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Akatsuki

Akatsuki

(暁, Akatsuki; Literally meaning "Dawn" or "Daybreak")

Debut
Manga Chapter #141
Anime Naruto Episode #81
Movie Naruto 6: Road to Ninja
Game Naruto: Ultimate Ninja 2
OVA Hidden Leaf Village Grand Sports Festival!
Appears in Anime, Manga, Game and Movie
Team Info
Leaders
Team Jutsu

Akatsuki (暁; Literally meaning "Dawn" or "Daybreak") was initially an organisation created by Yahiko and his two comrades Konan and Nagato in an effort to fight against the tyranny and oppression that their home village Amegakure was facing during the Third Great Shinobi War, and the long-term goal of world peace.

Summary

After Yahiko's death and under the influence of Obito Uchiha, Akatsuki became a criminal organisation comprised of S-rank missing-nin and is the most wanted group in all of the shinobi world. Their main goal is to collect all of the tailed beasts for their plan of world domination. As such, Akatsuki, despite initially having a minor role during Part I, has become the primary antagonistic force in Part II.

Akatsuki at any given time is composed of no more than ten primary members, all of whom were S-rank criminals of their own respective villages — with the exception of Nagato and Konan. Members always work in teams of two with the exception of Zetsu, who functions as the organisation's spy, and make use of their unique skills to the team's advantage. Team members must function very well, or at least well enough to accomplish their tasks, even though some may have mutual problems with each other. The organisation is rarely fully assembled, as seen in the end of Part I, when one member said it was the first time in seven years when they were all together.[1]

The organisation is widespread, spanning several countries with agents in various places. When one team finds a tailed beast and has to begin the job of sealing the beast, they have hidden hideouts with many traps ready, to do the three-day long technique.

History

Yahiko's Group

The original Akatsuki with Yahiko as the leader.

Akatsuki was originally founded by Yahiko during the Third Shinobi World War and consisted of Amegakure ninja that wished to create peace for their home country, which acted as a battleground for three of the Five Great Shinobi Countries.[2] Yahiko insisted that his and the rest of Akatsuki's actions were meant only to aid Nagato in bringing world peace, though Konan claimed that it was Yahiko's charisma that held the group together and spurred them on. Obito alleges that it was his encouragement which lead to Yahiko forming the organisation, and thus credits himself as the group's creator.[3] Though he only met Yahiko once, the youth wary of the masked man and not believing his claim to be Madara Uchiha, Obito left an impression on Nagato while promising to wait for him and his friend when they decide to seek his council.

In its early days, Akatsuki gained fame and recognition in Amegakure, drawing the attention of Hanzō of the Salamander — a world-renowned ninja and then leader of the country. Believing that the group was becoming a threat to his rule, approached the organisation and falsely claimed that he wanted to use them as the axis to negotiate peace between Konohagakure, Iwagakure, and Sunagakure. However, Hanzō betrayed Akatsuki and, working together with Danzō Shimura of Konohagakure's ANBU, kidnapped Konan and orchestrated Yahiko's death. After synchronising with the Demonic Statue of the Outer Path and attempting to exact revenge on Yahiko's killers, using his friend's corpse as a vessel and going by the name Pain, Nagato became the new leader of the Akatsuki and took control of Amegakure after the resulting civil war.

Following the Third Shinobi World War, Akatsuki became a mercenary group for hire and Nagato presumably began taking direction from Obito, who acted as the organisation's collaborator and benefactor. In times of peace most of the ninja villages, rather than increasing their own armaments, employed Akatsuki to fight in wars, spy on enemies, or carry out assassinations. The Fourth Raikage claims that only Kumogakure has never used Akatsuki's services, and during this time it became widely believed that Akatsuki was founded and based in Kirigakure, perhaps due to Tobi's influence over the Fourth Mizukage. Eventually, Akatsuki would begin capturing the tailed beasts, in the process antagonising many of its former clients.

