Thursday, June 12, 2008
The Akatsuki Organization
The Akatsuki kanji means daybreak, breaking down the word itself gives us "aka" meaning red (a common color in the group) and "tsuki" meaning moon. This Organization is a collection of S-Ranked criminals. Many of these are missing-nins who fled their villages after causing death and destruction. With the departure of Orochimaru, the deaths of Sasori, Kakuzu, Deidara and the neutralization of Hidan, there are 6 active Akatsuki members. The group replaced Sasori with "raw" recruit Tobi, who was eager to do his part. Most members wear a forehead protector from their hidden village with a scratch through it, and all seem to wear a ring identifying their position in the organization and a black cloak with red clouds. When the organization members leave to travel the country they will work in groups of two collecting knowledge of new skills and jutsu.
Their ultimate goal is to control the world; this will be accomplished through three steps. Step One is for the group to attain money. Step Two is to create the first mercenary group. Shinobi villages make money for their country, and for the money to be steady it requires war. Because there have not been any large scale wars in approximately the last decade, the ninja villages were being reduced in size. The Five Great Shinobi Villages could handle the downtrend, but the smaller villages could not. Akatsuki will form their own fighting force with no country allegiance. With this force they will undercut all the other villages and fight their battles for cheap. Then using the bijuu they can create new battles and new wars and gain a monopoly over the whole market. In the end they plan to control all the wars and be powerful enough to even collapse the shinobi villages of the large countries, forcing them to rely on Akatsuki as well. With all that in hand, the group can achieve Step Three, to control the world.
Akatsuki was founded by Madara Uchiha after he was expelled from his hometown of Konohagakure. Though initially meant only to mask Madara's movements, Akatsuki eventually began taking part in assassinations and espionage. By the start of the current storyline, Akatsuki's ambitions grow to plans of world domination. To mark this more dynamic goal, Akatsuki increases its activity throughout the series as it attempts to capture the nine powerful tailed beasts. Each member is assigned to capture a specific beast or its current host, at which point Akatsuki convenes to extract the beast and seal it away for their grand plan. As the Akatsuki leader, Pain, explains it, once all nine beasts have been captured Akatsuki will be able to harness their great strength to start world wars at their leisure. With the world powers unable to deal with the beasts' power, Akatsuki will be turned to for salvation, teaching the world the meaninglessness of fighting and giving Akatsuki complete control in the process
The stated goal of the group is far reaching and it requires the capturing of the bijuu and "Jinchuuriki," meaning the power of human sacrifice. These are the individuals possessing bijuu (tailed beasts) within their bodies. The demons are known by the number of tails their body possesses. Shukaku is the One-Tailed Tanuki, Nibi is the Two-Tailed Cat, Sanbi is the Three-Tailed Turtle, Yonbi is a Four-Tailed demon and Kyuubi is the Nine-Tailed Fox. The only known Jinchuuriki are Uzumaki Naruto, Gaara of the Sand, Nii Yugito and an unnamed elder Jinchuuriki. Yugito, Gaara and two or possibly three other unknown Jinchuuriki have had their Bijuu removed. All lost their lives save for Gaara, who was later resurrected with a tensei jutsu. At some point after Gaara's capture and before Yugito's, the group managed to capture and seal away another Bijuu. It is unknown if this was a wild bijuu or a Jinchuuriki. Akatsuki's current base of operation is unknown. Previously they met at a cave in the River Country, which was later destroyed. They then moved on to a new base. These bases are used to summon the gigantic King of Hell statue.
The statue's mouth is bound and his hands are cuffed. Each respective finger of the statue's hand represents the Akatsuki member. Each statue finger thus represents the kanji and ring finger of the member. The members have the ability to project their presence to their base, this allows them to remain out and about and still conduct the business of Jinchuuriki demon extraction. This process takes three days and nights due to the absence of Orochimaru. This length of time goes for both free roaming bijuu and bijuu enhanced Jinchuuriki. To begin to leach the power from the Jinchuuriki, the members will use the sealing technique of GenryuuKyuu Fuujin (Mystical Dragon Nine Exhaustion). This causes the mouth of the statue to open. Nine spectral dragons will emerge to coalesce around the Jinchuuriki to begin the extraction process. When extraction is completed, the bijuu spirit will be sealed within the statue and one of its eyes will open denoting a captured bijuu spirit. The Jinchuuriki themselves will fall back to the earth, dead.
