Tanuki

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A Tanuki as appearing in Pathfinder. Not shown: a massive scrote.

The Tanuki is a yokai, or monster, from Japanese mythology. Specifically, it is the second-most famous of the hengeyokai, shapeshifting magical animals, inferior only to the kitsune in its popularity in pop-culture. At least, in its native Japan - Tanuki are not so well-known outside of Japan.

Firstly, this is because of translation issues: the real-life tanuki is more commonly called the Raccoon Dog, as it is a tree-climbing canid species that superficially resembles a raccoon in its colortion. This species is only native to East Asia, although introduced populations have spread like wildfire in Europe, and can now be found in several regions of the former Soviet Union, from the Baltic States, to European and Central Russia, to the Black Soil Belt, the Lower Volga Region, the northern Caucasus and Dagestan, and the Ukraine. They've also begun spreading into other European regions; they're plentiful in Estonia, Finland, Latvia and Lithuania, and have been reported as far away as Serbia, France, Romania, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Norway, Denmark, and Sweden.

Not bad for something that mostly flew under the English-speaking world's radar for the 80s and 90s; prior to the 2000s, tanuki were often mistranslated as "raccoons" or "badgers" in various anime and manga.

The second major issue with tanuki getting known in the English-speaking world falls under an issue our frenemies on TVTropes call "bowdlerization"; the need to translate or alter imported media in such a way as to avoid being potentially offensive (which can serve a purpose besides deterring busybody moral guardians). See, tanuki are famous for one thing in their native country: having really big nuts. The male raccoon dog packs a fairly sizable set of seed-factories under its tail for a critter its size, but this is exaggerated in the folkloric tanuki. As a yokai, the tanuki is a symbol of the eight kinds of financial fortune. Due to Japanese word-play, the symbol for "financial luck" is its overinflated scrotum (the word "kintama" is the Japanese for "testicles", but the kanji it's built out of literally mean "golden balls"); traditionally, people rub the balls on a tanuki statue in order to seek a blessing when it comes to financial decision. Seriously, there's a freaking Japanese children's rhyme which is basically chanting about how the tanuki's nuts swish and jiggle as it walks.

Oh yeah, how big are we talking? In mythological pictures, tanuki are seen using their nuts as everything from umbrellas to giant clubs which they use to beat people to death with. Here's one trying to catch birds with them. Them's some big balls, kid. For obvious reasons, this is something that English parents aren't too happy about letting their kids see, although people are slowly lightening up.

The mythological tanuki is a playful, friendly sort of yokai, or at least an amusingly inept would-be trickster, who uses flight and shapeshifting powers to help people in need or play tricks. And yes, the balls come into play with the shapeshifting; tanuki are actually better at shapeshifting than kitsunes are, in no small part because their oversized testicles can be used to create larger, separate transformations, like a merchant's shop or a palanquin complete with guys to carry it.

To give you an idea of how popular tanuki are in their homeland, remember Super Mario 3? The first unique power-ups in that game, the Super Leaf and the Tanooki Suit, were both references to the tanuki.

Dungeons & Dragons[edit]

The tanuki has appeared in three of the five editions of Dungeons & Dragons, as one of the sub-racial options for the hengeyokai race. It appeared in both Oriental Adventures (1e and 3e), and in Dragon Magazine #404... sadly, because the D&D hengeyokai race is kind of crap, the D&D tanuki (or "raccoon dog hengeyokai", to give it its official name) is really nothing to write home about.

1st Edition[edit]

Ability Score Modifiers: +2 Strength, -2 Wisdom
Ability Score Minimum/Maximum: Strength 12/18i, Dexterity 9/18, Constitution 12/18, Intelligence 12/18, Wisdom 12/18, Charisma 12/17
Class & Level Limits: Shukenja 8, Kensai 6, Bushi Unlimited, Wu Jen 9
Movement Value: 12'
Shapeshifting: A Tanuki hengeyokai can change form once per day per level; once it has exhausted this bility, it must remain in its current form until the next day. Changing form takes a full round to complete, and all armor & equipment is left behind when it transforms. Spells that reveal illusions do not affect a tanuki in its animal or human forms.
Animal Form: A tanuki in animal form has Infravision 120 feet, a bite that does 1d6 damage, an AC of 9, and a 9' movement rate. It can only speak the hengeyokai and animal languages in this form. It cannot use weapons, armor or equipmient, nor can it cast spells. In animal form, its maximum hitpoint value is halved (round up); damage from one form carries over and it cannot assume animal form if this would leave it with 0 or less hit points. If reduced to 0 HP in animal form, the tanuki is slain outright.
Bipedal Form: Now appearing as a humanoid animal, the tanuki retains infravision and the ability to speak to animals, but has access to all of its normal abilities.
Human Form: In human form, a tanuki loses its infravision and animal-speech abilities, but retains all of its class abilities.
Restricted Alignment: Any Evil

