Chinese mythology in popular culture

Elements of Chinese mythology have appeared many times in popular culture.

Dragon turtleEdit


Jade EmperorEdit

In the television series Stargate SG-1, the Goa'uld System Lord Yu is presumably based on the Jade Emperor, though whether Lord Yu is supposed to be the originator of the related myth, or merely impersonated the deity among the ancient Chinese (as was the case with several other Goa'uld, who impersonated Egyptian gods, among others) is unclear.

Akito Sohma, one of the main characters of the anime and manga Fruits Basket, is based on the Jade Emperor.

In the manga Fushigi Yūgi, the identity of Tai Yi-Jun (aka Tai Itsuken), the oracle who created the Universe of the Four Gods, is eventually revealed to be the Jade Emperor.

In the 2008 film The Forbidden Kingdom, the Jade Emperor is one of the minor characters.

In the Dragon Ball anime and manga series, the character Kami-sama is based on the Jade Emperor, hence his green, or jade-colored, skin.


  • Mogwai are featured in the film Gremlins.
  • There is a Scottish post-rock band named Mogwai.
  • In World of Warcraft, the main antagonist in Pandaria are the Mogu, evil ancient spirits that inhabit frightening stone statues.


The story of Nezha has been made into several animated films. One of the most well-known is the 1979 production of Nezha Nao Hai (哪吒鬧海) (63 minutes), translated into English on the recent DVD release as Nezha Conquers the Dragon King, which won international award and recognition in the former USSR.

In the Chinese VCD, Nezha is shown with fire wheels, a red ribbon, and a golden ring.

Also, Nezha appears in the popular Japanese manga/anime series Saiyuki as Nataku, a half-mortal war god who won the then-divine Son Goku (Sun Wukong)'s friendship. Unfortunately, Nataku falls into a catatonic state (the reasons for this are not disclosed in the anime) and sits in the divine garden of heaven with only the Goddess of Mercy to keep him company staring blankly ahead for all time. In the series, Nataku is decidedly more somber than Goku and is resigned to being a puppet (he was 'given the honor' of being the prince of war, a role which is later passed onto Homura) to the Gods. Furthermore, Nataku goes by a different title, but his background is still very much the same—right down to a Commander father and spear weapon. (However, it is glaringly obvious as the series goes on that the Commander is exploiting his son for fame and recognition from the Gods, reversing the roles that Nataku is to blame for misfortune.) Nataku's father, however, is then lectured by the past reincarnation of Zhu Bajie (Marshal Canopy) and further mis-treatment of his son is yet to be seen in the series.

In the anime series Gundam Wing, Meilan Long, Chang Wufei's wife, insists on calling herself Nataku (the Japanese pronunciation of the kanji for "Nezha"). After her death, Wufei would give his mobile suits the Shenglong and Altron Gundams the nickname Nataku in her honor.

In the manga/anime series X/1999, one of the Dragons of Earth is named Nataku after the god. A genderless clone with the body of an adult and a childlike mentality, Nataku is presumed by its creators to be soulless and without emotions, though its actions prove otherwise.

Again in an anime series Soul Hunter Nataku is the son of a minor governor who is born through mysterious means with great powers and weapons called Pao-pei (宝貝). He ages quickly, kills a dragon and is killed by the Dragon's higher powered father to save his parents. Nataku also is restored by a god to be an incarnation of a lotus flower. Nataku's powpei include fire/stone wheels that allow him to fly.

Nezha, renamed Nata, appeared in the animated version of Monkey Magic as the main character's first major opponent. In this version Nezha was defeated more by trickery than power or skill. Nezha, also appeared in the TV series and cartoon version Lotus Lantern.

Nezha is a motif in the live action film Rebels of the Neon God by the Taiwan director Tsai Ming-liang.

Nezha makes an appearance in Musou Orochi 2 (Warriors Orochi 3) under the name Ne Zha.

Nezha is a playable character in the multiplayer online battle arena game Smite as a melee assassin.

Nezha is a playable frame in MMO Warframe.


The Nian are a part of the Canthan New Year Celebration as part of the game Guild Wars, specifically appearing in Guild Wars Factions.

Omen, a boss in World of Warcraft that appears only once a year during the Lunar Festival, was inspired by the Nian.

The Nian make an appearance in an episode of Three Delivery.

The Nian is available as a mount in the game World of Kung Fu.

The Nian (known as the Neinbeast in-game) is available as a mount in the game Perfect World International. There is also an in-game event in which players try to kill Neinbeasts and their minions.

