The number 108 is a significant number in Buddhism. It represents the number of temptations that humans face, which tie them to the Wheel of samsara. There are many religious elements related to this number—a bell is rung 108 times to bring in the New Year in Japan. It is the number of beads on a Buddhist o-juzu or rosary. A classic pilgrimage in Japan visits 108 temples. Also, it's 2 to the second power times 3 to the third power -- obviously important (Then again, 2 and 3 are the first two prime num- wait, 23? Oh come on, man!). Or put another way it is 1^1x2^2x3^3.
This number crops up frequently in anime, video games, and other media produced in Japan. Like the numbers 13 or 7 for Western culture, it is ascribed a mystical significance far outside the original definitions. It has no readily comparable analogue to a modern Western viewer, however, though lots of similarities with the Medieval or Renaissance use of the number nine, which was considered perfect, the trinity of trinities, square of the first "real" prime (2 didn't count, sometimes, because it was even), etc.
You might know 108 from puzzles, though—in which case it's merely 12 x 9.
Anime and Manga
- In the Naruto series the 108th episode, titled as "Invisible Crack" Sasuke starts to completely break his bonds with Konoha and Naruto. With this episode the saga of the hunt after Sasuke begins and it brings mortal danger to nearly all of the named characters of Naruto's age group while fighting to bring Sasuke back, including Naruto himself whilst fighting Sasuke.
- At 13 minutes and 21 seconds into the 24th episode of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Gimmy exclaimed that 108 units of the creepy Buddhism inspired Anti-Spiral ships were destroyed. In addition, 13 minutes and 21 seconds totals up to 801 seconds, the reverse of 108. Right when he mentions this, everything starts going straight to hell as the enemy suddenly launches a massive counter assault.
- Bleach uses the motif several times.
- The manga had a Backstory arc with chapters numbered in negative numbers, starting with -108.
- In Hueco Mundo, Uryu fights the Arrancar Iceringer, who can shoot up to 108 shots.
- The Fake Karakura Town and Deicide arcs run 108 chapters (316 - 423)
- In one of the first chapters Rukia tells Ichigo that the fake soul she's installed in his body was designed by 108 shinigami scientists. Too bad she grabbed the wrong package...
- Anime episode #214. In the fake origin story for Kon's being turned into Karakura-Riser, it was stated that he was an alien turned into a hero of justice by "Professor" Urahara. He could only return to his normal form by destroying the 108 hollows that killed Professor Urahara's daughter.
- The Triad organisation in Crying Freeman refer to themselves as The 108 Dragons.
- In Ai to Yuuki no Pig Girl Tonde Buurin, Karin has to collect 108 pearls in order to become any superheroine she wants. However, due to her Shapeshifter Mode Lock as Buurin after her classmates find out her secret, she uses it to turn human again instead.
- In Ranma ½, when Shampoo is captured by the Ghost Cat, Ranma has until a bell is rung 108 times before a curse takes effect.
- In another arc, Ukyo is doing training for her okonomiyaki martial arts that requires making 108 okonomiyaki a day (or it might have just been 108 total).
- In the Angel Sanctuary manga, when Yue Kato is explaining his Dark and Troubled Past, he states that "108 bells would not be enough to cleanse my soul".
- Coincidentally enough (or maybe not...), Kato dies (for the third and final time) in the 108th chapter of the manga.
- In Neon Genesis Evangelion, the Marduk Institute is a coalition of 108 companies—all dummy corporations owned indirectly by SEELE and NERV.
- In the Halloween special episode of Comic Party Revolution, the characters explore a near-abandoned old school building. One of the characters breaks out a book listing 108 ways to deal with scary situations.
- Shaman King has a magic rosary called The 1080, because it contains 1080 beads. Also, the Nakaoni ("Medium demon") is formed by 108 onis, and the Oh-oni ("Big demon") is formed by 1080.
- In Code Geass The Emperor of Britannia has 108 wives.
- In the episode "Love Attack!", Sayoko sets Lelouch up with 108 girls for dates while standing in for him, under the belief that being a manwhore is Lelouch's normal behaviour. It's not.
- Zoro from One Piece has an attack called 108 Pondo Hou. It translates to "108 Pound Cannon", but with the kanji used, it can mean "108 Phoenixes of Passion and Desire". This and several other attacks with similar names are ironic as he is an atheist. The number 108 appearing here is not "coincidental" or cosmic though, Zoro himself says when first executing the "36 Pound Cannon" with only one sword that is represents 36 sins. It basically foreshadows the "108 Pound Cannon" since Zoro is THE 3 sword style swordsman.
