Orochimaru Orochimaru is perhaps the most famous and infamous person to ever inhabit Konoha. Trained by the Third Hokage, referred to by many as the God of Shinobi in his prime, he shares the group recognition with Tsunade and Jiraiya as one of the "Legendary Three" (Sannin). It is possible that he may have even been his tutor’s favourite from the way that Jiraiya was asked to be more like him. However, his legacy would be smeared in blood before he ever surpassed his master.
Morino Ibiki, the sadistic and iron-gutted sadist confessed that Orochimaru gave him the creeps, something Ibiki was used to doing himself. Ibiki described him as though he was not human, just something evil that had a humanoid shape. With his dead-white skin, prehensile, long tongue and reptilian eyes, it’s easy to understand why even Ibiki would be intimidated. However, unfortunately for many, Orochimaru’s appearance was not the most horrible thing about him. Orochimaru was a perfectionist and showed unequalled devotion to learning and collecting techniques, a trait he almost passed onto his sole student, Mitarashi Anko, teaching her a number of forbidden techniques and passing on his skills related to snakes. He also branded her with something that would become his signature later, a “curse seal”. Appearing as an inky marking on the body of the person he gave it to, they would go into a coma-like state, one that had a 1/10 survival rate. Anko survived, but later realised that the man she hero-worshipped was a manipulator and she was just his guinea pig.
In his later years, Orochimaru began to realise that no matter how good a ninja was, age and death would always overcome him. Seeing his tutor grow old and no longer shine as he once did, he committed a sin that would forever taint him. Already, his immoral ideals had spooked enough people, probably including the advisory council, into rejecting him for the position of Fourth Hokage. It was then that Orochimaru went to work on something truly nihilistic. Gathering living human subjects for experimentation, Orochimaru plucked victims from Chuunin, Jounin and even the ANBU. One such experiment involved Orochimaru infusing the genes of Shodai Hokage into 60 children. Shodai was unique in his ability to control the tailed demons at his will and also his ability to use Mokuton techniques. Though he would not be around to see it, 59 of the children soon died. One lived and grew up to be known as the elite ANBU "Yamato". Orochimaru's experiments would prove successful, with Yamato able to use Shodai's abilities as his own.
Eventually, the Third Hokage penetrated his booby-trapped lair and he was caught red-handed in a laboratory lined with the mutilated remains of the abducted hanging from chains on the walls. As he was questioned, he revealed his epiphany. He was working on something that would allow him to cheat death and gradually become a master of all techniques, gaining the knowledge that would grant him a title beyond even his tutor’s – the ultimate being. However, instead of being punished, he took advantage of the compassion that his old teacher was known for and fled with his life. As he fled, Jiraiya took chase. Jiraiya pleaded for him to return, but Orochimaru mocked his feelings and his failure to see the truth of his actions. The two battled and Orochimaru fled for good. Jiraiya would thereafter give up on trying to save Orochimaru.
Orochimaru’s activities around this point become muddy. It is known for sure that he was a member of the criminal organisation Akatsuki. However, he left at some point due to Uchiha Itachi. Orochimaru, at some time, decided a major factor in his goal to know every technique would be the Sharingan eye, enabling him to copy what he saw. However, Itachi would not give up his eyes so easily and Orochimaru proclaimed that he feared Itachi, presumably after seeing the Mangekyou Sharingan in action and deciding that trying to take Itachi’s eyes would be too risky. Orochimaru left Akatsuki, fully aware of their plans and with bad blood between them.
It is known that after leaving, Orochimaru completed half his goal: He gained immortality. By using a technique where he caused his soul to forever remain in the mortal world and transferred his mind into the bodies of victims, he could never pass on. Orochimaru proved it true as he took a female’s body and inhabited it for a number of years, although he gradually managed to reshape it to a certain degree to resemble his old one. The corpse of the old Orochimaru was probably disposed of, but a memento of his past remains in the form of his forearm and hand mounted onto a base like a trophy, with the Akatsuki ring he once wore still sitting on the decaying middle finger.
