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|“||It all began long ago, with a simple dream of a villain, who was clinging to life. A prisoner in his own body. Kikyo, to claim this beautiful priestess as his own and escape this dark cave. That was the villain's only desire. He fed his body to demons to fulfill that wish. Many demons were drawn to the villain's body, there they were united as one. Thus, Naraku was born.||„|
|~ Naraku narrating his origin|
|“||I have often heard you humans refer to this as fate or destiny. Only the weak utter such nonsense. It is different for the truly powerful: they create this so-called destiny with their own hands.||„|
|~ Naraku to Kikyo.|
Naraku is the main antagonist of the manga/anime series InuYasha, being responsible for almost every atrocity and misfortune in the series. He is a spider hanyō who was born from the human named Onigumo, and various other yōkai. He was directly responsible for the death of Kikyō and the seal placed on Inuyasha. Naraku desired the Shikon Jewel, a jewel that would be able to grant him near-invincibility should he acquire all the pieces of it. He desired the jewel to purge his half-human self from his body, and enhance his strength even further.
He is voiced by Toshiyuki Morikawa in the Japanese dubbed version of the anime, and Paul Dobson in the English dubbed version. The former whom had also voiced Yoshikage Kira, Lord Boros, Mard Geer Tartaros, Sephiroth, and Griffith while the latter of whom also voices Graham Aker and Happosai. and Shi Hoo Hong in the Korean dubbed version.
When Naraku first appeared in the series, he wore a white baboon cloak-like outfit that hid his face. He was a shapeshifter and as such, no one knew what he actually looked like. As Naraku wanted a temporary body to remain in the world, he then killed and possessed the young lord Kagewaki Hitomi, and kept that form for the rest of the series. Because he took over Kagewaki's body, he has Kagewaki's long black hair and pale skin, as well as his build and voice. The only difference between them is their eyes; while Kagewaki's eyes are brown, Naraku's are red with white pupils with blue eyeshadow. Later on, he dresses in a simple, common outfit. It was dark blue with a purple vest on top.
Once he had gained more power during his state of dormancy at Mount Hakurei, his appearance changed completely. His outfit then turned purple and light blue, but with boned armor. It has three green tail-like tentacle arms coming from his back, sporting several large hoop bones leading to a red-eye on his chest, and two gauntlets with eyes at the wrist and backhand of his arms. After he absorbed Mōryōmaru, he gained a gigantic spike of diamond armor on his right arm with his tentacles and the majority of his bone armor being discarded, leaving only his gauntlets on his arms (minus the four eyes) along with his chest eye remaining. After Kikyō's death, the spike was discarded and his current form became a simpler version of his post-Mount Hakurei outfit, though he gains dark spikes arching over his shoulders.
When he absorbed the Jewel, he became a gigantic spider with eight large horizontal "fangs" and an armored abdomen, his core form within the spider however, was his true body with tentacles connecting him to the spider form. During the final battle, he turned into his normal form but with several diamonds forming the armor and a gigantic armored spider web that replaced the connecting tentacles, he then took on an oni-like appearance and his hair turned white, he also gained a rib cage on his body, but this form was just a head. After Kagome shot him with her arrow, he was reduced to a head with a spine and his face returned to normal. His dead form within the Shikon Jewel was his head and a giant spider web, though it had a more normal appearance.