- The fallen monk Urouge has a bounty of 108,000,000 Berries.
- The Death Note manga was deliberately paced so as to have 108 chapters, which has led to some fan complaints about the resultant slow pace of the second arc.
- Similarly, Fullmetal Alchemist ended at chapter 108, but it was longer overall because each chapter is about twice as long as a chapter of Death Note.
- When the goddess Yurie draws a temple fortune in the final episode of Kamichu!!, she naturally gets number 108. In the spirit of the series, though, it turns out to be a pretty average fortune.
- In Devil Hunter Yohko, Yohko is the 108th devil hunter.
- Soul Eater, chapter 12. Soul placed 108th in the class on the exam.
- GetBackers' Kuroudou Akabane wields 108 scalpels as his weapon.
- In Prince of Tennis, Gin Ishida has invented 108 variations of his Hadokyuu tennis shot.
- In the 21st episode of Ouran High School Host Club, Haruhi gives her class representative, who is afraid of "dark places, horror movies, ghost storytelling, getting scared from behind, and commercials for horror movies" a book entitled "108 Ways to Get Through Scary Situations".
- In Sekirei's elimination contest, there are 108 combatants. Almost all of them beautiful girls, of course.
- In Tokko, there are 108 Phantoms, each of whom contains a piece of the magic box the protagonists need to reassemble in order to close the gate to hell.
- In D.Gray-man, there were originally 109 instances of Innocence (before the Millennium Earl started destroying them). Since one of these is the Great Heart, this leaves 108 regular Innocences.
- Faeries Landing is about a high schooler named Ryang Jegal, who is destined to have 108 doomed relationships.
- In Robotech, Roy Fokker claims to have shot down 108 enemy pilots in the previous war.
- In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, the Ground Force unit that Major Genya Nakajima commands, and of which Ginga is a part of, is Battalion 108.
- Kai Shiden, the conflicted Deadpan Snarker from the Mobile Suit Gundam compilation movies pilots a Guncannon labeled 108.
- Mokona from Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle claims to have 108 secret techniques. The real-life Mokona (one of the four CLAMP members) also claims this, apparently.
- In Shikabane Hime, the amount of corpses that Makina must kill is 108. Akasha uses 108 tortured souls to power his unholy zadan technique.
- Virgo Shaka of Saint Seiya keeps a Buddhist rosary with 108 beads. Every time one of Hades' (108) Specters is killed, one of the beads goes dark. He terrorizes the battalion of Specters invading the House of Virgo by showing them how few beads remain.
- In Amaenaideyo!!!!, Ikkou rings the shrine bell 108 times for New Years in episode 12.
- Ninja Nonsense has a couple of 108 jokes. In the baseball episode, Onsokumaru splits the ball into a bunch of copies to make it impossible to catch, but Miyabi does the same with her glove and gets them all.
- In another episode, when Kaede's mom tells Onsokumaru to be careful of the knife she's holding, he says "Hey, hey, Paula. I'm the hundred and eighth president; your comments don't mean anything to me." No, her name's not Paula.
- In Mobile Suit Gundam 00, second season episode 22, the number of units A-laws use to take on Celestial Being equals 108.
- The space pirate guild which Hazanko rules (and to which the Anten Seven belong) in Outlaw Star is named The 108 Stars. May have been partly a Water Margin/Suikoden reference, but it still counts.
- Hayato Furinji of Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple is said to have invented this many techniques.
- Yomi is stabbed 108 times in Ga-Rei Zero.
- In Fist of the North Star, there are 108 schools of Nanto Seiken, although almost all of the branches outside the Nanto Roku Seiken (the Six Sacred Fists) are never named in the manga with the exception of the Golan Colonel's Silent Fist, the Harn Brothers' Twin Hawk Fist and the Twin Slice Fist practiced by two of Thouzer's minions.
- Many of the later Gaiden spin-offs showed some of the other branches as well.
- Although probably a coincidence, the final episode of the first anime series is Episode 108 (109 was just a recap episode).
- In Muhyo and Roji's Bureau of Supernatural Investigation Ebisu attempts do to "Maneuver 108", which involves surrounding the scene of a haunting with a "barrier" of spiritual-energy infused "needles". Unfortunately he runs out of energy before he can finish the barrier and decides to set it off anyway. At first it seems to work but it soon fails, causing Ebisu to be fired. It should be noted that Ebisu's ruthless, greedy, and ambitious (male) boss wears a miko-style outfit.
