By the power of Yami, ruler of Land of Darkness, I, Ninetails, have made lord of Ryoshima Coast! You needn't have come all this way just for me to kill you.
Ninetails is a malicious, nine-tailed kitsune and is one of the main antagonists of Okami.
Ninetails was lord of Oni Island and Yami offered it dominion over Ryoshima Coast. But King Wada used the power of the Dragon Orb to become the Water Dragon to fight Ninetails when it threatened the Dragonians. In the battle, the kitsune badly wounded its opponent only for the Water Dragon to steal its source of power, the Fox Rods. The dragon swallowed it and retreated to the depths of the sea, leaving Ninetails to kill Rao, priestess of Ankoku Temple. It took her form, allowing it to enter Sei’an City, which got it close enough to Queen Himiko so it could later assassinate her before she could find out where Oni Island was.
Ninetails used a demon named Blight spread toxic fogs through the City, but Amaterasu and Issun showed up to threaten their plans. Ninetails manipulated the goddess by getting her to obtain Rao’s Prayer Slips to help make its disguise more convincing. The kitsune then told Amaterasu that Queen Himiko wanted the Fox Rods, which it claimed were powerful holy objects, and they were apparently on the wrecked ship off of Ryoshima Coast. However Ninetails was actually trying to get Amaterasu consumed by the Water Dragon. It helped the goddess enter the ship and defeat the demons lurking inside with the prayer slips. When the Water Dragon started chasing them back to shore, Ninetails disappeared, leaving Amaterasu to the beast. But she escaped the dragon and used the Lucky Mallet, which she’d found onboard the ship, to stop Blight. Despite this, Ninetails saw its chance to get back the Fox Rods and Amaterasu was sent to the coast, where she managed to put an end to the Water Dragon and retrieve the rods. Rao appeared and took the rods, saying they’d be used for good. Meanwhile, Amaterasu gave the Dragon Orb, which she’d taken to kill the Water Dragon, to Otohime, the Dragonian queen. King Wada’s spirit appeared to Amaterasu, showing her image of Rao being attacked, and the goddess rushed to save her. When she found Ninetails as Rao, she noticed something about the priestess was off, mainly in her appearance and her body movement. “Rao” took her into a secret cave where Amaterasu noticed a corpse wearing familiar clothing. Eventually the cave brought her to Queen Himiko’s palace and the goddess found her dead with “Rao” standing nearby.
The priestess claimed Ninetails had appeared and killed the queen, but Amaterasu figured out what was going on. The goddess attacked “Rao” and Ninetails revealed itself, fighting Amaterasu in a hybrid of itself and the priestess. The kitsune also consumed Himiko’s Crystal Ball to take away the only method of finding Oni Island. Amaterasu managed to defeat Ninetails and make it regurgitate the crystal ball. The kitsune started to take its true form, empowered by the Fox Rods, but it couldn’t fit in the room and it retreated to Oni Island.
Final Battle with Amaterasu
However Himiko’s spirit harnessed some of Ninetail’s dark powers from when the crystal ball was consumed, allowing Amaterasu to find the island. With help from Otohime, the goddess reached Oni Island and arrived at the altar at the peak of the island, where she found a fox-shaped constellation in the sky. Using her Celestial Brush powers, Amaterasu completed the constellation, summoning Ninetails to fight her. The kitsune appeared as a mock imitation of the Celestial Brush gods and turned their battlefield into a recreation of the plane the gods were summoned on.
Ninetails declared that it was now lord of Ryoshima Coast thanks to Yami and Amaterasu didn’t need to come all the way to Oni Island. The kitsune said it would’ve found and killed the goddess on its own. As they fought, Ninetails continued its imitation, using corrupt versions of Amaterasu’s brush techniques and making the fox spirits in its tails appear as Rao.
However the goddess managed to destroy the spirits in eight of the kitsune’s tails, making Ninetails abandon its illusion and reveal itself as a vicious beast. With the power of its eight other tails gone, Ninetails was slain. The kitsune would later be revived to fight Amaterasu in the Ark of Yamato, but was beaten again.
Ninetails is quite powerful and excellent at deception, possessing the power to shape-shift into others. In its nine-tailed form, it can use versions of Amaterasu’s Celestial Brush techniques, allowing it to summon bombs, summon massive winds, and unleash destructive barrages of icicles. Ninetails can also spray toxic liquid from its tails and unleash powerful strikes with its dark sword, Ninestrike. But the sword is its weakpoint as when Amaterasu summons lightning, the sword serves as a lightning rod and it badly shocks Ninetails. This causes the kitsune to split into weaker fox spirits, one for each of its tails. Destroying the spirits takes away the kitsune’s tails and its mock Celestial Brush powers, forcing it to rely on physical attacks, when the other eight are gone.
Ninetails’ gender is something of a subject of debate. It is referred to as “lord” and “master,” which are typically male terms, but Issun refers to it as female. However, this may be because Issun had previously only seen Ninetails in the form of Rao. Also, despite the fact that the kitsune possessed Rao, it also apparently took the form of a man before Rao. The Okami Official Complete Works refers to Ninetails as male. But being a supernatural being, Ninetails simply may not have any true gender.
Ninetails is designed in many ways to be a dark counterpart to Amaterasu. Aside from being able to use Celestial Brush techniques and having a sword it uses similarly, its brush techniques have red ink. In addition, just before Ninetails appear in constellation form, the moon appears red with a pattern resembling its nine tails. This is similar to how Amaterasu’s markings appear on the sun.
Ninetails is based on the kitsune of Japanese mythology, cunning fox spirits who had a certain number of tails depending on how old and wise they were. Upon obtaining nine, they were said to have become divine and omniscient. Ninetails being a false god when in its nine-tailed form and losing this state upon losing its other eight tails is likely a reference to this.
Ninetails actions as Rao is similar to the story of Tamamo-no-Mae, a courtesan of Emperor Konoe, who was extremely attractive in all ways and quite intelligent. But the emperor suddenly became ill and died and it turned out he’d been poisoned by Tamamo-no-Mae, who was revealed to be a kitsune.