Who is Kuchisake Onna? The name Kuchisake Onna means Split Mouthed woman, a title that refers to her grim disfigurement. The urban legend of Kuchisake Onna originates in Japan where she is described as the vengeful spirit of a murdered woman known to terrorize cities and attack people using a large pair of scissors.
Her origin dates back hundreds of years to Japan’s Edo Period, where she was the most beautiful woman in her village, and this status allowed her to marry a wealthy samurai. Her vanity however got the better of her, as she caught the eyes of many men, and enjoyed all the attention she got.
Her husband, furious at her for sullying their marriage, used his sword (or similar) to carve a hideous slit across her face stretching ear to ear. He then told her
Who will find you pretty now?
In some telling, she died from her injuries, but in others, she was driven mad by her heartbreak and loss of beauty and decided to take her own life. Her grief and anger were so strong that she continued to haunt the world. But where most ghosts may haunt a house or the general area in which they perished, Kuchisake Onna is a wandering spirit that you can bump into at almost anytime and any place (commonly prefers streets and alleys in Japanese cities).
A deceptive spirit, Kuchisake Onna conceals her scarred appearance under a scarf or fan, but in the modern-day she’s taken to using a surgical mask, mostly popularized in the 1990s. This isn’t considered unusual as in Japan citizens often wear such masks in public to prevent the spread of germs, or less often to remain anonymous in crowds. She confronts people either alone or in small groups, and asks them a question:
“Do you think I am pretty?” [“Watashi, kirei?”]
Those who answer ‘no’ are murdered then and there. But if you were to answer ‘yes’ then she will remove her mask and continue
Do you think I am pretty now? [Kore demo?]
Like before, answering no will result in death, this time more gruesome due to her perceiving you as having lied in the first question. In some tellings, children who answer no are abducted and brought back to some sort of lair, where they are tortured and killed. If you answer ‘yes’ again then she will simply cut your face to have a matching Split, leaving you to either bleed out or die from shock or simply live the rest of your life disfigured.
The only way to survive unharmed is to give her trick answers, such as saying her appearance is ‘so so’ or average, or by finding some other clever excuse. This often causes her to hesitate just long enough that she can make an escape.
But be warned, she’s no stranger to chasing down her fleeing targets, and she won’t be very happy when she catches up to you. In the late 70s, there were actually several sightings of malicious women across Japan, and even a handful of sightings in South Korea, which of course people attributed to Kuchisake. Children had to be escorted to and from school, some schools and public parks even closed. Everybody was on the lookout for a masked serial killer wandering their streets.
Perhaps the single most infamous sighting involved a woman who was attempting to abduct a girl. The girl managed to run away, and the woman gave chase before being struck and killed by a speeding car. The coroner's report noted her mouth had been split ear to ear, but they couldn’t tell if this injury was a result of the car or one that she had prior.
Who is Bloody Mary? Owing to her name to her own bloodied appearance as well as that of her victims, the legend of Bloody Mary originates in England where she is described as a ghost that haunts mirrors, attacking those foolish enough to summon her.
The story goes there was once a young maiden named Mary who was incredibly beautiful. So much so that she would spend all of her free time gazing at herself in the mirror and brushing her hair. Eventually, others became upset with Mary, either through jealousy of her beauty or contempt for her behavior. One night, while Mary was doing her usual routine, somebody crept into her room and did the unthinkable, they cut Mary’s hair.
No longer able to admire her reflection, Mary became hysterical and clawed out her own eyes, before either dying from this traumatic or taking her life shortly afterward. In milder versions of the story she simply died of fright from her appearance, while in darker tales she was outright murdered via decapitation. Sometimes she’s said to be the ghost of Queen Mary herself, who was sometimes called Bloody Mary due to her brutality in how many people she had slaughtered. She’s similarly linked to Mary Queen of Scott Really, any European royalty with the name Mary.
But the grimmest of all her tales is the one that connects her to the real-life woman and prolific serial killer, Countess Elizabeth Bathory. Although not sharing the name Mary, she’s shad the title attributed to her due to her heinous and bloody crimes. A Hungarian noblewoman born in 1560, Elizabeth was obsessed with her own beauty and brutal towards any who might disrupt said beauty. One night a servant girl had pulled Elizabeth’shair while brushing her, and Liz retaliated violently. As a result, she caught some of the servant’s blood on her own face, and after wiping it away believed she looked younger than before.
Over the next few years, Elizabeth would regularly hire new servants for her secluded estate, before murdering them and bathing in their blood, believing this to be the key to eternal youth and beauty. Her crimes were eventually discovered when one of the servants managed to escape, and Elisabeth was locked up and left to waste away. She died in 1614.
