A nue (鵺) is a legendary creature found in Japanese folklore. It is described as having the head of a monkey, the body of a raccoon dog, the legs of a tiger, and a snake as a tail. According to the legend, a nue can metamorphose into a black cloud and fly. Due to its appearance, it is sometimes referred to as a Japanese chimera. Nue are supposed to be bringers of misfortune and illness.
According to The Tale of the Heike, Emperor Konoe, the Emperor of Japan, became ill after having terrible nightmares every night, and a dark cloud appeared at two o'clock in the morning on the roof of the palace in Kyoto during the summer of 1153. The story says that the samurai Minamoto no Yorimasa staked-out the roof one night and fired an arrow into the cloud, out of which fell a dead nue. Yorimasa then supposedly sank the body in the Sea of Japan. In a local expansion of the story, the nue's corpse floated into a certain bay, and the locals, fearing a curse, buried it. A mound near the bay which exists today is supposed to be the grave created for this nue.
The word, Nue, appears in the oldest of Japanese literature. Early quotes include Kojiki (712) and Wamyō Ruijushō (c. 934). Due to the use of Man'yōgana, the historical spelling is known to have been nuye. At this early time, although, it had a different semantic meaning. It referred to a bird known as White's Thrush.
In the thirteenth century, Heike Monogatari makes reference to a creature called a nue. In addition to having the head of a monkey, the body of a tanuki, the paws of a tiger, and a snake as a tail, it has the voice of a White's Thrush.
In popular culture
- In the Nagasarete Airantō manga Nue is the number one rival of the lord of the East
- In the manga/anime series Nurarihyon no Mago (known as Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan in the United States), Nue is the first offspring of the Hagoromo-Gitsune (a type of nine-tailed fox demon).
- A Nue appears in Volume 5 of the manga Genju no Seiza, by Matsuri Akino; when the characters unintentionally time travel back to the Heian period in Japanese history, they are attacked by one.
- Nue Houjuu, one of Touhou Project characters, is based on a Nue.
- In the manga/anime series "Clannad" Fuuko and Sonohara need to sculpt a Nue to decide Sonoharas faith.
- In the manga/anime series Bastard!!, Arshes Nei contains a Nue in her magic sword, the Thunder God Sword.
- In the manga series Black Bird, Misao had been targeted by a clan of Nue possessing humans.
- In the manga/anime series Air Gear, Nue the leader of team "Black Crow" is a Thunder King of Genesis
- In the OVA anime series called "Karas" one of the main characters is called Nue who has a human/demon transformation (resemblance of a Nue) and controls lightning as one major ability besides being an expert gunner.
- In the manga/anime series Shrine of the Morning Mist the characters fight a Nue.
- In the manga/anime series Amatsuki, the main character is attacked by a Nue at the beginning of the series.
- In the manga/anime series Bleach, Renji Abarai's Zanpakutou appear at the beginning as a Nue, later separated as two entities.
- In the video game Breath of Fire III, the game's first boss encounter is with a Nue that has been terrorizing a local town.
- Cavallaro, Dani. (2010). Magic as Metaphor in Anime: A Critical Study. McFarland. p. 88. ISBN 0-7864-4744-3. Google Books. Retrieved on April 26, 2011.
- Rosen, Brenda. (2009). The Mythical Creatures Bible: The Definitive Guide to Legendary Beings. Sterling Pub. p. 107. ISBN 1-4027-6536-3. Google Books. Retrieved on April 26, 2011.
- Nue; The Obakemono project, www.obakemono.com, 20 August 2006, (accessed 21 January 2007)