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Fans of the massively popular and long-running anime ninja-action series Naruto got a surprise this week when the major villain Orochimaru revealed that they are gender non-binary. The Naruto non-binary character brings some queer diversity to one of the world’s most popular cartoons while making fans re-think everything they know about one of its most major villains.
It makes sense why Orochimaru would refuse to identify as either male or female. They have the magical ability to summon snakes and can inhabit the bodies of others with their spirit. As such, Orochimaru can switch bodies once every three years.
In a recently aired episode of Boruto: Naruto Next Generations, Orochimaru speaks with their son Mutsuki after testing Mutsuki’s skills in a practice fight.
You see, Mutsuki is basically one of two clones engineered by Orochimaru, and Orochimaru is training him in ninja skills before allowing him to join a group of ninjas-in-training on a special mission.
In the episode, Mutsuki asks their parent whether they should refer to them as “mother” or “father.”
Orochimaru replies, “That’s a silly question.”
Mutsuki then says, “Though I don’t care either way.”
Orochimaru then explains, “There have been times when I was a man, and times, a woman, as well as something not of this world. Outside appearances don’t matter. The will to uncover all truth, that is the core of my being.”
Fans know that Boruto is actually a sequel of the original Naruto series set 15 years after the first series’ end. In the original series’ first half, Orochimaru repeatedly schemed to infiltrate Naruto’s village to acquire the Sharingan, a powerful relic that gives warriors the ability to see other people’s energy, mimic their abilities, hypnotize them or even see their future.
But in the Boruto sequel, Orochimaru isn’t the main villain. Rather Boruto, son of the titular hero Naruto, battles the Ōtsutsuki clan to rescue his father from their clutches.
As such Orochimaru spends their time raising their son and overseeing activities from the confines of their self-founded village, Otogakure.