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The Yamata no Orochi is an eight-headed, eight-tailed serpentine monster in Japanese Mythology, similar in appearance to the Lernaean Hydra, give or take a head or two. According to Shinto legend, the Orochi was defeated by the storm god Susano-o, who while Walking the Earth after getting booted out of Heaven, answered a request for aid by two earthly deities who were forced by the Orochi to hand over one of their daughters every year to be devoured by the beast, and were now down to their eighth and last one, Princess Kushinada. Just to distinguish the tale from Western dragon slaying myths, Susano-o first lured the Orochi out by disguising himself as Kushinada (with the real one disguised as a comb in his hair), and then killed it by setting out a bowl of strong sake for each head, letting it drink itself into a stupor(as it only had one stomach), then lopping them off. Inside Orochi's body, Susano-o found the sword Ame-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi ("Sword of the Gathering Clouds of Heaven") that was later re-named "Kusanagi" ("Grass Cutter"), and is one of Japan's Three Sacred Treasures.

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According to a wide assortment of anime and video game series, the Orochi is alive and well and at large in present-day Japan. Sometimes it's literally Orochi, or anything from a Monster of the Week to a Big Bad with snake-themed powers. The trope holds pretty strong and is different than simply being associated with snakes; if your anime or manga story has a Crystal Dragon Jesus, chances are that Orochi will be its Devil.

Compare the Hydra from Greek Mythology and Our Hydras Are Different; although (usually) those serpents aren't as intelligent, or the multi-headed Dragon from the Book of Revelation.