Mary’s spirit is now said to haunt the mirror-world, able to appear in reflections just about anywhere, provided, of course, she is summoned. To summon Mary, situate yourself in front of a mirror in a dimly lit room, just before midnight. Stare into your reflection and say
BloodyMary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary
and extinguish your light as the clock strikes 12. The Spirit of Mary is supposed to appear in your darkened reflection. What happens next varies from story to story. The goal of the ritual is to ask Mary questions about your future, such as who you’re going to fall in love with, stuff like that, and Mary will answer in full.
However, if you’re fated to die soon, or if you simply upset Mary in some way, then she will take fate into her own hands and end your life. Often she does this in ways that mirror her own demise, such as clawing out your eyes, but she’s also been known to steal people’s souls and leave them trapped inside the mirror world for all eternity.
Now that we’ve gotten to know a bit about who these two are, it’s time to take a look at exactly what they are and what they can do. Each of these characters has a range of different forms and incarnations, but for the sake of this match-up, we will primarily be looking at their most comparable forms as ghosts.
Starting off, Kuchisake Onna is classified as a kind of Onryo, a vengeful spirit of Japanese folklore. Most often, women who were treated terribly before death, Onryo are infamous for being incredibly malicious and difficult to deal with.
While some lesser examples pass on after enough time or after exacting their revenge, particularly upset or insane examples actually appear to grow more powerful over time, and Kuchisake is one of these examples. Rather than manifesting as an apparition or similar, Kuchisake is a possessing spirit that takes over a human host to enact her vengeance, that is, murdering and mutilating children and adults alike.
But not just anyone will do, there are a few requirements for the host to be compatible, such as being a beautiful woman and acquiring the trademark's slit mouth. Some stories also indicate a certain mental state, normally someone who is desperate, such as a mother who is divorced or a broken-hearted woman.
Therefore, Kuchisake’s behavior of mutilating her targets also serves the secondary purpose of giving her more hosts, a necessity as the current host is still a human corpse that eventually degrades and rots over time.
Bloody Mary is a rather unique spirit that defies simple classification. Technically the spirit of a deceased woman, she’s achieved status as a sort of psychopomp, a powerful spirit that interfaces with others' spirits and fate in a way similar to the grim reaper.
Summoned through what is called catoptromancy, that is divination through mirrors, Mary can reveal the fates and futures of others, as well as kill and claim those fated for early death (or change their fate to such if she is angered). Mary most commonly manifests as an apparition inside the mirror or other reflective surface, while causing poltergeist activity outside the mirror. That is to say, things she affects and changes within the mirror happen in the real world, allowing her to manipulate objects and attack victims.
She may also take the place of her victim’s reflection to control their movements directly, usually to make them harm themselves. She also shares some parallels with the vampiric spirit of contemporary European folktales, namely Romanian, as she is also said to directly drink the blood from her victims to increase her own strength and vitality.
Despite being a possessed human body, Kuchisakeis able to maneuver at speeds that far exceed a normal human’s capabilities, her running is described as eerily fast. More uniquely she has the ability to slip into a special space called the mnemonic abyss. Also called the World of Darkness or Yamino Sekai (闇やみの世界), this is a sort of parallel world to our own inhabited by other ghosts and similar entities. Neither a Heaven nor Hell, it might be more apt to compare this realm to Limbo. Kuchisake Onna can freely slip herself in and out while pursuing her victims, thus giving her the illusion of quickly teleporting between locations.
Bloody Mary is also known for having dominion over a realm of her own, the mirror world. Literally a 1:1 reflection of our world, accessible through any and all reflective surfaces. Through these reflections, Mary can project herself into our world, or pull unlucky victims into the mirror world and trap them.
While her movements in the real world don’t seem superhuman, her traveling throughout the mirror world is incredible, able to jump between any reflective surface in an instant. Kuchisake is renowned as a brutal killer.
Her trademark attack is slitting her victim's mouths ear to ear to match her own, known as a Glasgow Smile, most often using her weapon of choice: a large pair of scissors. She’s also been known to use small scythes, large knives, really any blade will do. And she’s never found without one as she seems able to summon them at will, likely pulling them from the mnemonic abyss.
When not carving up faces she’s also known to slice victims cleanly in half. The force needed to achieve this depends on variables such as how sharp the blade is, but in her case, it suggests an incredible superhuman level of strength.
Another feat of this strength comes from when she strangled a child with one hand hard enough to break his neck, requiring a force of 900 to 1500 Newtons, 3 to 5 times the grip strength of the average person, even the strongest bodybuilders and athletes top out at just under 800 newtons for one hand.
Finally, as a kind of Onryo, Kuchisake also has the ability to devour the souls of her victims, provided she kills or weakens them enough. Mary doesn’t usually resort to direct murder, but she’s shown to be more than capable in a variety of ways. She can manipulate objects visible from any mirror or reflective surface as well as directly control the actions of others if she chooses.
Things get serious when she decides to exit the mirror and attack directly, where she strangles victims, claws out their eyes, and in extreme cases even decapitates them, mirroring her own deaths across a different telling of her legend. She can do this all without the use of weapons, which similarly suggests an incredible superhuman level of strength, and any blood spilled during her conflicts only adds to her strength.
