Follow TV Tropes

Following

Oni

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/image_7727.jpeg
A standard red oni
Advertisement:

Oni are brutish mountain Youkai similar to Trolls and Ogres, with either one or two horns (which in some depictions are the source of their power). The word is almost always translated into English as "ogres" or "demons". They are sometimes depicted as good or bad, but are usually morally neutral and interested in their own affairs. They prefer huge bludgeoning weapons (iron clubs called kanabou being the most common) and hide loincloths (usually tiger-striped). They are also shown to really love their alcohol, which can make them even more rowdy. Sometimes blamed for streaks of misfortune. Others work jobs in Fire and Brimstone Hell as big red devils.

If Oni come in pairs, there's a good chance one will be red and the other blue. However, they won't always match the Red Oni, Blue Oni dynamics. If some Oni are explicitly female, Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism may occur with males looking Gonky and the females looking more conventionally attractive. Which is consistent with their mythological descriptions.

Advertisement:

"Oni" originally referred to misfortune, bad vibes and evil spirits, which were traditionally said to come from the northeast. Under the Eastern Zodiac this is known as the "ox-tiger" direction, so these forces came to be anthropomorphised as beings with features of oxen and tigers. Because they're Made of Evil (or at least Made of Chaos), supernatural powers used by oni are often classified as jujutsu ("hexes", "maleficium" or "witchcraft") even when they're overt or harmless.

Sometimes particularly wild and brutish humans are depicted as transforming into oni as they are warped by the foul energies surrounding them. At some points in Japanese history the word "oni" became practically synonymous with "barbarian", and conquering or pacifying territories was described as "ridding lands of oni".

Advertisement:

Particularly powerful oni may be described as kishin (literally "oni god"; the "ki" is an Alternate Character Reading of "oni"), a term used in Japanese Buddhism to refer to Wrathful Deities. Incidentally, the Japanese word for vampire (kyuuketsuki) can be translated as "blood-sucking oni"; see here for details.

Hyakki Yakou, the Japanese equivalent of The Wild Hunt, literally translates as "Night Parade of 100 Oni", though this usage is metaphorical (most depictions of the Parade include a wide variety of Youkai) and is usually glossed as "demons" even when oni is otherwise left untranslated. That said, it has lead to a number of works that use some variant of "Hyakki" (or worse, "Senki"note ) as a name or title for a particularly powerful oni; in more literal cases they may even be 100 demons fused together into an Eldritch Abomination.

Compare Horned Humanoid. For western counterparts, see Our Ogres Are Hungrier and All Trolls Are Different (and occasionally Our Demons Are Different).

See also Smash Mook (and some Oni in video games will be that kind of enemy).