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Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Ranma ½:
    • The series has character that shares a personality almost identical to its mythological counterpart; when it stirs itself, it does little more than just wanting to eat women and drink booze. However, it appears to have only seven heads. Turns out the eighth is in back — it's the size of a small mountain, with the seven smaller (though still huge) dragon heads and necks sprouting from the back of the main head's skull. Kind of like a dragon version of a Beholder. This Orochi has magical moss growing on its main head that is a powerful curative- even drinking water that flows past the moss can sustain a person's life, as well as making animals grow to unnatural sizes. Notably, the male characters also have to dress in drag in order to lure it out (while Akane disguises herself as a boy to avoid it). Unfortunately, they all look so hideous the Orochi isn't fooled.
    • Another spiritual example/reference is Happosai,note  a sake-swilling Dirty Old Man who goes into withdrawal if he is unable to sate his perversion and perhaps the most powerful martial artist in the series. In his Back Story, he was only beaten when his students re-enacted the myth; left out enough sake for him to drink himself into a stupor. Then, lacking any weapon they trusted to cut the nut's head off, they sealed him in a cave with a bundle of dynamite by means of a Zigzag Paper Tassel-adorned boulder. He of course returns to bug Ranma, and finds himself thwarted time and time again by his intended victim - a Hot-Blooded "Manly Man" acting as a perfect Susanoo figure, complete with an Attractive Bent-Gender curse that Happosai always falls for.
  • Blue Seed. Unless you read the subtitles, which tend to mistranslate it as "Orochi no Orochi".
  • Kannazuki no Miko has an Orochi whose 'necks' are giant mecha.
  • Naruto: One of the main villains is Orochimaru, a rogue ninja with the ability to summon snakes. (And oddly, the Kusanagi sword.) In this case, he's actually based on the character of the same name from the folktale Jiraiya Goketsu Monogatari (As are Jiraiya and Tsunade, of course). However, since the original Orochimaru was likely named after the Orochi, we'll keep him here. Later on, Orochimaru briefly displays the ability to turn into one (pictured above on this page) with a technique called Yamata no Jutsu;. Shortly afterward, he is killed by Itachi using a technique named Susanoo in a pseudo - Shout-Out / Mythology Gag. The sword wielded by Susanoo is even made of sake.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Yamata Dragon, one of Noah's monster cards in the Virtual World Arc.
    • Chimeratech Overdragon is a mechanical version of this, and the anime depicts it as growing heads equal to the number of Machines you use to summon it.
    • Evil Dragon Ananta, which gets stronger the more Reptiles you banish to summon it.
  • Digimon:
    • Digimon Tamers has Orochimon, who is a cyborg with seven robotic heads and one biological one. They grow back after being damaged by most attacks, too. Inverted in that drinking sake made it stronger, not weaker.
    • Digimon Frontier has Susanoomon. He has a BFS named Orochinote . Sadly, he and Orochimon never met, and Susanoomon being an end-of-season super-duper mode and Orochimon being a mid-season Monster of the Week the previous year, they're not really in the same league.
  • Maken-ki!: Contrary to the Japanese legend and most other depictions, here, the Orochi is portrayed as a benevolent deity, who was revered by man. She lived among them in human form and was given the name "Himegami" (lit. "god princess"), since her shikigami felt the name "Orochi"note  was unbefitting of her. And she's revealed to have been Kodama's biological mother.
  • In Shaman King, Bokuto no Ryu's spirit ally Tokagero's Oversoul form is an eight-headed dragon on top of a Formula One car. In addition, one of Ryu's strongest attacks is his "Ame-No-Murakumo that slew Yamata-No-Orochi", which surrounds his wooden sword in cloud-like swirls of energy before slashing. A bit of a mix-up of the legend's particulars,note  but cool either way.
  • In Ayakashi Ayashi a main character just happens to be Orochi himself, and the fight with Susanoo is re-enacted in the end (well, more or less), with interesting results.
  • In Hell Teacher Nube, the most powerful Yokai of all (surpassing even Baki) is the great and terrifying Yamata No Orochi, whom a Mad Scientist summons from the netherworld using ancient technology and mystic rituals. It would have devastated all of Japan if not for Nube and his students' intervention. The method by which it was dispatched is actually an awesome moment for the manga — Nube's kids use the same Magitek to summon a city-wide Kesaran Pasaran (a benign, wish-granting white fluffball with eyes) and ask it to send the Orochi back where it came from. The Orochi isn't so much whisked away as torn to shreds when the Kesaran Pasaran squashes it..
  • Mugen Densetsu Takamagahara: Dream Saga, based on Japanese myth, has a chapter re-enacting the Orochi story.
  • In Sekirei, Tsukiumi has an attack called Yamata no Orochi.
  • In Tenjho Tenge, the story of Susanoo and Orochi is presented as a symbolic allegory for the story of the founding of the Gaoshiki clan, to which most of the characters in the series belong. the story goes that a shogun who was referred to as "Susa" discovered that the rivers of his domain were being polluted by the runoff from iron mines run by eight clans (portrayed as the eight heads of Orochi). Susa invites the eight clan heads to a party, tricks them into lowering their guard and then decapitating them. Going a bit further, Susa then rapes the clan heads' daughters, who commit suicide, all except one, whose attempts fail, thus putting her in the role of Kushinada, albeit considerably less willing than the traditional version.
  • Akazukin Chacha and friends defeated a nine-headed snake who ate virgin girls by getting him drunk on sake.
  • Yaiba: The Yamata no Orochi dragon appears in the penultimate story arc. Is revealed that his body actually IS Japan, and when revived he turns into a country-sized, planet-wrecking abomination.
  • In Kanokon the female protagonist Chizuru is revealed to be its reincarnation.
  • In Persona 4: The Animation, Yamata no Orochi is one of Yu Narukami's personas. Notably, it's the first persona Yu created through fusion.
  • In Bleach, Hiyori Sarugaki's Zanpukuto is called Kubikiri Orochi. Its Shikai is a saw sword.
  • Tokyo Ghoul: In the sequel, a mysterious and powerful Ghoul that hunts other Ghouls is given the alias "Orochi" (or "Serpent"), in reference to the mythological beast.
  • In A Certain Scientific Railgun, in order to stop Mikoto's out-of-control Level 6 Shift, Touma tries to use his Imagine Breaker and ends up losing his right arm. In response, a dragon head emerges from the stump of his arm (something that previously happened in A Certain Magical Index). Then seven other dragons emerge as well and all of them join efforts to bite and seal away Mikoto's power.
  • In Gintama, the Yato's devastated and abandoned home world Rakuyo is inhabited by a giant 108-headed dragon known as the Orochi.
  • Hoozuki no Reitetsu: Yamata no Orochi works in the Screaming Hell, the part of hell where drunkards are punished.
  • One Piece: Wano arc villain Kurozumi Orochi has an Orochi motif to him, up to and including his having eaten the Mythical Zoan fruit Hebi Hebi no Mi, Model: Yamata no Orochi.

    Comic Books 
  • Usagi Yojimbo: In one arc, Grasscutter, the tale is told as the origin of the story of the sword Kusanagi.
  • In Godzilla: Rage Across Time, Orochi is summoned to protect Japan from the invading Mongols but is quickly killed when Godzilla suddenly appears. So he's lured over to the invading horde instead.