Events relating to Akatsuki before the start of Part II have only been given in fragments. Sasori and Orochimaru were partners for a time and were apparently very effective. Kakuzu had a number of partners that he killed in fits of rage. For this reason he was partnered with Hidan shortly before the start of Part II, Hidan's immortality meaning there would not need to be constant replacements. Itachi Uchiha apparently joined before carrying out the Uchiha clan massacre for which he defected from Konohagakure, though his membership seems to have come with the stipulation that Akatsuki could make no direct movements against Konoha. When Itachi joined, Orochimaru attempted to steal his body in order to gain the Sharingan. This failed and he was forced to defect. Deidara was recruited to replace Orochimaru as Sasori's partner, but because Orochimaru took his Akatsuki ring with him he could not also replace Orochimaru's position. Akatsuki also captured two tailed beasts before Part II, which in the anime are indicated to have been the Five-Tails and the Seven-Tails.

Akatsuki becomes much more active in Part II, with Deidara and Sasori making their move to capture Gaara for the One-Tail. Though they succeed in the extraction, Sasori is killed. Taking advantage of the open membership, having created the identity of Tobi to pose an Akatsuki flunky, Obito replaces Sasori to oversee the group's affairs. Another tailed beast is acquired in between the captures of the One-Tail, and the Two-Tails, but is unknown which beast.[4][5] Next are the Two-Tails and Three-Tails, though Hidan and Kakuzu are lost during an unrelated scuffle with Konoha ninja. After obtaining the Four-Tails, Deidara dies during his fight with Sasuke Uchiha with Tobi managing to convince Sasuke to work with Akatsuki after Itachi's death. Although five Akatsuki members are lost, Tobi claiming their sacrifices were worth winning Sasuke's loyalty, the organization takes more drastic measures to make up for diminished numbers.

In the anime, Nagato goes to capture the Six-Tails (the beast having been caught at some earlier point in the manga). He and Konan are then sent to Konoha to capture the Nine-Tails. Konoha is destroyed, but they fail in their assignment; Nagato dying and Konan leaving the organization. At the same time, Sasuke and his team are tasked with capturing the Eight-Tails, but they too fail to complete their assignment. Akatsuki's actions finally provoke a response from the ninja villages, who hold a Kage Summit to discuss what should be done. Tobi, wishing to accelerate his machinations, infiltrates the meeting and declares war against the Five Great Shinobi Countries and the Land of Iron, promising to use the seven tailed beasts Akatsuki has already captured as weapons. The villages and their associated countries form the Allied Shinobi Forces to combat Akatsuki, beginning the Fourth Shinobi World War.

Akatsuki revived

The reincarnated Akatsuki.

In preparation for the war, Kisame Hoshigaki infiltrates Kumogakure to gather intelligence on the Shinobi Alliance, as well as to learn the location of the two remaining tailed beasts. He dies in the process, but not before sending what he has learned to Obito. Obito, meanwhile, goes to Amegakure to retrieve Nagato's body and the Rinnegan, as well as to kill Konan for her defection. Kabuto Yakushi, a new ally of the organisation, then captures Yamato, allowing him to strengthen an army of 100,000 White Zetsu Obito amassed.[6] After Kabuto utilises Summoning: Impure World Reincarnation to supplement Akatsuki's forces with ninja famous during their lives, Akatsuki marches off for war.

Goal

Main Goal

The organisation's initial goal — under Yahiko's leadership — was aimed at bringing peace to Amegakure and the world on a larger scale, this would later be distorted by the influence of others.

Although some of the post-Yahiko members joined Akatsuki to further their own goals, all are united in Akatsuki's ultimate goal of gaining world domination.[7] Nagato has mentioned a three-step process to work their way towards this goal.[8] First, they plan to obtain a large amount of money to support their organisation.[8] Second, they plan to set up a mercenary group loyal only to Akatsuki.[9] To build their reputation, they plan to accept any mission below the usual cost and operate off of the excess funds earned in the first part of their plan.[9] Because there haven't been any wars in some time, many of the more powerful and well known shinobi villages couldn't afford to accomplish such missions as such low prices, leading the smaller countries to hire Akatsuki over the more expensive shinobi villages.[9] By using the tailed beasts, Akatsuki would start wars and then immediately quell them, solidifying their reputation and convincing every country to depend on them, thus cornering the market in shinobi labour.[10] Without any business, the other shinobi villages would collapse due to the lack of funds.[10] Finally, after Akatsuki is the only major force of shinobi in existence, they can easily conquer the other countries.[10] Members do not automatically learn of the plan upon joining; Hidan didn't find out about it until he had been a member for quite some time.[8]

