Ninetails

         Okami is, by pretty much every account, a visually stunning game, with good reason. The premise is that you play as the Japanese god Amaterasu, usually called Ammy here, who is fighting to banish the evil forces covering the land and restore the true nature of the land around her, which has become dark and vile. And when I say vile, I mean normal humans are turned to stone and Ammy herself, despite being a god, has her life slowly ripped away until she dies or leaves the polluted area. Yikes.
        As that may tell you, Ammy is definitely not an all-powerful god like one may imagine. In fact, her power does have a fairly defined limitation in that gods derive their power in this setting from faith and belief. How does she get this? By restoring nature and helping people. So not only is restoring things it’s own reward in that you can move about where you previously could not, it makes you stronger too! And the transformation of the land is breathtakingly beautiful, to boot.
        As Ammy travels, she also encounters other gods who give her various techniques, which are all used via the brush screen. Essentially she can use a Celestial Brush to alter things around her. The player uses the Wiimote to draw what they wish to happen. A straight horizontal line, for instance, produces a slashing attack wherever the line is applied.
        In any case, partway through Ammy’s journey she comes to Ryoshima Coast, and more specifically Sei’an City. The place is covered in a miasma that saps the lives of everyone inside, and with some help from a priestess named Rao, Amaterasu manages to remove the demon causing it, aptly named Blight. However, there is a bigger issue. The source of Blight and other demons that have been attacking the coast is Oni Island, a demonic isle that appears during the day somewhere, then vanishes at sunset. Compounding this is that the Water Dragon, a divine creature that is supposed to protect the Coast, has gone berserk.
        Naturally, the two problems are linked. The ruler of Oni Island fought the Water Dragon before Ammy arrived, and though the dragon lost, it stole the Fox Rods from the demon lord, weakening their power. While that is good, the dark magic of the Fox Rods drove the Water Dragon insane, leading to the current situation.
        In order to reach Oni Island stop the demon threat, two things must happen; first Oni Island’s current location must be discovered, and something powerful must be used to break the barrier around it. It turns out the Water Dragon both contains the Dragon Orb, which can be used to locate the island, and it itself is strong enough to break the seal.
        After meeting with underwater inhabitants of the Dragon Palace, Amaterasu is given the means to enter the dragon itself and obtain the Orb. While she does so, she also claims the Fox Rods, which would calm the dragon, except… well, it turns out the Dragon Orb is effectively the creature’s heart. Taking it means death.
        Ammy meets Rao shortly after the poor creature’s death, who takes the Fox Rods from her, saying they are a holy object and she will use them for good purposes. Given the name of this post and that they are called Fox Rods, you may have already deduced something isn’t right about this. Clever reader. When Ammy goes to see the ruler of Sei’an City, who can use the Orb, they find her dead, slain by Rao, who is in fact the lord of Oni Island in disguise, Ninetails.
        After a brief fight, Ninetails flees, and Ammy communes with the queen’s spirit, who gives them the current location of Oni Island. They head to the coast, where they find the queen of Dragon Palace, Otohime. Her husband had been the previous Water Dragon, and she uses her magic to change into another one to provide Ammy her gateway into the island. After evading the island’s traps and defeating its guardians, Amaterasu finds herself on its roof, with a strange constellation shining overhead.
        Previously in the game, such constellations indicate a god is nearby, who Ammy can call down by connecting the stars with her brush, and it must be done here too. But rather than a god, Ninetails appears to do battle. Ninetails appears as a giant, obviously nine-tailed fox wearing a white mask with red markings, similar to the white coloration and markings found on the gods throughout the game.
        As you likely realize, Ninetails is a mythological kitsune, more accurately a nogitsune. Kitsune tend to be defined into two categories. There are divine ones that serve Inari, god of foxes and rice, which serve the god’s will and generally are a good omen, warding off evil. And those that do not serve Inari, nogitsune, tend to be vile-minded and cause mischief and chaos wherever they go. Ninetails clearly falls in the latter category because of all the destruction she has caused. Also, while she does serve a god, Yami, it is a god of darkness that has been causing all of the game’s issues from the beginning, so she still falls under a nogitsune since that’s basically a evil kitsune that brings misfortune.