    Film — Animated 
  • The Little Prince And The Eight Headed Dragon: Orochi (though not mentioned by name) appeared when Susano (who appears here as a cute little kid), battles him in by killing the heads one-by-one in a 21-minute long battle that takes up a quarter of the film.
  • Strike Witches: The Movie: There's a picture early on what depicts Susano-o fighting against Orochi alongside two Witches. The appearance of Orochi of a eight-necked black snake with blue hexagonal pattern on the back and eyes made out of red hexagons seems to indicate that Orochi was actually an ancient Neuroi.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Onmyōji II, the two chosen children, who are actually reincarnations of Susanoo and Amaterasu, are each marked with a four-headed serpent tattoo that combine to make the Mark of Orochi.

    Literature 
  • Book of Imaginary Beings: The Eight-Forked Serpent of Koshi, which had eight tails and eight heads, was so large that trees grew on its backs and heads and that its body stretched over eight valleys and eight hills, and had devoured a king's seven daughters over seven years. When it came back for the eighth, a god (whom Borges names "Brave-Swift-Impetuous-Male") got it drunk on rice beer and cut off its heads.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Kamen Rider Hibiki:
    • The Big Bad of the movie is actually Orochi, but it only has one head. But other elements of the legend are used: the villagers are forced to give one of their daughters as sacrifice each year, and Ibuki disguises himself as the sacrifice.
    • Orochi is also the name of the event at the end of the TV series, where if it is not stopped "everything will be destroyed", but Orochi itself doesn't appear.
  • Ultraman Orb: Maga-Orochi is the most powerful of the King Demon Beasts . While the monster bears very little resemblance to its namesake, its sealing at the hands of Zoffy and a psychic princess is implied to have inspired the legend. Its true final form, Maga-Tano Orochi (or Magata no Orochi depending on the translation), bears more of a resemblance due to having multiple heads, and is by far the most powerful monster in the series as well as the Final Boss.

    Religion and Mythology 
  • Various legends around the world, such as Hercules and the Hydra, or the legend of Mount Kanlaon, involve a warrior slaying a multi-headed serpent, whose heads vary from seven to a hundred, including the original Yamata No Orochi story.
  • The Xiangliu or Xiangyao of Chinese mythology is basically a Chinese counterpart of Orochi, but differs from it by having nine heads rather than eight. According to the myth, Xiangliu was essentially a Walking Wasteland, devastating the ecology wherever it went and causing clean water to become pungent and filthy simply by breathing. It was ultimately slain by Yu the Great. A Living Statue of Xiangliu turns up as a minor obstacle in Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Magic: The Gathering's Kamigawa setting, the term 'orochi' refers to a race of forest-dwelling four-armed bipedal snake-people. O-Kagachi, the biggest and baddest of all spirits, is a take on Orochi proper.
  • In Legend of the Five Rings, Orochi are simple (one-headed) sea serpents.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: The first appearance of the Yuan-Ti Anathema in 3rd Edition resembled a giant, multi-headed, vaguely humanoid snake.

