HWE Tanuki Picture

Name: Tanuki

Alias: Raccoon Dog, Bakedanuki, sometimes mistaken of Mujina or Mami

Alignment: Chaotic Good, sometimes Neutral Evil

Rank: 1 Kaijin, can sometimes take forms that are much larger with help.

Size:

Height - ranges from 1ft. at the shoulder to 4 ft. tall.

Length - 3ft long to 8 ft. long. Their tail often grows as long as they are tall.

Weight - 30 to 200 lbs. Fully grown Tanuki are squat and stout but heavy as a Taiko drum.

Powers:

Strong and Stout - Like many Shapeshifter Yokai, Tanuki are superhumanly strong which goes a ways towards actually making their various antics and disguises feasible. While generally jolly and gullible looking, a Tanuki once angered is an unrepentant and brutal killer that often finds many strange and humiliating ways to dispose of their attacker.

Master Shapeshifter - Tanukis are masters of disguise par excellence. A Tanuki can make themselves appear as nearly anything provided it is the same mass as them give or take a pound. The older the Tanuki the more skilled it's mastery of illusion and changing its shape becomes. This even extends to people who Tanuki can take the form of and integrate into society for years undetected. If multiple Tanuki band together, they can each contribute their total mass to the resulting form and create even more outlandish forms and illusions. They can even pretend to be other Yokai like O-Nyudo, taking on the aspect of the Yokai they are imitating. Though a Tanuki would be hard pressed to turn into a Kaiju unless they had a whole clan helping them. Some Yokai are actually forms that the Tanuki came up with themselves to surprise and scare people such as the Shiri-Me.

Brewmaster - As avid lovers of sake, beer and all forms of alcohol, Tanuki have a alcohol tolerance that makes them practically immune to alcohol poisoning. If anything Tanuki simply get crazier and more drunk reaching a state of revelry that defies chemical science. Speaking of which, being such avid lovers of drink, Tanuki know the age and strength of any alcohol they take in hand, regardless of its container. They can also detect anything amiss with said booze. While intoxicated Tanuki can enjoy the relaxing momentum of being drunk while not being entirely witless, allowing them to emulate a sort of natural 'drunken fist' and the sort of comical fights one associates with Chinese Theatre.

Lore of Nature - Tanuki were once capricious but potent spirits of nature, to the point they were regarded as the foremost of 'nature deities' in Shinto. While having more or less abandoned the charge in modern times, Tanuki still know a great deal about the natural world and how it functions. From which herbs cure which ailments to the behaviors of wildlife to the identifying the onset of natural phenomena. As such they find fortune in unlikely places, leading to the idea that Tanuki can grant a positive change in fortune.

Money Bags - Tanuki have the strange penchant for being able to 'make money stretch' and if they feel it's worth their while they will engineer methodology to make either their own or someone else's fortunes soar. This was particularly potent in regards to the gold standard as in ancient times the actual animal's scrotum was tough and soft enough to make gold leaf with. Yokai Tanuki are much the same though they never have to remove their own testicles to do so as part of their shapeshifting expertise. Still, that many of their natural kin died to produce such effects makes Tanuki extremely fickle about monetary gains and are as just as likely to send fortunes plummeting if they feel the recipient doesn't deserve it.

Bashing Butts and Dese Nuts - For hundreds of years Tanuki have been well known for their testicular fortitude. Ironically the scrotum and testicles of a Tanuki are the toughest and most elastic part of their body, followed by their belly and tail respectively. Tanuki can make these titanic nuts grow to many times the size of their body and swing them like wrecking balls to crush and smash those that offend them. Not just a tool of brute demolition, a Tanuki's 'boys' are a primary aspect of their shapeshifting and can be molded, stretched and shaped into whatever tool or object the Tanuki requires. They can be used as drums, ships, parachutes, fishing nets, or any other ridiculously mundane thing one can imagine. A Tanuki could even shapeshift into a shop keeper and use their scrotum to form road stall they are operating.

Weaknesses:

Limited Mass - A Tanuki can only shapeshift into something of equal mass. To become something with more mass, Tanuki must work together with other Tanuki or other Shapeshifting Yokai to accomplish the effect. To imitate a Kaiju or something with a great deal of Enigma, they must likewise match it through quantity or rarely quality. This makes turning into something above Rank 3 very difficult but not impossible.

Giant Golden Balls- While very durable, almost laughably so, the testicles of a Tanuki are their source of power and while they can take a righteous pounding, certain blades blessed by Oriental Faiths can harm and potentially even castrate a Tanuki. A 'fixed' Tanuki is a sad sight and often devolves back into a simple albeit intelligent animal, using up whatever Enigma remains in its body until it expires and returns to being a Hito-dama.