- Mud Doll # 108 is given unusual prominence here [dead link] in Japan Tengu Party Illustrated.
- In the beginning of the Kyoto Field Trip arc of Mahou Sensei Negima, onmyou gods shaped as frogs attack the class while traveling to Kyoto via bullet train. According to Fei Ku, the students round up 108 of the little buggers.
- In Negi's second fight with Evangeline he has 108 secret tools of the mage.
- The anime OVA Suikoden: Demon Century was loosely based on the classic Chinese story The Water Margin, mentioned below.
- The Bio-Meat: Nectar production facility has 108 sections.
- In Sands of Destruction, there are 108 Laws of Clockwork Robotics.
- Touhou manga spin-off Inaba of the Moon, Inaba of the Earth once had a chapter where Reisen needed to borrow a book from Patchoulli for her master. Much to her horror, the "book" was actually comprised of 72 Heaven volumes and 36 Earth volumes, totalling to a whopping 108 volumes that Reisen needed to carry all the way back home.
- In chapter 51 of the Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei manga, the close of the chapter features a picture of Ikkyu taken from his elementary school's alumni association. It's indicated that it is from the 108th anniversary of the school.
- In Digimon Xros Wars, there are 108 Zones in the digital world.
- Two (probably) meaningless references in episode 5 of Panty and Stocking With Garterbelt: Oscar H. Genius holds a party for the 108th anniversary of the company he's president of, and Stocking is seen eating sweets made of 108% concentrated egg cream.
- Rosario + Vampire Season II has our hero Tsukune undergoing an emergency power-upgrade that involves 109 needles (here's needle #1). He's able to handle 108 of them.
- In Dragonball Z, Dende is the 108th son of the Eldest Namek.
- The Lupin III episode "Have the 108 Bells Rung?" which takes place at a major New Year's Eve celebration; the bell ringing actually plays a role in Lupin's scheme.
- In the anime of The World God Only Knows (second season, episode 3), the school baseball team loses spectacularly; the other team scores 108 points in only a few innings. Which is probably impossible in an amateur league, but maybe their sheer Hot Bloodedness bent the rules?
- In Highlander 2: The Quickening, Connor Macleod is shot 108 times.
- In The Fifth Element, the captain of the hotel ship orders the helm be taken to 108.
- Pi involves the discovery of a mysterious 216-digit number that lies at the root of chaotic systems and may represent the true name of God. 216 is, among other things, 108 plus 108.
- The Fantastic Mr. Fox: Boggis, Bunce, and Bean call all 108 of their employees to serve as snipers during their Roaring Rampage of Revenge against Mr. Fox.
- In The Green Mile, Paul Edgecombe states he is 108 years old during the Framing Device on the tail end of the film.
- From Annie's opening narration in Bull Durham: "There are 108 beads in a Catholic rosary and there are 108 stitches in a baseball." Annie's confusing a 59-bead Catholic rosary with a 108-bead Buddhist rosary, but she respects the number's cosmic significance nonetheless.
- This is the weight Vicki Vale gives when being rescued by the Dark Knight in Batman. Significant because she's lying, which results in there being too much weight for the extension gun to lift them both so that Batman has to fall back to the ground so she can escape.
- Case #1108 is our introduction to the world of Minority Report.
- Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?: Martha is 108... years old.
- This book of Japanese folktales (published in 1942!) has 108 stories.
- The classic Chinese novel Water Margin describes the rise of 108 heroes who overthrow a corrupt government. Some Westerners may be more familiar with a loose adapation of the novel—the video game series Suikoden.
- In the Chinese fairy tale Journey to the West, Sun Wukong (who becomes Son Goku in the Japanese translation; yes, that's based on it), can travel 108,000 li (54,000 km by the modern definition, or about four-fifths that by the one in use at the time) in one somersault. This has led to "108,000 li" being a common aphorism for long distances.
- In The Stand by Stephen King, leader of the good side of the conflict is Mother Abigail, a 108 year old woman.
- Edward is 108 years old in Twilight.
- The killer in Ryu Murakami's novel In the Miso Soup basically keeps the protagonist alive because he wants the guy to show him the best spot in town to hear the Japanese New Year bells, and because he wants to learn from him about the 108 parts of Bōnno ("bad instincts") that are supposed to be cleared up by listening to them. He claims to be curious about whether listening to the bells can absolve him of his own Bōnno.