|“||You and I may be nothing alike, but we are both half-demons! That means that in both of us, there is a human heart and a demon heart, Naraku! But you have betrayed that! We were both given the freedom to choose: to follow our human heart or our demon heart. And you chose to live as a demon, ignoring all that was human in you. You chose to hurt others, and curse them with misery and suffering, but your days of hurting my friends are over you miserable bastard!||„|
|~ Inuyasha to Naraku, about the differences between the two Half-Demons.|
Throughout the series, Naraku was consistently portrayed as incredibly cruel, sadistic, and manipulative, taking great delight in destroying the bonds and lives of others, such as when he tricked Inuyasha and Kikyo into thinking they had betrayed each other, causing them to fight. He rarely took responsibility for any of his actions, often twisting details to make it seem like others were to blame, such as when he mocked Inuyasha and Kikyo for not trusting each other enough to see through his deception. While highly intelligent and cunning, he became too much conceited and ostentatious at times, especially when he obtained any new power. His overconfidence got himself cornered many times, such as when Inuyasha's Red Tessaiga broke his barrier for the first time, leaving him entirely shocked. Naraku had a cowardly streak too and often fled from a battle when his foes had turned the tables on him.
Above all else, Naraku was power-hungry and narcissistic, desiring only power and sheer dominance over others. He bore nothing but contempt and disgust towards all other beings. He considered himself superior in every aspect, which can be noted in almost all of the sarcastic remarks he made, especially towards Inuyasha and the humans, despite being a hanyō himself. It became Naraku's sole occupation to cause as much pain and misery to humans and yōkai alike as possible, such as when he placed the Wind Tunnel curse on Miroku's grandfather, which later passed on to his father and Miroku too, or using a shard of the Shikon Jewel to brainwash Sango's brother Kohaku, forcing him to do his bidding.
Naraku superficially appeared to lack the ability to understand bonds such as love, best displayed when he was unable to understand why, no matter what he forced the brainwashed Kohaku to do, Sango simply refused to kill him. However, Kagome eventually pointed out that he actually could understand them more than he let on, as he couldn't have done all the horrible things to people he did if he didn't understand what it was like to have a bond with someone or feel the pain of heartbreak.
Furthermore, as Kagome pointed out, Naraku's cruel manipulations, especially towards people with bonds of love was rooted in his own misery about his own shallow existence. Naraku was pained by seeing mutual loving relationships as it reminded him that his own love for Kikyo went unfulfilled. Thus the envious Naraku devoted his life to destroying love from family, friends to lovers, and even trying to rid himself of his own human emotions, all to feel better about his own lack of love and convince himself that love was fake anyway.
She and Inuyasha both stated that this made him irredeemably evil, since he was well-aware of the nature and pain caused by his actions, but just didn't care and did them anyway.
Naraku is responsible for most of the characters' misfortunes, including the death of Kikyo, the sealing of Inuyasha to the sacred tree, Miroku's curse, and the death of Sango's family.
Naraku's origin lays in the human, Onigumo. Onigumo was a selfish bandit who lived a life full of sin and void of love. When Onigumo was disfigured and crippled, Kikyo felt pity for him and continued to take care of him, even when he tried to push her. Onigumo secretly fell for her, but was pained that she loved Inuyasha, and his belief that a pure miko would never love a wicked man like him. Driven by frustrated lust for Kikyo and envy towards Inuyasha, Onigumo drew a horde of weak demons that loathed Kikyo and made a bargain with them: they could eat his flesh, and the demons would combine into one entity to become part of that new body. With this, Onigumo could kill Inuyasha and capture Kikyo until she agreed to return his love.
However, the resulting half-demon promptly caused Kikyo's death in an attempt to corrupt and possess the Shikon Jewel-his intent being that she would use the jewel to save herself and thus both would be corrupted and be his. Unlike other Half-Demons, he can choose what time will he lose his powers, however he reverts to a head attached to multiple demons. During this time he discards the weaker demons that he's attached to.
Naraku is driven by three goals: To become a full demon, to possess a fully-corrupted Shikon Jewel, and to possess Kikyo. The third goal is rooted in Onigumo's heart as a vital part of Naraku's body, causing an obsession with Kikyo that prevents him from killing her. He attempts to rid himself of Onigumo's heart multiple times, ultimately separating it into globs of flesh he leaves in Mount Hakurei. With his heart freed from his obsession, he is able to later kill Kikyo.