Orochimaru then decided upon his next plan of action, with both of his next accomplishments being in his old village. Knowing that Itachi left one other of the clan alive, Orochimaru set his sights on Uchiha Sasuke among other skilled ninja. Travelling around the world as a sage offering to help those lost and vulnerable, his real purpose was to collect talented young ninja as either servants or for the “luckiest”, his next body. He managed to sway many to his side, including the allegiance of a Leaf ninja, Yakushi Kabuto, who would become his spy. His other converts included the last of the brutal Kaguya clan, Kimimaro and the orphan Zaku Abumi. Orochimaru’s charisma and skill as a manipulator grew to the extent that he held influence over many clans as their saviour, even allowing him to persuade the Feudal Lord of the Rice Field country to allow him to found and establish a hidden village there for the purpose of training ninja and strengthening the country. Of course, none of Orochimaru’s offers were benevolent, only self-serving. Regardless, the village of Hidden Sound came to be.
It was the year that Uchiha Sasuke attempted to become a Chuunin that Orochimaru made his move, sneaking into the exam in disguise – initially as the tutor of three Sound Genin participating in the exam, next as a participant from Grass after literally melting the face from his skull and wearing it as a mask. Under the Grass ninja disguise, he first engaged Sasuke in single combat to test him, and then gave him the curse seal. At the same time, he gave his trio of subordinates the command to terminate Sasuke. It was only thanks to Sakura that Sasuke lived long enough to wake up. The order was really to place Sasuke under as much stress as possible, forcing him to rely on the curse seal, as use of it over time would slowly divert Sasuke’s will into serving him. Orochimaru also ran into Anko during his travels, humiliating her by almost allowing her to kill herself and him at the same time while bringing up their past relation. He also later came to mock Kakashi’s efforts in suppressing the seal, telling him Sasuke would remove the barriers himself and come to Orochimaru of his own will.
Orochimaru’s next move was personal. In the finals of the Chuunin exam, the Kazekage, a guest spectator, suddenly held the Third Hokage hostage and from nowhere, scores of Sound and Sand ninja flooded the stadium. It was revealed they were working co-operatively to wage war on Leaf. However, the Kazekage addressed him by his real name, Sarutobi. Instantly, he recognized his attacker, who tore off the Kazekage’s robes and engaged his former mentor. Pulling the souls of the First and Second Hokage from the afterlife, he fixed them into the bodies of his teenage subordinates, who had been prepared for sacrifice through live burial in ash and dirt, finally using a charm to turn their minds into ferocious killing machines. Though a totally heartless act, Orochimaru did show an instance of emotion through a single question: "Do you know the happiness and sense of accomplishment you gain when you have a chance to hurt the one you called 'master'?"
However, even though the battle was in Orochimaru’s favour, using his own reptilian sword, the combined Hokage slaves and his personal bodyguards forming a barrier, his defeat came when Sarutobi, knowing he would die, performed a suicidal technique that cost him his soul. Summoning the death god itself, Sarutobi instructed it to rip out and consume the souls of Orochimaru’s slaves, then Orochimaru’s soul. However, he was too close to death, especially with Orochimaru’s sword in his back, to complete the task. Choosing the next best thing and possibly something worse than death for Orochimaru, the death god took away the portions of Orochimaru’s soul that connected to his arms, which fell limp and impotent and rendered him unable to even make a hand seal. The irony of knowing so many techniques and not being able to utilise them hit Orochimaru as Sarutobi died in front of him, seeing not the furious abomination that almost murdered him as he closed his eyes, but the confident student he admired and raised. Orochimaru and his forces were driven away to their village, also cutting off his alliance with Sand as the Kazekage’s corpse was found, alerting Sand that he was not co-operating with Orochimaru and instead, the Kazekage that ordered the strike on Leaf was Orochimaru himself.
For a while, Orochimaru’s activity was limited. In constant agony from his incapacitated arms, Orochimaru decided to seek out the legendary medical specialist, his former partner, Tsunade. Coincidentally, Jiraiya had also decided to look for her as a replacement for the Third Hokage. It was Orochimaru who got to her first, proposing a deal with her. Knowing her history, he would use his resurrection technique, as he did with the former Hokage brothers, to bring back Tsunade’s younger brother, Nawaki and her lover, Dan, who had both been killed when she was younger. Leaving her a week to decide, Orochimaru was well prepared for her, knowing of her phobia of blood and preying on her sentimentality, saying he could only perform the resurrection if his hands were healed.
