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Nue

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"The forlorn nature of the nue's lament perhaps ties the nue to its earliest association, in the Manyoshu, as a bird with a sad call."
"The nue does not seem to have been a common yokai in local lore, but it was certainly well-known. Sekein includes it on one of his catalogs, with the tip of its tail a vicious-looking snake's head. He mentions its association with the Yorimasa legend and also says simply that it lives deep in the mountains."
The Book of Yokai: Mysterious Creatures of Japanese Folklore
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In The Tale of the Heike, the nue is described as having the face of a monkey, the legs of a tiger, the body of a tanuki (Japanese raccoon dog) and the front half of a snake for a tail. In other writings nothing is stated about its torso, so it is sometimes depicted to have the torso of a tiger. The Genpei Josuiki describes it as having the back of a tiger, the legs of a tanuki, the tail of a fox, the head of a cat, and the torso of a chicken. Due to its appearance, it is sometimes referred to as a Japanese equivalent of the chimera or manticore of Classical Mythology.

The nue is commonly classified as a Mononoke, a certain class of Youkai in Japanese folklore universally reviled as a bringer of ill omen, ill fortune, disease, war, poverty and just general bad mojo. When this beast is encountered — either in its monstrous true form or as a black cloud (a form that it commonly takes) — either be prepared to kill it where it stands or run like Hell is after you — unless you're in a work where the nue, like many other monsters in fiction, is just misunderstood.

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Since the kanji for Nue can be written as "night bird" and in fact Nue can mean "Thrush", it is sometimes considered a "Kaicho" (Monstrous Bird).

Sub-Trope to Youkai. See also Mix-and-Match Critters, Classical Chimera and Our Manticores Are Spinier. Not to be confused with a Nu.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Bleach: The manifest spirit of Zabimaru (Renji Abarai's Empathic Weapon) takes the form of of an albino baboon with purple streaks in its fur and a serpent for a tail. Its theming in weapon form becomes more obvious when Renji unlocks its Bankai, which upgrades it from "Whip Sword" to "giant skeletal snake" while also draping the fur and skull of an ape around his shoulders.
  • The Demon Prince of Momochi House: The main love interest Aoi is a Nue — or, more specifically, a human who was turned into one after wandering into the titular house as a child, and was chosen to be its guardian.
  • Dororo: Demons killed by Hyakkimaru in the past merge into a giant nue. Hyakkimaru kills it in the final chapter.
  • GeGeGe no Kitarō:
    • In the fifth anime, Nue is depicted as a large shadowed equine figure, resembling that of the Qilin or the Longma. He has voluminous and flowing mane and tail, as well as having tufts of hair around his hooves. His face has a long thin snout with a thin pair of whiskers, glowing green eyes and lighter bushy eyebrows. He usually covers himself with a black cloud.
    • Within the sixth anime, Nue's appearance returns to the usual depiction, being a chimerical youkai, having the head of a monkey, the body of a tanuki, the limbs of a tiger and the tail of a snake. He's one of the Four Traitorous Generals, can turn into a black cloud to move around and his screams have supernatural powers. He's also killed and absorbed by Rei Isurugi, who wields his soul for most of his story arc before entrusting it to Kitaro.
  • In Mononoke, a Nue is the antagonist of its titular story arc. When the arc's characters discuss the classical depiction of the monster, one notes that the different animal parts are just a metaphor for the creature's shapeshifting powers. This foreshadows the story's unique twist that the Nue here is actually a ghostly apparition formed around an abandoned fragrant log: it developed both supernatural powers and sense of ego over its legendary reputation, and has been trapping dozens of human souls in an illusion in order to have them fawn over it.
  • In Boruto, one of the various experiments done by Root is a Nue, a monster created from Project Gozu Tenno as a bioengineered superweapon using Hashirama Senju's harvested cells.
  • One Piece: the non-canon One Piece x Kyoto event introduces Toratsugu, a man who ate the Mythological Zoan Bird-Bird Fruit, Model: Nue, which allows him to transform into a traditional Nue and fly freely in the sky. In a subversion, Toratsugu is initially framed as the villain of the event, but is revealed to be a good man. The fact that Nue originally referred to a bird, can mean thrush and contains the kanji for "bird" may explay why it's considered part of the Bird Bird group of Devil Fruits.
  • In The Rising of the Shield Hero, Naofumi and his part encounter a nue when trying to procure a magic crystal for a Chain of Deals to get Filo a set of magic clothes. The nue they encounter resembles the general appearance of a nue - baboon-like head, tiger body, serpent tail - though this incarnation of the nue possesses Shock and Awe powers that evoke the Raiju, a different youkai altogether.
  • In Inuyasha there's Meiohju, (lit. Pluto's Beast), a chimeric Youkai renowed for his Nigh-Invulnerable shell, the strongest of all. Aside from the black tortoise shell, Meiohju also has the face of an Oni, the long neck of a serpent, a tiger's legs and a horse-like tail, giving it a Nue-like appearence, and can also transform into a dark cloud to move around. In the manga he's even introduced attacking a castle after floating above as a storm cloud. If you also wants to add to the lot the Raiju's confusion-similarity, Meiohju can also attack by summoning balls of electricity.