On his final death, he faintly remembered why he made the bargain in the first place and expressed regret at never being able to have Kikyo for his own in life and even in the afterlife. Naraku then wishes for Kagome to be sealed within the jewel and to be trapped with him.
His post death fate differs in the manga and anime. In the manga, Inuyasha chooses to destroy the Jewel forever, also causing the spirits of Naraku and the Demon of the Jewel, sealed within the Jewel, to cease existing, preventing them from even going to the afterlife.
In the anime, Kagome was able to wish the Shikon Jewel out of existence and freeing all the spirits trapped within it to go their resting place, when the purifying light hit Naraku's soul, cleansing him of all evil, he felt at peace for the first time as he faded away into the afterlife.
Throughout the series, Naraku creates many subordinate beings from his own body to aid his goal of killing his opponents and reuniting the shards of the Shikon Jewel, whose corrupted form he hopes to use to gain ultimate power. To prevent these offshoots from ever betraying or even separating him, Naraku held the hearts of his creations and would squeeze their hearts to keep them in line.
Powers and Abilities
- High Intellect: Naraku was very intellectual and knowledgeable of the various individuals and powers that existed within the Feudal Era which he could use to his advantage. Whenever there came a hurdle in his pursuit of obtaining a complete corrupt Shikon Jewel that he himself couldn't overcome on his own, Naraku usually set out to gather information and intelligence in order to use them to his advantage. His knowledge and intelligence gathering was as such that he usually knew about a certain individual and their unique abilities some time before he confronted them to make use of them before they even realized it.
- Manipulation: Naraku was shown to be a master at manipulating demons and humans alike. Throughout the series, he manipulated many people to get what he wanted without getting his own hands dirty. Possibly the most important instance of his manipulation was when he tricked Inuyasha and Kikyō into thinking they had betrayed each other. Naraku transformed into Inuyasha, cut Kikyō down, and fatally wounded her. He then transformed into Kikyō and attacked Inuyasha. This caused Inuyasha to feel resentment toward Kikyō and he went to go steal the Sacred Jewel. Kikyō, in turn, thought that Inuyasha had betrayed her and used the last of her strength and spiritual power to shoot a sealing arrow at Inuyasha, which pinned him to the Sacred Tree for 50 years. This, ultimately, was to make the Sacred Jewel tainted for Naraku and to get rid of both Kikyō and Inuyasha. This one instance put the entire series in motion and set Inuyasha and the others on their quest to destroy him. Though, there were many other instances in the series where Naraku manipulated others. For example, when Naraku offered the Saimyōshō to Sesshōmaru, when he forced a grief-stricken Kōga to confront Inuyasha, and the numerous times that he controlled Kohaku, just to name a few.
- Strategy: Naraku was also very strategic in his pursuit for the Shikon Jewel Shards and for facing off with his enemies. Naraku usually employed the use of Saimyosho in order observe the progress of the various groups in order to effectively delay them as much as possible. There were times when Inuyasha and his group confronted Naraku, it's usually his demon puppets that ended up destroying in order to gather intelligence about their powers for Naraku to counteract against it.
- Swordsmanship: Naraku had some skills in using a sword as when he manipulated Sango to bring Tessaiga to him at his phantom castle. Naraku was able to easily fend her off by using an ordinary samurai sword and some of his demon powers before Inuyasha and others arrived. Though given that this was the only instance that Naraku had displayed direct combat against his enemies by using his combat skills, it's unknown how proficient he was at swordsmanship.
- Black Magic: Naraku knew many different spells and curses. A prime example being the Wind Tunnel, and the Illusionary Death, which was used to distract Inuyasha's group when they tried to rescue Kikyō from him. However while Naraku is proficient in the use dark spells and curses, it's not his primary power to use and thus he required the dark priestess, Tsubaki's help to curse Kagome with an advanced curse.