A week passed and at their meeting point, Orochimaru raised his hands to her. However, Kabuto stopped her at the last minute, recognising that Tsunade was about to assassinate Orochimaru instead of healing. The two fled as Tsunade chased them, resulting in Kabuto exploiting her phobia and taking her on in combat, being a medical specialist himself although not quite on her level. Jiraiya arrived to even the odds, slowing Orochimaru down a lot while Naruto took on Kabuto. Orochimaru was stunned by the boy’s capabilities, deciding his #1 priority, even over dealing with Tsunade and Jiraiya, was to kill Naruto before the Akatsuki Organisation abducted him. Tsunade used herself as a human shield, vowing to protect the boy. Orochimaru then decided to hold her to her position and slashed her up with his sword in his mouth, giving her fatal injuries. Tsunade, however, also intended to stick to her word and on that decision, accepted the position of Fifth Hokage, using a technique to heal herself even though it shortened her lifespan. Fighting back, the legendary three pulled out their trump cards, summoning the masters of all animals. Orochimaru’s gigantic anaconda, Manda, held off both Jiraiya’s toad, Gamabunta and Tsunade’s slug, Katsuyu on his own and was about to bite into Gamabunta when Tsunade herself drove Gamabunta’s huge dagger into Manda’s mouth. With nothing to be achieved, Orochimaru once again retreated, taunting that there was still another way to heal his arms and that he was immortal.
Orochimaru then sent his personal bodyguards, The Sound Four, to sneak into Leaf with an invitation for Sasuke, who had suffered numerous losses. Each member of the group bore a Curse Seal, just like Sasuke and once they engaged him, they told him the seal had a second stage of release that they would help him acquire – IF he left Leaf behind and joined Orochimaru. However, while the temptation occurred, Orochimaru’s arms were now putting him through unbearable torture. Cracked, bleeding and crumbling away, Orochimaru needed a new body and couldn’t wait. Kabuto arranged for a royal rumble among selected prisoners of Orochimaru’s, telling them to fight to the death until one remained. Orochimaru approached the winner and transferred his mind into the entranced ninja, ending his agony at a price – the transfer has a three-year “recharge” period.
When his bodyguards took too long, he sent out a solitary ninja as reinforcement – stricken by illness and almost crippled, Kimimaro Kaguya, the leader of the Sound Four (which was previously the Sound Five before his sickness). Moving by means he described more or less as mind over matter, Kimimaro held back the forces of Leaf sent to bring Sasuke back long enough for Sasuke to adapt to the seal and run to Orochimaru of his own (if somewhat warped) will. Although his bodyguards all perished in the mission, Orochimaru’s face lit up as his new body, bearing a fully released curse seal and the Sharingan, walked down the halls of his lair. In three years, his ambition would finally be realised…
In the intervening years Orochimaru would escape the eye of Akatsuki and move bases. He, Kabuto and Sasuke would move every week to a new location, and only stay at that location for three days. Akatsuki member Sasori had utilized a memory block jutsu to place his subordinates in different ninja villages as a means to gather information and provide sabotage. One such memory block had been placed on Kabuto approximately five years earlier in the hopes of finding more information on Orochimaru's body transfer jutsu. Sasori had arranged to meet with Kabuto to gain updated information on Orochimaru. Sasori fell in battle before the meeting but Leaf ninja impersonated his Hiruko puppet form in the hopes of attaining the information meant for him. When Kabuto met the Leaf ninja Yamato and his team of Naruto, Sakura and Sai, he acted as Sasori's faithful servant. When Orochimaru appeared Kabuto jumped to Sasori's side but quickly revealed himself by cutting off Hiruko’s head.
Orochimaru and Kabuto, who had actually had the memory block removed years earlier by Orochimaru, hoped to actually kill Sasori but now they were pitted against Naruto and the other Leaf ninja. Orochimaru taunted Naruto, comparing his strength with Sasuke’s. In return he received a gigantic slash from Naruto as the boy slipped into a rage enhanced by the Kyuubi’s chakra. Catching him in the face, Orochimaru was thrown back a considerable distance but showed little damage, simply repairing the mask he wore of his old face by swiping a hand across it, but complimented Naruto in a back-handed manner on how his behavior was that of a real Jinchuuriki. On the subject, he then revealed that Yamato was assigned to be Naruto’s new superior for a reason, he was an old experiment of Orochimaru’s to partially clone the First Hokage or at least his powers. Violating the grave of the First Hokage to steal his genetic material, he injected those genes into sixty children to try and reproduce the powers of wood manipulation and control over Bijuu. Yamato was the only one to live and grow up.
