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Orochimaru by Masashi Kishimoto
|First appearance||Naruto manga chapter 45 |
Naruto anime episode 27
|Voiced by||Japanese |
Yuriko Yamaguchi (as Grass ninja)
Mayumi Yamaguchi (as a child)
Sachiko Kojima (as his female body)
Steven Jay Blum
Mary Elizabeth McGlynn (as Grass ninja)
Michelle Ruff (as his female
In the anime and manga, Orochimaru is a former ninja of the village of Konohagakure, and leads his own ninja village, Otogakure, in hopes of destroying his former home. During his time in Konohagakure, Orochimaru distinguished himself as one of the village's most powerful ninja; however, his desire for power led him to obtain a means for immortality by transferring between different host bodies. This desire for a host is one of his driving motivations throughout the series, resulting in his desire to acquire Sasuke Uchiha due to his powerful genetic heritage. Orochimaru has appeared in media outside the Naruto anime and manga, including several video games.
Several anime and manga publications have praised and criticized Orochimaru's character. As one of the series' premier villains, he has been praised in this regard; IGN compared his character to Darth Vader of Star Wars fame. His lack of redeeming qualities and open malevolence was also praised by reviewers, with Mania.com calling him the "first real villain" of the series. Among the Naruto reader base, Orochimaru has been popular, ranking within the top twenty characters in several polls. Numerous pieces of merchandise in Orochimaru's likeness have also been released, including action figures and plush dolls.
 Creation and conceptionAs one of the villains in the story, Kishimoto created Orochimaru as an antithesis to the protagonists' values. His snake-like appearance and related features were intended to make it easier for the reader to recognize that he is a villain. In an interview, Kishimoto asserted that making the villains "flamboyant" was one of his "guiding principles," and attributed this to his desire to have the villains have a "powerful aura." When asked if Orochimaru was still good, Kishimoto answered that Orochimaru is "truly good" and that he is one of the several "hopeless evil characters" that appear in the series.
Following this theme of distinguishing villains, Kishimoto attempted to make Orochimaru's face appear "pasty and sickly," which serves to emphasize the "scary looks" that Kishimoto frequently has Orochimaru performing in the manga. Orochimaru's nature type is fire, earth, and wind. As these occurrences are his "trademark," Kishimoto modifies Orochimaru's appearance and the scene to focus on Orochimaru's face; for instance, highlights that are normally added to Orochimaru's hair are removed and the background is blanked out to create a "creepy atmosphere."
 Character outline
 BackgroundUnlike most other Naruto characters, whose backgrounds are told in chronological order over a consecutive series of chapters, small portions of Orochimaru's past are explored throughout the series. After his parents died when he was young, Orochimaru's only source of affection was received from his teacher, the Third Hokage, and his two teammates. As they grew older Orochimaru, Jiraiya, and Tsunade collectively became known as the "Legendary Three Ninja" (伝説の三忍 Densetsu no Sannin ) due to their exemplary ninja abilities. Orochimaru, however, craved more power than could be obtained from training with his master, and began abducting villagers of Konohagakure for experimentation. He simultaneously applied for the title of Hokage, the village's protector, hoping that the position would give him access to new abilities. The Third, though wishing to pass the name of Hokage to his favorite student, could not bring himself to knowingly satisfy Orochimaru's lust for power, and thus gave the position to Jiraiya's student Minato Namikaze, the Fourth Hokage.
No longer having a reason to keep face in Konoha, Orochimaru was less discreet about his abductions and experimentations, giving the Third the opportunity to discover what he was doing. Unwilling to bring himself to harm Orochimaru, the Third allowed him to escape and flee the village. In time Orochimaru joined the criminal organization Akatsuki, where he tried to get close to and steal the body of Itachi Uchiha so as to gain the Sharingan. When Itachi was easily able to repel his efforts, Orochimaru was forced to flee the organization. With Akatsuki now seeking to assassinate him due to his knowledge of their organization, Orochimaru founded his own ninja village, Otogakure, populated with ninja loyal to him. There he continued his experimentations uninhibited, gaining the means to make all his dreams of power come true.
 PersonalityOrochimaru's various human experiments take place so as to serve two purposes, most prominent of which is his desire to learn every jutsu in the Naruto world. Jiraiya speculates that this is due to the fact that his parents died when he was at a very young age, and flashbacks shown during his battle with the Third Hokage speak to this effect. Perhaps because he wanted to see his parents or as a means of avenging their deaths, he experiments on others to see what kind of modifications the human body can endure and to otherwise harness a subject's unique abilities for himself. Once accomplishing this goal, Orochimaru hopes to be worthy of the title of "ultimate being". Because a human's lifespan does not allow enough time to learn every jutsu, Orochimaru also experiments on others so as to achieve immortality. By living throughout the ages, Orochimaru need never worry about death and thus all the knowledge he gains will never be lost.
Above all else, Orochimaru cares only for himself and his subordinate Kabuto. He grows bored when there is no conflict or violence in the world, and immediately strikes fear into others when they first meet him. Though he has a number of followers who would do anything for him, Orochimaru treats most of them as mere pawns, save for his right-hand-man, Kabuto Yakushi. He does not hesitate to send them to their deaths for his own personal benefit, and only finds remorse in their loss if they are unable to properly complete a task. To win over these followers to their disposable status, Orochimaru approaches them with promises of making their dreams, such as obtaining power, revenge, or a purpose to their lives, come true. He applies a cursed seal to many of his stronger subordinates in order to corrode their body and mind, making them more susceptible to his influence and control.
