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It is I, Aku Aku! My duty is to protect you. You may summon me by breaking open these crates. Call me thrice, and I shall grant you special powers.

Aku Aku is the deuteragonist of the Crash Bandicoot series. He is a witch doctor spirit living inside a wooden mask who guides Crash, his sister Coco and their friends as they defeat the forces of evil. In most platforming Crash games, if 3 masks are found, Crash becomes invincible for a limited amount of time, with Aku Aku being placed on Crash's face during this period. He is also a father figure to Crash, Coco and their friends.

History

Past

Long ago, Aku Aku was once a powerful human shaman who used his magic to fight against evildoers, particularly his villainous brother, Uka Uka. At some point, both Aku Aku and Uka Uka left behind their mortal shells and their spirits came to inhabit ancient tribal masks, effectively making them immortal. Afterwards, Aku Aku was able to imprison his brother within a hidden temple to protect the world from his evil, and then went into hibernation himself for unknown reasons.

Crash Bandicoot

After Crash escapes from Cortex's castle, he washes up on N. Sanity Beach. There, he finds and frees Aku Aku from a crate, who provides his magical services throughout the game, scattering Aku Aku crates all across the three islands. He does not have a speaking role in this game, except in the Japanese version, where he gives hints when he is freed (except if the mask gives invincibility), but it's only in text, aside from the chant heard whenever a mask is collected in all other versions. Being the spirit of good that he is, he joins Crash in his quest to stop Cortex's plan to conquer the world and rescue Tawna.

Crash Bandicoot (manga)

In the manga, Crash first awakens on N. Sanity Beach with Aku Aku shouting at him. He introduces himself as a witch doctor and guardian of the island. He is already aware of Crash's story and how Tawna was kidnapped, and convinces Crash that they should team up to stop Doctor Cortex. Though he does truly care for Crash, he has little patience for his antics and often makes asides (either to the audience or himself) when Crash does something he finds stupid. Still, throughout the first issue he guides Crash through the jungle, teaching him about the various types of crates they encounter. Crash later uses Aku Aku to become invincible during the fight against Papu Papu. It wears off before they have any chance to fight back, however.

In the second issue, Aku Aku accompanies Crash at Cortex Castle to offer help and encouragement, but does not participate in the fight to save Tawna.

Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back

Once again, Aku Aku aids Crash in his adventure by providing protection against the dangers he comes across. He is still capable of little speech, and he doesn't act upon Cortex tricking Crash into collecting the crystals for him. He continues giving hints in the Japanese version, this time with animation and voice acting.

Crash Bandicoot: Warped

Aku Aku as he appears in Crash Bandicoot: Warped.

For the first time in the series, Aku Aku plays a large role in the story, and has the ability to speak in full sentences other than Japanese. At this point, he had become somewhat of a parental figure to Crash Bandicoot, as well as his sister, Coco.

After a piece of shrapnel from the Cortex Vortex plummets to Earth and demolishes Uka Uka's underground prison, Aku Aku hears his evil laughter in the distance, signifying his return, terrifying him. After explaining to Crash and Coco of his past with his brother, he then brings them to the Time Twister machine and instructs them to collect the crystals scattered across time before Cortex and Uka Uka do.

Later, he joins Crash as they confront Uka Uka and Cortex in a final battle. While Crash deals with Cortex, Aku Aku is locked in a fierce battle with Uka Uka; the two of them soon become an obstacle in and of themselves. The two can actually damage Crash by creating an energy beam between them that grows larger gradually, brawling around the arena, and spinning around for a second, then plummeting to the ground and creating an explosion several times around the arena, which Crash must avoid along with Cortex's attacks. Like with Uka Uka's attacks, Aku Aku could hurt Crash by accident if he's too close, and he can't protect him because he's busy fighting against his brother. Thus, if Crash takes damage, he will lose a life.

Crash and Aku Aku defeat Cortex and Uka Uka, but the Time Twister malfunctions and self destructs due to N. Tropy's defeat (if the player has all of the gems), sending the two villains into a time portal. Having just escaped, Crash, Coco and Aku Aku are seen in their home, when Aku Aku lights a fire in their fireplace. Aku Aku tells them of how the Time Twister was unable to sustain itself and how fortunate they were to escape they were caught in the explosion. After a cutscene with Cortex, N. Tropy and Uka Uka starts, Aku Aku states that he has no idea what happened to their enemies, but believes that they will not be seeing them again for a long time.