The tailed beasts, nine gigantic demons of immense power, are the main focus of much of Akatsuki's efforts and screen time within the series. Each member is assigned to capture one of the nine beasts alive or, in most cases, the person that beast has been sealed into.[11] Akatsuki has sealed seven of the nine beasts before the start of the Fourth Shinobi World War.[12]

Yahiko's Goal

Under Yahiko's leadership, the group was meant to put an end to the wars that would take place in Amegakure and bring about peace.[2] When he was younger, Yahiko also noted that he disliked the fact that it always rained in his country, as if all the country did was weep and he wanted to change that. This may be where the name of the organisation literally meaning "daybreak" comes from. He also noted that the organisation was meant to act as a support unit for Nagato, whom he believed would bring peace to the world.

Obito's Goal

Main article: Eye of the Moon Plan After Rin Nohara's death and Kakashi Hatake's inability to protect her, a grief-stricken Obito declared that he would create a world that she was in.[13] With this goal in mind Obito returned to Madara Uchiha who had saved his life after the events of the Kannabi Bridge,[14] and decided to partake in his plan to revive the Ten-Tails by gathering all the tailed beasts that had been created by the Sage of the Six Paths, and fusing them back into one, single beast with the goal of becoming its jinchūriki. After this he would cast an Infinite Tsukuyomi onto the moon and control humanity thereby bringing "world peace". Adopting the legend's name after his death, Obito would take measured actions to bring the plan to fruition until Madara could be revived. Obito has also noted that everything he is doing is to rebuild the Uchiha clan's pride, and he would use Sasuke Uchiha to do so.[15] Kisame Hoshigaki and Zetsu are the only two Akatsuki members who know of this plan.

Pain's Goal

Pain later goes into further detail on the tailed beasts' role in his plans. The beasts would be used to create a deadly Kinjutsu technique that could wipe out one of the five great nations in an instant, so if countries go to war and do not have ninja villages to fight for them, they would turn to Akatsuki and their "weapon". Whichever side has Pain use the technique first would wipe out the opposing country. After witnessing the mass destruction caused by the weapon, the other remaining countries would become too afraid to start wars for fear of being wiped out as well. Thus, through this mutual fear, war would cease to exist and the world would know peace, until the people forget that fear and use the weapon again. Thus the cycle would repeat, creating small periods of peace in an endless chain of hatred.[16]

Apparently, Pain and Konan were the only Akatsuki members aware of this part of the plan. After Pain's death and Konan's defection, this goal has been ceased.

Itachi's Goal

After the Uchiha clan massacre and leaving Konoha, Itachi, instead of using the tailed beasts for his own self-interest, continued to protect the village by joining Akatsuki and keeping an eye on the villagers, especially Sasuke, from the outside. During his time in the group, Itachi would delay his own attempts to capture the Nine-Tails, indirectly leaked information about the organisation to Konoha, and attempted to kill Tobi through Sasuke.

Wardrobe

Akatsuki Symbol

The Akatsuki symbol.

Akatsuki members have a very distinctive wardrobe, which could give them away if a village is alerted of their presence. Members wear long, dark cloaks with red clouds, a red interior, and a chin-high collar. Tobi and the members of Taka wear a similarly marked hooded mantle. The red clouds represent the rain of blood that fell in Amegakure during its wars, and were seen as a symbol of justice by its original members.[17] All members wear black nail polish on their fingers and toenails, although the colours vary in the anime, and may wear a conical straw hat with small ornamental torques and tassels hanging down over their faces. The hats may be used to move around in the general population unnoticed, or for when the weather requires one.[18] Some members cross out the symbol on their forehead protectors to symbolise the broken ties with their former villages, a practice originating with Nagato and his rival faction in Amegakure's civil war. Others members simply cease wearing them altogether, for several reasons. Everyone also wears a ring with a kanji on different fingers depending on who the member is.

Now that the original members of Akatsuki (Konan and Nagato) are dead, Tobi seems to have changed the garb to his own preference after revealing his new mask and outfit-which are robes without the red clouds.