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Anpanman has Onion Oni. His head's an onion (with two sprouts as his horns), and he's still a little boy, so he's a bit of a crybaby (but doesn't want to admit this).
  • Tionisha from Daily Life with Monster Girl, at least initially. While translations decided to change her species from oni to an ogre, she was eventually changed to be an outright ogre, who are called oni in Japan. Actual oni are a sub-species to ogres, with another character called Kinu being one of them. While ogres are of truly enormous height (Tionisha is 7'5"/227cm), oni are "only" the size of tall humans (Kinu is 6'4"/192cm)...but are just as strong as ogres.
  • Delicious in Dungeon has Tade, who seems to be an oni or at least has traits of one.
  • Ogremon of Digimon - though initially portrayed as an evil minion, later on it was revealed to have no interest in anything other than fighting Leomon and allies with the protagonists to help achieve that possibility. There's also Fugamon and Hyogamon, but they've never played anything more than bit parts and thus were never similarly characterised.
  • King Enma and his underlings in Dragon Ball, mostly bureaucrats working in Hell, Heaven and the check in station for the recently departed that decides who goes where.
  • Tamahome from Fushigi Yuugi has the character "oni" on his forehead. It's sometimes translated as either ogre or demon. He tends to take the "wild man" interpretation of the Oni when push too far. The most noticeable being his battle against Suboshi who killed his family.
  • Meisuke "Nube" Nueno sealed an Oni in his left hand, and it becomes the signature element of the series. Two other Oni show up, younger siblings of the former, with vastly different agendas. Nevertheless, they are all presented as supremely powerful, destructive demons and the greatest threats to appear in the series.
  • Ririchiyo Shirakin and Shoukin from Inu × Boku SS. Interesting, Ririchiyo's oni horns look like goat horns instead of the standard smooth forehead ones.
  • In Naruto, the Sound Four resemble Oni while using their Curse Mark forms (with the exception of Jiroubou's lacking horns).
  • In Re:Zero, oni are normally born with two horns that serve as the source of their powers. Rem and Ram are an exception due to being twins, who are born with a single horn each. In the present day, Ram is much weaker than Rem due to losing her horn.
  • Oni in Shaman King are malevolent Tulpa-like beings born when a person with unusual spiritual abilities falls into despair. The majority of oni are little more than feral beasts, but they can increase their power and intelligence by consuming other spirits. Some types of shaman are capable of "taming" oni and using them as servants, but this is incredibly difficult.
  • One of the Transformation Rays in Sgt. Frog essentially turns people into Oni, by cheaply slapping on Oni features, arming them with clubs and turning their clothes into hide loincloths. Female victims tend to wind up looking like Lum.
  • A reoccurring villain from Smile Pretty Cure! is Akaoni, a brutish red oni who carries a club and wears tiger-striped clothes. He didn't have a blue oni, but did encounter one in one episode... though just a human actor/stuntman who's wearing a blue oni costume.
  • Lum from Urusei Yatsura is a variation — she's an alien, but of a race obviously based on folktale Oni.
  • In Ushio and Tora, a Oni serves as a Starter Villain early on. In this case, the Oni is the reincarnation of a man who died while holding a huge grudge and is hauting his own daughter, causing harm to all those who try to get between them. According to Tora, all Oni are of human origin.
  • In Yaiba, Onimaru and (briefly) Yaiba take on the appearance of oni when they are possessed by Fujin and Raijin. The former gains horns and extra muscle mass, while the latter becomes all spiky and electrified.
  • Kyousuke and Touka Kishi of Yozakura Quartet. They are a literal Blue Oni Red Oni sibling with Kyousuke acting as a personal assistant to Hime Yarizakura and Touka being her best friend.
  • YuYu Hakusho features a few oni as side characters (The Ogre Triad, the winner of the final tournament, etc.), and probably Jin and Shishiwakamaru.
  • Gamaran invokes this with Ryuhou Kibe, a warrior who was injected with the Juugan battle drug and became an Evil Albino under the nickname of "Ginki", the Silver Ogre. Not only he's, by Word of God, the physically strongest character of the series, he also reinforces his reputation by painting a third eye on his forehead and using a really big kanabo as his weapon of choice.
  • InuYasha has plenty of Oni, ranging from massive, horned humanoids to witch-like beings like Urasue, the one who revives Kikyo as a clay puppet.
  • In Rave Master, the Onigami band is one of the three main villainous organizations aside from Demon Card and is composed of Oni under the control of Ogre the Gold Claimer, though they're the weakest of the trio. The Oni from this world are mostly human-looking with horns of varying size and fangs, can breathe and move underwater effortlessly and seems to be technologically advanced.
  • Kill la Kill: Ryuko Matoi has many Red Oni qualities, such as her predominantly red-and-black color scheme, her contempt for Honnouji Academy's rules, and her "barbaric" ability to turn into a nearly-nude demonic form (complete with horns) so she can tear the fascist social order down. She also has a Red Oni, Blue Oni dynamic with the President of Honnouji Academy, Satsuki Kuryuin.
  • The old series of Yatterman has a couple of episodes with Oni, one as a parody of Momotaro and another as a parody of the Rashomon Oni. Surprisingly enough in both cases they're good guys, being harmless farmers in the former and a decent guy in the second episode, and the Yattermen ends up helping them.