- Demon Puppets: One of Naraku's trademark spells are conjuring demon puppets which resembled him in his baboon pelt. Naraku controlled them from afar and could see through their eyes. They were mostly made of mud and soil, and were able to spring roots in order to attack opponents. They would only disappear if their heart was destroyed, which was a golem with a piece of Naraku's hair that was wrapped around it. Following Mount Hakurei, Naraku no longer employed the usage of demonic puppetry as he could survive attacks that would have killed him in the past.
- Saimyōshō Control: Naraku's minion wasps from Hell. He kept a hive of them with him at all times. Their most common use for preventing the Wind Tunnel from being used, or for poisoning the descendants of monk Miyatsu, who were unfortunate or foolish enough to suck them in. They were also useful for spying on Naraku's enemies, communicating with his subordinates, and gathering Jewel Shards. Their stings were fatally toxic to both humans and demons alike, but they were rather weak as far as demons went. Many of them were killed by Inuyasha and his group.
- Shapeshifting: Naraku could take the form of anyone or anything that he chose, usually a humanoid, and change his voice along with his physical appearance. He possessed the young lord, Kagewaki, and remained in that standard form for the rest of the series. We're told by Miroku that every time his grandfather battled Naraku, the demon appeared in a different form, being defeated when Naraku took the form of a beautiful young woman. The most important instance of his shape-shifting would be the time that Naraku had disguised himself as Kikyō and Inuyasha and made them hate one another. As his scent didn't change with his form, Naraku ceased using this ability as Inuyasha and Kōga could smell his scent.
- Enhanced Strength: Much like Sesshōmaru, Naraku was far stronger than a normal demon being capable of demolishing boulders and the surrounding area though he seldom resorted to combating with physical strength.
- Enhanced Speed: Naraku could move faster than the eye could see, both in the air and on the ground. He managed to fight against Inuyasha and his group many times through his natural speed, though he usually retreated after a short time.
- Flight: Similarly to Sesshōmaru, Naraku possessed the ability to float midair, and to ride upon a cloud of his own shōki. After his transformation into a full yōkai, Naraku never chose to employ his shōki-sustained flight, but flew only by the strength of his will, while in his barrier.
- Absorption: Naraku was able to absorb other demons into his body, adding their powers and their bodies to his own. This was primarily how he gained strength, by seeking out and absorbing strong demons, and giving him access to their powers. Naraku could also expel weaker body parts in order to rid himself of them.
- Demon Parts: As he was made up of multiple demons in one body, Naraku was able to manipulate their body parts at will in order to restructure and strengthen his body, and he could also regenerate himself from injury and reform his body parts if they were cut off. He most commonly used these parts to form tentacles which he used to attack.
- Incarnation Creation: Naraku could make incarnations out of his own body to do his dirty work for him. Most had a spider mark on their back which was a result of being born from Naraku when he still was a hanyō with Onigumo inside him. He often removed their hearts to ensure loyalty with the price of death for disobedience.
- Energy Projection: Naraku sent out one or more of the horns on his elbows in a zigzag beam attack or extended his fingers into tentacles with a glowing attack at the tip of his fingers to attack his foe(s). In the manga, this attack was of a silverish color, while in the anime it was of a purple color.
- Armor Shell: Upon absorbing Mōryōmaru, Naraku gained the Armor Shell of Meiōjū, being able to change its size for his own purposes. He also gained the ability to cover himself at will with Mōryōmaru's impenetrable shell. It was revealed that Naraku was hiding the Shikon Jewel underneath that shell.
- Live Body Pieces: After absorbing the Infant/Mōryōmaru, Naraku gained the haku puppet's ability to remotely control his flesh and send them out to scout for other demons whose abilities could prove useful. Naraku used this ability to detach his head while using his Spider Webs, which made it easier for him to flee. It was also used when Naraku had several of his tentacles and other excessive appendages attack Kohaku for his shard. It was presumably what allowed his armored copies to move without being directly connected to him.