- In Eliezer Yudkowsky's Failed Utopia #4-2, the new god was carelessly programmed to only respect 107 human desires.
- Although it's likely a coincidence, the original version of Schiller's "An die Freude" has 108 lines.
- In The Odyssey, Penelope refuses 108 suitors while Odysseus is lost.
Live Action TV
- Lost: The lottery numbers add up to 108, the numbers have to be entered into the machine in at the Swan station every 108 minutes, and more than a few other appearances. Unsurprising given the Buddhist references surrounding the DHARMA Initiative... Oh, and the rescue party finally arrives after 108 days on the island.
- Also, while Desmond is on the island entering the numbers every 108 minutes, Penny (Penelope) is home waiting for him.
- In an early episode of Supernatural, a demon possesses plane passengers and causes their planes to crash. One such incident occurs during the timeline of the episode, and the number of passengers killed is 108.
- In an episode of Ghost Whisperer, a ghost is haunting room 108 on a ship.
- In Once Upon a Time, 108 is the Mayor's house number. Appropriate, as she's the Big Bad.
- Roseanne's family won $108 million dollars, but it didn't really make things better and it was just a story she wrote anyway.
- Rap group Cannibal Ox has a track entitled "Iron Galaxy" which contains the lyric "...fuck five/I want 108 mics".
- "108 Battles (of the Mind)" by Kula Shaker
- "KAMIKAZE 108" by Teriyaki Boyz with lyrics "So let's get back to basics, I do work to a 108 tempo" (the Toridoshi Mix is pretty close to, if not exactly, 108 bpm).
- Several Japanese wrestling companies got together to have a 108 Men Battle Royal.
- In Bliss Stage, your character must make an exit either by dying for real at 7 Trauma... or in a slightly less deadly manner when you go over 108 points of Bliss. This is a deliberate use of the trope: Word of God says it's a deliberate reference to the 108 Buddhist temptations. He also intended to print only 108 copies of Ignition Stage, for the same reason.
- Your average Mahjong set will have 108 suited tiles, with the rest being Honor or flower tiles. This is a result of each of the 3 suits of 9 tiles being replicated so that there's 4 of each. (3* 9* 4 = 108).
- The original version of Apples to Apples came with 108 green cards. This is probably just a coincidence.
- Dungeons & Dragons module WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun. The guardian daemon will pursue intruders for 108 feet before returning to its room.
- An Uno deck has 108 cards.
- As do two poker decks, with jokers.
- In Canasta, normally 108 cards are used—two standard decks of playing cards, with jokers.
- North Pole Publications' generic RPG adventure The Serpent Islands. The second largest island was once the site of an evil monastery. 23 years ago an earthquake submerged the island, taking 108 monks to their doom.
- As mentioned above, Suikoden, loosely based on the classic Chinese novel Water Margin. Each game in the series contains 108 recruitable characters, counting the hero.
- Generally speaking, having all 108 in Suikoden leads to someone being able to survive certain death, or recovering from it somehow.
- The Pokémon Spiritomb is listed as number 108 in the Sinnoh Pokédex, weighs 108 kg, is said to have been formed by 108 spirits, and its base Defense and Special Defense are both 108.
- Though it's probably just a coincidence, there are 108 obstacles to dodge in Battletoads', jet ski stage.
- In Okami, the extremely difficult to obtain string of beads is made up of 100 stray beads and 8 power orbs. Given the large amounts of Japanese symbolism in the game, this is unsurprising.
- In Final Fantasy Tactics, the accessory "108 Beads" would prevent most, but not all, status effects.
- This, unlike most, is less a reference and more a direct mention—the "108 Beads" accessory is implied heavily to be the aforementioned Buddhist o-juzu.
- Brutal Legend features 108 Heavy Metal songs to unlock.
- In Animal Crossing: City Folk, after the New Year's Countdown, Peppy villagers will tell you it is good luck to count 108 fireworks.
- Muramasa: The Demon Blade has 108 collectible swords. Quite appropriate to the plot and bosses, also.
- In the second Ace Attorney game, Phoenix can inspect an ancient tapestry, which has a list of 108... ways to make money.
- In Viewtiful Joe 2, one stage has Joe (or Sylvia) hitting a giant bell 108 times in order to continue on (though knocking an enemy into the bell counts as 10 rings.)