3rd edition[edit]

Ability Score Modifiers: +2 Strength, -2 Wisdom
Size: Medium or Small (in animal form)
Base Speed: 30 feet
Type: Shapechanger
Alternate Form (Su): A tanuki hengeyokai can assume one of three possible forms at will; an animal, a hybrid, or a human. This functions as a Polymorph Other spell that can be used 1 + character level times per day. Changing form is a full-round action that provokes attacks of opportunity.
Animal Form: In animal form, all equipment the hengeyokai is wearing or carrying is melded into the tanuki's form, with magic items ceasing to function. The tanuki has low-light vision, the ability to speak to non-hengeyokai tanuki, a 30ft speed, an AC of 13, a bite that does 1d4+1 damage, Strength 12, Dexterity 13, and Constitution 12. It also gains a +10 racial bonus to Disguise checks made to pass itself off as an animal.
Hybrid Form: A hengeyokai in hybrid form cannot wear Heavy Armor, but all of its equipment functions as normal. It gains Low-Light Vision and the ability to speak with animals of its own kind. A tanuki in hybrid form gains a +4 bonus to Wilderness Lore checks.
Favored Class: Wu jen
Level Adjustment: +1

As a hengeyokai subrace, tanuki were updated to 3.5 in Dragon Magazine #318, which removed their Level Adjustment and changed their type to Humanoid (Shapechanger).

4th Edition[edit]

Ability Scores: +2 Dexterity, +2 Wisdom or Charisma
Size: Medium (Human/Hybrid form) or Tiny (animal form)
Speed: 7 squares (35 feet)
Vision: Low-light
Skill Bonuses: +2 Bluff, +2 Stealth
Elusive: +1 racial bonus to Reflex
Fey Origin: You are considered to be a Fey creature for effects that relate to creature origin.
Beast Nature: You are considered both a magical beast and a humanoid for effects that relate to creature type.
Shapechanger: You have the Shapechanger subtype.
Languge of Beasts: You can communicate with any natural or fey beast that either shares your animal form or is closely related to it (for example, Dog Hengeyokai can speak with wolves). You can understand and speak to animals in animal and hybrid form, but in human form, you can only understand them.
Racial Power - Nature's Mask: At-Will Polymorph Minor Action power that you can only use once per round. You immediately change into your human, animal or hybrid form as you wish. In human and animal form, you gain a +5 bonus to Bluff checks made to disguise yourself as your apparent species. In animal form, you cannot use attack powers, although you can sustain them, nor can you speak any humanoid languages, although your statistics are otherwise unchanged. Equipment melds into your animal form; you continue to gain the benefits of all equipment bar shields and item powers. As a tanuki, you also gain access to a Climb speed of 3 squares (15 feet) in animal form.

Pathfinder[edit]

In Pathfinder, the tanuki hasn't made the leap to player race like its kitsune rival has, but it has appeared in the 3rd Pathfinder Bestiary as a monster. It's described as a mischievous trickster who likes socializing and has special powers to manipulate objects, via its Major Creation spell-like ability.

In a subtle reference to its infamous ball-bashing abilities in the myths, the PF Tanuki has a slam attack which it can mysteriously use whilst its hands are otherwise full. Now, the artwork obviously suggests that this is actually a kind of tail-slap attack, ala Mario with his Tanuki Leaf & Suit upgrades, but everyone knows what's really being invoked.

Soburin Tanuki[edit]

In the Mists of Akuma setting, tanuki were once a playful race of forest-dwelling pranksters, but most of the race were forcibly driven from their homes and enslaved by the Ceramian invaders during the 200 years of the Kengen Occupation. These forcibly urbanized tanuki have lost a large portion of that rebellious spark, and though they have begun to recolonize their traditional forest villages (or "bunki-mura"), the scars of their slavery run deep.

Size: Small
Speed: 30 feet, Climb 20 feet
Ancient Talents: You can cast the Minor Illusion cantrip, using Intelligence as your spellcasting ability score.
Subtle Tail: You have a tail. You are unable to carry a weapon or shield with your tail, nor can you manipulate fine objects, but you gain advantage when passing secret messages or otherwise communicating using your tail.
Vulnerability: Acid
Subrace: Choose either the Forest Tanuki or Urban Tanuki subrace.

