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Demon King Nobunaga

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Some people just don't understand "sarcasm" when they hear that "dairokuten-maou" term. Well, it can't be helped.

"Worship me. Die for your crime of defying the House of One Hundred Demons, and repent in the afterlife. There are none before me, and will be none after me. I am the Demon King of the Sixth Heaven, Oda Nobunaga!"
Nobunaga, Sengoku Basara anime, "Episode 1"

According to the Jesuit Father Luís Fróis, Oda Nobunaga called himself "Demon King of the Sixth Heaven" (dairokuten-maō), a title properly belonging to Māra, the Buddhist counterpart of Satan (though portrayed in mythology as a Noble Demon). While Nobunaga was most likely being sarcastic (he was actually very eccentric for people in his age, so in his mind he was just making a bombastic but untrue boast to prep up his fearsomeness to his foesnote ), and in any case he's not the only daimyō of the Sengoku Jidai whose ruthlessness has inspired a Historical Villain Upgrade, many popular depictions of Nobunaga literally demonize him, or at least give him supernatural powers.

The biggest inspiration of this usually comes from one of Nobunaga's biggest Shoot the Dog (or most commonly believed as a kick) moment: the burning of Mt. Hiei, taking out the Buddhist warrior-monks and leaving none alive, including women and children. Whoever had the higher moral ground was unclear at that point (whether Nobunaga was just being callous, or the monks themselves were really disruptive and just adding on chaos in Japan that needed to be quelled no matter what, even if they used religion as a way to excuse their behavior), but considering Buddhism eventually recovered and once again became one of the major religions in Japan, Nobunaga's actions towards those Buddhists were not going to win him many fans from the future Buddhist storytellers, so they tend to use his previous sarcasm and make it a literal statement. And in addition to his more accepting stance with Christian missionaries, being considered 'barbaric foreigners with foreign religion' (more below), Nobunaga himself has been said to be rather disrespecting towards Buddhism in general, so that's even more reason to make him a devil figure by the Buddhist majority.

This is also not helped with Nobunaga's attitude during his time, while he was ruthless, there may be other factors on how Nobunaga was singled out to be the Demon King candidate instead of any other ruthless daimyos out there. In those times, traditional and old fashioned honor was especially revered. Nobunaga mostly threw a middle finger on those, as he collaborated with 'barbarous' foreigners to bolster his forces (and also wore European clothes a lot), promoted meritocracy instead of judging people based on their status (which was the norm back then) and several of his enemies that were mostly traditionalist eventually got trounced by him.note  These days, Nobunaga's actions might have been thought to be a stroke of genius, but in the days past, this was considered rather blasphemous and extremely dangerous, such that people thought only demons would think of this kind of trouncing of what was good in their eyes. And considering that even in modern Japan, traditions are well preserved and those who do not try to blend in with others and try to stick out often get ostracized, it's more than likely that Nobunaga would be seen as a violator of Japanese ways, making him perfect to be referred as an evil, tradition-wrecking demon (even if those who value individuality would see Nobunaga as a genius instead).

To summarize: Because history is so often Written by the Winners, he ended up being literally demonized when the adherents of the very cultural and religious traditions that Nobunaga opposed so vigorously ended up being the ones controlling the narrative.

In the old days, this trope was used for a more common Black-and-White Morality, since Nobunaga's brutality was perfect to play the role of villain. As time passed, however, values started to shift and people learned about the grayness of war, that the Buddhists that relegated the role to Nobunaga might not have the absolute moral high ground. Because of this, the trope started to evolve. Rather than playing the Demon King factor of Nobunaga totally straight, there are also works that use the Noble Demon or Dark Is Not Evil treatment for our resident Japanese Demon King; just because Nobunaga has demonic traits or can be rather brutal doesn't mean that he always had to play the cackling Saturday morning cartoon villain.

A Sub-Trope of Devil Complex, Historical Domain Superperson and Historical Villain Upgrade. Compare Beethoven Was an Alien Spy, We Didn't Start the Führer and Dracula (as Vlad Tepes); another East Asian example is Cao Cao's transformation from his historical persona to a stock Card-Carrying Villain in Peking Opera (though not to the extent of being a demon).


