanese legend of the hero of the same name and Toho's Showa-era attempt to adapt the story, known in the U.S. as The Three Treasures (originally Nippon Tanjō, or Birth of Japan). It chronicles the adventures of Prince Ousu (later known as Yamato Takeru), hated by his father the Emperor but favored by the gods, as he faces the machinations of the evil god Tsukuyomi and his servants with the help of his companions, including the warrior-priestess Oto Tachibana.

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This film provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Oto is both a highly capable martial artist and a fireball-throwing priestess. She wastes little time in donning the battlegear of Amaterasu and joining up with Ousu's party after their initial encounter.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Like in the earlier movie but unlike in the original legend, Yamato Takeru is not truly responsible for his brother's death. Susano-o is also portrayed in an entirely heroic light.
  • Alien Blood: The Yamata no Orochi's blood is a lime-green color.
  • Appropriated Appellation: Kumaso Takeru bestows the name Yamato Takeru (Brave One of Yamato) upon Ousu because he sees him as a Worthy Opponent, and Ousu accepts it and uses it for the remainder of the story.
  • Badass in Distress: Oto puts up a fight but is captured by Kumaso Takeru and sent to be sacrificed to Kumasogami, a peril from which Yamato Takeru has to save her. Later on it's Oto who must save Yamato Takeru from the clutches of the beast Kaishin Muba, sacrificing herself to destroy it. She gets better, though.
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  • Bare-Handed Blade Block: Ousu catches the knife Oto throws at his face with his bare hand. He does bleed from it, but otherwise suffers no major damage.
  • Battle Boomerang: Oto's knives combine into a boomerang-shaped double-bladed weapon that returns when thrown.
  • Battle Couple: Ousu/Yamato Takeru and Oto happily embrace their destiny to be together, and both being highly capable combatants don't hesitate to fight side by side even when it's against a literal god.
  • Beam-O-War: Yamato Takeru and Tsukuyomi have an Eye Beam duel that ends in a traditional beam-o-war. Tsukuyomi wins, but Yamato Takeru has other tricks up his sleeve.
  • Behemoth Battle: What to do when nothing you have can match the power of a Scaled Up evil god? Absorb your girlfriend and turn into the giant armored warrior-god Utsuno Ikusagami, of course.
  • Bifurcated Weapon: Oto's knives can be combined to form a Battle Boomerang.
  • Big Good: Amaterasu isn't seen, but helps Ousu/Yamato Takero through her servants and magical mirror. Her brother Susano-o takes a more hands-on approach, using the guise of the Bull-Headed King of the Underworld to first tell Ousu as a child about his destiny and give him the sacred jewel, then continuing to goad him towards his destiny when he grows up and finally appearing in person when Yamato Takeru and Oto have died and are in the underworld to prepare them for the final battle and send them back to the world of the living to face Tsukuyomi.
  • Collapsing Lair: Tsukuyomi's Space Base wastes no time in collapsing once its master has been defeated. Of course, said master scaling up into his Yamata no Orochi form might have something to do with it.
  • Combat Tentacles: The aquatic monster Kaishin Muba grabs its victims with its long tentacles.
  • Composite Character: The Yamata no Orochi was a separate being in the original legends and not a form of Tsukuyomi or another deity.
  • Cool Sword
    • The Ame no Murakumo no Tsurugi (Heavenly Sword of Gathering Clouds, better known by its later name Kusanagi no Tsurugi) is a demonic-looking sword retrieved by Susano-o from within the body of the Yamata no Orochi and contains most of Tsukuyomi's divine power. When the god reclaims it he immediately uses it to rain disaster upon the Earth and to summon his palace from the depths of the Moon.
    • Not to be outdone, Yamato Takeru retrieves the Sword of Karasai as his Second Light during his brief stay in the underworld, which has the ability to turn into what's basically a lightsaber (complete with matching noises).
    • Kumaso Takeru's sword might be just a normal weapon and not a magical artifact, but it's still an imposing two-handed scimitar/dao with impressive cutting power.
  • Cue the Sun: Amaterasu's sunlight returns to shine upon the Earth once more after Tsukuyomi's final defeat.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: Yamato Takeru finds his supposedly dead mother washed ashore on a beach! Nope, it's a magically-disguised Tsukinowa, who stabs him in the throat.
  • Deus ex Machina: A fairly literal example when Amaterasu sends Amano Shiratori to save the infant Ousu from being killed by Tsukinowa.
  • Disguised in Drag: Ousu dresses up as a dancer in order to get close to Kumaso Takeru during his no-other-guys-allowed dance party. The warlord sees through it fairly quickly, though.
  • Dragons Are Demonic: The massive red-scaled many-horned (even for a being with so many heads) fire-breathing eight-headed dragon Orochi is the form the evil Tsukuyomi takes when he really wants to destroy something.
  • Dragons Are Divine: The Yamata no Orochi is certainly demonic, but it's nevertheless still a god.