    Live-Action TV 
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    Literature 
  • After Man: Almost certainly a coincidence, but the niche of the extinct big cats (specifically lions) is taken over by the horrane, a monkey descendant that has tiger stripes, a catlike body, and a simian face with a lion-like mane. No snake tail though.
  • Ology Series: Monsterlogy describes the nue as an Asian relative of the European chimera, possessing the body of a raccoon dog, the head of a monkey, the paws of a tiger and a snake for a tail. They emit clouds of toxic black smoke when disturbed, which has led people to consider them harbingers of bad luck.

    Video Games 
  • Ayakashi: Romance Reborn: Kuro is a Nue. Unlike the Nue of folklore, Kuro is the sweetest guy you'll ever meet, and he tells no one he is a Nue because people, including his own childhood friend, have hated and attacked him just for that.
  • A Nue is the first legitimate boss battle in Breath of Fire III. It terrorizes the local village leading to a famine, and when Ryu and his friends kill it, it dies on its feet defending a cave, inside which the player will find the Nue’s Cubs, which have been dead for a long time. The Nue had been bringing back the food from the village to feed its long dead cubs. This shocks and saddens the party, but ingratiates the village to them for fighting such a dangerous monster on their behalf.
  • In Fate/Grand Order, the Nue is the Arc Villain and Walking Spoiler of the "Sparrow's Inn Daily Report - Records of the Enma-tei's Prosperity" event. This version of the Nue is depicted as not only a shapeshifter but actually a combination of several different monsters (the monkey, the tiger, and the snake) joined together with their own free wills that can split off into their own bodies to aid in their disguises. In the event itself, the Nue splits and disguises itself as no less than four different characters: Moneyed Monkey, Chief Snake, Magistrate Tiger, and the Bamboo Cutter, pulling a 500-year-long con on the Enma-tei properitoress Beni-Enma in order to take the inn for her after the Bamboo Cutter supposedly lost five priceless heirlooms related to the legend of Princess Kaguya there and extorting an unending debt on her for apparently stealing them. In reality, they never had the treasures and simply pretended to have them stolen while using the other three "guests" to sell the story. Once Chaldea realizes the truth and forces the Nue to reveal its duplicity, it recombines itself and attempts to kill them all out of spite for ruining its fun while claiming it did all of this For the Evulz. Ironically, the tiger and snake parts of its identity independently had their own Heel Realization about the whole thing and abandon the monkey, who ultimately is judged by Beni-Enma and Dragged Off to Hell to serve its sentence in no less than four different levels of Buddhist Hell for its unrepentant actions.
  • In Genji, the Heishi Mansion outside the capital has a temple where Yoshitsune or Benkei can come face to face with a Nue, depicted as a massive gangly monster created with Amahagane by the Heike: it has a monkey-like head with a large mouth, a serpent for a tail and long, gangly tiger legs with two sickle-like blades on the front paws you can cut to obtain rare ingredients. While at first he seemingly attacks and mauls a child, the child is found unharmed and actually claims that it was friendly, if only sad. If you return to the arena in the third act you're attacked by a Raiju, which looks identical to the Nue except that it's dark red and uses lightning attacks.
