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Orochimaru is a twisted man who only thinks of himself, kills anyone on the whim and uses everyone.

Why then people (like Kimimaro) follow him and are ready to give their lives for him?

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    from my understanding the Sound Ninja pledge their loyalty to him for the power the receive whether that is greater power to achieve their (ie. Sasuke wanting to kill Itachi) or giving them purpose (i think this was the case with Kimimaro. think about Haku and Zabuza) – Memor-X Jan 28 '18 at 13:12
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There are several reasons why Orochimaru has followers despite his character:

  1. He is one of the 3 Sannin, so some follow him to gain his mentorship.
  2. Saving people by giving them what they really want.
  3. By manipulating them.

Most of the reason revolves around those two basic concepts, but in the end both Orochimaru and those followers require each other for their own personal benefits.

Orochimaru being stronger, his followers have no other choice but to follow him, learn things until they become stronger than him.

If there had been someone else other than Orochimaru in his place, maybe those followers might have had different endings or goals. In the end it's the cause and effect of their own personal ambitions.

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There are many reasons for why people follow Orochimaru, but I think they follow him for the following reasons:

  1. He is the founder of Otokagure (Hidden PERSONAL village Orochimaru used to experiment ninjas he collected)

  2. He is really powerful and one of the Legendary Sannin

  3. He might of convinced his followers to join him for more power as he did with Sasuke when he was a little kid.

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On second thought, I think all followers of Orochimaru are in it for their own gain with the exception of the few he has manipulated ...

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    While this might be the answer, could you expand this answer more, probably by providing some of the examples? – Aki Tanaka Jan 28 '18 at 17:11

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