  • Everybody Hates Hades: Oddly enough done by the filmmakers to their own culture by turning moon god Tsukuyomi (who was certainly a Jerkass God, having killed another deity just because he felt squicked out, but no God of Evil and only very tenuously connected to the underworld) into both an underworld deity and someone who seeks to destroy the world. Though the ending does imply he will eventually return in a kinder form.
  • Evil Chancellor: The mystic Tsukinowa loyally serves the Emperor of Yamato... except he's actually the devoted servant (and inadvertent spawn) of Tsukuyomi and manipulates his supposed liege to turn against his son Ousu.
  • Evil Overlooker: One poster (depicted above) has a pair of disembodied red eyes looking right at you, surrounded by Orochi heads for good measure.
  • Eye Beams: Apparently a sign of divine power, as both Yamato Takeru (when in Wild Spirit mode) and Tsukuyomi (in humanoid as well as Orochi forms, the latter manifesting them as red lightning) use these in combat. Kaishin Muba doesn't shoot them from its regular eyes, but does from its Third Eye.
  • Fog of Doom: Tsukuyomi's power manifests on Earth as flashing mist as he approaches, in contrast to the sacred flames of Amaterasu's shrine it attempts to quench. It finally succeeds the moment the dark god is released from his prison.
  • Fusion Dance: Only by fusing with his love interest Oto and turning into the godly Utsuno Ikusagami can Yamato Takeru finally defeat Tsukuyomi's Orochi form.
  • Game Face: Ousu/Yamato Takeru's face turns monstrous when he channels his Wild Spirit.
  • Giant Flyer: Amano Shiratori, the White Bird of Heaven, is a giant metallic swan-like being that is sent by Amaterasu to aid Yamato Takeru throughout his life.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Yamato Takeru and Tsukuyomi both get glowing eyes when preparing to fire Eye Beams (green for the former, blue for the latter).
  • Gratuitous English: The rock song that plays over the end credits is mostly in Japanese, but has a couple of lines in English.
  • Greater-Scope Paragon: Izanagi is never seen and doesn't intervene as directly as Amaterasu, but is revealed to have arranged Yamato Takeru's life as to make him the hero who could defeat Tsukuyomi.
  • I Am Not Left-Handed: After Yamato Takeru defeats him in a sword fight, Tsukuyomi declares he is done playing with his foes and brings out the Eye Beams.
  • Kaiju: Toho does what Toho does best. Most notable is of course the Yamata no Orochi, an adaptation of the mythological beast that inspired Toho's own King Ghidorah, but the movie also has smaller (though still larger than human) monsters like the heavenly Amano Shiratori, the demonic Kumasogami, and the aquatic Kaishin Muba.
  • Knife Nut: Oto's first move upon meeting Ousu (and mistaking him for a thief) is to throw a knife at him. In subsequent fights she brandishes larger knifes that she can combine into a bladed boomerang.
  • Kung-Fu Wizard: Oto shows that knowing how to throw fire doesn't mean you can't also be a skilled martial artist.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Oto mistakes Ousu and his companions for the thieves that stole the sacred mirror and a fight ensues before the misunderstanding can be cleared up and they join forces.
  • Luke, You Are My Father: Upon being released Tsukuyomi is immediately contacted by his servant Tsukinowa, who explains that he was created from a broken-off fang from the god's Orochi form.
  • MacGuffin Person Reveal: The third and final light Yamato Takeru needs to become the true warrior of the gods is Oto herself, who imbues him with her essence and allows him to transform into Utsuno Ikusagami for the final battle with Orochi.
  • Magic Mirror: Amaterasu's mirror is the first of the "three lights" Ousu/Yamato Takero receives on his journey. Its real power isn't reflection, but rather to serve as a Wave-Motion Gun capable of defeating Tsukuyomi in his humanoid form, and Orochi as well after it helps transform the prince into Utsuno Ikusagami.
  • Magma Man: The malevolent deity Kumasogami appears as a tall, demonic humanoid made out of (and living in) lava, and the arrows it conjures set whatever they hit on fire.
  • Mysterious Past: It's not known where the Emperor's mystic Tsukinowa came from. Eventually we find out that he's an independent aspect of his master Tsukuyomi, one of Orochi's fangs that became a sapient being after the god was sealed away.
  • Naked on Arrival: Only a Scenery Censor covers Tsukuyomi as he is released from his prison, though he soon after manifests armor.
  • No-Sell: Oto's fireballs are as effective as you'd think against Magma Man Kumasogami. But they can still distract the monster long enough for Yamato Takeru to charge an attack that does work.
  • Orochi: Tsukuyomi's ultimate form is the eight-headed serpent/dragon of legend.
  • Physical God: Of the major Shinto deities only Tsukuyomi makes an appearance in the mortal world, and once he has his full power back he's capable of unleashing severe devastation upon the Earth even without being Scaled Up. The volcanic deity Kumasogami is a less powerful being, but still a formidable opponent that requires powerful magic to beat.
