The Chinese New Year has arrived, which means two things; a slow down of shipments at work as factories shut down for 3 weeks, and a new post about manga featuring this year’s zodiac animal! We move from the majestic dragon down to the more common snake, but as you will see, there are no such things as common snakes in manga!
Fruits Basket – Let’s get the obvious out-of-the-way with Fruits Basket, which features all the zodiac animals. Ayame Sohma is the snake of the zodiac in the Sohma family. He is the older brother of Yuki, one of the main characters of the series. He is very handsome with silver hair and striking eyes. He is flamboyant, self-confident and self-centered, and annoys Yuki and Kyo to no end. He is very demanding that Yuki return his love as his brother, but Ayame’s treatment of Yuki when he was growing up has made that a difficult request for Yuki to comply with.
Naruto – This long running series is about a screw-up boy ninja, Naruto Uzumaki, who wants to prove himself and become the leader of his villain, the Hokage. Orochimaru is the first major antagonist in the series. He is a powerful ninja, and with his other team mates, Jiraiya and Tsunade, was known as the Three Legendary Ninja. His totem animal is a snake, and is able to summon and command them in battle. His thirst for power and immortality gets him exiled from Konohagakure, leading him to eventually start his own village and continue his experiments. He tries to take over Sasuke’s body to continue his own life.
One Piece – This even longer running series is about Luffy D. Monkey who is determined to become the Pirate King and gathers a crew of like-minded misfits to going him on his adventures. In the Skypiea arc, there is a giant python named Nola. He came to the island with Noland and the Shandorians. He is over 400 years old and is very hot-tempered and hostile. After hearing the bell from his childhood, he becomes the gentle snake he once was. He even becomes part of an attraction, Nola-bungee. In the Sabaody arc, we meet one of the Warlords of the Sea, a group of powerful pirates who work for the world government. Boa Hancock, is the leader of the all-female Kuja Pirates from the island Amazon Lily. She has a pet snake named Salome, who is always with her, and helps her in battles.
Saint Seiya – This old school series is from the 80s, and while it enjoys great popularity almost everywhere else in the world, it never caught on here, which is a great shame. It is about 5 Bronze Saints, who are the protectors of the Greek Goddess Athena who was reborn as a Japanese girl Saori. In the series, there are actually three tiers of saints. The heroes are the lowest at bronze, but there are two others, silver and gold. The silver saints served as trainers to the bronze. One of those trainers was Shaina who wore the Ophiuchus, or Serpent Bearer’s, cloth. Her power is based on a snake’s as she moves quickly and strikes without warning. Shaina starts out appearing like a villain with a grudge against Pegasus Seiya, but the truth is revealed that she is actually in love with him.
That’s all I’ve got for this edition of the Year of the Snake. Did I miss any other titles with snakes getting a featured role? I’m sure I did. Let me know what they are in the comments!