Natural Focus Required - A Tanuki's illusions and shape changing all involve a natural catalyst. The most potent of these is a fresh green leaf which is usually found on their heads. Tanuki can try to hide this by disguising it as a piece of art on an object or by wearing a hat. Should the leaf be removed, the illusion is revealed for what it is with the Tanuki visible and its scrotum usually as whatever else it was pretending to be.

----

Day 8: Of Shapeshifters and Foxes

“So Thero-Kun, have you ever had problems with Yokai, you know, here?” Ruki asked, referring to the apparently Yokai-free Den of Predation.

“More than I would like, but less than elsewhere in the influence sphere of the ToHo Plane.” Kaitheros began “I can usually sense when there is an ‘intruder’ to the Den, as well as detect and name every species currently present in the Den due to the energy toll they pay to exist here, so if a new species tries to enter, like say, an invasive species or Kaiju attempts to invade, I am usually aware of it as such, I usually see too it that the issue is nipped in the bud there, either turning them away or outright extermination.”

“That seems rather draconian, don’t you think?”

“It is, however, the Den of Predation’s balance and continued existence doesn’t need Yokai messing said balance up. Especially since most are used to how planes work and try to avoid the energy toll making them mooch off of the Den’s space, resources and energy without so much as providing anything in return. Needless to say it can quickly become a problem.”

“Yokai can avoid energy tolls of Arks? How?”

“Most try and most fail. However, there is a special breed of Yokai which are a damn invasive little breed and practically impossible to root out if they don’t want to be found.” Kaitheros sighed; a look of exasperation upon his face hinted numerous problems with this ‘breed’ he was speaking of. “This particular breed is infamous as for all intents and purposes they resemble ordinary animals.”

“Oh! You mean Foxes and Tanuki right?”

“I refer to their family, yes. Kitsune and Tanuki are the most famous and well known members of said family, but it applies to all manner of shape shifting animal. As we discussed yesterday, they are the Shape Shifters, and the Fourth of the current great Yokai clans alongside the Oni, Tengu and Kappa and the ones who likewise forced the O-Nyudo into ruin.”

“How can cute little animals force giants the size of mountains into ruin?”

“Magical Prowess, Shape Changing and Cunning. But before that, lets discuss the origins of this particular family as that goes a long way to explaining each members motivations and goals. All Shapeshifting Animal begins life as a Dama, like all Yokai, but due to a variety of factors, is reborn into a type of animal spirit. Unlike Oni, O-Nyudo, or others reborn in this fashion, Animal Spirits are effectively the Dama of Animals which due to enigma exposure in their life and human interactions are reborn into an ethereal spirit of which immediately makes its way into the material plane… and makes a host of the animal species they were in their past existence. Most often, the spirit chooses a really old specimen who would in turn provide the least resistance to the dama and more chances at surviving. All Animal spirits start off at this point, but they diverge drastically from here.”

“Huh, so the stories of really old animals becoming Yokai have a basic in fact, huh? What about objects?”

“That is a subject for another time, but it is in a similar process I will say that much. While all drastically different in personalities, all Shapeshifters have a desire to migrate into human society and intermingle with humans. These are a family of Yokai whose very goals and existences often need human support or ‘humanity’ is the end goal. As such aggressive giants who raze villages and level mountains proved to be too much of a counter to that goal, so the Shapeshifters began to take the shapes of those giants.”

“Why? It seems counterproductive to me to take the form of the very thing you are trying to scare away.”

“It would seem, but remember O-Nyudo often needs to feed off a specific set of circumstances before they feed. Shapeshifters who took the shapes of O-Nyudo did so with such intensity, to where people began to figure out how to beat O-Nyudo and see through the tricks of fear, eventually resulting in many of the O-Nyudo subspecies to fade back into the ToHo plane as there were far-more shape shifting animals than there were giants as well as people O-Nyudo once terrorized now using countermeasures taught by the Shapeshifters to get rid of O-Nyudo or ward off their aggressions.”

“Sort of like a smaller, more efficient predator that can breed quicker exploiting and outcompeting the former big super-predators, correct?”

“Or like Man using his knowledge and affinity for tools to change the playing field and get rid of those predators as well, which makes more sense in that, for Shape shifting animals, emulating and becoming ‘one’ with humans is pretty much their entire existential goal.”

“Become ‘one’ with humans? What do you mean? More rape and exploitation?”