    Fan Works 

    Films 

    Literature 

    Live Action TV 
  • Super Sentai
    • The main villains of Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger are the Oni Tribe Org, who were born from the madness and despair of humans. They are shown to have a hierarchy base on the number of horns they have. Baron Orgs, the Monsters of the Week, have two horns and are spirits who possess Inanimate objects. The Duke Orgs and their masters the Highness Duke Orgs had single horns.
      • In Gaoranger's American remake, Power Rangers Wild Force, they are referred to simply as Orgs. Their origins are very different to their Japanese counterpart in that they were born from a toxic pool, and revived in the modern age thanks to rising pollution levels. Their horns were also the source of their powers and if it was destroyed, they would die.
    • Gengetsu Kibaoni, the Big Bad of Shuriken Sentai Ninninger, is an Oni as well, although he actually used to be an evil feudal warlord whose own heinousness resurrected him and his followers as youkai 444 years after his original death. Same applies with his son Mangestu Kibaoni.
    • Shuten-Douji mentioned below in "Mythology" has appeared as a formidable Monster of the Week in Ninja Sentai Kakuranger (along with his younger brother) and Shuriken Sentai Ninninger.
    • Denshi Sentai Denziman and Kousoku Sentai Turboranger had regular Oni as MOTWs called Onilar and Oni Boma respectively.
  • The Kamen Rider franchise has featured Oni in various roles, mostly heroic:
    • The Kamen Riders in Kamen Rider Hibiki are all called Oni, but they are humans who transform with magical instruments to fight the Makamou, evil spirits.
    • The Imagin of Kamen Rider Den-O are basically an updated version of Oni, being proud and highly idiosyncratic monsters caused by time travel that perform mischief while possessing series hero Ryotaro.
    • In Kamen Rider Ghost, both the title character and Kamen Rider Spectre are themed after oni and oni-bi, with Ghost having one horn and Spectre having two. They barely miss the red oni, blue oni in appearance since Ghost wears orange while Spectre is blue; this is however amended later in the series, when Ghost obtains the red Toucon Boost form as his Super Mode.
  • Oni kaiju have appeared in some of the Ultra Series
    • Ultraman Ace: One of Yapool's monsters was Oni-Devil, who was the Monster of the Week in an episode about the Japanese holiday of Setsubun (see the "Other" folder).
    • Ultraman Taro had Enmargo, a giant oni samurai sealed away inside a cliff by a Buddhist monk and remained imprisoned with a magic statue of the monk. Later on, Taro battles an oni-like alien named Onibanba, who despises the Setsubun holiday and is based on the famous ogress Onibaba.
    • Ultraman Leo's Oni-On loved to eat fruit and could breathe tear gas (onion, get it?). Fittingly, he appeared in an episode based on the fairy tale of Momotaro the Peach Boy.
    • Sakuna Oni from Ultraman Tiga was a sword-wielding oni with two faces and one eye on each. He was originally defeated long ago by the samurai Kagetatsu, but returned in the present when thieves stole Kagetatsu's sword.
  • Some appeared in the second half of season 3 of Teen Wolf. In sharp contrast to the usual burly Oni, they look more ninja like wearing hannya mask with no horns. They are also weak against sunlight and can turn into black smoke

    Mythology 
  • The wind God Fujin and the thunder God Raijin of Japanese Mythology are sometimes depicted as Oni. The latter was sometimes said to eat the navels of children.
  • Shuten-douji was a leader of the oni of Mt. Ooe, and considered one of the Three Great Evil Youkai of Japan (alongside Emperor Sutoku and Tamamo-no-Mae). While generally depicted as a human who transformed into an oni, there are multiple stories as to how this happened, including being cursed for spurning the love of his female admirers, or performing the taboo of wearing an Oni costume after drinking sake.
  • Ibaraki-douji is another oni with close ties to Shuten-douji (either as a subordinate or relative). And just like Shuten-douji, had multiple origins on how he became a oni like being born that way and frightening his mother to death or being cursed at the same time as Shuten-douji.

    Tabletop Games 
  • One of the Ogre kiths (player types) in Changeling: The Lost is oni. Physically, they resemble the oni of legend (huge brutes with red skin), and they feed on blood, though in the game they were Was Once a Man instead of being born as spirits.
  • Oni are the template for ogre magi in Dungeons & Dragons (in fact, one early Sourcebook referred to them as "Japanese ogres"). In 4th Edition, they decided to just call ogre magi "Oni" and be done with it, though in the 3E Oriental Adventures, Oni are a very wide grouping of demonic monsters that merely includes ogres.
  • Pathfinder expands on the Dungeons & Dragons depiction of oni by making them evil incorporeal spirits who manifest into material form, using various humanoid races as templates. The traditional ogre mage, of course, is based on ogres, while the most powerful Oni are the yai, based on giants. There's also oni based on humans, tengu, and kitsune, with the latter two drawing from negative characteristics attributed to the youkai their normal counterparts lack.
  • In Legend of the Five Rings, Oni are demons that enter the mortal world either through some poor fool summoning them, or through the Festering Pit of Fu Leng that connects the mortal and demon realms. They have an endless array of forms, some of which resemble the traditional Oni.
  • One set of Magic: The Gathering featured various Oni. They were classified as Demon Spirits and looked vaguely ogre-like, but they were also served by actual Ogres.
  • In Shadowrun, there is a Japanese ork metavariant that looks very much like the traditional Oni and is usually referred to as such. This causes them a fair bit of trouble because although they're still metahumans that are not necessarily good or evil, society expects them to act like the fairy-tale creatures they resemble.
  • In Scion, Oni are a specific form of low-level Giant. Scions of the Chinese Celestial Beauracracy can also take loyalist oni — specifically, the Hells-staffing demon oni Ma Mien (Horse Face) and Niu T'ou (Ox Head) — as followers.
  • Tenra Bansho Zero depicts Oni as something akin to Blizzard-style orcs, being a Fantasy Counterpart Culture of the Ainu who are hunted by humans because their crystalline hearts can be used to power Magitek. Oni also look enough like humans that they can pass as human by cutting off their horns, though this causes them to lose their racial Psychic Powers.