Mentioning Sasuke again, Naruto’s anger grew and three tails of chakra sprouted. Faced with the unimaginable power of the Kyuubi, Orochimaru took an almost scientific approach to the situation, more curious than afraid. Berserk and out of control, Naruto cost Orochimaru his left arm. Standing on a tree, Orochimaru then opened his mouth and a pair of hands pried his jaw apart, pulling their owner free and a second Orochimaru stepped out from his mouth, with his arm restored. Mocking how Naruto was still weaker than Sasuke, a fourth tail began to appear, causing Naruto’s skin to peel away and leaving him a grisly feral fox but still only inducing curiosity and amusement in Orochimaru. Vomiting a huge amount of snakes out of his mouth, each one bearing a blade in their own mouths, Naruto obliterated them with a single claw swipe and dug his claws underground, attempting to catch Orochimaru in his bloody chakra hand.
Orochimaru tried to halt it with another snake from his sleeve, but the serpent burned up on contact. Spitting out another Orochimaru that extending from the waist out, it attacked Naruto directly. Shockingly, Naruto sliced Orochimaru across the belly, but another swarm of snakes extended from the wounds, mingling and pulling each half back together even though Orochimaru now faced backwards. Snapping his neck and turning his neck 180 degrees, Orochimaru smirked.
Naruto began to gather blood and chakra together into a huge sphere, directed by his tails. Even Orochimaru finally showed concern as everything coalesced into a perfect ball of highly dense chakra, convinced that such an attack would kill him outright. Swallowing the sphere and blowing up like a balloon, Naruto released it as a huge blast. In desperation, Orochimaru summoned three of his Rashoumon gates. When the blast subsided, nothing remained of the gates and Orochimaru lay half-buried and mangled. As everyone looked on in awe, Orochimaru’s head erupted from the ground on his snakelike neck, extending his sword into Naruto and extending the blade, pushing him far back but unable to cut him. Finally, Orochimaru began to feel fatigued and commenting his body was beginning to reject him. However, before he left, Sai appeared and told him that an official of Konoha, Danzou, had information to share with him.
Spitting a sword straight into Sai, he mocked Sai’s lack of manners, seeing that Sai was actually an ink clone and invited him to show his true self. Ambushed by Kabuto, Sai was pinned down as Orochimaru inspected an envelope for him from Danzou. After reading the contents, Orochimaru commanded Kabuto to release Sai and bring him along. Aware that they were being followed, Kabuto suspected Sai of being less faithful than he was saying. Orochimaru decided that regardless, a corpse would be needed. Naruto and his team followed behind, but then came upon Sai, hanging limply by his neck from a tree.
However, the corpse was a decoy, slowing the Leaf team down as they thought they came across their dead comrade. Kabuto then asked if Sai could be used in an experiment, having nothing else to do when not being a spy. Orochimaru told him to do as he pleased. Making it back to his lair, Orochimaru introduced Sasuke to Sai as a fellow turncoat. Sasuke reacted coldly, simply demanding Orochimaru teach him a new technique. Before departing, Orochimaru handed Kabuto the information Sai brought, the real names and other sensitive information of the ANBU members, to make a bingo book of their own.
While they trained, Sai was found and revealed his true colors, assisting in an ambush on Kabuto. However, Orochimaru confronted the team reunited once more. In a moment of arrogance, he decided to let them live, since they were able to take on Akatsuki and had a common enemy, before pursuing Sai, who had gone after Sasuke. The lair came crashing down and the Leaf team stood face to face with Sasuke, who overpowered them all easily. About to use a devastating move, Orochimaru stopped him suddenly, with Kabuto reasoning that it would mess up their plans and possibly Sasuke’s revenge on Itachi. Under protest, the three retreated, eluding Naruto once more. Another month passed, with Sasuke becoming even more of an excellent ninja, incapacitating around a thousand ninja without killing a single one. Even Orochimaru admitted to himself that Sasuke’s efforts eclipsed his own at that age, but also that Sasuke lacked a certain level of ruthlessness.