  • Playing with Fire: Amaterasu's clerics have access to various forms of (presumably solar) fire spells. Oto in particular uses fireballs as her primary attack when just stabbing someone doesn't work.
  • The Power of the Sun: Amaterasu, being the goddess of the sun, bestows this upon her servants and artifacts. For her priestesses this means they're now Playing with Fire, for her Magic Mirror it means the ability to unleash a god-vanquishing beam of divine power.
  • Public Domain Artifact: The three pieces of the future Imperial Regalia of Japan (the sword Kusanagi no Tsurugi/Ame no Murakumo no Tsurugi, the mirror Yata no Kagami, and the jewel Yasakani no Magatama) are all important to the story.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: Kumasogami is a malevolent maiden-eating lava monster with a decidedly monstrous appearance and, of course, red and black colors.
  • Religion Is Magic: Amaterasu's priestesses have the ability to conjure fire.
  • Scaled Up: Tsukuyomi assumes the form of the titanic eight-headed Yamata no Orochi in order to do battle against Susano-o in the backstory and again after Yamato Takeru defeats his humanoid self towards the end of the movie.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Tsukuyomi is sealed in an elaborate ice prison in space by his father Izanagi after trying to destroy the world in the backstory, but said prison is about to return to Earth... After his final defeat he is once again sealed away and thrown into space, this time with the divine jewel serving as the can, though Susano-o believes he will bring happiness instead of destruction the next time he returns.
  • Sea Monster: Tsukinowa summons the tentacled fish-like monster Kaishin Muba to fight Yamato Takeru.
  • Shapeshifter Weapon: The demonic Kumasogami transforms its arms into weapons in its fight against Yamato Takeru, first a bow and flaming arrows and then a sword.
  • Space Base: Maybe a bit unusual for a fantasy work, but the showdown against Tsukuyomi (who is after all the Shinto moon god) is in a huge palace he created for himself on the Moon.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Unlike in the original tale and Nippon Tanjō both Yamato Takeru and Oto are alive at the end, though both of them did die and return over the course of the story.
  • Starter Villain: Ousu's first quest is to kill the barbarian warlord Kumaso Takeru so as to ensure his forces won't threaten Yamato any longer.
  • Summon Magic: Tsukinowa performs an incantation that conjures up a storm which summons Kaishin Muba (or possibly summons Kaishin Muba who then creates the storm) in order to stop Yamato Takeru and Oto.
  • Super Mode: When times are desperate Yamato Takeru can use his magic jewel to access his Wild Spirit, which gives him powerful magical attacks but is difficult to control. For his battle with Orochi he achieves an even more powerful form by fusing with Oto's essence, the titanic divine warrior Utsuno Ikusagami.
  • Third Eye: Kumasogami and Kaishin Muba both possess eyes on their foreheads in addition to their normal two (or what passes for normal among lava demons and fish monsters), the latter using it to shoot beams of power.
  • Time Skip: The story skips ahead ten years after Ousu's birth to when he as a child finds the jewel and learns of his destiny, then skips ahead again to his adulthood.
  • Tin Tyrant: One of the first things Tsukuyomi does upon regaining consciousness after his long imprisonment is to manifest an ornate suit of armor (followed by asking for his Cool Sword).
  • Total Eclipse of the Plot: Tsukuyomi's return causes a solar eclipse that goes away only upon his defeat.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: At least the trailer for the English version includes a lot of the story's major twists and events.
  • The Un Favourite: The Emperor loathes Ousu, a hatred born from superstition about second-born twins and the machinations of the mystic Tsukinowa.
  • Virgin Sacrifice: Kumasogami demands that Kumaso Takeru brings it a steady supply of maidens to devour.
  • Warrior Monk: Oto is a fire-slinging priestess of Amaterasu with a mastery of martial arts.
  • Warrior Prince: Ousu/Yamato Takeru is the second-born prince of Yamato, but first and foremost a heroic warrior.
  • Wave Motion Gun: The true power of the Mirror of Amaterasu is to fire a devastating beam of divine power capable of destroying Tsukuyomi's humanoid form, as well as his Orochi form once it's incorporated into Utsuno Ikusagami.
  • Worthy Opponent: Kumaso Takeru respects both Oto and Ousu for their martial prowess even though they're there to kill him, and gives the latter his more famous moniker because of it. Ousu in turn respects his foe enough to accept said name. Even after Ousu/Yamato Takero has mortally wounded Kumaso Takeru, they praise each other for their respective strength.
  • Would You Like to Hear How They Died?: After stabbing him in the throat Tsukinowa taunts Yamato Takeru about how he's responsible for killing the prince's mother and brother. This backfires as it enrages the hero, who had previously blamed himself for those things, and gives him enough time to remove the knife and throw it right into the villain's chest.
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