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Black Lion, Nobunaga is actually possessed by alien invaders who equip his armies with high-tech armaments so he can conquer Japan as a beachhead (probably; the backstory isn't covered much).
  • In Samurai Deeper Kyo, Nobunaga was Japan's fiercest warlord who has a massive hate on for the main character. True to his nickname, his powers all revolve around Grim Reaper based attacks. Shou Hayami voices him here.
  • In Wrath of the Ninja, Nobunaga appears to be the chief antagonist for the 3 heroes, conquering Japan with demonic help and seeking to be transformed into a demon himself. This time, however, there's a Man Behind the Man, a demon looking to use the bloodshed of war and Nobunaga's cruelty to power the demons themselves, and Nobunaga is just his patsy.
  • In Blood Reign: Curse of the Yoma, Nobunaga doesn't directly appear, but the story takes place at the height of his conquests, and he influences the story since the main character is a ninja serving the Takeda clan when it opposes Nobunaga, and because the brutality of Nobunaga's conquests is giving power to the Yoma demons. At one point the main character thinks about Nobunaga's brutality and wonders if he is a demon. While he's doing this, Nobunaga and his army are seen in a montage, and all of them have glowing red eyes.
  • In The Ghost Sweeper Mikami movie, the vampire lord Nosferatu is actually Oda Nobunaga. Or if Father Karasu's theory is correct, Nosferatu murdered a young Nobunaga and stole his identity. Either way, Akechi Mitsuhide eventually discovered his master's demonic nature and that was the reason for his betrayal at Honno-ji.
  • In the second Peacock King OVA, Castle of Illusion, a resurrected Nobunaga rebuilds Azuchi Castle as a fortress of evil and commands an unholy army of Cherubim.
  • In Flame of Recca, Nobunaga was responsible for the destruction of the Hokage clan and the reasoning is a touch to this trope: Nobunaga had a fearsome reputation of being a demonic warlord that the Hokage clan decided to hide all their Madogu and to die in combat as a sacrifice to make sure the demonic warlord did not get his hands on the Madogu. The ploy succeeded. However, at the end of the manga, Kurei traveled back in time and found Nobunaga trapped inside Honnoji, where he's just a normal human (brutal, but not as much as a previous warlord in a flashback), is readily accepting his death and allows Kurei to have a hand in executing the seppuku for him, letting him pay his last respects to his clan that Nobunaga destroyed, to which Nobunaga considered an inevitability that a Hokage remnant would want a piece of him.
  • In Saint Fighter Devilman, Wilfre, one of the Four Heavenly Demon, is revealed to be Oda Nobunaga, reborn as a Devilman.
  • Reaches the point of tongue-in-cheek parody in the Owari no Kuni arc of the Tousouchuu: The Great Mission anime. Here, he is literally Hades Shaded and commands an undead army of ancient Japanese warriors in a bid to break the barrier between the human realm and the demon realm. Subverted at the end of the arc when it is revealed that he was being controlled by the blue demon who merely pretended to be his subordinate and even perishes as a Graceful Loser.

    Film — Animation 
  • While Oda Nobunaga himself does not appear in Batman Ninja, the Joker (time-displaced to Sengoku Period Japan, along with a few other villains and heroes) takes the title Dairokuten-maō for himself.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Kamen Rider OOO's movie, the Kougami Foundation created a Homunculus copy of Nobunaga; since he was made from the same materials as the villainous Greeed, he ends up becoming a similar creature. However, this is revealed to be involuntary, instead acting as a Superpowered Evil Side who comes forth to seek revenge on the descendants of those who killed the original Nobunaga.
  • Hilariously inverted in Kamen Rider Zi-O's movie, where Nobunaga was a big crybaby and pushover. He was so incompetent that Geiz Myokoin, the Secondary Rider of the series, had to do the things that historically earned Nobunaga this trope.

  • Vocaloid: Parodied in "Not a Dream, Not a Lie, a Happy Scene Before My Eyes" by Utata-P ft. Hatsune Miku. The story concerns two Half-Identical Twins who enjoy swapping roles with each other; when a brutal war breaks out, the brother is enlisted to fight in a faraway war, but the sister swaps places with him so he can protect their castle. Right as she leaves, he tells her to bring along their pet cat... who happens to be a reincarnation of Oda Nobunaga that claims he was "hellishly resurrected from the underworld". Because of the cat possessing her body while he sits on top of her head, the sister ends up being incredibly victorious in battle with hand-to-hand combat, using nothing but the Nobunaga cat's own powers.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Call of Cthulhu supplement Secrets of Japan reveals that Nobunaga is but one of Nyarlathotep's thousand masks, and that the Outer God still occasionally pulls him out for, of all things, business meetings.
  • GURPS Who’s Who 2 has an entry for Nobunaga which discusses the possibility of playing him as a literal demon, with reference to some of his more infamously ruthless actions.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! has Shien, an Expy of Nobunaga (great warlord, morally unscrupulous, unified his country, died at the hands of his retainer). Shien is also depicted as an ageless Dark-type who wears black-and-crimson winged armor, has glowing red eyes, and eventually became an evil spirit possessing his armor.
  • In Vampire: The Masquerade, Oda Nobunaga is said to have been a vampire, who was eventually defeated by werewolves.