Like in the previous games, he protects Crash or Coco from any obstacle, aside from falling. And as usual in the Japanese version, he gives hints when freed (except if the mask gives invincibility, or in Time Trial mode).

Crash Team Racing

Akuhint.jpg

In the adventure mode of Crash Team Racing, Aku Aku serves as the player's tutor for the good characters (Crash, Coco, Polar and Pura) and welcomes them to the adventure arena. He guides them on their quest to save the world from Nitros Oxide and tells them a little bit about the world they're in. After a race, he congratulates the racer and gives the good characters racing advice, such as how to power slide successfully or get a TNT Crate off their head. His hints can be re-heard in the menu section "Aku Aku's Hints". He also appears as an item for the good characters (Crash, Coco, Polar, Pura and Penta Penguin), speeding them up and giving them temporary invincibility from incoming weapons, in addition to acting as a weapon to anyone touching him. He makes another brief appearance in the opening menus, coming out of the Naughty Dog crate with Crash, Cortex, Coco, Tiny and Oxide.

Crash Bash

Aku Aku and Uka Uka meet inside a temple in hyperspace and attempt to end their conflict by holding a contest. Uka Uka submits Cortex, N. Brio, Dingodile, Rilla Roo, Tiny and Koala Kong as his players, leaving Aku Aku with only Crash and Coco. Aku Aku, realizing that his brother has too big an advantage, evens the odds by switching Tiny and Dingodile to the good side. He then leads his team through various minigames in order to defeat Uka Uka's side. During the tournament, he becomes suspicious of Uka Uka's intentions and finds out that he plans to steal the crystals, using them to harness their power. In Space Bash and Snow Bash, Aku Aku can be collected as a power-up that acts as a temporary extra hit point.

Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex

Aku Aku Wrath of Cortex.png

After spotting an assortment of unusual weather occurrences, Aku Aku comes to the conclusion that Uka Uka has released the Elementals. He appears inside a temple in hyperspace, where Uka Uka denies any mischief; however, the Elementals themselves soon show up and attack Aku Aku, who barely escapes. After appearing back home, he reveals to Crash and Coco what has happened and that they must collect the crystals to stop Cortex and Uka Uka. Delighted at Coco's new VR HUB device, he allows them to use the machine to begin their adventure. During boss battles, Aku Aku often uses his powers to weaken Crunch and the Elementals, giving Crash an opening to attack. He and Crash succeeded in defeating Crunch Bandicoot and each of the Elementals. After the final battle the Elementals are defeated for good and Crash, Aku Aku and Crunch escape. At the end, Crunch is revealed to have been brainwashed and thanks Crash and the gang, who accept him as a new member of their family.

Crash Bandicoot: The Huge Adventure

He later appears in The Huge Adventure to help Crash defeat Dr. Neo Cortex. Aku Aku is the one who told Crash he must collect all 20 crystals to power the machine capable of stopping Cortex's Planetary Minimizer.

Crash Bandicoot 2: N-Tranced

In N-Tranced, he helped Crash find a way to get to N. Tropy and N. Trance's base and ruin their evil plan. When N. Tropy attempted to abduct Crash, Aku Aku was able to free him. Using the crystals Crash collects, he helps save Crunch, Coco, and Fake Crash from mind control before defeating N. Trance and N. Tropy.

Crash Nitro Kart

Aku Aku as he appears in Crash Nitro Kart.

In Crash Nitro Kart, Aku Aku has a similar role to Crash Team Racing, serving as the tutor for Team Bandicoot. In the beginning of the game, he is seen discussing weight loss with Crunch before their home is abducted and sent to Velo's Citadel. Like his brother Uka Uka for Team Cortex, Aku Aku gives the player (Team Bandicoot) tips and hints regarding driving skills, info on objects in the hub world, and even tips on how to use weapons effectively. He gives occasional warnings during races, when one of his racers falls out of bounds or attacks a teammate.

Crash Bandicoot Purple: Ripto's Rampage

Aku Aku reappeared in the third handheld title, Ripto's Rampage when he and Coco noticed strange beasts walking around they called Crash. So Crash and Aku Aku set out when they met Spyro and Sparx where they teamed up to stop Cortex and Ripto.