“At first it was like that, but over time the Shapeshifters have adapted or rather, emulated the rules of society to their own. As crazy as it sounds, the Shapeshifting animals actually wish to BECOME human, at least, in regards to one family.”

“So they are reverse-furries?” Ruki asked.

Kaitheros was at first baffled, but then realized what Ruki meant.

“Somewhat. Being born animals, humanity and human achievements is viewed as a sort of nirvana for them, a nirvana they would never experience in their own lives. Sentience, Tools, Faith in something greater, Conveniences like Technology, guaranteed shelter, easy to access food sources, euphoric goods like Alcohol, new forms of entertainment, rational thought and emotional complexity; all things that make human existence or at least living side-by-side with humans something of a dream come true for any animal. This probably makes the shapeshifting Yokai, on an instinctual level, feel inadequate and disgusted with their existence. As such sometime in the distant past, the Shapeshifting Yokai clans made steps towards trying to emulate and hopefully intersperse with humans granting the Yokai the same sort of privileges, support and security that the human race as acquired for itself.”

“So it's like in Buddhism where Animals are viewed on a tier below mankind, sort of?”

“Buddhism had a huge part to play in causing the Shapeshifters to make strides to becoming more like human beings, as did faith in general. Buddhism preached that any person can reach Nirvana by following the Buddha’s path, in the animal’s eyes; humanity IS that nirvana that was denied to them in their current existence. So naturally the various Shapeshifters all strive to emulate humanity in some way, but every animal clan does this in their own way… as such I won’t be able to sum up every animal Yokai at once, this may take a day or two to cover the major four clans, but knowing you, you won’t mind.”

“Not at all!” Ruki smiled, a huge-shit eating grin adorning her face.

“Thought not. Anyways, our first subject of the night…”

"Can I learn about the Tanuki first?"

"And pray tell, what inspired that choice?"

"Well, Tanuki are jolly and cute creatures that give good fortune and drink a lot so they are probably the least horrible of them right?" Ruki asked hopeful.

”A strange line of logic but not entirely wrong." Kaitheros mused. "We might as well start with the Shapeshifter that is the most skilled at shape shifting."

"I remember that Kitsune have seven forms but Tanuki have eight. Is that true?"

"If by forms you mean 'categories' of the things Tanuki can turn into then yes. Kitsune are well versed in seven categories of transformation while Tanuki that have mastered their craft can become all eight categories."

"What are the categories?"

"Animals, Animate Objects, Inanimate Objects, Other Yokai, Natural Forces, Places, Things that Shouldn't Be and People."

"Tanuki can be ALL of those things? Does that mean they can turn into Kaiju?!"

"Thankfully that is a feat that has mostly eluded even the greatest of Shapeshifters. Enigma is not as easy to replicate as mass. And mass is the defining limitation of all shape shifting. The larger the intended form the larger the number of Shapeshifters required to actually bring it into being. It would take a legion of Tanuki to transform into something my size let alone anything larger."

"But Tanuki can turn into monsters...like the O-Nyudo?"

"Exactly. A team of Tanuki can make themselves look like a giant or even Yokai that are nothing but perverted figments of their intoxicated minds. A popular one with the Tanuki is the Shiri-Me."

"The WHAT?" Ruki recoiled, the name translating to literally 'Butt Eye'.

"It is a simple, shockingly grotesque form that appears to be a featureless person. Once approached it will drop its clothing, lift its rear and spread it's cheeks. Revealing a baleful glowing eye that shines with enough intensity to blind its target temporarily. The shock allows the Shiri-Me to scuttle away to the amusement of the Tanuki that is masquerading in the form."

"So it's one of those harmless 'prank' Yokai."

"A prank is harmless by merit of its circumstance. Tanuki were not always the jovial and suspiciously gullible gluttonous drunkards they are seen as today. They were once primeval Yokai of the forest and were considered 'gods', foremost in nature to the Shinto faith. They were much more pragmatic about keeping humans out of places that Yokai hold sacred and their tricks were designed to drive men insane or blunder into their own death. Where upon the 'Bakenuki' as they were called then devoured the remains."

"How big did they get?"

"Big enough to thrash a bear let alone a human. They weren't shy about working together either. However even then the Tanuki were decidedly neutral Yokai that set established boundaries and rewarded those that paid them respect and worship."

"So what changed?"