Akatsuki Rings and Ring Positions

What seems to be most important, however, are their rings. In total, there are ten rings given to each of the ten main members of Akatsuki. The rings apparently signify one's membership and ring position, since when Orochimaru defected, he took his ring with him[19] and as such wasn't replaced.[20] The rings' exact purpose have not been revealed.

Gedo Mazo Akatsuki Rings

The ring positions of the members.

The various rings are:[21]

  • Right thumb: "zero" (零, rei); worn by Pain. Its colour is purplish-grey.
  • Right index finger: "blue," "green" (青, ao, shō); worn by Deidara. Its colour is teal.
  • Right middle finger: "white" (白, bya); worn by Konan. Its colour is white.
  • Right ring finger: "vermilion," "scarlet" (朱, shu); worn by Itachi Uchiha. Its colour is red.
  • Right little finger: "sign of the boar" (亥, gai); worn by Zetsu. Its colour is green.
  • Left little finger: "sky," "void" (空, ); worn by Orochimaru. Its colour is slate blue.
  • Left ring finger: "south" (南, nan); worn by Kisame Hoshigaki. Its colour is yellow.
  • Left middle finger: "north" (北, hoku); worn by Kakuzu. Its colour is dark green.
  • Left index finger: "three" (三, san); worn by Hidan. Its colour is orange.
  • Left thumb: "jewel," "ball," also the black king in shogi (玉, gyoku); worn by Sasori and later by Tobi. Its colour is purple.

Eight of the ten kanji of the rings are taken from a kuji-in (Nine Syllable Seals): a collection of nine hand postures used in meditation. These kuji-in have found their way into ninja folklore as a kind of magic spells. Pain's "rei" and Zetsu's "gai" are not from this kuji-in. However, the only unused kuji-in kanji, 玄 (gen, "mysterious") bears a strong resemblance to Zetsu's "gai," suggesting an error. It would be a consistent error, however, since the "gai" kanji has been used in every instance the ring's kanji has been shown, both in the manga and the data books.

In Part II, Taka aligns themselves with Akatsuki. They wear hooded Akatsuki mantles over their usual clothing, but do not wear any other markers of the organisation, signifying that their alliance is only one of convenience. Sasuke claimed that he was only using Akatsuki, and attempted to sever connections with them when they thought Killer B was captured. In turn, Tobi threatened to kill them for any attempts of betrayal.

Members

Member Status Village of origin
Deidara Deceased Iwagakure
Hidan Incapacitated Yugakure
Kisame Hoshigaki Deceased Kirigakure
Kakuzu Deceased Takigakure
Konan Defected Amegakure
Orochimaru Defected Konohagakure
Nagato Deceased Amegakure
Sasori Deceased Sunagakure
Itachi Uchiha Deceased Konohagakure
Obito Uchiha Active Konohagakure
Yahiko Deceased Amegakure
Zetsu White Zetsu Deceased
Black Zetsu Incapacitated
None

Associates

  • Amegakure (Village run by Pain, association ended following Pain's death and Konan's defection)
  • Yūra (Sasori's underling, deceased)
  • Mukade (Sasori's underling, deceased)
  • Funari (Kakuzu's subordinate, presumed deceased)
  • Ginji (Kakuzu's banker, status unknown)
  • Kyōya (Kakuzu's accountant, status unknown)
  • Zangei (Bounty collector, captured)
  • Taka (Affiliated group, disbanded)
  • Kabuto Yakushi (Sasori's spy, defected to Orochimaru; allied with Akatsuki; provides additional fighters to the organisation during the war, incapacitated)

Teams

Akatsuki teams are put together in teams of two to exploit combined strengths for the organisation's goals to be met. The duos assembled usually share a distinct commonality, like Hidan's and Kakuzu's immortality, Deidara's and Sasori's artistic approach to ninjutsu and Itachi's and Kisame’s killing comrades under orders.

Kakuzu & Hidan
Hidan and Kakuzu

Hidan and Kakuzu.