Later, Orochimaru lay in bed with his body finally faltering and Kabuto administered the strongest medicine he had available. Moments later Sasuke pierced the door with a blade of chakra, which extended to stab Orochimaru. Sasuke taunted that there was no more Orochimaru could teach. He then pinned Orochimaru’s arms to the wall and closed in to stab him. Before he could Orochimaru spat something out that landed behind Sasuke… Staring into a leviathan’s face, Sasuke realized it at last. Orochimaru’s countless experiments on his bodies and toying with the regenerative abilities his serpentine form gave him had reduced him from a human into a massive writhing collection of living snakes, capitalized by a gruesome, triple-jawed mockery of Orochimaru’s real face. Demanding his body, Orochimaru attacked Sasuke, who defended himself by shifting into the second stage of his Cursed Seal release and slicing Orochimaru’s body apart.
Orochimaru could only scream his name in anger, thinking back to his younger days. Standing at the graveside of his parents, he found the molted skin of a white snake. The Third Hokage mentioned they were rare, considered a symbol of good fortune and rebirth and that the discovery of the skin there may be a sign that his parents had been reborn in new bodies. Orochimaru asked when they’d meet again, a question that couldn’t be answered.
Back in reality, Orochimaru was cut into 3 pieces, but still alive, gloating that the snakes were even capable of poisoning the air. Lunging at Sasuke, everything went black and Sasuke found himself inside what looked like a void with nothing but an organic floor. Soon, a clump rose up from the floor, shaping into Orochimaru’s face, explaining the void was actually something like a dimension inside him where he transferred into the victim. More organic clumps rose and formed into snakes, writhing in and out of Sasuke’s body. Around him, the faces of his former hosts could be seen, trapped in the clumps. Orochimaru had another flashback, from his time in Akatsuki where he tried to take Itachi’s body. Pinned in place by huge nails in Genjutsu, Orochimaru raised his hands but Itachi swiftly sliced off his left hand, saying none of his techniques would make a difference before the Sharingan.
Then Sasuke used the same nail Genjutsu on Orochimaru, Slowly, Sasuke began to alter the organic clumps, turning them from snakes into eyeless, dragon-like worms and darkening the shade of the clumps. Using the Sharingan, he began to assert control over the dimension, directing the monsters to eat the clump that contained Orochimaru. In disbelief, Orochimaru denied what was happening, claiming his immortality and destiny to understand and control everything. His final words, "I refuse…" were croaked out as everything finally faded to black. Sasuke then walked out of Orochimaru’s quarters, encountering Kabuto. Unsure of whom he was, Kabuto asked. Sasuke used the Sharingan to replay the events to him in an almost Tsukiyomi-like manner. Kabuto worried about his master’s death, but realized the truth, which Sasuke confirmed with the words "I’ve taken over". Orochimaru was no longer truly alive, but a subconscious entity in Sasuke’s mind.
Kabuto had found difficulty finding a place for himself now that he was yet again a man without direction. Feeling that he never did surpass Orochimaru, Kabuto looked to Naruto for inspiration. Naruto's persistence allowed him to create his own identity beyond the Kyuubi and Kabuto hoped that by utilizing Orochimaru's strength he could become more powerful than even the original Orochimaru. So Kabuto took some of Orochimaru's tissue and placed it into his body. Unfortunately, the tissue began to spread and quickly take root, transforming his appearance to resemble that of Orochimaru. Kabuto let the Leaf ninja know that he would face Naruto again once he was fully in control of Orochimaru's gifts. His first target however, would be the man who killed Orochimaru... Sasuke. Sasuke himself had finally set out to achieve his life's goal, to kill his brother Itachi. The two brothers engaged in a brutal fight, requiring Sasuke to use his ultimate technique to take out Itachi.
When Sasuke saw his brother shrug off the attack, he began to wince in pain. With his body low on chakra, a voice began to ring out in his head. The voice offered to help Sasuke; all he had to do was release him. Sasuke collapsed to his knees and white snakes began to grow out of his cursed seal. Soon a gigantic eight-headed snake stood before Susanoo. It quickly moved to strike and Susanoo in turn used its sword to decapitate the beast. From one of its heads emerged Orochimaru, who thanked Itachi for weakening Sasuke enough to finally release him.
Before he could finish his comment though, Susanoo's sword impaled Orochimaru and began to seal him away forever. This was one of the swords special abilities and Orochimaru was in shock. The giant snake was soon sealed away but one smaller snake still moved within the rubble. The snake moved to escape from the battlefield but soon found its path blocked by the powerful black fire Amaterasu, which Itachi had used earlier. The flames quickly consumed the snake as well, leaving Orochimaru's final fate unclear.