- In Legend of Dragoon, it was said that there were 108 races in the world, including humans, dragons, and many others unique to the world. However, all but a handful are extinct by the time the game begins. Furthermore, the Moon Child is said to arise every 108 years, while Rose is said to have saved the world from the Moon Child's emigration to the Virage Embryo a total of 107 times, failing on the 108th.
- The Elder Scrolls uses and abuses it (with variants: one and eight, one hundred and eight, one thousand and eight). The Dragon Break (localized temporal anomaly) lasted for 1008 years for example. See also "O Aka! I beg you one hundred thousand and eight times!" from the Alduddaggas.
- In The World Ends With You's bonus chapter, Joshua's registration number in the Tin Pin tournament is 108.
- Chapter 4 of Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World features an NPC who boasts that the Lezareno Company's life insurance covers you to the age of 108 (More half-elf discrimination, of course, as they live much longer).
- The Wardog Squadron from Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War is the Osean Air Defense Force, 108th Tactical Fighter Wing Detachment.
- Ace Combat: Assault Horizon continues this, with the 108th Task Force which the player's squadron is a part of.
- In Knights in The Nightmare, Capehornus was exiled from his people one hundred and eight days before the death of Willimgard's predecessor. (This may or may not be coincidental.)
- There are 108 badges you can collect in the N64 version of Mario Golf by getting a birdie or better on each of the 6 courses' 18 holes.
- In Shadow Hearts: Covenant, the Big Bad explicitly say that The Very Definitely Final Dungeon will toll the bell a 108 times before unleashing its power. Yuri and co. will always get there in time, even after exiting to do some sidequests for Infinity Plus One Weapons and Armours.
- Probably coincidental, but in Dissidia Final Fantasy, the maximum amount of AP you can get in a single round (by fighting Chaos among other conditions) is 108.
- In Fusion Fall, an NPC that has a mission you must take is known as Numbuh 108.
- In Disgaea Infinite, Laharl boasts of the 108 cruel punishments he gives to disobedient Prinnies.
- DJ Hero 2 features musical appearances from 108 artists.
- In Super Paper Mario, the 7th chapter has a sentient door that asks you questions to get through. While the set up to the question is pretty much unrelated to what is actually asked, the set ups do include pretty much every unlucky number you'll find. Except that instead of 666, they had 667.
- In Ben Jordan: Paranormal Investigator case five, the maximum points you can receive is 108.
- Liara T'Soni is one hundred and eight years old as of Mass Effect 2.
- The X-rated Visual Novel Zanjibaru is set in an alternate future Japan. The year in which the game is set is 2033 CE (or the 108th year of the Showa Era).
- Guitar Hero Warriors of Rock has unlockable venues, characters, instruments, cheats, galleries, and accessories for every rank up to 108, with the last one being the Neversoft Eyeball.
- Strong Bad earns $108.00 for photos of himself in the E-Mail Modeling.
- Ichiro Suzuki broke a 108-year-old record for most consecutive 200-hit seasons.
- NCAA college baseball rules. When games are televised, teams are allowed 108 seconds between each half inning.
- An official Major League Baseball ball contains 108 double stitches.
- The Chicago Cubs went 108 years between winning the World Series (in 1908 and 2016). The Other Wiki mentions that this is the longest championship drought in North American professional sports.
- When the internal human body temperature reaches 108F, the person usually dies.
- An average of 108 people die each minute.
- The FM radio broadcast band tops out at 108 megahertz... except in Japan, where ironically, it ends at 90, with the upper range being used for broadcast TV instead.
- At the height of her (life-threatening) obesity, Nancy Makin, the author of 703 had a waistband measuring 108 inches. She can be seen holding it here.
- There are often a few ghost stories suggesting that someone died in "Room 108".
- According to The Other Wiki, Japan has 108 active volcanoes.
- Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, orbited in 108 minutes according to the official records.
- Bedroom Commands [dead link] by Aren't We Naughty has 108 cards split into two decks (one for him, one for her).
- The angles of a regular pentagon are 108 degrees each.
- Because of the death of Belgian cyclist Wouter Weylandt in the 2011 Giro D'Italia, the organizers have decided to retire the number 108, meaning that either the number 100 or 110 will be used to replace the number, a rarity in cycling considering that the Grand Tours usually limit the rosters at 9 riders.
- Since the Texas Rangers were founded the current total number of Rangers that have died in the line of duty is 108.
- Chris Milo of the Canadian Football League made a 108-yard punt.