An unruly, yet arguably the most effective team in the organisation, they seemed unstoppable when together, something that Shikamaru Nara commented on for the need to separate the duo. Pain decided to put these two together because of their unique abilities. Hidan could not be killed as a result of becoming the successful "Jashin experiment", even by decapitation, and Kakuzu could easily go into a rage and kill anyone around him, including his partner. Therefore, Kakuzu could go berserk and not worry about Hidan's well-being. They refer to themselves as the "Immortal Combo" (不死コンビ, Fushi Konbi),[22] because of their own methods of avoiding death. Kisame Hoshigaki jokingly referred to them as the "Zombie Combo" (ゾンビコンビ, Zonbi Konbi).[23]

They have shown the most hostility towards each other due to a conflict of interest; Kakuzu saw the rituals and beliefs of Hidan's religion to be a waste of time, while Hidan saw Kakuzu's willingness to do blasphaemous things and his greediness to be unbearable, not to mention that Kakuzu's job as a bounty hunter usually got on Hidan's nerves. As a result of their sideline in collecting bounties and conducting rituals, this team was usually late in the line of work. Despite this, they work flawlessly in battle by using Kakuzu's reckless attack style in conjuncture with Hidan's immortality.

Pain & Konan
PainsandKonan

The Six Paths of Pain and Konan.

A team that functioned very well with each other as Nagato and Konan were team in the past when their friend Yahiko was still alive. Acting as the leader of Akatsuki using Yahiko's corpse as a medium to act through, Pain directed the rest of the organisation to their respective goals; his most direct interaction with the other members was using the Sealing Technique: Phantom Dragons Nine Consuming Seals. In addition, Pain was the leader of Amegakure, and used the village as a base for Akatsuki matters, while Konan served as the village's second-in-command. However, after Pain's defeat and Nagato's death, Konan left the organisation.

Orochimaru & Sasori

Sasori claimed that he and Orochimaru worked well together during their partnership. However, when Orochimaru defected from Akatsuki after his failed attempt to steal Itachi's body, Sasori developed a grudge against his former partner.

Sasori & Deidara
DeidaraandSasori

Deidara and Sasori in his Hiruko puppet.

Formed by the two artists of Akatsuki, Sasori and Deidara worked well for the most part but had conflicting ideas on art: Sasori believed in art forever preserved like his puppet while Deidara sees it to be intantaneous and gone in a flash like Explosive Clay. Ironically though, Sasori was impatient and liked to finish things quickly while Deidara liked to take his time. Sasori also had a network of spies that he manipulated (in the form of mind control) to aid Akatsuki in their affairs. Deidara was formerly a terrorist bomber for hire who was later recruited by Itachi. Interestingly, both members of this team made the conscious decision to die, Sasori by allowing himself to be impaled by the puppet replicas of his parents and Deidara blowing himself up, thus becoming art. The two were reunited when reincarnated during the Fourth Shinobi World War.

Deidara & Tobi
File:Tobi and Deidara.jpg

After Sasori's death, posing as a idiot at the time, Tobi was introduced as Deidara's new partner. Despite Tobi's eagerness to please his "senpai", his childish attitude was seen as an annoyance to Deidara's expectations of the organisation. Despite the eminent irritation, the two worked well together, as evidenced by Tobi planting Deidara's explosive clay mines underground during Deidara's last stand against Sasuke. Deidara also tries to protect Tobi, although the latter usually annoys him with his playful personality. After Deidara's death, Tobi revealed his true personality and began to actively work to his own goals.

Itachi Uchiha & Kisame Hoshigaki
File:Itachi and Kisame Debut.jpg

A team that, despite their first meeting, functioned very well together and was highly effective. The pair completed almost every assignment Pain gave them with little trouble with the Nine-Tails being the only known exception. With Itachi working as a double agent, however, Itachi failed this mission purposely. Unlike most Akatsuki teams, Itachi and Kisame got along pretty well; Kisame did as Itachi had asked him unquestioningly and they would often converse casually when not in combat. In his battle against Killer B, Kisame failed in his mission to capture the Eight-Tails. However, this was later shown to be a ploy designed by Tobi to infiltrate the Land of Lightning. Before that, however, Kisame was able to capture the Four-Tails.