  • In Nioh, a Nue is fought as the fourth boss in the game. While its physical appearance matches the description folklore has given it, it possesses Shock and Awe powers that bring to mind the Raiju. The first one encountered was also the familiar of an Onmyoji.
  • Ōkami: Nue (localised as "Chimera") are a family of monsters with similar body structures and abilities, which can only be harmed by stunning them and attacking their exposed core. The Nue itself resembles the classical depiction but has a torso shaped like a tea kettle, a reference to the tanuki story Bunbuku Chagama. Other monsters in this category are the Bud Ogre (Houzuki) and Igloo Turtle (Yuki-douji).
  • Shin Megami Tensei: The Nue is a recurring Wilder Race demon that has appeared in the series since the first game. Its appearance has varied in-between installments, but they are universally seen as having a tiger-like pelt, a serpent's tale and some simian characteristics, whether it is a baboon face or a gorilla-like posture.
  • Touhou Seirensen ~ Undefined Fantastic Object: Houjuu Nuenote  is the Nue shot down by Minamoto no Yorimasa. Her classical "monkey-tiger-snake" depiction is not her true form, but the result of her ability to obfuscate the shapes of things, which caused everyone who witnessed her to describe her differently. She appears in the main game as a Mini-Boss (where the Player Character perceives her as an orb of light), then drops her disguise when she returns as the Bonus Boss. Turns out her true form looks mostly human apart from strange asymmetrical wings (and in some media Pointy Ears). She still has a chimera motif running through her Battle Theme Music and attacks, which are mashups of those from previous Bonus Bosses.
  • Touken Ranbu has Shishiou, who wears a skinned Nue over his clothing which may or may not be alive. It's supposed to reference the real Shishiou's historical owner, Minamoto no Yorimasa, as one of his legends tell of him slaying a mighty nue possessing then-emperor Konoe.
  • Yo-kai Watch: The Nue ("Chymera" in the English version) is a Rank S Lightning-attribute Classic Yo-kai of the Mysterious tribe, its design based off of the nue of folklore.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Pathfinder, which goes out of its way to feature monsters from a wider variety of real-world mythologies than a typical Medieval European Fantasy might, has the nue as a type of very nasty magical beast. It has an alternate form as a gaseous cloud, and has a number of spell-like abilities designed to torment players, including the ability to cause fatigue, paralysis, and nightmares. Nue are portrayed as having near-human intelligence and being deliberately cruel and sadistic (Neutral Evil, in game terms), rather than merely hungry.

    Visual Novels 
  • Shall We Date? franchise:
    • Raizo in Mononoke Kiss. He's officially described as a "humanoid beast" due to the way Japanese names for youkai are translated in the game. Further elaboration describes him as "a hybrid of a monkey, tiger and snake," which is, well, a Nue. Not a bringer of misfortune, though; he's one of the love interests and unambiguously heroic.
    • The Nue in Shall We Date?: Wizardess Heart are a lot closer to their mythological appearance than Raizo is. They're way creepy and known to lead humans astray.

 
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Nue

A yokai chimera. Its fanged mouth terrorizes its prey with an eerie cry. Nue is wreathed in dark smoke, making it difficult to discern its overall appearance. Its ability to summon thunder have earned it the alternate name of Raiju, the thunder-beast.

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