    Video Games 
  • In MapleStory: Mark of Honor, Nobunaga's Evil Plan is to become the reincarnation of the Sixth Heaven Demon King.
  • Double Subverted in Onimusha: Warlords: Nobunaga starts out as human, gets an arrow through the throat, and is revived by demons to work for them—but winds up taking control of the demons who wanted him for a lackey! Incidentally, he pulls a One-Winged Angel twice in the second game, once in the third.
  • In Persona 2 there are monsters/Persona based on Nobunaga called "Demon King", in Japanese, it's called "Dairoku Tenmaoh". Later, in Persona 4, Kanji Tatsumi's evolved Persona is a shortened version of these demon/Persona: "Rokuten Maoh".
  • In Sengoku Basara Nobunaga is, once again, a cruel, ruthless S.O.B wielding a sword and shotgun combo and a nasty cape that can also attack enemies. It's also quite possibly the most Obviously Evil depiction of him ever: a Tin Tyrant decked out in Spikes of Villainy and often seen reclining on his throne of skulls. And when you have Norio Wakamoto as the voice actor, ham is, of course, to be expected.
    • The anime has Dramatic Thunder and Ominous German Chanting accompany Nobunaga whenever he makes an appearance.
    • The third game and The Movie of the anime do even better when Nobunaga returns from Hell, having apparently taken over the sixth underworld and turned his epithet into a literal description. As a playable character, his story pretty much involves killing everyone else in Japan before returning to hell.
  • Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love has Nobunaga as the Big Bad commanding The Legions of Hell.
  • A Japanese-exclusive game for the PC-98, Zan: Yaksa Enbukyoku (A crossover between Yaksa and Zan, two of the earlier Wolf Team's games for Japanese computers) has an interesting twist on this trope: Not only the main characters have to fight against a demonic Nobunaga, they also have to fight against infernal versions of both Tokugawa Ieyasu and Toyotomi Hideyoshi as well. In this case this is semi-justified because the heroes are Christians, but it might not make any sense because Nobunaga is actually a fan of foreign stuffs like Christianity. On the other hand, the MegaDrive version of the same game removes Ieyasu and Hideyoshi from the evil trio, leaving only Nobunaga leading an army of demons in their place, not to mention it also removes any reference about Christianity in the game.
  • Downplayed in Samurai Warriors. Nobunaga most certainly looks the part of a black-armored Evil Overlord wielding a blade shrouded in darkness, but is portrayed as a ruthless Well-Intentioned Extremist who seeks to drag Japan kicking and screaming into an era of peace. He was more overtly brutal and villainous in the first game, with later installments touching upon more of his noble qualities. It's outright subverted in the Warriors Orochi series, where he's consistently on the side of the heroes fighting against Orochi; that is, until 4, where he leads a war of conquest in the new world as a Secret Test of Character to prepare them for the eventual battle against the Greek and Norse gods.
  • Subverted in Pokémon Conquest, of all places. Despite being the Big Bad, Nobunaga is actually a rather sympathetic character. Noticeably, his choice of partner Pokémon is Zekrom, which may look like it would put him in this territory, but in the main series lore it is considered not inherently evil, but rather it and its white counterpart Reshiram are both known for having been used in the past by Well Intentioned Extremists and Knight Templarswhich historians consider the actual Oda Nobunaga to have been.
  • Zig-zagged in Nioh: In this game, he really did mass-murder a great many men, women and children at Mt. Hiei, but treats his crimes as another facet of a rather complicated man, one who was driven by ambition and who also appreciated life and death to the fullest. He demonstrates this by flipping the bird to the necromancer who brought him back, then giving the protagonist his pet phoenix before leaving to the afterlife, even though he was given the demonic power to rule the world uncontested. Most of Nobunaga's former retainers say that he was a strange, unpredictable man. He's voiced by Kou Shibusawa, a major head producer at Koei Tecmo. Notable for the fact that despite following the trope very closely, even as a fabled Demon King, Nobunaga was portrayed not as a megalomaniacal super villain, but more of a Noble Demon. The prequel generally follows suit with Nobunaga at his younger days where while he can be brutal, it's not as severe as the stories made him out to be. Additionally, his henchman Tokichiro kind of had a hand of making him look a bit too demonic and manipulating the stories around him.