- Spider Webs: Following his re-absorption of Onigumo's heart a second time, Naraku gained the ability to create threads of spider silk. Only those of high spiritual power, such as Kikyō and Kagome could see them at all times; Naraku could make the webs visible at will if he wanted. Anyone whose heart was corrupt would easily be caught in the webbing, which allowed Naraku to further defile their hearts if he wished. He could also show them illusions. The appearance of this ability further nodded toward his nature as a spider half-demon. In his final transformation, Naraku created a giant body in the shape of a spider, which could, obviously send out threads of spider web to ensnare other demons to add to his body. Naraku used these spider webs to further poison Kikyō, who had not fully recovered from his attempt on her life at Mount Hakurei, which ultimately led to her final death.
- Psionics: Naraku was shown using various psychic powers and capabilities; including levitation, telepathy, telekinesis, teleportation, mind control, illusion casting, and astral projection.
- Immense Demonic Power: As Naraku started off as a spider hanyo who came into existence from the merging of many demons with a human, he didn't have much demonic power. Throughout the course of the series, as he continued collecting more Shikon Jewel Shards and absorb many demons whether they be ordinary or powerful, Naraku's own demonic powers in turn increased significantly. This was demonstrated on the fact that after he had obtained his new body in Mt. Hakurei, Naraku was able to overpower the strength of the Kaze no Kizu which in turn allowed him to take control of it and managed to evenly combat against Sesshomaru alone while in the Border to the Netherworld for some time though it was only because of his barrier that he was able to last that long against the older Daiyokai. After feeding his soul to the complete corrupt Shikon Jewel in the final battle against all of his enemies, Naraku gained the ability to combat against all of them at the same time with little effort which included Inuyasha with his new power in Tessaiga and Sesshomaru using Bakusaiga for a prolonged period time so that his severed body could destroy Kaede's Village.
- Barrier: The most well known and signature ability of Naraku was his barrier which prevented the foe from finding and/or attacking him. At first his barrier was only useful in hiding his presence. As he gathered more shards of the jewel, Naraku became powerful enough to erect a barrier strong enough to survive the Kaze no Kizu. After Naraku had purged his human heart, the barrier became so powerful that nothing but the Kongōsōha and Kikyō's Sacred Arrow was able to penetrate it.
- Deflection: Whenever someone sent an attack of yōki into Naraku's barrier, he could channel the flow of the attack into his own jaki and then attack his opponents with it. However, this could only be done with attacks that could not penetrate his barrier, which meant that it was useless against Inuyasha's Kongōsōha.
- High-Speed Regeneration: Naraku could quickly heal his own wounds and also put back together severed pieces of his body. He could control 100% of his body all the time, even when his body parts or even head were severed, which came in handy when he was trying to absorb someone. However, there was a limit to how much he could regenerate. The more damage that he took, the more time he would need later on to recover. Too much damage could kill him, which was why he had to flee from his enemies in the beginning of the series. Usually, he would absorb demons to speed up his regeneration process.
- Immortality: After he created his new body and removed his heart, which came out as the Infant, Naraku was able to regenerate no matter how much damage his body had taken since his life force wasn't in his body. In fact, this new form of regeneration that Naraku gained caused Kikyo to believe that the only way to destroy him was to utterly destroy his very being and that was by purifying his soul through purifying the last corrupt Shikon Jewel Shard that had harbored in his body. After Naraku detached himself from his body and merged with the complete corrupt Shikon Jewel, he was able to recover from nearly any damage that was dealt to him including direct hits from Inuyasha's new Meido Zangetsuha and Sesshomaru's new Bakusaiga (that had the special property of spreading acidic damage and thus was the bane of Naraku). In this final form, Naraku was only vanquished when Kagome, with her full spiritual powers, purified him by shooting a final sacred arrow through the Shikon Jewel.