 Abilitiessnakes. By summoning them to his side during battle, Orochimaru can battle multiple opponents at once and simultaneously keep himself out of harm's way. Through his experimentations he has also been able to add some snake-like characteristics to his own body, such as shedding his body to escape injury or extending parts of his body to great lengths. Of the more common of his snake-related abilities, Orochimaru possesses the Kusanagi sword (草薙の剣 Kusanagi no Tsurugi , English TV "The Grass Long Sword"), an extendable blade that he stores within a snake that is in turn stored in his own mouth, and does not tend to remove it from his mouth when attacking.
The influence snakes have had on Orochimaru is most evident in the results of his immortality research: after years of study and self-modifications, Orochimaru's "true" form has become that of a giant white snake that is composed of many smaller snakes. To live forever and escape death, Orochimaru first finds a new body that will act as his own. He then leaves the confines of the body he is inhabiting, revealing his true form. Once doing so, Orochimaru needs only to consume the new body and gain dominance over the soul of its current inhabitant, thus gaining complete control and access to all the body's unique abilities. While inhabiting this body, Orochimaru typically wears a mask of his original face, it being both his personal preference and for easier recognition by those who know him. Orochimaru can only perform this body-transfer once every three years, at which point in time weaker bodies begin to reject him and therefore necessitate he find a new body.
 Plot overviewOrochimaru acts as the primary antagonist for the first part of the series, planning the invasion and eventual destruction of Konoha so that he can kill the Third Hokage and gain the body of Itachi Uchiha's brother, Sasuke Uchiha.. When the Third is able to fight back during their battle and take away Orochimaru's ability to perform jutsu, he is forced to put his plans for Sasuke on hold, calling off Konoha's invasion and pulling his forces back. Wanting to regain the ability to use jutsu, Orochimaru seeks out a way to cure himself. When all his efforts prove unsuccessful, Orochimaru sends his Sound Four to fetch Sasuke, hoping that a body-transfer will undo the Third's seal. Though he waits as long as he can, Sasuke takes too long to arrive and Orochimaru is forced to switch to the body of one of his prisoners instead. Once Sasuke arrives, Orochimaru begins molding him into the ideal body, coveting the day that he will be able to take the body for himself.
Two-and-a-half years later, in the second part of the series, Orochimaru prepares to take Sasuke's body. Orochimaru, being in a severely weakened state due to his need of a new host body, has no other choice but to proceed with the body-switch sooner than expected. Sasuke, unwilling to give himself up to a weakened Orochimaru, fights the attempted body-switch. Using the Sharingan to void Orochimaru's technique, Sasuke retains control of his body while trapping Orochimaru's soul within him, giving him access to many of Orochimaru's abilities in the process. In the aftermath of Orochimaru's defeat one of his subordinates, Kabuto Yakushi, absorbs his remains, which have since begun to slowly take over Kabuto's body. During Sasuke's later fight with Itachi, Sasuke is left too weak to continue suppressing Orochimaru's spirit, allowing Orochimaru to escape and try to take his body again. Before he can do so, Itachi, using the legendary sword of Totsuka, traps him in an inescapable dream-like realm, robbing Orochimaru of his chance to gain the Sharingan and releasing Sasuke from his influence. A single snake escapes the sealing and attempts to flee into the surrounding forest, only to be consumed by the black fires of Amaterasu.
 Appearances in other mediaOrochimaru so far has only appeared in the fifth Naruto film, Naruto Shippūden 2: Bonds. He is not present in the other four films in the series, nor any of the original video animations; however, is a playable character in nearly all Naruto video games, including the Clash of Ninja series and the Ultimate Ninja series. In some games, he utilizes variations of his techniques not seen in the anime or manga, and in the second installment of the Ultimate Ninja series, his state after his arms were sealed by the Third Hokage is available as a separate character. Naruto Shippūden: Gekitou Ninja Taisen EX 2 marks the first appearance of Orochimaru in a video game set in Part II, with the second one being Naruto Shippūden: Narutimate Accel.
 ReceptionOrochimaru has been featured consistently in the Weekly Shonen Jump popularity polls, commonly placing in the top twenty characters. The last such poll was in 2006, in which Orochimaru was in 24th place. Merchandise based on Orochimaru has also been released, including action figures, plush dolls, and key chains.
Several publications for manga, anime, video games, and other related media have provided praise and criticism on Orochimaru's character. IGN compared Orochimaru's search for power and subsequent fall into villainy to that of Darth Vader, and labeled Orochimaru as "something more than just pure evil." Mania.com considered Orochimaru the "first real villain" of the series, noting that he had no redeeming qualities, as versus Zabuza Momochi, the villain of the previous arc. DVDTalk celebrated the introduction of Orochimaru into the series, as well as the potential plot development from the curse seal Orochimaru placed on Sasuke, noting it was one of the best parts of the series. Instead, Anime News Network labeled Orochimaru to be a character that can not be killed. However, they considered Kujira, Orochimaru's Japanese voice actor, as one of the best ones from the series. Orochimaru's fight against Sasuke in Part II was praised by Mangalife's Park Cooper due to how it changes "the nature of things" in a short time.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Orochimaru|
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