"Buddhism found its way to Japan and soon created the O-Nyudo as a spiritual consequence. The Tanuki and many other animals seen as divine were reduced to either mere messengers or not divine at all. This regressed the Tanuki to but a fraction of their once formidable size and they were perplexed as to how to deal with it. That is until realized how fragile the circumstances of the O-Nyudo's hunting methods were. Not able to face them head on, the Tanuki instead resorted to trickery and their art of shape shifting. Like farmers that learn to turn their tools into weapons, the Tanuki took something trivial and made it an endlessly versatile and formidable talent. One that allowed them to drive the O-Nyudo back into the Toho Plane and at a fraction of their numbers."

"So they were like Yokai rebels fending off an occupying invasion!"

"More or less." Kaitheros grumped. "The Tanuki were not able to return to their primeval roots and because humans were fascinated by the strange and often humorous nature of their transformations, the Tanuki embraced their new role and sought to live among humanity rather than apart from them."

"See? They don't sound like bad people at all. More like silly drunk uncles."

"Silly drunk uncles that have testicles strong enough to splatter a man into paste with a single swing."

"Oh here we go~" Ruki chimed in, eyes rolling.

"Tanuki embraced humanity but in doing so likewise embraced their vices and indulgences. Tanuki took to feeding on the shock, fear and even the reason and inhibition of humans. As such a Tanuki enjoys either starting drunken revels, getting humans extremely intoxicated and of course continuing their shape shifting pranks and schemes. A primary component of these are their 'kintama' which can likewise alter itself to suit whatever need or shape the Tanuki requries."

"Next thing you'll tell me is that they can turn their balls into rocket launchers and laser beams."

"Thankfully the extent of their shape shifting is of the pragmatically physical though in this day and age it would not surprise me to find a Tanuki that could turn his testicles into a turret to fire his brethren shape shifted into missiles."

"You tell you'd see that and not laugh. Come on." Ruki insisted.

"Oh Tanuki can be very 'amusing'...until they start guzzling entire barrels of sake."

"Wouldn't they pass out by then?"

"Never. A Tanuki is the sole Yokai that can drink an Oni under the table and ask for ten more rounds or until the tap runs dry. They never suffer the adverse effects of too much drink, if anything they only grow more wild and unpredictable with levels of toxicity that could cause a whale to drown ten times over."

"They shouldn't be able to even stand up!"

"This is a Yokai that feeds on hedonism Ruki. Tanuki are creatures so enamored with alcohol that it is likely that they either created or spread the art of Drunken Fist. The more drunk they become the more unpredictable and evasive they become. At that point even they don't know where they're are going as their body simply flows, undulates and teeters around as a maelstrom of limbs and swinging genitals. These creatures instinctively know what kind of alchohol they are handling and can detect anything amiss with it as well."

"Okay so they're Lords of the Duff Gut. I get it. Don't they still have other powers?"

"Some. They are still in some way or form Yokai of the forest and know a surprisingly great deal about nature from the rarest herbs and their properties to when an earthquake will strike or when a rain storm is coming."

"Is that why they always carry umbrellas and coolie hats?"

"Avid travelers and ramblers, Tanuki see the signs in all of nature. As such they are prepared for whatever comes their way, dealing with the situation as it comes to them. They sometimes share or manipulate circumstances to great 'fortune' for themselves and others as the mood strikes them. They can even raise monetary gains should they feel a person is worthy of such fortune."

"If they don't?"

"Then misfortune and lost opportunity follows. Tanuki can easily orchestrate omens of wrath as they can omens of goodwill. They also still hold some locations in the world as sacred to at least their kind if not all Yokai and often steer away or scare humans that venture into such locations. Most Tanuki prefer to embarrass or scare humans with their pranks but some have a mean streak and an angry Tanuki has the strength and cunning to be a relentlessly brutal killer should it be offended or enraged. It is the rare human that survives the depredations of a Tanuki. Some may even end up enslaved to prominent Yokai lords if a Tanuki spirits them away."

"You keep talking about how Tanuki have deadly shape shifting balls. How could it use their balls for half of this stuff? Wouldn't that...well...hurt?"

"I wouldn't know, my kind do not external genitals. Such is the folly of mammals." Kaitheros quipped back, making Ruki flush with embarassment.

"Well I wouldn't know either that's why I'm asking!"

Kaitheros had a good laugh at his Miko's expense before explaining.

"Do you know how gold leaf is made?"

"Not really...how?"

"When humans began to desire turning raw gold into currency, they were required to safely hammer the pliable metal flat and thus stretch the amount out. To do this they needed something to wrap the gold in that was soft enough to not mar the gold's surface but also flexible enough to withstand the constant pounding of hammers. There was one such material that made this task quite expedient for it has both qualities."