- Human/Demon Shift: Unlike Inuyasha, who was forced to become fully human on the night of the new moon every month, Naraku, as a half-demon with Onigumo inside him, could choose what time of the month that he lost all of his powers. Unlike Inuyasha who became a normal human, Naraku was merely a human head that was attached to a mass of yōkai parts during this time, which he used to experiment with his body and rid himself of any unnecessary parts. Since the events that transpired on Mt. Hakurei, Naraku no longer had to become human at any time.
- Miasma Manipulation: Naraku's trademark, a poison which killed anything that touched it. It's what made his poisonous gas. Naraku used it to cover his entrances and exits, and could surround himself with the gas while flying. He created a "false Shikon shard" for Kōga with this substance. It was able to power Kōga in the manga and anime for a while until it backfired, poisoned him, and ultimately lead him to remove it with the help of Kagome. Naraku's body was filled with it, which was why when a foe bit him or even touched him he/she got poisoned. Later on, as his power grew upon his transition to full demon, Naraku's shōki was able to take on a liquid form and acted like a river of acid. His shōki was so strong that it allowed him to break away pieces of the nearly completed Shikon no Tama to use in his schemes. In the current manga, he could melt entire mountains. Over time, his shōki had become so dangerous that after he infected Kikyō with it, neither Kagome nor Kikyō's purification powers seemed to be able to purify it. Kikyō absorbed Midoriko's soul in order to protect herself, but she commented that she didn't know how long Midoriko's power could last against Naraku's venom in the regard that she and Midoriko remained at the same strength while Naraku continued to increase in power. Eventually, even the influence of Midoriko was nullified with Naraku's absorption of the tree demon and Mōryōmaru.
- Phantom Castle: Naraku was seen having the ability to create various "Phantom Castles" as temporary headquarters throughout the series. After being nearly killed by the Red Tessaiga, Naraku abandoned the usage of these castles, and decided to be constantly on the move to avoid being found.
- Dormancy: Naraku had the ability to hide himself within one of his servants and make it appear as though he had disappeared, or have been killed. A simple task; he got himself "killed" and hid within the body of a servant of his choice. The only instance we saw this was when he hid himself inside of Kohaku. When he was close to emerging from Kohaku, a spider mark appeared on his back. To further this scheme, Naraku made Miroku's Kazaana disappear and returned Kagura's heart to her. (This only happened in the movie, Inuyasha: The Castle Beyond the Looking Glass).
Naraku was naturally, in all aspects, a foil to Inuyasha. Both of them were outcast half-demons that selfishly sought to become full demons and both fell in love with the same human priestess, but their choices determined who they became.
While Inuyasha established bonds with other people to stave off his loneliness and ultimately abandoned the goal of becoming a full Youkai when he found being a full demon meant losing his human feelings. In a contrast, Naraku ruthlessly destroyed the bonds of others to take joy in their sadness and ultimately alienated himself from everything, even in his own creations, who he abused and used as slaves. Naraku welcomed losing his human feelings and had always despised them for holding him back.
When Inuyasha thought Kikyo, the woman he loved, hated him and would never return his feelings, he continued to better himself and to wish for her happiness.
Even when Naraku fell in love with Kikyo, he never tried to improve himself as a person and as soon as he decided Kikyo was unobtainable, he chose to become an even worse person; devoting himself to ridding himself of his last vestiges of humanity and killing his beloved Kikyo so no one else would get to have her love.
In the final battle, Inuyasha outright said that a reason he hates Naraku was that he reflected himself if he had chosen the path of hatred and evil over love and good.
- Naraku's name from Naraka, a Buddhist afterlife similar to Hell. Unlike Hell, Naraka is never an eternal punishment for sinners within it, but very evil souls, like Naraku, would spend thousands or even millions years there to suffer for their sins. Naraku appears to refer to going to Naraka in his death speech.
- When Naraku fights Moryomaru, he transforms into a form with a tail resembling that of a xenomorph, except red. He tries to stab Moryomaru with his tail the way xenomorphs would, though his tail is useless against Moryomaru's armor.