Crash Twinsanity

It is I, Aku Aku! My duty is to protect you.

Aku Aku

Aku Aku maintains his usual role of giving Crash extra hit points upon collecting masks hidden inside crates, but he cannot protect Crash from TNT or Nitro crates (not even when he is being used as a golden mask). He protects Crash from almost all other enemies. He, upon spinning the first Aku Aku Crate at the beginning of the game, gives a small speech to Crash. He states that it is, once again, him, Aku Aku, and he states that his duty is to protect the player. This may have been added in to explain his purpose to new players of the Crash Bandicoot franchise. Later, after Uka Uka is defeated, he teams up with his evil brother to defeat the Evil Twins, but they are unsuccessful, as shown when the Evil Twins appear to return the lifeless masks to Crash and Cortex. Victor, as stated to Crash and Cortex: "Fools! Did you really think that these party toys could defeat us!". Aku Aku also suggests handing Cortex over to the Evil Twins. He helps the team throughout the game.

Crash Tag Team Racing

Aku Aku masks make cameos in Tag Team Racing as masks held up by spears on the track Tiki Turbo and can be heard saying his noise when he is summoned.

Crash Boom Bang!

Aku Aku appears in this game giving out tips and is a special power-up for players. He also tells the player the results of mini games.

Crash of the Titans

Aku Aku drops his role of supplying mask crates for extra hit points in favor of staying with Crash at all times. Crash has the ability to "jack" a stunned titan by placing Aku Aku over its face, allowing him to control its movements and powers. When not jacking a titan, Crash can also summon Aku Aku at will to block light attacks. Parts of certain levels also allow him to ride on Aku Aku like a sled. In the beginning of the game, Cortex attempts to kidnap Coco and Aku Aku, but only succeeds in taking Coco; Crash manages to rescue Aku Aku and retrieve him by knocking his cage free from Cortex's airship. Aku Aku's appearance has changed significantly from the previous games, though not as drastically as his evil brother, Uka Uka. Aku Aku now has a wider and broader face than his original model, and has feathers covering the top and side edges of his face.

Crash: Mind Over Mutant

You got nothing left, Cortex! It's just you versus Crash!

Aku Aku talking to Dr. N. Cortex in Crash: Mind Over Mutant

He still helps Crash jack titans, but is no longer visible on the titan's face. A jacked titan's eyes instead change from red to green, and the cloud of dark mojo surrounding it disappears. Aku Aku is also able to shrink one titan at a time so that it fits inside Crash's pocket (though certain titans are too big to be pocketed). He also gives Crash various hints throughout the game. Sledding on Aku Aku's face does not return in Mind Over Mutant.

Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 3D

Just like in Crash Team Racing and Crash Nitro Kart, he helps Crash giving him some hints and advice in the game about Power ups and his quest to help Yaya. Aku Aku's face is grey in this game, yet his item icon shows his usual brown color.

Aku Aku Skylanders Imaginators.png

Skylanders: Imaginators

Aku Aku appeared in Skylanders: Imaginators. In the game, he provides a temporary shield for Crash whenever he revives after losing a life. One of Crash's possible upgrades makes the effect last longer, as well as making Crash run faster during this time. Aku Aku also speaks for Crash Bandicoot, who is only capable of saying short words. He also acts an NPC in the Adventure Pack level Thumpin' Wumpa Islands. He has five feathers instead of four. In this game, he appears to have bolts on his eyebrows.

Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy

In the remake of the first three games, Aku Aku returns to his role as being supplied inside Aku Aku Crates. He also appears on the hint screen during load times, but no longer supplies hints during levels, not even in the Japanese translation.

Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled

Aku Aku returns to his role in the Nitro-Fueled remake of Crash Team Racing, where he gives the good characters instructions on what to do during the Adventure Mode and as a power-up (with the exception of Spyro and Hunter who use Sparx instead) during the races. Penta Penguin, King Chicken and Iron Checkpoint Crate can both use either Aku Aku or Uka Uka.

Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time

Aku Aku wakes Crash up from a nap to alert him of what is happening. He is surprised to see Lani-Loli awake, and figures something terrible must have happened.