  • In Ninja Masters's Haoh Ninpo Cho, Nobunaga was supposedly dead and then suddenly reappeared as a demonic lord, having made a Deal with the Devil with a powerful demon named Haoh. So naturally, the cast decides to go to Nobunaga's Golden Palace to destroy him... In Nobunaga's own ending, however, he ends up conquering the world.
  • Ikemen Sengoku depicts Nobunaga as a deeply flawed but ultimately sympathetic person who has quite understandably earned the hatred of multiple characters for his ruthless killing of countless people but also has just as understandably earned the loyalty and admiration of multiple other characters with his charisma, Tough Love for his men, and genuinely well-intentioned ambition to create a world in which no one has to suffer from poverty or class-based discrimination. He has no supernatural powers in this game, but is given the "Devil King of the Sixth Heaven" moniker by Kennyo, a monk who witnessed his killing of other monks and has vowed to kill him in revenge but is portrayed as being not that different from him.
  • Fate/Grand Order: The Gender Flip of Oda Nobunaga, having originated from a gag manga, has this trope generally Played for Laughs. Nobu tries to be a Card-Carrying Villain, proudly calling herself Demon King, but she's such a goofball (as well as extremely short) that she just ends up looking the opposite of threatening. However, because Historical Villain Upgrade is an in-universe factor that can posthumously warp Servants, Nobu gets a "Demon King" trait which allows her to shapeshift into a more threatening form to fit her reputation. She only uses it to make her boobs bigger.
    • The fourth iteration of her event seems to play this directly straight, introducing a new version of Nobunaga, with an Avenger class, at the height of her legend as the Demon King of the Sixth Heaven, doing away with the gag and joking nature she had before. But you have to level her up first, because she starts out as just her wacky Archer form in a new class, followed by somewhat-male Nobunaga, and THEN you get the Demon King... who's still female. And then played with in that her alignment is only Chaotic Neutral to every other Avenger's Chaotic Evil, making her effectively a Token Good Teammate.
  • Puzzle & Dragons features two monsters that play off multiple aspects of the Nobunaga history and mythos. Dark Samurai Dragon, Nobunaga and its evolution, Unwavering Demon Dragon, Nobunaga are both part of the Samurai Dragon monster series, both are Attacker and Devil types, and both have Dark and Fire as their attacks.
  • Samurai Shodown's take on Oda, Gaoh, actually stays human in his canon appearance as the final boss of V and V Special. However for the non-canon VI, he becomes Demon Gaoh and commits to the trope.
  • In Sengoku Rance the actual Nobunaga is a jovial, joking (though sickly) man not dissimilar to the "fool" persona people knew him for in his youth. Then he gets possessed by the Dark Lord Xavier and becomes the monster he's usually protrayed as. By the end there's nothing left of his original personality and he's just another demon to kill.
  • I=MGCM: In "NEAT" limited-time event, stage boss Demon King of Sixth Heaven Oda Nobunaga from Alternate Universe, who is Gender Flipped and has similar hairstyle with Eliza, seems to be a ruthless samurai warlord who gets stranded in the modern main universe. It's revealed that she has supernatural powers in her One-Winged Angel form. On another note, MGCM has its own dress series "Dairoku Tenmaoh/Demon King of Sixth Heaven" for Eliza and Seira, which resembles the female expy of Oda Nobunaga, complete with an oni face shaped shoulder armor plate and firearms (reference to Oda Nobunaga's revolutionizing the ways Japanese armies used firearms).
  • Live A Live: Ode Iou, the Big Bad of the Bakumatsu chapter, is modeled after Nobunaga, he looked like Nobunaga in pictures, and is a brutal warlord that wanted Japan to go back to the warring states era instead moving forward to peace. He's also a demonic frog in disguise, as well as the incarnation of Odio, the God of Hatred, in the Bakumatsu era.


Alternative Title(s): Demon Lord Nobunaga