        And on a side note, yes, I am aware there is something of a debate as to Ninetails’ gender is. Even though she took on the form of a slain priestess for her own use, that may not automatically make her female. However, even though she is said to be the ‘Lord of Ryoshima Coast’, that could easily be gender-neutral. Lady just doesn’t have the same intimidation factor, after all. Plus, the voice grunts her dialogue makes sound feminine to me. So since it’s easier to assume Ninetails is female, that’s what I’m going with. Moving on.
        Ninetails also shows herself to be rather blasphemous. I mean, aside from fighting a god in the first place, obviously. For a start, she appears in the same manner as the gods, essentially claiming herself to be their equal. She mocks Ammy before the battle, referring to her as a ‘false’ god. Not only that, during the actual battle, Ninetails fights with similar moves to Ammy herself, albeit the nogitsune’s attacks are comparatively larger and stronger due to the size difference. She also can have her tails come out of the ground and spit acid to limit your movement.
        Further, she seems to have similar brush abilities to Ammy. Aside from using the dark sword Ninestrike similar to one Ammy can use, if the goddess tries to use her brush techniques and she takes too long, Ninetails will scribble over her markings to nullify them. Then she will draw her own, allowing her to produce bombs, terrible winds, and ice storms just as Amaterasu can. Oddly, she only makes use of this to counter Ammy, and you have to be pretty slow for her to do this, which suggests to me that Ninetails likely isn’t as good at it or is inexperienced in the power.
        Speaking of that weapon Ninetails uses, Ninestrike is indeed her real weak point. She’ll occasionally raise it to the sky for a powerful attack, at which point Ammy can direct a lightning bolt into it, and thus into Ninetails. This will shatter the nogitsune into nine souls that scatter across the battlefield. Each one destroyed will remove a tail, until she is down to one.
        At this point her mask will shatter, revealing her to be a old looking, battered, one tailed fox lacking in many of her previous powers. The battlefield will also change. Where before it was a cloudy abyss similar to the scenery where gods appear, now that illusion fades, revealing the roof of Ninetails’ castle.
        At this point hitting her with lightning as before will do massive damage, and she will occasionally stop to catch her breath. All of this shows that, as previously stated, the bulk of Ninetails’ power came from the Fox Rods, including her other eight tails, stamina, and ability to, well, survive getting hit by lightning. She is faster now, but ultimately much less of a threat. Also, a side note, there are torches scattered about, but she is immune to fire, even now. Kitsune are known to produce foxfire, after all.
        Why she lacks the other tails is a bit of a mystery, since there’s nothing to say kitsune can lose tails, but I have a theory. It’s said that a kitsune gains a new tail every one hundred years, which could mean Ninetails is simply not two hundred yet. This would explain why you do not fight her in disguise or otherwise until she gets the Rods back- she would lack the vast majority of her magical power and thus be little threat.
        This would also go a way to explain her temperament- being a very young fox by kitsune standards, she would feel the need to appear stronger and more threatening than she is, to belittle her foes, and so comes in what I can only call a superiority complex with the gods. She uses illusions and magic to appear god-like, mimicking the appearance of a god and before that a priestess, despite mocking the gods herself, even going as far as to acquire some of the same skills Ammy can use, all to show herself as a ‘true’ god and Amaterasu as false.
        Ultimately of course, Ninetails is defeated, for all her illusions, magic, and much vaunted power. As the narration says, peace is restored to Ryoshima Coast. For all her boasting, in the end she comes off as less of Ammy’s opposite or equal, matching her power, than as braggart who tried to measure up to the goddess and failed, since her power came not from herself but from the Fox Rods. She was not an equal, but a inferior copy, a paper tiger that could appear threatening, but in the end crumples.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Ninetails

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s