Deidara is a former ninja of Iwagakure. He acted as a terrorist bomber for hire before being forced to join Akatsuki by Itachi Uchiha. Though he came to embrace the organization, Deidara holds a grudge against Itachi and all Uchiha throughout the series, as he feels they look down on his abilities. Upon joining Akatsuki he is partnered with Sasori, who Deidara treats as his master due to his artistic expertise. Sasori is replaced by Tobi after his death, and Deidara assumes the master-position as Sasori had before him. By consuming clay with mouths in his hands, Deidara is able to create his own form of art: sculptures that explode with varying intensities. Deidara's creations can take any form he so chooses, and from the time of their creation to their detonation he can bring them to life and control them remotely. He is very confident in his art's ability, such that he believes it cannot be defeated. When Sasuke Uchiha, Itachi's younger brother, is able to systematically nullify and gain the advantage over his art, Deidara transforms himself into a living bomb in an effort to kill Sasuke and prove his art is supreme.When he speaks, he near-constantly ends his sentences with an audible "hmm?", although it has also been translated as "yeah" and other similar syllables. He is voiced by Katsuhiko Kawamoto in the Japanese anime, and during a brief cameo in its English adaptation he is voiced by Quinton Flynn.
Hidan is the foul-mouthed partner of Kakuzu and a former ninja of a yet-to-be-identified village. He is a member of the Jashin ("evil god") religion, a religion that worships a deity of the same name and where anything less than death and utter destruction is considered a sin. His religion seems to some extent, extend to his unique abilities; by consuming an opponent's blood and then drawing Jashin's triangular-design on the ground, Hidan can create a voodoo doll-like link with his opponent. Once this link is created, any damage done to Hidan's body is reflected on his opponent, allowing him to kill them by giving himself fatal injuries. Because he is immortal, Hidan is not impaired while doing this, instead finding pleasure in the pain it causes him. After Hidan uses this ability to kill Asuma Sarutobi, Shikamaru Nara fights him to avenge his teacher. Their battle culminates in Hidan being blown up, and Shikamaru buries his still-speaking remains in a place Akatsuki will never be able to reach. As such, Hidan is no longer considered a member by the rest of Akatsuki.
Itachi Uchihais a former ninja of Konohagakure and the partner of Kisame Hoshigaki. Though having spent his early youth as the kindly child prodigy of the Uchiha clan, Itachi is treated as a villain for much of the series. He is initially portrayed as being solely responsible for the slaughter of his entire family, sparing only his brother, Sasuke Uchiha, with the explanation that he was testing his abilities.Around the time of his death his villainous role is downplayed; not only is he revealed to have had help from his master, Madara Uchiha, in killing the clan, but he performed the massacre under the orders of Konoha's leadership so as to prevent an Uchiha coup d'état. Though he is ordered to kill Sasuke as well, Itachi could not bring himself to do so, instead forcing Konoha to keep Sasuke safe or risk Itachi going public with his mission. For his part, Itachi accepts his role as a villain, never telling anyone of who else was involved and even encouraging Sasuke to grow strong enough to kill him and avenge their family.
Throughout the series Itachi attempts to avoid combat, seeking nonviolent discussions instead. If he is forced to battle he usually remains stationary, only acting in self-defense. From his idle position he studies an opponent's movements with his Sharingan eyes, trapping them in illusions when opportune by merely pointing or looking at them.He is noted to be extremely fast with hand movements, allowing him to attack before an opponent has the chance to respond.. Itachi at times uses one of the three abilities of his Mangekyo Sharingan, though he tries to avoid doing so as it is taxing on his body and damages his eyesight.The first, Tsukuyomi, allows him to torture opponents for what seems like days in a matter of moments. Amaterasu , the second, generates black flames at his focal point that will continue to burn until the target is reduced to ash. The final ability, Susanoo, creates a massive ethereal warrior that fights on Itachi's behalf and shields him from all attacks. Before he dies during his battle with Sasuke, Itachi implants a single Amaterasu in Sasuke's eyes, hoping that doing so will eventually kill Madara Uchiha. In the Japanese anime, Itachi is voiced by Hideo Ishikawa.His first voice actor in the English anime was Skip Stellrecht, who voiced Itachi in episodes twenty-nine and thirty, but in all following appearances, he has been voiced by Crispin Freeman.