"Really? Tanuki balls?"

"Yes, the scrotum particularly. Even the native animal has quite a prestige set of 'jewels' for its size. Large enough that when used for making gold leaf it works surprisingly well."

"So a bunch of cut Tanuki got their balls cut off so we could make gold leaf? That's horrible!"

"Tanuki themselves took this perception to further improve their shape shifting abilities. For a single piece of gold could be stretched the distance of 8 tatami mats. As such Tanuki can stretch their scrotum that far and elder Tanuki who master their craft can cover a distance of 1000 tatami mats."

"Those are huge balls."

"They are also the source of a Tanuki's power. Blunt force hardly does anything to them but a blade blessed by Orient Faith can more or less castrate a Tanuki. Diminishing it down to the state of a normal but still intelligent animal that lives until its Enigma reserves run out."

"That's really horrible." Ruki said, cringing.

"Sometimes necessary though Tanuki have since the Edo period accepted the favorable public relations that humans have given them, even if they are fickle concerning financial favors. Out of the four they are indeed the least likely to intentionally murder you and feast on your corpse. They balance this by being occasional liars, cheats, womanizers and perpetual drunks and of course deviant pranksters and notorious perverts."

"So how do you spot their tricks if they're so good at shape shifting?"

"Tanuki require a natural catalyst for their illusions and any shape shifting that isn't localized to their balls. The most potent of these is a fresh green leaf from the forest they inhabit. The leaf is usually on their head but some are clever enough to hide it less suspicious places. They are known to hide it under hats or make appear as a simple decoration. Hidden in plain sight. Should the leaf be removed, the illusion falls away and exposes the Tanuki."

"Would the leaf glow if I used your sight to see it?"

"It would and thus your ancestors were quite acquainted with ferreting out Tanuki up to mischief. Harmless or otherwise."

"So are Tanuki horrible rape monsters?" Ruki said growing slightly disillusioned with her own culture.

"Depends on what you mean by 'rape'." Kaitheros replied, trying to find the right wording for the issue. "Tanuki are drunkards and revelers bar none. While transformed a Tanuki can be charming and fun. If eroticism spikes and the opportunity presents itself, a Tanuki hardly has the mental faculties to turn down a liaison with a human. Especially if the human themselves is drunk or passed out from the festivities. By the next morning the Tanuki is gone and on the road again."

"So they are the hit it and quit it types huh?" Ruki "So they never take responsibility?"

"Almost never. Tanuki still remain an emotionally and familial distant from humans despite living in their communities and enjoying human society. While some Tanuki are willing to settle down for a stint and may leave many bastard hybrid children of various quality all over the country, they rarely take any of it personally or to heart. To a Tanuki breeding with a human is just an entertaining detour. When a Tanuki considers real family obligations, it is among their own kind. They are very well aware of what happens when humans discover they have been lied to and sidestep the issue entirely by never growing too attached to a human. And among the four breeds of Shapeshifter none know kinship like Tanuki. If you hurt one Tanuki of a large clan, you have angered not only the rest that Tanuki's family but also the entire clan and the leading Danuki elder. The O-Nyudo learned this the hard way."

"Father of the year material." Ruki muttered.

"At least among their own. You can imagine why I wouldn't want such a subversive, clannish and unpredictable breed of energy leeches in my Ark now can't you?"

"I suppose." Ruki admitted. "They never got one over on you did they?"

"No but they got close." Kaitheros answered grudgingly. "One clan thought it would hilarious to form an smaller version of me...but with massive human breasts and bright red lips that nearly dwarfed the imposters head. They were a bit upset over being denied entry to the Ark and so decided to deliberately perform a bad impersonation of me out of spite."

"Pfffft~ Hihihihihi!" Ruki burst into laughter, clutching her stomach and finally rolling to the floor, unable to stop.

"I distinctly remembering that upon being exposed, the breasts were made out of several dozen testicles each which only proceeded to make the spectacle that much more jarring."

Ruki continued to howl, now seeing the fur speckled nuts hanging off the drag queen version of Kaitheros.

"You're enjoying this aren't you?"

Ruki simply nodded and went into another fit of giggles.

"Well while you are enjoying a more embarrassing moment of my history, I think we should cover the second most gifted Shapeshifter."

"Whew~ and...*snerk* that one is?." Ruki said, finally settling down.

"The Tanuki's greatest rivals and unlike the Tanuki, the they have been divided on their approach to mankind for millenia."

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Continue Reading: Ages of Man