Forest Tanuki:

Ability Score Increase: +2 Dexterity, +1 Intelligence
Keen Senses: You have Proficiency in Perception.

Urban Tanuki:

Ability Score Increase: +2 Intelligence, + 1 Dexterity
City Slicker: You have Advantage on Stealth checks made in Urban environments.

Monstergirls[edit]

LamiaMonstergirl.pngThis article or section is about Monstergirls (or a monster that is frequently depicted as a Monstergirl), something that /tg/ widely considers to be the purest form of awesome. Expect PROMOTIONS! and /d/elight in equal measure, often with drawfaggotry or writefaggotry to match.
The sneaky merchant mamono, Gyoubu Danuki. Touch fluffy calves.

The tanuki as a monstergirl is something of a rarity - perhaps the only tanuki MG that most anons on /tg/ could name is Mamizou Futatsuiwa, of the infamous Touhou. Still, they do exist out there in the wide web.

In terms of personality, tanuki haven't got a really "solid" archetype, due to their rarity compared to their more famous kitsune cousins. Common aspects include:

  • Loveable oafishness, based on the tanuki's tendency to be a "comic relief" character in the myths and thus making their MG counterparts cutely clumsy, ditsy, spaced out or otherwise endearingly less-than-bright.
  • Mischievousness - like kitsunes, tanuki were tricksters, so a puckish sense of play is a natural attitude to give a tanuki monstergirl.
  • Hedonism, because the tanuki's big belly may symbolize "bold and calm decisiveness" and its sake bottle may symbolize "virtue", but it clearly presents an image of a hard-partying monster to anyone not clued into Japanese symbolism. Tanuki party girls are pretty common, and they may even be known for being particularly horny and/or sexually aggressive even by monster standards.

Other aspects are more individualistic, although a tomboyish nature in reference to the overly masculine & sexually charged aspects of the mythical tanuki is fairly popular as well.

In terms of looks, tanuki fall into much the same territory as kitsune when it comes to the beast-to-girl ratio, and being shapechangers confuses the mixture. The defining attribute of a tanuki-girl is her long, raccoon-like tail, although some artists prefer to use the more toony "club-tipped tail", popularized by videogame depictions of the tanuki vis a vis Mario's "Super Leaf" and "Tanooki Suit" powerups and Pokemon's Sentret. Tanuki-ears (rounded triangles) and/or a "mask" of dark coloration around the eyes are also common traits.

Because the tanuki is traditionally portrayed with a large, round belly, it's common for tanuki-girls to be portrayed as potbellied, cutely chubby, or just very voluptuously curvy.

The tanuki's association with its balls is perhaps the most contentious part of its depiction as a monstergirl, and may explain why this race is rarely given the treatment, much like the near-perpetually erect satyrs. Some just throw the connotation away entirely. Some "convert it", giving the tanuki-girl huge breasts or even the ability to alter the size of her bustline, in a "feminine equivalent" to the infamous monster's junk. And then there are those /d/eviants who say "to heck with it, she's not a tanuki without a proper set of 'nuki nuts" and make her a dickgirl. There are even those who portray their tanuki-girls as having balls but no penises, although these people are seen as weird even by the futa-tanuki lovers.

MGE[edit]

In the Monster Girl Encyclopedia, the only tanuki monstergirl to show up so far is the Gyoubu Danuki - based on some regional variation/spelling of the word, it's hard to say; Japanese yokai lists are complicated and incestuous tangles. This monstergirl is a scheming, sneaky thing who uses her intelligence and adeptness at financial matters to amass power through the role of a merchant or moneylender. These sketchy business-owners freely engage in schemes like selling corruptive monster-goods to human women and using their money to entrap men in webs of debt and wage slavery so they can take them as their lovers, earning them a well-deserved reputation as dangerous and untrustworthy - and no, the fact that a married danuki becomes more honest because she's no longer out to trap a man doesn't help.

As can be seen in their picture, gyoubu danuki resemble petite girls (if not lolis) with tanuki ears, mask-like colorations on their faces, tanuki tails, and super-fluffy calf-wrappings shaped to be reminiscent of the infamous tanuki ball-sack.

These mamono may be inspired by Mamizou Futatsuiwa, who is herself a tanuki merchant in Gensokyo, although far more honest in her dealings than the MGE's gyoubu danuki. Alternatively, they may be based in real myths of tanuki pretending to be merchants to play pranks on people.