    Video Games 
  • The King of Fighters:
  • Ōkami takes this trope even further by retelling the original legend, featuring the characters Susano (who deals the final blow to the monster) and Kushi (the woman who was to be sacrificed to it). It is a long, two-phase battle that involves force-feeding Orochi the legendary sake, then taking out its heads one by one, before Susano jumps in to deal the final blow. The player even receives their first sword/glaive as a prize from the battle, although it's not the Kusanagi blade. You get that from a different boss entirely. The sword you do get is a reborn version of Tsukuyomi, which is a sword in the game. Fitting that the same event would bring together Amaterasu, Susano, and Tsukuyomi. When the same battle reoccurs in the past, Nagi is even dressed up in Nami's sacrificial robes. Defeating him that time earns you the Thunder Edge, which seems to be based off of the Ame-No-Murakumo, the Kusanagi Blade's original name.
  • Golden Sun: The Lost Age has Susa and Kushinada who fill similar roles. The party has to solve a puzzle involving mirror redirection before Susa's sake gambit can work, though. After the Orochi (here named Serpent, has only one head and looks like the standard Eastern dragon with wings on) dies, the party can return to where his body is, and retrieve the Ame-No-Murakumo, titled Cloudrender in the game.
  • Shin Megami Tensei. Orochi can usually become one of your Mons. Hilariously, in Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey (where the protagonist wears full-body-concealing armor), telling it you're a beautiful woman will cause Orochi to join instantly.
  • Warriors Orochi: A loose reinterpretation of Orochi as a demonic, humanoid Blood Knight with his own army of demons is the Big Bad of the game.
    • The very premise of Warriors Orochi is that Orochi himself essentially got bored and squished Japan's Sengoku Period and China's Three Kingdoms era together (represented by characters and areas from the Samurai Warriors and Dynasty Warriors series) in order to fight history's greatest warriors. Predictably, he's the final boss of every story mode but his own in the first two games and and is rather difficult to beat. Although it takes a fair amount to unlock Orochi in the first game, you're able to play him right off the bat in the second. And in both he's still about as absurdly powerful when you're in command of the giant snake man with the funny hat as he is as a boss.
    • The third game has for its Big Bad the more familiar form of Orochi called Hydra (lit. "demon snake"/Youja in Japanese), which is stated to be the actual Orochi's power running so wild after his defeat in the previous games that the heroes have to employ time travel shenanigans against it, but such is its power that its mere existence created a space-time rift that's preventing time travellers from just going to a time before its birth and further assimilating France's Hundred Years War and Greece's Trojan War (respectively represented by characters and areas from Bladestorm The Hundred Years War and Warriors: Legends Of Troy) as well as the universes of Ninja Gaiden/Dead or Alive, Trinity: Souls of Zill O'll, Soulcalibur and Arland of the Atelier multiverse in addition to the Sengoku and Three Kingdoms periods. The Ultimate expansion expanded Orochi's origin further: Instead of a demon out of nowhere, it turns out he used to a mythological Chinese Dragon, Yinglong, who rebelled against the Celestial Emperor because he saw the Emperor enslaving demons via a magic mirror and thinks that's terrible. Breaking the mirror to give the demons free will corrupted him into Orochi. Don't mind how doing such thing can change one's nationality.
  • Dragon Quest III: The portion taking place in Zipangu is a loose retelling of the Orochi myth, with your party in the place of Susanoo.
  • Metal Saga: The primary sidequest in the Japanese village has you take the role of Susano-o in a loose retelling of the myth. This is strange, as it's an After the End game.
  • In Tales of Berseria, the fifth Empyrean is called Innominat — or the Nameless Empyrean — and is described in ancient text as an eight-headed dragon that eats Malevolence. In the game, it's revealed that seven of the heads are Therions that represent and feed a certain type of Malevolence, which Innominat must devour to eventually awaken himself as the eighth head.
  • In Gotcha Force, the green-haired main antagonist although if you win all the optional missions against her she does join your side of the game was named Orochi. None of the Borgs she uses has anything to do with the actual creature (granted, the closest the game has to it are Dragon borgs). However, she does sometimes make a hissing noise when she is losing.
  • Tengai Makyou: Orochimaru is depicted as a pretty blue haired bishounen and one of the hero characters, Also a Jiraiya Goketsu Monogatari reference, as his partners are Jiraiya (although spelled differently, as Ziria) and Tsunade.
  • In Bleach DS: Blade of Fate and its sequel Dark Souls, Yamata no Orochi is Head Captain Yamamoto's ultimate attack, consisting of sending a large snake-like pillar of fire straight upwards, which then comes back down as eight smaller streams. Subverting the trope, this character is actually a protagonist and ally. Furthermore, his basic special attacks are all numbered heads. Useable are heads 1 through 5, though sound test data reveals there were heads 6 through 8 planned.
  • Final Fantasy: Orochis, sometimes winged and sometimes not, appear in several games as stronger, green Palette Swaps of the hydras. The one in Final Fantasy II's Soul of Rebirth mode in Final Fantasy I & II: Dawn of Souls, as an optional boss, is a Palette Swap of Tiamat instead.
  • Mega Man Zero 1 has the Guard Orotic, a Boss occupying a factory that La Résistance must take over. Two heads represent each of the three elements (fire, ice, lighting), while the last pair is non-elemental.
  • In Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom, the Orochi is actually a monster made of... bananas.