The Nian are in the TV show Spirit Warriors (however, they are humanoid and ninja-like in this show).

The Nian temporarily makes an appearance as a boss in Dota 2 as part of the New Bloom Festival Update.


Nu Wa appears in the Koei video game Dynasty Warriors 3 and the later game Warriors Orochi 2. She wields a rapier and a shield. In Dynasty Warriors 3, she wore green pants, a green top with a gold chestplate, a golden hairpiece, and she looked human. In the Warriors Orochi Series, her appearance was greatly changed. In Warriors Orochi 2, she believes that Cao Cao is the chosen one, but she has mixed feelings about both Cao Cao and Oda Nobunaga on whether they will slip into darkness or not. Although she assists Wei, she is constantly testing Cao Cao. After Orochi's second demise, Nu Wa believes that Orochi mixed the different worlds because he wanted it that way.

"Nuwa" appears in her more snaky incarnation as a Han Commander unit in the game Arcane Legions. She is able to resurrect fallen Terra-Cotta warriors.

Nu Wa appears in the multiplayer online battle arena game Smite as a magical mage.

Ox-Head and Horse-FaceEdit

  • In Lone Wolf and Cub, the protagonist, Ogami Itto, has visions about Ox-Head and Horse-face. He refers to them as "Gozu Mezu" and uses drawings of them to advertise his services as an assassin.
  • In the animated version of Rumiko Takahashi's InuYasha, the cast fights with Ox-Head and Horse-Face in order to enter the underworld – but only Sesshomaru, with the healing sword Tenseiga, is allowed to pass without fighting Ox-Head and Horse-Face.
  • Ox-Head appears as the titular character in Takashi Miike's movie Gozu.
  • In Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne, Ox-Head is Gozu-Tenno, one of the main antagonists in the story.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG features a card named "Mezuki" based on Horse-Head.
  • Mezura, the second phantom god from the anime Kotetsushin Jeeg, is based on Horse-Face. Kyo even refers to its fight with Jeeg as Ox-Head and Horse-Face.
  • In the Dragon Ball Z anime, Goku falls off of Snake Way after his first death on his way to King Kai's and meets Gaz and Mez, who are clearly based on these characters.
  • In the anime Danganronpa 3, the Ultimate Wrestler goes by the name "The Great Gozu" and wears an ox-shaped mask to fit his character (that still doesn't save him from death, as he's the third victim on the Future Foundation).
  • In the Japanese Yokai anime Nurarihyon no Mago, there are two young Yokai called Gozumaru and Mezumaru, who their lord Gyuki trusts more than anyone else in his clan. Although Gozumaru looks normal, the giant claws he uses to fight can relate to the horns of an ox. Mezumaru also looks normal, with long dark blue hair but on his head is a horse skull which he uses as a helmet. the two split up to carry out tasks given to them by their lord but they are often seen together.
  • In the Namco X Capcom and Project X Zone series of strategy RPG computer games, the dimwitted comedy henchmen of series antagonist Saya are named Dokugozu and Dokumezu (sometimes nicknamed "Gozzie" and "Mezzie"), and closely resemble Ox-Head and Horse-Face.


The legend was referenced by the Japanese playwright Chikamatsu in his play The Battles of Coxinga in 1715.

Sha WujingEdit

In Japan, Sha Wujing was popularly seen and depicted as a kappa, another fearsome kind of water demon.

In the manga/anime Saiyūki, Sha Gojyō is loosely based on Sha Wujing, with a modified version of the same weapon (albeit incorrectly called a shakujō, the Japanese name for the Chinese xīzhàng). However, Gojyō is described as being half human, half yōkai with the ability to breathe underwater, instead of a man-eating river monster.

Mega Man: The Wily Wars had a character based on Sha Wujing named Mega Water.S in the unlockable "Wily Tower" game. Mega Water.S later made an appearance in the CD Database for Mega Man & Bass.

In the manga/anime Dragon Ball, the character Yamcha, the Desert Bandit, was originally based on Sha Wujing.

There is a Digimon called Shawujingmon.


In the Chinese novel Water Margin, the character Tong Meng is nicknamed Fanzhiang Shen 翻江蜃 "River-churning Shen". In Japanese manga, Shin 蜃 is an illusion-creating weapon of Tomo (Seiryu Seishi) and an illusion-manifesting technique of Demon Eyes Kyo. The title Honō no Mirāju 炎の蜃気楼 "Mirage of Blaze" transcribes shinkirō 蜃気楼 with the English gairaigo loanword mirāju.