As a sort of Psychopomp, she’s able to directly interface with souls, such as to separate them from their bodies and direct them to the afterlife or trap them inside the mirror world if she so chooses.
For as tough and dangerous as each of these two are, they’re not unstoppable. Let’s look at the ways people can avoid getting killed. As a foe that anyone can encounter at any time, Kuchisake Onna is said to have several ways to overcome her. First and foremost, while the only spirit can't be harmed by conventional means, the physical body she’s possessing certainly can.
After taking enough hits or simply waiting too long her body will break down and decay, forcing her to jump ship and find a new host. With that said, the durability of the host’s body appears to be a bit greater than normal, similar to her increased strength and speed.
Besides overcoming her, physically, Kuchisake can also be challenged in wits by answering her questions in a non-binary way. Responses that she’s not prepared for can confuse her long enough for you to make a break for it.
She’ll always give chase, but she can lose track of targets if they manage to hide or evade her long enough. Kuchisake Onna can also be easily distracted by certain things like candy, allowing prey to getaway.
This is not to say she’s unintelligent, rather her mental instability and ancient age make her out of touch with various elements of the modern world. This could also be because kuchisakeis a collection of souls in this form, with the new host personality being dominant at the time. So you can think of it as her only really having access to primary functions and anything beyond that takes her a while to process.
One final point about Kuchisake is that her spirit can theoretically be exorcised out of the host she’s possessing, and in one instance was sent to Hell thanks to a young boy’s prayer. It’s implied she did manage to escape shortly after, however, likely through the mnemonic abyss.
As for Bloody Mary, her legends don’t generally include things like weaknesses or shortcomings, instead, the idea for beating her is to simply not summon her in the first place. With that said, an English spirit like herself should have a few basic weaknesses such as holy objects, salt, silver, and iron, any of which should serve to injure the spirit or at least dispel her from the fight.
She also shouldn’t be immune to supernatural-based attacks or things that can affect other spirits. Mary could avoid these things if she chooses to stay within the mirror world, but this would limit her interactions to poltergeist activity rather than direct confrontation.
Now that we’ve covered all the whats, it’s time to talk about who would actually win this encounter, and Why. From the onset, Kuchisake Onna has many direct advantages over Mary. Kuchisake’s ability to travel into the mnemonic abyss at any time and place is much more versatile than Mary’s reliance on mirrors and other reflective surfaces, meaning she’d have the advantage in mobility. Kuchisake also shows greater combat experience and generally superior stats, and a preference for iron weapons such as scissors which in theory should be able to harm Mary.
And finally, should she manage to defeat or injure Mary enough, Kuchisake should be able to directly consume her soul, putting her to rest for good. But despite all that, I don’t think that’ show the fight would play out.
Firstly, let’s compare intelligence, KuchisakeOnna has repeatedly shown to be unstable and out of touch when it comes to unfamiliar things. Mary on the other hand is an oracular spirit who appears to know of fate or the future, or at the very least is intelligent enough to make educated guesses. Mary would have a much better shot at adapting to the circumstances of this fight.
Let’s talk about Kuchisake’s hosts, these bodies may be stronger than average but still go down after enough damage, while Mary inside the mirror would be virtually immune to anything Slit Mouth can dish out and still be able to attack through a poltergeist activity outside the mirror.
New posts don’t exactly grow on trees, but even if we gave her a dozen new bodies during the battle that just provides fresh bloodshed for Mary to feed on, both ghosts would benefit equally from additional hosts.
Both opponents here show to be able to slice targets in half or remove limbs, but I think this would be more of an issue for Kuchisake as she would be quickly forced to find a new host while Mary could regenerate from the previous host’s blood.
If we factor in their signature attacks, Kuchisake goes for the mouth while Mary goes for the eyes. A new smile for Mary doesn’t mean much while the blinded Kuchisake would be put at a great disadvantage, her targets often escape after she loses sight of them, and she’s shown having trouble finding people in the dark. Fighting a poltergeist without sight is an uphill battle, and Kuchisake doesn’t adapt well to unfamiliar situations.
Kuchisake could of course always retreat into the shadow realm for safety, much the same way Mary can retreat into the mirror world, however, she can’t affect the real world from there like Mary can with her poltergeist abilities. In fact, it’s these abilities that could potentially disarm Kuchisake of her weapons, while Mary can kill without needing weapons, plus she could take control of Kuchisake’s movement directly to turn her enhanced strength against her.
And finally, Mary could always end the fight early by simply separating Kuchisake from her host and trapping her inside the mirror world like she’s done with many other souls. Kuchisake should be able to escape from this world eventually, much like she did from the underworld, but for the sake of this match, their fight would be considered over. It’s for all these reasons that I believe the winner of this match would be Bloody Mary.
I hope you all enjoyed