  • BlazBlue: The Black Beast bears a heavy resemblance to Orochi in its appearance. It was created from the Murakumo Unit (ν-13), and defeated by the wielder of The Susanoo Unit (Hakumen). It was a failed attempt to create the Kusanagi Unit, and destroy the Master Unit Amaterasu.
    • Phase 0 reveals that Celica A. Mercury was engineered to be a sacrifice to the Black Beast to temporarily halt its rampage through the use of Kushinada's Lynchpin. Oddly enough, the one who rescued her from this fate is not the Susanoo figure. The original Bloodedge fought against the Black Beast to ensure that her sacrifice would not be necessary.
    • Hazama / Terumi who helped make the Black Beast also invokes Orochi imagery; one of his attacks involve creating a swarm of snake heads behind him and he has a few attacks that, with Japanese language settings, namedrop the serpent. To make things even odder he used to be in the Susanoo Unit, and is actually the real god Susanoo.
  • In Otogi: Myth of Demons, the Yamata no Orochi (or its equivalent) is the guardian of the tower that separates the afterlife and life. Raikoh must climb the tower while avoiding the creature, as it is almost impossible to kill without the Moonlight Sword. If one has the sword, though, they can kill the Orochi in about one hit, and the prize for doing so is the Orchid Malevolence, a sword that kills everything in one hit, but also makes Raikoh a One-Hit-Point Wonder.
  • Onmyōji: Yamata-no-orochi appears as a Piñata Enemy of the mitama dungeons and the Greater-Scope Villain whom Yaobikuni serves.
  • Pokémon: Hydreigon is partially based on King Ghidorah, who is in turn based on Orochi.
  • In Len'en, there are siblings Adagumo no Yaorochi and Saragimaru who're youkai born from Yamata no Orochi's corpse. Yaorochi wants to restore the Kusanagi sword and provokes the incident. They are not evil whatsoever, it's just that they feel a connection with the sword because they were born from Orochi's arm.
  • In Asura's Wrath, the true form of Gohma Vlitra is an eight-headed Orochi made of rock and lava, and is probably the biggest depiction of an Orochi ever, literally having his heads so big they cover the entire circumference of planet earth. It makes the Yaiba version above seem tiny by comparison.
  • In The Secret World, the Orochi Group is the name of an Ambiguously Evil multinational megacorporation based in Tokyo.
  • Super Mario 3D World: King and Queen Hisstocrat. Their giant heads dressed in regal clothing emerge from the sands, and they can summon a maximum of seven smaller snakes each to help fight. Their smaller snakes are a different color than the Hisstocrats and you don't see them connect, but damaging the Hisstocrat causes all of their summoned snakes to take damage.
  • Senran Kagura: The Final Boss of the first game is called Orochi, where it is depicted as a female, humanoid snake construct with just five necks, with only one of its necks having a head. It is later explained that Orochi here is an yoma, and represents the grief of all of the Serpent Girls who have died. It is later revealed that the form Orochi took was an incomplete version of the true form, which turns out to look nothing like the creature of legend. It doesn't even look like a serpent in any way.
  • In Fire Emblem Fates, a recruitable character from the Hoshido kingdom is a spellcaster named Orochi. She doesn't seem to have lots of ties to Orochi itself save for the name and how she wears several hair decs, one of them being a huge golden comb.
  • In Smite since Susano is a playable deity, his lore obviously mentioned his feat of slaying Orochi (though it's never mentioned by its name, just 'the eight-headed serpent'). Likewise, in his winning animation, he's depicted of being attacked by an endless horde of giant serpent heads as a reference to Orochi... and he kills them over and over.
  • In Yo-Kai Watch, a yokai named Orochi (Venoct in English versions) is befriendable in the game's story. He doesn't share much of a resemblance to the giant eight-headed serpent, though his Soultimate is called Octo-Snake, referencing the yokai of legend. Yo-Kai Watch 2 introduces Slurpent (Yamaton in the original Japanese versions) who has only one head but also sports eight tongues as a reference to the original Orochi's eight heads.
  • Nioh: In a game with such a focus on yokai, it was only natural that Orochi would make an appearance, as a mutated, castle-sized Fusion Dance between Edward Kelley, his Guardian Spirit Uroboros and tons and tons of Amrita. The beast's eight heads spit globs of status-ailment causing element attacks, and while each ailment is its own flavor of annoying, it's very easy for them to add up to the disastrous Discord status.
  • Daily Life With Monster Girl Online, now defunct, had Kagachi, a Cute Monster Girl take on the legendary serpent. Her design is certainly unique: a bipedal, pretty girl in an elegant kimono with eight scaly tails, while her hair tapers off into seven live snake heads (and her human head makes eight). In keeping with the legend, in both of her Care artworks, she's plastered on sake.
  • In For Honor, the Orochi is an assassin hero for the Samurai faction, specializing in fast, mobile attacks with the katana. The Orochi dragon itself is represented by several symbols that Samurai classes can wear on their armor, as well as helmet ornaments and mask effects.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Destiny Ninja 2, it turns out that when Ayame Kushinada purifies the polluted symbols with the Sword of the Gathering Clouds of Heaven, it eats up her life force because her ancestor was a sacrifice to Orochi, and the sword was born from his body. The Orochi in this game is more of a good guy, and in one route he sacrifices himself to save Ayame and Yamato Island.

    Web Comics 
  • In Mutant Ninja Turtles Gaiden, the curse that caused the death of Splinter and devastated the turtles originated from the slaying of the Orochi and the creation of the swords Kusanagi and Tokuta, the latter being the cursed sword from the prologue.

    Web Originals 
  • In A Conspiracy of Serpents, it's revealed that Yamada is actually the legendary eight-headed dragon Yamata no Orochi, who caused mass destruction in Japan.

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