Kakuzu is a former ninja of Takigakure and the partner of Hidan. He has a deep love for money, and uses his membership in Akatsuki as a means to seek out valuable bounties. Because money is the only thing he relies on, Kakuzu dislikes needing to be partnered with someone in Akatsuki. He has killed all of his previous partners in fits of rage, and thus was paired with the immortal Hidan so he wouldn't need to keep finding a replacement. Kakuzu's body is composed of large amounts of black threads, allowing him to sew things (such as Hidan's dismembered body parts) back together. The threads are also capable of piercing flesh, which Kakuzu uses to remove the still-beating hearts of his opponents for his personal use. By integrating these healthier organs into his body he can escape death and extend his life indefinitely. Hearts that he is not using are stored in animal masks sewn to his back. The masks can be detached during combat situations to shoot elemental blasts at his opponents, and can quickly be recalled to his body if he needs their heart. Kakuzu's masks are systematically destroyed soon after his introduction by a group of Konohagakure ninja. After Naruto Uzumaki leaves his final heart on the brink of failure, Kakuzu is easily finished off by Kakashi Hatake.
Kisame Hoshigaki is a former ninja of Kirigakure and the partner of Itachi Uchiha. While most Akatsuki partners are hostile towards each other, Kisame and Itachi get along considerably well; Kisame does as Itachi asks of him unquestioningly and always looks out for Itachi's well-being. While he was still loyal to Kirigakure, Kisame was one of the Seven Swordsmen of the Mist, a group of ninja that use particularly large swords in battle. His sword, Samehada ("shark skin"), is covered in scales, can absorb untold amounts of an opponent's chakra, and only allows Kisame to wield it. Kisame has a unique appearance, having pale blue skin, a gill-like facial structure, and sharp triangular teeth. These shark-like characteristics extend to his choice of attacks in battle, as he frequently shapes water into the forms of sharks to damage opponents. If there is no water nearby, Kisame can quickly produce his own lake to use at his leisure. His seiyū in the Japanese anime is Tomoyuki Dan,and his English voice actor is Kirk Thornton.
Konan is the partner of the Akatsuki leader, Pain, and the only female ninja in Akatsuki. She was orphaned as a child by one of Amegakure's many wars, forcing her to fend for herself until being found by Jiraiya. Jiraiya trained Konan to take advantage of her natural talent with origami, and as a result paper is a key component in her battle style. Konan can divide her body into countless numbers of paper sheets, which she controls and reshapes remotely to scout out an area or form weapons for attack. She can even form wings that mirror her title as "God's Angel" amongst the villagers of Amegakure, as she often carries out Pain's (who has the title of "God") will. Her abilities are constrained while wet, as paper clings to itself and loses its stiffness.
Madara Uchiha is the founder of Akatsuki and the first possessor of the Mangekyo Sharingan, a rare form of the eye condition unique to the Uchiha. Though it gave him the strength needed to take control of the Uchiha clan, overuse of the Mangekyo Sharingan left him blind, and it was only by taking his own brother's eyes that he was able to regain his sight. Madara eventually banded together with Hashirama Senju to create Konohagakure. The two founders disagreed on who should lead their new village and after a momentous battle between the two Madara was expelled from Konoha. In later years the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox attacked Konoha, an act Itachi Uchiha states to have been Madara's doing. Once the fox was defeated by Minato Namikaze, Madara infiltrated Konoha in secret, trained Itachi, and subsequently assisted him in assassinating the Uchiha clan.
Much of Madara's role in the series has been under the guise of Tobi , who replaces Sasori in Akatsuki after his death. While acting as Tobi he is carefree and goofy as opposed to Madara's usual serious and stereotypically "villainous" self. Tobi's tendency to take credit for other's work and undermine his superiors annoys his partner, Deidara, who either blows up or strangles him in comical fashion as punishment. After Deidara dies during a battle with Sasuke, the only Uchiha to be spared during the massacre, the Tobi persona is discarded as Madara takes a special interest in Sasuke's development, tending to his injuries after Itachi's death. However, Madara has not completely outlived the use of his guise as he temporarily reassumes being Tobi when delaying a group of Konohagakure ninja.