Crash Bandicoot: On the Run!

Aku Aku appears in On the Run!, reprising his role in console games to protect Crash or Coco from an enemy and turn them invincible. He is also responsible for handing out daily quests, which have three objectives each. These objectives can be thing like gathering a certain number of a particular item, crafting a certain item or playing a specific gamemode. After all three are completed, the player is rewarded with things like crystals, trophies or other items.

Characteristics

Personality

Aku Aku is a good-hearted and peaceful being, but at the same time, he knows when to take important matters (like saving the world) seriously. He is kind and has helped Crash, Coco, and Crunch throughout many of the games, and acted as a father to them. He is also obedient to the rules of his superiors "The Ancients", mysterious beings who strangely have never been seen. He also seems to understand what Crash is saying, often translating for him. Like his brother, he seems to dislike not having a body, but not to the same extent.

Aku Aku's personality is mildly different based on who has voiced him. In the earlier games, when voiced by Mel Winkler, his personality is very soft-spoken, calm and mature. While in the later games, when voiced by Greg Eagles, his personality is more direct and slightly comical.

Physical Appearance

Aku Aku takes the form of a brown wooden mask with yellow, pupil-less eyes with green eyebags, red rectangular eyebrows, red lips, a green goatee at the bottom of his mask formed out of leaves, and a pointy orange nose. Aku Aku often tends to keep a straight face, therefore exposing his teeth most of the time.

One of his most iconic features are his four differently-coloured feathers on the top of his head. The colours of these feathers vary throughout the different games. In all Naughty Dog models as well as in Crash Bash, his feathers are blue, yellow, red and magenta. In Wrath of Cortex, he instead has seven uneven feathers, in the sequence of green, blue, red, yellow, green, blue, red. In Crash Nitro Kart he returned to four feathers, which are red, blue, yellow, green. In Crash Twinsanity they are red, yellow, orange and magenta. In his cameo appearance in Crash Tag Team Racing they are red, blue, yellow and green. In Crash Boom Bang! they are green, yellow, cyan and magenta. In the N. Sane Trilogy and Nitro-Fueled they are blue, yellow, orange and magenta.

Aku Aku's full body.

In Crash of the Titans, like all other characters, his design is almost completely different. His appearance is much more "ape-like" in contrast to his original appearance. His appearance changed from a rectangular mask to a more circular mask. He lost the green bags under his eyes and his goatee, and now has green leaves on his sides. He has five feathers on the top of his head, which are blue, red, yellow, blue, red. He has thin green lips and darker markings on the sides of his face, indicating sideburns.

He returned to his original form in the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy.

Profiles

Crash Bandicoot

  • Manual

“Legend has it the spirit of an ancient Witch Doctor named Aku Aku looks over the islands as a benevolent protector. Sensing Crash’s mission to thwart Dr. Cortex’s plans, Aku Aku has scattered masks throughout the islands to help Crash succeed. With luck, the old Witch Doctor’s faith in the Bandicoot won’t be misplaced.”

Crash Bash

  • Manual (NTSC-U)

“Aku Aku is the fatherly spirit of a witch doctor who lived a long time ago. He has been a protective force for Crash from the beginning. He hopes that Crash and the rest of his team will sweep the arena events for the good of all.”

  • Manual (PAL)

“AKU AKU – the good Witch Doctor”

Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex

  • Manual

“A kindly omnipotent witch doctor mask, Aku Aku guides and aids Crash and Coco in stopping Cortex’s and Uka Uka’s devious plans.”

Crash Bandicoot: On the Run!

  • Promo

“Sure, he may looks like a strange, magic floating wooden mask, but… actually, yeah, that’s pretty accurate. No one truly knows why Aku Aku was reincarnated as a mask (well, Aku Aku might, no one’s ever asked) but his affable presence in Crash’s many escapades have proven to be a life saver: quite literally – he gives Crash another chance to take in-game damage before losing a life.”

Appearances

Relationships

Crash Bandicoot

After being found by Crash in the first game, Aku Aku helped him throughout his journey to defeat Cortex and rescue Tawna. Following these events, he became Crash's mentor, parental figure, and partner in their multiple adventures against the doctor's forces as well as his own brother. Aku Aku is perfectly capable of understanding what Crash is trying to say.

