Raiden the Moon King, also known as The Moon King or Raiden, is the main antagonist of Laika's 4th full-length animated feature film, Kubo and the Two Strings. He is the oppressive and totalitarian ruler of the night and the father of The Sisters and Kubo's mother. After defeating Hanzo, he seeks to kill Kubo's mother for betraying his family and to blind Kubo in order to make his grandson live with him.
The Moon King became so angry and irritable when he found out that his daughter, Satiaru, was in love with Hanzo, a swordsman who questioned his way in ruling both Heaven and Earth, and eloped before she gave birth to his grandson Kubo. He then instigated the attack on Beetle Clan castle, Hanzo's home, and cursed him into a beetle-like hybrid who lose his memories. During the attack, he managed to stole Kubo's eye, but is stopped from taking the rest by Satiaru who flees to the ocean. As seen in the beginning of the film, Raiden tried to stop them by dangerously sent two tidal wave on them when they flee on the ocean, but lost them in spite of managed to injure Satiaru, leaving her sick and mostly active during the night. Raiden would later indirectly caused her first death through sending Karasu and Washi for Kubo upon pinpointed his location at mortal world, leading her used her magic to reincarnated into Monkey.
Role in the film
Although he is not seen until the climax of the film, the Moon King drives most of the plot forward. His presence can be felt during the night even if he yet to descended to Earth, as he (off screen) pinpointed Kubo's location when the boy accidentally stayed out of the night and immediately sent Karasu and Washi to him. It's implied that the old man Kubo met in his dream whom suggested him to go for Hanzo's castle was actually a manifestation of Raiden himself, as both the old man and Raiden greatly resemble each other.
At the film's climax, he finally make his actual appearance when greets Kubo, as he wants to take Kubo's other eye in order to join his "family" and make him immortal like him. Kubo refuses, and an angered Raiden transforms into a monstrous dragon-like creature known as the "Moon Beast" and attacks. Despite landing several blows, Kubo is beaten and thrown into the village cemetery where the Moon Beast corners both him and the villagers. Kubo sheds the armor and re-strings his shamisen, using his mother's hair, his father's bowstring, and a strand of his own hair. He uses its magic to recruit the spirits of the deceased villagers, showing to his grandfather that memories are the strongest magic of all and can never be destroyed. Kubo uses the spirits to shield himself and the villagers from the Moon Beast and then engulfs him in their magic, defeating him.
To Kubo's surprise, his magic stripped Raiden from his powers and as result, the Moon King becomes a mortal whom, in his human form has no recollection of who or what he was. The villagers are compassionate and forgiving when they tell him that he was a man of many positive traits, thus convincing him that he was a good man and Kubo promise to tell all the stories he missed.
It is unknown what happened to Raiden afterwards, but it was likely that he joined the villages. Since the magic that Kubo used to defeat him also stripped him from his powers, it is fair to assume that he is now powerless whether he later regained his past memories as Moon King or not, and will finish his life as human, unable to threaten anyone ever again and having to provide for himself with normal means. With Raiden no longer a threat and the heavens no use without their leader, not only the earth and the village was safe, but Kubo was also allowed to stay outside and live with the villagers and no longer had to live inside a cave at night.
On the surface, the Moon King presents himself as a wise, composed, and imperturbable elder with nothing but his family's own good in mind. Even Satiaru, who has been on the run from him and his other daughters, claim that they do love her and her son, and that they simply want to do what is best for him. This displays an incorruptible and moral complication to his character.
However, despite this, the Moon King is shown to be much crueler, despotic, and authoritarian than he lets on, this nature slipping occasionally as he talks to Kubo. He seems to be remorseless, unmerciful, and heartless for all three of his daughters, all of whom died, and seems to view his daughters and grandson not as actual family to cherish, but as possessions for him to have. When Kubo denies him, he turns into a Moon Beast with the intent of slowly and painfully killing him. It is also worth mentioned that, according to Satiaru, these negative personality traits of his, combined with the way he rule Heaven as the blasphemous tyrant were reasons why Heaven become cold and dark place during his reign.
The Moon King's opinion of the mortal realm and the people that dwell in it is very low, even describing it as being like "Hell" for the various flaws and horrors that dwell in it (despite being directly responsible for many of these horrors). He is metaphorically blind to humanity's goodness, something he wishes to make Kubo by taking his eyes, and was known to directly antagonized any human that questioned his rule (like Hanzo).
After his defeat, the Moon King was left with no memory of who he was, lost and confused of where and who he was. The villagers then go on to explain how he was a kind, caring, nonjudgmental, and open-minded man, a standard that he himself now lives by with his grandson. He may actually have been this positive before, until he became consumed with bigotry and corruption later in life.
