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Top to Bottom: Takiyasha the Witch and the Skeleton Spectre by Utagawa Kuniyoshi, the Guardian of the Sword Unbreakable from Kubo and the Two Strings and Gashadokuro, the Skeletal Mayakashi from Yu-Gi-Oh!

The Gashadokuro are a race of malevolent yokai, native to the whole of Imperial Japan. They will appear at night, out of the darkness, and seek the blood of men... Gashadokuro are created by mass death, by the concentrated suffering of hundreds. While the Gashadokuro will eventually fade, they remain for centuries after their creation, lingering until their sorrow has diffused and faded. There is no way to hasten this process.
SCP Foundation, from IJAMEA's entity summary for SCP-2863
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Soldiers whose bodies rot in the fields and victims of famine who die in the wilderness rarely receive proper funerary rites. Unable to pass on, their souls are reborn as ghosts, wandering in ennui and longing for their lost lives. That anger and pain remains long after their flesh has rotted from their bones. As their bodies decay, their anger spoils into a grudge, a grudge that twists them into a supernatural presence on the Earth. When the bones of hundreds of victims gather together into one mass, they form the humongous, skeletal monster known as the Gashadokuro.

The Gashadokuro (literally translated to "starving skeleton"), also known as Odokuro (or "giant skull/skeleton"), is a giant skeleton born from the bodies of those who died without proper burial, usually from plague, famine, or war. They stand 15 times taller than a normal person and come out after midnight, snatching up innocent bystanders within their immense reach, whereupon they bite the bystanders' heads off and drink their blood. Because of their unambiguously malevolent behavior and origins, they classify as mononoke, a class of youkai who exist as vengeful spirits who bring suffering and death onto the living in Unstoppable Rage, like onryo and the Yuki-onna.

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Their approach is heralded by the rattling of bones (hence the name, which some translate as "rattling skull" as an onomatopoeia), and their only weakness is a purifying ward. They are otherwise indestructible and sometimes can turn invisible.

Sub-Trope of Youkai and Dem Bones.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 

  • Bleach: The regular foes of the series, a species of fallen ghost known as the Hollow, have skeletal masks and are born from resentful spirits of the dead. They devour the spirits of humans and the recently dead. They can gather in a Void Between the Worlds when not hunting for victims, where they instead devour each other, and this combines them into one massive oversoul known as a Gillian-class Menos Grande. The end result is a skyscraper high hollow made of intense spiritual energy that is incredibly destructive and ravenously hungry for ever more souls. It also wears a skeletal mask, and is robed in black tatters that swirl more like a smoke than a fabric.
  • Bone Collection: Gashadokuro are SS-rank youkai who possess a different power in each bone. The protagonist's partner and Love Interest Paira currently appears mostly human as a result of her attempts to seal her power, but she is shown in Flash Backs as a skeletal (albeit human-sized) demon.
  • GeGeGe no Kitarō: A Gashadokuro appears in the manga and its adaptations, having once been sealed by Kitarō only to be awakened when Kenta Yamada peed on his bones.
  • Ghost Stories: The shadow of a Gashadokuro (modeled after Kuniyoshi's famous painting) is seen menacing Satsuki in the intro sequence, but never seen in the show itself.
  • The Keeper Wants to Build a Zoo in Another World, so He Tames Monsters: A "skeleton king" that dwarfs even Cerberus manifests with the skeleton warriors, but Ikuhara manages to take it down by leading Cerberus to attack its weak points. According to Merou, the skeletons are all magical conjurations rather than undead.
  • In Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, one of Hagoromo-Gitsune's followers is a Gashadokuro who serves as Dumb Muscle.
  • One Piece: During the Wano Arc, Brook's soul form (complete with wisps and ghostly attire) is mistaken by a Gashadokuro by the Orochi Oniwabanshu, who are terrified of him.
  • Faust from Shaman King has the ability to conglomerate the many skeletons he can reanimate with his family's craft into a gigantic skeleton reminiscent of this trope.
  • Tsukipro's youkai AU features Dai as a Gashadokuro.

    Comic Books 
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    Films — Animation 
  • In Kubo and the Two Strings, the Sword Unbreakable is lodged in the skull of a giant skeleton. It's completely invincible until the Sword is removed from its head.

    Live-Action TV 

    Literature 
  • The modern depiction of Gashadokuro was codified by the Japanese writer Morihiro Saito. Giant skeletons were a somewhat common motif in older folktales, but most of the Gashadokuro's specific attributes come from Saito.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Pathfinder: Gashadokuros are powerful, dangerous undead created when multiple people die at once, their bodies eventually combining into an animated agglomeration of bones. At least one specimen is among the numerous undead that haunt the Border Wood between Taldor and Qadira as a legacy of the two countries' bitter fighting over the forest. The gashadokuro was formed when a company of soldiers remained trapped in a blocked-off ravine and collectively starved to death; luckily for everyone else, the gashadokuro itself is still stuck in the ravine.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Gashadokuro, the Skeletal Mayakashi is a Level 11 Zombie Synchro monster from the Mayakashi Archetype, manifesting as a giant skeleton decked-out in Samurai armor.