    Video Games 
  • Ao Oni: The eponymous monster, who pursues Hiroshi and his friends throughout the game. When each of your friends get caught, they're transformed into more Oni, and several more deformed versions of the original Oni are found in a jail cell near the end of the game.
  • BlazBlue: Tager is called "Red Oni" in Japan because of his big red body and big fangs. Interestingly, he's also a Cyborg, and he was a normal human before both traits are given by his master, Professor Kokonoe, after he's mortally wounded in the past.
  • The Empire of the Rising Sun in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 has the King Oni. Fittingly, they resemble giant hulking brutes, though their main form of attack are Eye Beams. They do however have a bull rush ability which causes them to rush forward and knock away anything unlucky enough to get in their way.
  • While they don't appear in Dark Souls 3, they are mention in the lore of the Onislayer Greatbow.
  • Gender Flip versions of Shuten-douji and Ibaraki-douji appear as playable Servants in Fate/Grand Order. They are both man eaters with a love of alcohol. Shuten-doujin also has romantic ties with Sakata Kintoki, one of the Four Heavenly Warriors to have participated in the extermination of the Oni of Mt. Ooe. However, he greatly regretted it, and his wish for the Holy Grail was for her revival. There's also Kotaro Fuuma, who has the blood of the oni mixed in him to create the perfect leader of the Fuuma Clan, as well as Tomoe Gozen.
  • In Fire Emblem Fates, the quasi-Japanese nation of Hoshido has a Barbarian Hero class known as "Oni Savage", which promotes to "Oni Chieftain".note  While they aren't actually oni, they still invoke the imagery of them; they wear oni masks and wield clubs (The Hoshidan equivalent of the axe) in reference to oni-ni-kanabou ("oni with an iron club").
  • Oni appear as enemy assassins in Guild Wars: Factions. They serve the greater demon Kanaxai who dwells in The Deep.
  • Some of the Horned Humanoids of the Abyssal Fleet from Kantai Collection like Seaport Princess, Northern Ocean Princess, and Battleship Princess. There's also some who have Oni in their names like Aircraft Carrier Water Oni, Anchorage Water Oni, and Isolated Island Oni.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, the Bokoblins are given a design resembling traditional depictions of Oni (outward-jutting fangs, loincloths made from big cat skins, etc.), in contrast to the Pig Man designs they usually have.
  • The final level of "The Islands" region of LittleBigPlanet is called "The Terrible Oni's Volcano". Appropriately enough, the final boss is an Oni made of Fire Material.
  • In Monster Maulers, Diablo, "a demon who summons storms," is essentially an Oni (its Japanese name, Furaiki, literally means "wind/thunder oni"), even though its stage is a Chinese pagoda. It has blue skin and red hair.
  • Drahmin and Moloch from Mortal Kombat, though In Name Only (like many other Japanese-named things in Mortal Kombat, by the way)
  • Oni of various kinds appear in Muramasa: The Demon Blade. One of Momohime's bosses is a huge, orange Great Oni, the boss of all the Oni.
  • The benefactors for the heroes of the Onimusha series; worse demons killed them off so they gave their power to humans. The Game Boy Advance Onimusha Tactics game gives nod to the different versions by stating that some escaped this fate by getting jobs in the Underworld.
  • Red Earth: there's Kongou, a typical red oni from Zipang, the same land Mukuro hails from. He was originally a human named Tanuma, a simple merchant, until he made a deal with Scion that turns him into a big red oni with an iron club.
  • In Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson, there are two enemies whose appearances gained them the names "Red Oni" and "Blue Oni". There's also Murakumo from Gessen School who wears a oni mask. It's actually use as a emotion crutch as without it, she acts all shy.
  • These are among the tougher demons that Lo Wang faces in the Shadow Warrior remake, which primarily carry large shields.
  • The Shin Megami Tensei franchise has oni as some of the demons you can recruit.
  • Smite's depiction of Raijin and Fuujin are that of a red oni and blue oni respectively. Their lore mention them competing against one another to see who is the strongest.
  • The Deadly Six from Sonic Lost World are based on Oni, and are even known in Japan as "The Six Oni".
  • Soulcalibur IV's Kamikurimusi is essentially Tionisha from Daily Life with Monster Girl considering she beats up the game's endboss and lives out the rest of her life with him.
  • Street Fighter IV: Later updates add a character named Oni, who is actually Akuma after being fully consumed by the Satsui no Hadou. He's even more of a Blood Knight then Akuma is, wanting to cause nothing but destruction.
  • The first Summoner game takes place partially in the empire of Orenia, a fantasy setting based on an amalgamation of China and Japan. Oni appear as random monsters, but are concentrated in the Forest of Lianshan, where they are said to be the cursed spirits of humans who turn bestial over time. Killing them doesn't remove the curse, and their monster forms will reappear after a time.
  • Touhou:
    • Suika Ibuki and Yuugi Hoshiguma are powerful oni based on the legendary Shuten-douji and Hoshiguma-douji respectively, who once worked together as part of a group called the Big Four of the Mountain. The two are heavy drinkers, with Suika having never been seen sober in 700 years, and Yuugi being unable to be intoxicated. Kasen Ibaraki is heavily implied to be another member of their group, based on Ibaraki-douji, who has chosen to disguise herself as a human for unclear reasons. A notable trait of oni in Touhou is their honesty; they Will Not Tell a Lie and they hate liars.
    • Remilia and Flandre Scarlet are vampires implied to be of European origin, but reference the "blood-sucking oni" translation by possessing the traditional weaknesses of oni in addition to their vampiric ones.
  • Oni are the main enemies in Toukiden. They come from the underworld and there are both male and female Oni in many different varieties.
  • The world of Mooshu from Wizard101 has Oni as corrupting forces that take advantage of when the Emperor is injured. They possess the bodies of powerful warlords. Like demons from other worlds, they look like anthropomorphic Indian elephants
  • Many youkai in Yo-Kai Watch are oni. Oni even appear during Terror Time. In Yo-Kai Watch 3 (which takes place in America), they're replaced with zombies.
  • In The Secret World, an exiled clan of oni are involved in organized crime in modern-day Tokyo.
  • Red Magnus from Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance isn't mentioned to be any specific type of demon, but is clearly modeled after one of these.
  • The Shugoki in For Honor aren't actually Oni, but they invoke the appearance with their monstrous size, demonic masks, and enormous kanabo clubs, as well as the beastly and animalistic nature of many of their animations.
  • Tomb Raider (2013): Himiko's Stormguard are referred to as "Oni" at several points, but they are actually fully human (albeit extremely long-lived and quite possibly undead) samurai warriors, not demons. Their leader, the Stormguard Stalker, certainly fits the mold of an oni however, being a gigantic, dubiously human ogre-like brute who communicates only through animalistic roars and growls, carries an enormous iron club and is implied to eat human flesh. It's possible that he is the source of the nickname, and it was transferred to the rest of the Stormguard by association.