Powers and Abilities
The Moon King acts as the standing ruler of the Heavens, and thus holds authority over both the Heavens and the Earth, though how far this authority reaches is never seen in full detail.
As his name suggests, the Moon King has powers relegated to the night. He was able to locate his daughter and grandson when Kubo accidentally stayed out after sunset, and was able to project his form through the moonlight. He was able to curse Hanzo into the form of an anthropomorphic beetle with the loss of his memories, and he was able to communicate with his grandson through his dreams. It can even be assumed that he was responsible for the creation of the Gashadokuro and the Garden of Eyes used to guard Hanzo's armor, and was even able to turn into a draconic monster himself. Despite being physically blind, the Moon King is fully capable of physical sight. Given the dark nature of his daughter's powers, it can be assumed that he is capable of all of the various forms of magic that Sariatu and the Sisters are capable of.
Despite all of this immense power, he does have his limits. The Moon King is vulnerable to the power of Hanzo's magical armor, the Sword Unbreakable managing to permanently blind him in his right eye. With the help of the townspeople and the memories of their loved ones, Kubo was able to defeat the Moon King, turning him human with no memories of who he was.
Hello, my young friend. Why don't you join in my song?
~ The Moon King's introduction disguised as a mortal.
Claim your birthright, Kubo. Give this story a happy ending!
~ The Moon King tricking Kubo into heading towards the temple.
Hello, grandson. It's so good to see you at last. So to speak. And I see you found the armor. Seems your mother had a reason to bring you to this dreadful place.
~ The Moon King appears in person with grandson.
Where I want to take you, we have none of those things. It'll just be you, with your family. Where you belong.
~ The Moon King offers Kubo to be with him.
They brought their fates upon themselves! They disgraced me and upset the order of everything!
~ The Moon King blames his daughter and Hanzo for putting their own deaths risk.
Is that right? And how does this story end? (Kubo: I kill you.) Oh. Very well. Is this your wish? To do battle with a hideous monster who ruined your life? To prove your worth, like your doomed father? How mortal!
~ The Moon King preparing to battle Kubo before his transformation.
You want to be human? Then share their weakness! Suffer their humiliation! Feel their pain!
~ The Moon King throwing and beating up Kubo.
This is the end of your story. Now take one last look with that lonely eye. One last look at this wretched place.
~ The Moon King about to finish Kubo off.
Then I'll just have to rip it out of your head again, won't I?
~ The Moon King getting ready rip off Kubo's other eye.
Everything you loved is gone! Everything you knew has been taken from you!
~ The Moon King reminding Kubo about the things and people he loved and lost.
Where am I? (Kubo: Hello, grandfather.) Hello. What happened to your eye? (Kubo: Don't you remember?) Oh... Oh no... I'm sorry, young man. I seem to have forgotten my story. Can you help me?
~ The Moon King turns into a mortal with no memory of anything after being defeated.
You're a great example! Yeah. Oh! It turns out I'm pretty selfless.
~ The Moon King given false but positive stories about his life from the villagers
But I... But I don't remember. (Well, your grandson's a storyteller. He'll tell you all the stories you've forgotten.) Really? (Kubo: Of course.)
~ The Moon King's last words when Kubo promises to tell him the stories he needs to know about his past life.
The Moon King is the second male main antagonist of the Laika and Focus Features film, the first being Archibald Snatcher from The Boxtrolls.
He is also the second main antagonist of a Laika and Focus Features movie who redeems himself, after Aggie Prenderghast in Paranorman.
He is also the first Laika and Focus Features main villain who doesn't die at the end of his movie after The Beldam from Coraline.
However, the Beldam's fate was left a mystery, meaning if she survived, this would make Raiden the second.
The Moon King has since beat The Beldam, the main villain of Laika and Focus Features's first film, Coraline, as being both their oldest and most powerful villain. This is essentially qualifying the Moon King as ruler of the Heavens along with the gods that dwell there, as opposed to the Other Mother's dominion over a small pocket dimension.
According to the movie director Travis Knight: he is modeled after Peter Cushing who's known for played Gouvernor Tarkin in Star Wars.
They are powerful and immortal beings who seek to kill the protagonists by any means necessary.
They were also stripped with magic powers from the protagonist and became mortal upon defeat but the only difference with Voldemort and the Moon King is that Voldemort was killed upon the destruction of his last horcrux (Nagini) while the Moon King survives and lives as a normal human.
Both of them did unforgivable acts that would easily qualify them to be Pure Evil; however, near their defeat, their memory of their evil sides are erased forever (as Scooby erased Pericles's evil when he destroyed The Evil Entity underneath Crystal Cove) and they redeem themselves.