The Emperor’s wife (Keaki Mori) has given birth to twins, Osu and Ousu. The Emperor’s evil spiritualist, Tsukinowa (Hiroshi Abe) tells Emperor Keiko (Saburo Shinoda) that legend says the second born of twins is evil. The Emperor orders Tsukinowa to kill Ousu. The child is saved by Amano Shiratori, the White Bird of the Heavens and brought to the emperor’s sister. The sister protects the child and raises it. When Ousu is ten he enters a forbidden cave and is given an amulet by a mysterious god.
When Ousu is an adult he is allowed back into the King’s palace. Soon after his mother takes ill and dies. Ousu’s brother Osu blames Ousu and attacks him. Ousu kills his brother defending himself. The Emperor blames Ousu for both deaths and orders him to defeat the barbarians living to the north in Kumaso and kill their leader Kumaso Takeru (Hiroski Fujioka). On his mission he is joined by his childhood guardians, Genbu (Bengal) and Seiryu (Miyahi Ishibashi). Along the way they meet Ototachibana, "Oto", (Yasuko Sawaguchi) a priestess of the shrine of the White Bird. She also practices magic. The four of them head to Kumaso. Ousu kills Kumaso Takeru and defeats his god Kumasogami. He then changes his name to Yamato Takeru.
When he returns home Yamato’s aunt tells him that the evil god Tsukuyomi is returning. She tells him to bring her the Sword of Dark Clouds for safekeeping. Tsukinowa, who has the sword, tries to stop Yamato by conjuring the water god Kaishin Muba. Yamato defeats him but Oto dies. Yamato is then tricked by Tsukinowa who regains the sword. Yamato learns that Tsukinowa is the one who actually killed his mother and brother.
The evil god Tsukuyomi, who has been traveling through space encased in ice, is released from his prison and ends up on the moon. Tsukinowa returns the sword to him. Yamato is told by the god Susano-o that he is the one chosen to defeat Tsukuyomi. Oto is reincarnated as the sun goddess Amaterasu. Yamato and Oto are transported to the moon to battle Tsukuyomi who turns himself into the eight headed dragon Orochi.
“Orochi, the Eight-Headed Dragon” was released in 1994 and was directed by Takao Okawara. It is a Japanese fantasy film based on Japanese mythology and was produced by TOHO. It is referred to as a remake of TOHO’s film “The Three Treasures” 1959.
There are a couple versions of the film available, an English dubbed version with Americanized names, and a Japanese film with English subtitles. The film was supposed to be part of a trilogy but disappointing box office returns resulted in the cancellation of the other two films.
It takes quite a while for the eight headed dragon to show up, but in the meantime there are a couple neat looking monsters for Takeru to battle. The monsters themselves are done especially nice. There is quite a bit of action in the film as well. With a well told story and some nice monsters you’re not too upset that Orochi’s appearance is late in the game. Granted the dragon/hero fight was on the short side but I was OK with that since I had several other monsters for appetizers.
The special effects were OK. Some were better than others. TOHO has never been really good with flying people. The monsters were better. There were also some hints at other mythologies that I’m sure people will notice. Just about every mythology has a story about twins. All in all a fun and enjoyable film.
In Japanese mythology Orochi AKA Yamato Takeru was an eight headed, eight tailed serpent who liked alcohol and human flesh. The dragon was so large that its body was a wide as eight valleys and eight hills. It also had Fir and Cypress trees growing on its back. The legend states that the storm god Susano-o came to Earth and came upon a crying couple. When asked why they were crying they told him that they once had eight daughters but were forced to sacrifice a daughter each year to Orochi. Now they had only one daughter left. Susano-o said he would slay Orochi for their daughter’s hand in marriage. They agreed. To outwit the dragon Susano-o put out eight vats of Saki on eight raised platforms behind eight gates surrounded by a fence. Orochi slithered into the fence and drank the wine. After he fell asleep Susano-o killed Orochi by slicing him into pieces finding a sword inside the beast, apparently the Sword of Dark Clouds.