Though Madara's face as it appeared during Konoha's founding has been shown in full at various points in the series, he always wears a mask in the current Naruto storyline. The mask features a swirl pattern focused around his right eye. His black hair (cut back from his earlier years) is the only constantly visible part of his face. When asked how Madara could have survived since Konoha's founding, Itachi Uchiha states that Madara is immortal. The specifics of his immortality have yet to be touched upon, though Madara implies the potency of his chakra has something to do with it. In battle he has been shown capable of making his body intangible, leaving him visible but otherwise impervious to most forms of damage, and can teleport over great distances at will. In the Japanese anime, the Tobi identity is voiced by Wataru Takagi.
Pain's six bodies
Pain is the leader of Akatsuki and the partner of Konan. "Pain" is not a single person, instead being six entirely different bodies that share the same mind. The only common physical characteristics amongst them are their orange hair color, a number of body piercings, and the Rinnegan ("Samsara Eye"). The Rinnegan, a unique eye condition characterized by a number of concentric circles around the pupil, allows the wielder to utilize any ninja ability. Pain uses it to share visual information amongst all six bodies, giving them the ability to coordinate offense and defense as if they were a single entity. Each body possesses a unique skill; the body with a large ponytail, for example, can summon a wide array of creatures, while the fat body is able to absorb attacks as a form of defense. The six bodies' combined might was enough to singlehandedly overthrow Amegakure's former governmental body, giving Pain control of the village and god-like status amongst the villagers in the process.
When first meeting Pain, Jiraiya assumes the entity to have once been Nagato, an Amegakure orphan he trained in the past. Though Nagato was the first possessor of the Rinnegan that he encountered and Pain refers to him as sensei, Jiraiya begins to doubt this initial assumption when he sees Pain's six bodies. Realizing that all six bodies once belonged to ninja he encountered when he wandered the Naruto world, Nagato's body not being among them, Jiraiya risks his life to learn the secret of Pain. He succeeds and is able to send his, as yet undisclosed, discovery to Konohagakure, though is killed in the process. The first of Pain's bodies is voiced by Dave Wittenberg during a brief cameo in the English anime.
Sasori is a former ninja of Sunagakure. His parents died when he was young, leaving him in the care of his grandmother, Chiyo. Lacking the love of parents, Sasori left Sunagakure when he got older and joined Akatsuki where he is initially partnered with Orochimaru. After Orochimaru's defection he Sasori teamed with Deidara, who looks to him and his artistic knowledge with reverence. Before leaving Sunagakure, Sasori was taught the art of puppetry by his grandmother, which he refined to fit his needs over the years. He eventually devised a way to convert the corpses of humans into puppets, allowing him to use any of the ninja abilities they possessed during their life for himself. In time he even converted his own body into a puppet, which gives him eternal life and allows him to control hundreds of puppets at once. Each weapon in his puppets' extended arsenal is laced with a poison of Sasori's design that causes extreme pain to the inflicted until they die. Sakura Haruno is able to create an antidote for Sasori's poison, allowing her and Chiyo to fight him uninhibited. They eventually destroy his heart, the only part of his humanity he kept when converting himself to a puppet, resulting in his death. In the Japanese anime Sasori is voiced by Takahiro Sakurai as an adult and Akiko Yajima during flashbacks to his childhood.
Zetsu is the only member of Akatsuki to regularly act without a partner. This is in part a result of his ability to merge with any object and quickly travel to a new location, a feat few other ninja are capable of. Because of this ability Zetsu serves a variety of different positions in Akatsuki, such as a spy that observes and reports on battles of interest or a lookout during Akatsuki's meetings. Being cannibalistic, he is often sent to dispose of bodies Akatsuki does not want found, mirroring the large venus flytrap that envelops his body. Zetsu's body is split into two different colors, his right side being black and his left being white. Similarly, the two sides have their own personalities and knowledge bases, frequently leading to discussions and arguments between the two. The black half speaks in Katakana in the Japanese manga and is voiced by Michael Sorich in the English anime, while the white speaks Kanji and Kana and is voiced by Brian Beacock. Both sides are voiced by Nobuo Tobita in the Japanese anime, with the black half being given a much deeper voice than the white.