    Video Games 
  • AdventureQuest Worlds: O-Dokuro, the Chaos Beast of the Yokai saga, is this kind of youkai.
  • The first boss in Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, Creaking Skull, is a gigantic skeleton without legs (as its body has collapsed under its own weight) and a bone club. It's encountered again in the Dance Hall, where Soma can get its "Guardian Big Bone" soul ability, which creates its club hand. It can also later be encountered as the "Giant Skeleton", now lime-green and without the fire breath. Killing the Giant Skeleton grants the ability to lob big skulls.
  • Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia: One of these is an early boss encountered at what appears to be a prison. The thing will chase you to the edge of the screen necessitating using the little jump points to get over it to the other side. Funnily enough, it can't turn around to fight, so it just bends over backwards and crab walks after you to the other side of the field.
  • The second phase of the Phantom Express (and the titular ghost train's conductor) in Cuphead is T-Bone, a gashadokuro-based monster who sticks his head and two hands out from his car. He attacks by slamming his hands down.
  • One of the bosses fought in Dark Souls III is High Lord Wolnir. He was once the conquering king of Carthus, a brutal warlord who crushed the crowns of the kings he had slain into dust to create his own. Eventually he became subject to the Abyss and tried calling to the gods for help. When the Ashen One encounters him, he can be found by interacting with a goblet in an altar in the Catacombs of Carthus, and appears as an enormous skeleton with its lower body consumed by darkness. He can be beaten by attacking his bracelets - the only thing keeping him out of the abyss - whereupon he becomes consumed by the darkness that surrounds him. It is never clarified if Wolnir was a giant or if exposure to the dark made him giant, but his design evokes the gashadokuro to a tee, including his undead state being a product of his war-waging ways. In reference to gashadokuro's invisibility, Wolnir is initially hidden in darkness when you enter his arena.
  • Fate/Grand Order: Oda Nobunaga's Berserker version has a Noble Phantasm where she (yes, this Nobunaga is a woman) summons a giant skeleton on fire, which proceeds to do a Rapidfire Fisticuffs on her enemy. Her Avenger version can summon a more gargantuan version of the skeleton, which has 3 heads and multiple arms.
  • Goemons Great Adventure has one pop up early on near a bridge.
  • A Gashadokuro is the first Boss enemy in Heavenly Guardian.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Stalchild enemies in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time are normal-sized skeletons that show up on Hyrule Field at night. However, every third one that spawns is giant-sized (getting larger and larger each time it happens if Link keeps defeating them). The lore even states that they're the remains of soldiers from a massive battle, making the connection even more explicit.
    • There is a specific giant Stalchild from The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask named Captain Keeta who in life was a captain in the Ikana Kingdom's army in a bitter war against the Garo clan. When you defeat him, he gives Link the Captain's Hat, which lets you control Stalchildren, and asks you to tell his troops that the ancient war is over before passing on.
  • Muramasa: The Demon Blade: The final boss of the Updated Re-release's DLC A Spirited Seven Nights' Haunting is a gashadokuro formed from the vengeful souls of everyone who Arashimaru killed.
  • Nioh has Kelley trying to tilt the odds of the battle of Sekigahara in favour of the losing Western Army by using the corpses of the fallen to summon a colossal Gashadokuro, here appearing as a monstrous, tailed and multiarmed skeletal giant with a deformed skull seemingly composed of two skulls half-merged together. William manages to destroy it with help from Tenkai and Hanzo.
  • Ōkamiden features both a Gashadokuro boss formed from murder victims, and later a "Mushadokuro"note  formed from dead warriors (which is stronger and wears armour). They both have a fiery core and two swords embedded within them.
  • It appears as a random encounter in Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army.
  • An gashadokuro appears in Rakenzarn Frontier Story as a boss during one of the early sidequests.
  • Touhou Shinreibyou ~ Ten Desires: Name-dropped in Sanae's Extra Stage when she guesses at the identity of the powerful youkai that was being brought in to fight Miko (she's disappointed when it turns out to be something as mundane as a tanuki). Its neighbor series Len'en features an actual gashadokuro named Sese Kitsugai who loves excavating underground.
  • Yo-Kai Watch has several bosses based on this youkai. For example, Gusty Bones is a huge skeleton that lurks around the local elementary school. In Yo-Kai Watch 2, he frustrates people by making sure they don't get what they want from gashapon machines, as a play on his Japanese name.
  • One shows up to antagonize Haru in Yomawari: Midnight Shadows. Oddly enough, it is the ghost of a rat.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • SCP Foundation: SCP-2863 are 30m tall skeletons and in this case caused by human suffering; the three newest instances were caused by the Nanjing massacre, the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, and the Fukushima Daiichi disaster.

 
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High Lord Wolnir

High Lord Wolnir was once the conquering king of Carthus, a brutal warlord who crushed the crowns of the kings he had slain into dust to create his own. Eventually he became subject to the Abyss and tried calling to the gods for help. When the Ashen One encounters him, he can be found by interacting with a goblet in an altar in the Catacombs of Carthus, and appears as an enormous skeleton with its lower body consumed by darkness. He can be beaten by attacking his bracelets - the only thing keeping him out of the abyss - whereupon he becomes consumed by the darkness that surrounds him. It is never clarified if Wolnir was a giant or if exposure to the dark made him giant, but his design evokes the gashadokuro to a tee, including his undead state being a product of his war-waging ways. In reference to gashadokuro's invisibility, Wolnir is initially hidden in darkness when you enter his arena.

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