    Visual Novels 
  • Shinra in Enchanted in the Moonlight is an oni (translated in the English-language release as "demon"). He's first seen in the prologue complaining about how oni are villainized in folk tales like that of Momotaro; he's blunt, brash and a little violent, but good-hearted.
  • Mion Sonozaki from Higurashi: When They Cry has an Oni tattooed on her back out of family tradition. The Sonozakis and the other great families (the Furudes and Kimiyoshis) claim to have Oni blood.
  • Oni have existed in the Nasuverse ever since Tsukihime, due to people in the past having tried to crossbreed with them to create Half Human Hybrids, which include Akiha Tohno. Fate works, especially Fate/Grand Order, expand on both half-breeds and actual oni with the likes of Fuuma Kotarou and Tomoe Gozen as half-breeds and Ibaraki-douji and Shuten-douji as actual oni.

    Web Original 
  • In The Monstergirl Encyclopedia, Red and Blue Oni are two of the many profiles. Red Oni are hot-headed Hard-Drinking Party Girls who live to eat, drink, party and have sex. Blue Oni are more intellectual and reserved, but become raging horny drunks when they drink. The work also includes the Ushi Oni, here depicted as a sort of cross between a tarantula-based drider and a minotaur that is an insatiable beast that roams the hills, looking for victims to capture for sex and whose blood is so powerful it can corrupt any who are touched by it.

    Western Animation 

    Other 
  • Oni-ni-kanabou ("oni with an iron club") is a Japanese expression meaning "overwhelmingly strong" or "a strong person with a tool or advantage that makes them even stronger, to the level of overkill".
  • The Japanese versions of a number of childrens' games reference oni, including tag (oni-gokko: "playing oni"; the player who is "it" is the oni) and hide-and-seek (kakure-oni: "hide [from the] oni").
  • Mamemaki, a ritual practiced at the Japanese festival of Setsubun, involves a crowd of people preparing for the new year by throwing roasted soybeans at a performer in an oni costume while shouting "Oni out! Luck in!".

Top