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Old 06-13-2007, 01:30 PM   #1
Recalcitrant Funkasaur
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Orochimaru The Significance of Orochimaru's Akatsuki Ring: An Essay

Warning: Not for those with short attention spans. It's not rocket science, but you can't be too careful on these forums. For those who don't like to read, there are pretty pictures! Woo!

Edit I: Thanks to jameshawking and devilbox.org, you have proper spoiler pics! A few more "pearls of wisdom" have been added. Some of the images will still be links, because NF forums only allows ten images max on any one post.

Edit II: Devilbox appears to be dead, so I've uploaded all the relevant manga extracts to my photobucket account. This post should make sense once again! Huzzah!

Orochimaru and the Void


A short introduction and the five elements of the godai:

In most legends and games that involve Ninjas, the Shinobi follow a certain fighting and movement style that is based on one of the Five Rings.



When I say "one of the Five Rings", I mean the Japanese Legend of the Five Rings: five powers, or elements, that make the world as it is and keep it in balance. Those Five Rings are: Earth, Water, Fire, Wind, and Void. Every living thing has a bit of each of these elements in them (some a little bit more of one element than others). They work in harmony and provide powerful raw energy.

Traditionally, the Japanese godai elemental hierarchy stands thus in ascending order of power:

Earth, Water, Fire, Wind, and finally, Void.

It is final and most powerful element we will be concerned with here, Void, or "Kuu".

There are quite a few sites which translate the character on Orochimaru's Akatsuki ring as "sora" "sky". That's all very well and good, because if we take a look at the character, it is immediately apparent that it has many yomi and can mean several things:



KŪ: sky, empty, void
a(keru): to empty, leave blank
kara, kara(ppo): empty
muna(shii): empty, vain, futile
sora: sky
su(ku), a(ku): to be empty, unoccupied
utsuke: empty-headed
utsu(ro): hollow, blank


In this little mini-essay, the first meaning, kuu, will be examined with intent to explain the significance of Orochimaru's Akatsuki ring, and, perhaps, if I'm lucky, to shed light on how this element, Void, fits him to an absolute T.


Characteristics of Kuu:

According to Wikipedia:

Quote:
"Kuu, most often translated as "Void", but also meaning "sky" or "Heaven", represents those things beyond our everyday experience, particularly those things composed of pure energy. Atoms, their component particles, and atomic forces fall under this category, as do people in a higher state of consciousness. Bodily, kuu represents spirit, thought, and creative energy. It represents our ability to think and to communicate, as well as our creativity. It can also be associated with power, creativity, spontaneity, and inventiveness."
I can hardly think of a more fitting description for the snake sannin.

"Those things beyond our everyday experience, particularly those things composed of pure energy. Atoms, their component particles, and atomic forces fall under this category, as do people in a higher state of consciousness."

Bodiless entities, the houseless, or spirits, traditionally fall into this category in Oriental philosophy. The easiest way to explain it is to quote Wang Chi's uncle from Big Trouble in Little China, when he is telling Jack Burton about Lo Pan. He describes Lo Pan thus: "His flesh and his bones are atomized. He becomes... a dream."

Orochimaru, having successfully completed his Fushi Tensei after years of experimentation, has attained a similar state of existence. No longer possessing a body of his own - his flesh and bones having become "atomized" - he has attained a "higher" level of existence and has become a "life force", so to speak - a malevolent entity composed of pure energy, trapped in a world of formlessness. His continuing existence (if you can call it that) is most definitely beyond our everyday experience, and, perhaps, if the debates raging in the forum are anything to go by, beyond our comprehension.

The void is so fundamental to his existence that he even creates one inside himself - a separate dimension - within which he can perform the body transfer ritual (note particularly the first panel):

Spoiler:


More "void-like" characteristics are hinted at by Kabuto in chs. 356 and 357. After the botched attempt at his body transfer technique, Orochimaru is even less tied to this world. Kabuto describes Orochimaru as:

Spoiler:


Spoiler:


"A living symbol of reincarnation." A truly "amazing life force."

A symbol. A life force. Both de-humanising descriptions placing emphasis on Orochimaru's lingering existence as the malevolent, deathless entity. Moreover, that the very life-force of Orochimaru can still exert considerable power - even down to a single cell or atom, as can be seen by the way the life-force of Orochimaru is regenerating within Kabuto - hearkens back to the characteristics of atomisation and the pure energy of the void.

Spiritually, I would say Orochimaru fulfills all the criteria for owning that ring.

Second, according to wikipedia:

Quote:
"Bodily, kuu represents spirit, thought, and creative energy. It represents our ability to think and to communicate, as well as our creativity. It can also be associated with power, creativity, spontaneity, and inventiveness."
There aren't many in the Narutoverse who could rival the snake sannin in terms of creative energy. The result of it? Well... just look at these poor saps:

Spoiler:


And this is perhaps the most hilarious (or vicious - depends how you look at it) moment of spontaneity in the whole manga:

Spoiler:




One cannot deny that Orochimaru is a thinker, either, as the following rather twisted pearls of wisdom from the snake sannin illustrate:



Spoiler:






Spoiler:


Spoiler:


And as for his power... well... if you think Orochimaru is weak, then I sincerely believe you've been reading a different manga from the rest of us. KN4/MK - need I say more? Whether he is the strongest is debatable (and that very same dead horse has been repeatedly flogged in these forums and elsewhere) but that he is a powerful and highly intelligent ninja is a given.

Very, very short conclusion:

Both bodily and spiritually, then, Orochimaru may be said to embody the very essence of "kuu", the fifth and most powerful and mysterious element of Japanese philosophy. And personally, I think that he had every damn right to run away with that ring, seeing as he probably realised himself that it fits him so very well. I mean, come on, why else would he resort to carrying his manky, old hand around with him?



In the great Buddhist tradition, everything is connected, and in the case of this ring, there is some sort of significance relating to the character, I would say. He is connected to it. It is connected to him. They are one and the same. They are the void.

Tout se tient.

Thanks for reading.
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Co-owner of the Naruto Scholars' FC :: Proud member of the Orochimaru FC :: Fanfic - A Day in the Life :: Fanfic - Oro-chan :: Essay - The Significance of Orochimaru's Akatsuki Ring

Last edited by Recalcitrant Funkasaur : 10-13-2007 at 12:21 PM. Reason: Re-jigging the links (once again) and adding two more pearls of wisdom.
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