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"I refuse…to let this happen! I am Orochimaru! I am immortal! I will not die here! Destined to discover the true meaning behind everything! Destined to take control of everything in this world!!"
Don’t worry, 2013 is your year.
With the Year of the Snake now upon us, wouldn’t you say it’s about time to take a look at Naruto’s own insane yet lovable snake himself, Orochimaru? He is a character that went from a former child prodigy to a psychopathic scientist. In some ways, Orochimaru can be similar to how adults who were gifted at a young age can go down misguided paths due to a lack of proper attention as they get older.
As a child, Orochimaru was considered to be extremely gifted. Despite losing his parents at an early age and having a cruel personality, he excelled in many ninja-related skills. Orochimaru would later be regarded as one of the three legendary shinobi of Konoha, alongside Jiraiya and Tsunade. His heart craved more than just fame; as he began to desire immortality after witnessing so much death around him. Orochimaru would begin to capture and experiment on various ninjas to find out how to enhance the human body. This drew the ire of his former master, Hiruzen Sarutobi, and made him an enemy of Konoha for the rest of his life. Since then, our wily snake continued to conduct inhumane experiments and cause trouble for those who are unfortunate to meet him.
Being a child prodigy isn’t easy. There’s so much pressure placed on you to do well. The worst part is that your older peers don’t always focus on how to prepare for life because of their obsession with your amazing talents. When you hear stories such as a former child prodigy becoming a prostitute, it makes you wonder how should people better nurture youth that are gifted.
To some folks in Konoha, Orochimaru was considered to be a hopeless cause. Was the evil nature in him too strong? There are cases where parents really don’t provide an environment suited to support their child’s great abilities. Maybe he really isn’t as “evil” as people think he is? It’s not like Konoha had a bright history to begin with.
Can we blame the path of the ninja in Orochimaru’s incessant yearning for knowledge? If you’re a shinobi raising him, you’re literally surrounding a talented yet emotionally fragile youth with constant violence and treachery. Which then leads a child to discover things secretly in his spare time. That’s like causing a seemingly calm and passionate fire to needlessly grow into a wildfire.
Orochimaru’s experiences in Konoha contributed to building one of his greatest strengths: intensive research. Yet at the same time, it can also be a weakness. Having too much knowledge may cause you to create assumptions that aren’t always necessarily true. Although Orochimaru knows a lot about psychology, the human mind can be very unpredictable and things just happen without notice. Case in point: his exploits with former protege and child prodigy, Sasuke Uchiha. Orochimaru became literally obsessed with the renegade shinobi and lost all train of thought when it came to him. Like they say, you never truly know until it hits you.
Though in some ways, Orochimaru is a “prosperous snake”. He is a free spirit that wants to continue evolving. Life is always about learning new things constantly and understanding human behavior is key to surviving social situations. You gotta have some ruthless aggression and be able to quickly analyze problems to get ahead, just like our clever mad man has to a certain degree.
Here’s to you, Orochimaru-sama. In a time where people need to be adaptable to changes like a water snake, may your venomous yet delightful charm continue to slither deep into our hearts with glee and fabulous awe.