White Zetsu & Black Zetsu
  • Function: Spy, Auxiliary
File:WhiteandBlackZetsu.jpg

Although not exactly a "two-man team", the secondary Black Zetsu personality that Madara infused into White Zetsu made Zetsu effective as such despite occasional arguments. Furthermore, because of his nature as an artificial human, Zetsu's personalities can split into two to act individually. Another unique feature of White Zetsu is his ability to create clones that are biologically produced compared to the regular clones manifested of chakra.[6]

Taka
File:Team Hawk in Akatsuki.JPG

When Akatsuki's ranks are thinned to five members, Tobi enlists the aid of renamed group Taka, whose leader Sasuke Uchiha shares the desire for the destruction of Konoha. To complete their goals, Tobi has ordered Taka to hunt down the Eight-Tails while Akatsuki (particularly Pain) hunts for the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox. Technically, the members of Taka are not full members of Akatsuki, as they do not possess the rings worn by each of the primary members. However, they have been wearing Akatsuki cloaks (albeit not with high collars but with hoods), signifying their affiliation with the organisation. After catching what appeared to be Killer B, Sasuke claimed that Taka was no longer affiliated with Akatsuki. Out of all the members, however, only Sasuke chooses to remain affiliated with Tobi and Akatsuki after Taka's disbandment, which has become quite fragile as Sasuke eventually killed White Zetsu for the sake of testing his new powers.

Movies

Naruto 6: Road to Ninja

In Naruto 6: Road to Ninja, the alternate Akatsuki is a well known mercenary group. Their members are Itachi, Kisame, Deidara, Hidan, Kakuzu, Konan, Sasori and Nagato (using his Deva Path). Itachi is presumed to be the leader of Akatsuki in the alternate world.

Creation and Conception

In the Naruto Hiden: Sha no Sho Character Official Data Book, Masashi Kishimoto stated that he had originally planned on making Akatsuki a group of monsters with almost no human characteristics, with Zetsu emphasising that specifically. He also states that Akatsuki teams get two single rooms to sleep in.

Trivia

  • While they were never seen, it was mentioned Kakuzu had four previous partners before Hidan, and they were all ultimately killed by Kakuzu himself and their hearts stolen for his Earth Grudge Fear.[24]
  • In the Naruto Collectible Card Game, Karin, Jūgo and Suigetsu Hōzuki while in their Akatsuki robes are incorrectly listed as Akatsuki members, while they were never fully recognised members, and only working as hires for Tobi.
  • Hidan and Kakuzu were the only Akatsuki two-man team to have both members eliminated simultaneously.
  • Despite being known as a group comprised of missing-nin, Pain and Konan are the recognised leaders of Amegakure after their successful coup against Hanzō of the Salamander, and thus not missing-nin.
  • In the manga, they sealed the Three-Tails just before the Two-Tails,[25] while in the anime, due to the more detailed capture of the Three-Tails, they seal it just before the Four-Tails.
  • In the anime, after the sealing of the Two-Tails, Pain stated there are four tailed beasts remaining. Later in the anime, after the Three-Tails and Four-Tails were sealed (making it two tailed beasts remaining) and Taka joined forces with Akatsuki, Kisame stated there were three tailed beasts remaining. This retcon was put in place to allow a filler arc, featuring the Six-Tails.
  • The three remaining Uchiha after the Uchiha clan massacre all eventually joined Akatsuki: Obito, Itachi, and Sasuke.
  • Both leaders of Akatsuki, Pain and Tobi wear their rings on their thumbs.

References

  1. Naruto chapter 238, page 17
  2. 2.0 2.1 Naruto chapter 509, page 3
  3. Naruto chapter 509, page 4
  4. Naruto chapter 256
  5. Naruto chapter 331
  6. 6.0 6.1 Naruto chapter 512, page 14
  7. Naruto chapter 329, pages 16-17
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Naruto chapter 329, page 11
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Naruto chapter 329, page 12
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Naruto chapter 329, page 14
  11. Naruto chapter 264, page 6
  12. Naruto chapter 467, page 20
  13. Naruto chapter 606, pages 1-7
  14. Naruto chapter 602
  15. Naruto chapter 463, page 9
  16. Naruto chapter 436, pages 15-16
  17. Naruto chapter 509, page 2
  18. Naruto chapter 141, page 3
  19. Naruto chapter 140, page 5
  20. Naruto chapter 353, page 14
  21. Hiden: Tō no Sho Character Official Data Book, pages 180-181
  22. Naruto chapter 335, page 7
  23. Naruto chapter 353, page 11
  24. Third Databook, pages 56-59
  25. Naruto chapter 329, pages 8-9

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