Uka Uka

Eons before the series, Aku Aku and Uka Uka were human brothers, both reincarnated into their tribal masks but choosing different paths. After Uka Uka threatened the Earth, Aku Aku battled and defeated him and, along with the Ancients, imprisoned him in an old temple. However, Uka Uka was accidentally released by Cortex (and revealed to be in league with him), resulting in Aku Aku, Crash and Coco rising to defeat him once again.

Dr. Neo Cortex

As Cortex became a threat to the Wumpa Islands, Aku Aku's team-up with Crash ensured he would never succeed. As revealed in Crash of the Titans, Aku Aku considers Cortex dumber than Nina.

Coco Bandicoot

Like with Crash, Aku Aku acts as a father figure to Coco. Whenever Crash gets into trouble, they work together to help him however they can. It was stated on the Crash Bash website that Aku Aku is protective over Coco.

Crunch Bandicoot

Like Crash and Coco, Aku Aku acts as a father figure to Crunch following his freedom from Cortex. They do what they can to help Crash on his adventures.

Quotes

Uka Uka is free? No... It cannot be! Evil, great evil has come...

Aku Aku, Crash Bandicoot: Warped

After many eons, my evil twin brother, Uka Uka, has been freed from his underground prison. Long ago, I locked him there to protect the world from his malice. Now, free once again, he must be stopped!

Aku Aku, Crash Bandicoot: Warped

Let the games begin.

Aku Aku, Crash Bash

Something's wrong. That's not sunlight...!

Aku Aku, Crash Nitro Kart

You will have to race in order to win the Galaxy Circuit and go home. To compete in a race, drive onto a warp pad with a vortex on it. Finish the race in 1st place to win a Trophy. Collect Trophies to create additional vortexes to more tracks. Good luck, and drive fast.

Aku Aku, Crash Nitro Kart

It is I, Aku Aku! My duty is to protect you. You may summon me by breaking open these crates. Call me thrice and I shall grant you special powers.

Aku Aku, Crash Twinsanity

Yes, I know I don't have feet! Let's just go already!

Aku Aku, Crash of the Titans

Come on, Crash! We need to head back to Wumpa Island! Nobody invades our turf and gets away with it!

Aku Aku, Mind Over Mutant

Why should we help you? You're a jerk! Remember mom's birthday? You sent her socks! Honestly, who sends socks to a magic mask with no feet?!

Aku Aku, Mind Over Mutant

You're in luck, Cortex. Spyro's been scouting ahead, and he believes you aren't COMPLETELY to blame for this.

Aku Aku, Skylanders: Imaginators

Gallery

See: Aku Aku/Gallery

Trivia

  • In Warped, there are special warp vortex messages from Aku Aku if the player leaves a level without taking its crystal, where he briefly scolds Crash and Coco, as Cortex did in the previous game. This doesn't happen in the N. Sane Trilogy.
  • According to Aku Aku's profile in Crash Bandicoot: On the Run!, he loves magic and the bandicoots, and hates Uka Uka and not having a body.
  • Aku Aku, Crash and Cortex are the only characters who have appeared in every home console title.
  • In the playable demo of Crash Tag Team Racing, Aku Aku appears at the end of a race and on the pause menu.
  • In Crash Bandicoot, Aku Aku's mask pickup would originally be a 2D icon with a slightly different design, instead of the 3D pickup used in the game. The 2D icon was relegated to the crate graphic instead.
  • Aku Aku is named after a restaurant. According to ex-Naughty Dog employee Dave Baggett, "The name Aku Aku comes from a Polynesian restaurant that resided near the Alewife T Station when Andy [Gavin], Jason [Rubin], and I [Dave Baggett] lived in the Boston area. It had a giant tiki statue out front and, as I recall, fairly terrible food."
  • Ironically, "aku" means "evil" in Japanese.
  • In early versions of Crash Bandicoot, Aku's second form would not be golden. Instead, it would just give off multi-colored sparkles. This idea would coincidentally be later used in Twinsanity.
  • In Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time, he is referred to as "Aku" by some characters and in subtitles.
  • In one of the UK Playstation 1 magazines themed around the first Crash Bandicoot game, Aku Aku is erroneously named "Bonus Bob".

References

See also