|Akatsuki Hiden: Evil Flowers in Full Bloom|
|(暁秘伝 咲き乱れる悪の華, Akatsuki Hiden: Sakimidareru Aku no Hana)|
|Previous||Gaara Hiden: A Sandstorm Mirage|
|Japanese||July 3, 2015 ISBN (978-4-08-703367-0)|
Akatsuki Hiden: Evil Flowers in Full Bloom (暁秘伝 咲き乱れる悪の華, Akatsuki Hiden: Sakimidareru Aku no Hana) is an original story written by Shin Towada and illustrated by Masashi Kishimoto. It is the sixth and last book of the Naruto Hiden series.
Several years after the end of the Fourth Shinobi World War, Sasuke Uchiha travels through a forest. Despite having once been an international criminal, he was granted freedom and a new outlook because of the friendship of Naruto Uzumaki, the love of Sakura Haruno, and the trust of Kakashi Hatake. He now seeks to redeem his past actions by, among other things, looking at the world with new eyes. As Sasuke emerges from the forest, he sees a patch of flowers growing at the base of a nearby tree. Because he likely would never have even noticed the flowers only a few years ago, he stops for a moment to appreciate them.
While admiring the flowers, Sasuke overhears two young brothers in the nearby field, who are throwing paper shuriken at each other while they pretend to be ninja. Ōmitsu, the older brother, is much better at throwing the shuriken than his younger brother, Komitsu, who clearly reveres Ōmitsu's skill; Sasuke is reminded of his own admiration for his brother, Itachi. After expending their inventory of shuriken, Komitsu begins gathering the shuriken from the ground when a gust of wind starts carrying them away. He chases after them, not noticing that he's headed for a ravine. Just as Komitsu starts going over the edge he is caught by Sasuke, who has also gathered all of the paper shuriken.
Komitsu tries to insist that he knew what he was doing but, on seeing how relieved Ōmitsu is by Sasuke's intervention, thanks Sasuke for the help. Because of Sasuke's obvious skill, Komitsu asks if he is Naruto. Sasuke is so surprised by the question that he doesn't respond, further convincing Komitsu. Komitsu asks "Naruto" to help them train and Ōmitsu is unable to calm him. Deciding that this might be a kind of penance, Sasuke agrees to give them some of his time; he first corrects them about his name. As they practice, Sasuke keeps telling himself not to stay for too long and informs the brothers of his intention to leave soon. And yet he continues to linger, drawn to Komitsu's youthful innocence and Ōmitsu's burdensome over-protectiveness.
After a few hours of training, Komitsu shows clear improvement, finally managing to actually hit the targets he aims at. Komitsu is proud of himself, but notices that the sun is setting: the sky is growing dark and the clouds are turning red. It reminds him of Akatsuki. Sasuke is stunned to hear the word, and finds some relief when Ōmitsu corrects Komitsu that "akatsuki" refers to daybreak, not sunset. When Komitsu continues to remain quiet, Ōmitsu is forced to confess to Sasuke that their family was killed by Akatsuki.
- Hypericum Erectum (弟切草, Otogirisō)
Itachi Uchiha and his partner, Kisame Hoshigaki, were traveling together as part of their service with Akatsuki. Although they got along exceptionally well and respected each other's opinions, Itachi and Kisame had fundamentally opposite views of the world: Itachi was driven by love for his younger brother, Sasuke, doing evil deeds for the good of Konoha until he could someday die by Sasuke's hands; Kisame believed love and identity were lies constructed by others, which he hoped the Eye of the Moon Plan would eliminate.
Along the way, Itachi and Kisame were attacked by a group of Kiri-nin who hoped to gain fame for themselves by killing Itachi and Kisame. Expecting that the Kiri-nin would not pose much challenge, Itachi let Kisame fight them alone. Kisame did not encounter any issues until one of the Kiri-nin, Kodaka, began attacking Kisame with bees, whose poison paralyzed him. Itachi saved Kisame by using Tsukuyomi on Kodaka, but before Itachi could kill Kodaka, his twin brother, Kiiro, called out to him. Itachi, reminded of Sasuke, could not bring himself to harm the brothers and decided to retreat with Kisame.
Once Kodaka broke free of Tsukuyomi, he sent out his bees to locate Itachi and Kisame. One of the bees eventually located them and Itachi, upon noticing the bee, accepted that they would not be able to simply let the brothers go. While waiting for the Kiri-nin to catch up to them, Itachi saw there was an apparently blank piece of paper attached to the bee. Recognizing this from his time with the Cypher Division, Kisame imbued the paper with his chakra, causing a message to appear.
When the Kiri-nin reached them the fighting resumed and Kodaka and Kiino's teammates were quickly defeated. As Itachi was about to finish the brothers off with a Great Fireball Technique, Kodaka turned his bees against Kiino, giving Itachi and Kisame an opportunity to escape.
- The Valley of Lies (偽りの谷, Itsuwari no Tani)
Kakuzu and his partner, Hidan, were wandering through the Valley of Lies looking for a man with a 1.5 billion ryō bounty on his head. Because they hadn't seen anybody in days, that in turn meant they hadn't been able to kill anybody, a sin in the eyes of Hidan's god, Jashin. Angry about this and tired of the constant walking, Hidan demanded they give up, proclaiming that nobody lived in the valley. At that exact moment a man emerged from the nearby trees, who Kakuzu recognized as the bounty they were looking for.
Finally having somebody to kill, Hidan chased after the man, using his Triple-Bladed Scythe to get a sample of the man's blood. The man began performing hand seals to counterattack, but stopped when he saw Hidan cutting open his own hand. He watched in confusion as Hidan prepared his Curse Technique: Death Controlling Possessed Blood: Hidan drawing Jashin's symbol on the ground, licking the man's blood from his scythe, the skeleton-pattern appearing on his skin, and finally stabbing himself in the heart. Hidan's ritual completed, the man coughed up blood and died. Hidan immediately began performing a ritual to Jashin, but was interrupted by the appearance of a young boy with muddy hands, who watched the fight and was now curious about how Hidan's ability worked.
Hidan was put off by the boy's many questions, remarking to Kakuzu that there was something wrong with him. When the boy expressed interest in joining the Jashin faith, Kakuzu agreed that something was wrong with him. The boy introduced himself as Hohozuki and watched attentively as Hidan performed the lengthy ritual that was interrupted earlier. Once that was completed, Hidan answered all of the boy's questions, giving introductory lessons about worshiping Jashin. Kakuzu eventually grew weary of this and wanted to move on. Hidan assumed this meant leaving the valley, but Kakuzu corrected him: the dead man's family also had bounties on their head, and they likely lived in the valley as well.
Kakuzu asked Hohozuki if he knew anything about where the man lived. After some brief hesitation, Hohozuki admitted he lived in a nearby village and that the man was probably from there as well, although he couldn't recognize the man's face. Kakuzu, suspicious of this contradictory statement, asked Hohozuki to show them where this village was located in order to prove he wasn't lying. Hohozuki complied, leading them back the way the came to a cliffside next to a river and pointing to the mountain on the opposite side. Kakuzu finally realized why they'd had such difficulty finding the man in the first place, which he then had to explain to Hidan: the village was hidden with a genjutsu; when they dispelled the genjutsu's influence, they could clearly see the village carved into the mountainside.
Because of how much money they stood to make, Kakuzu first wanted to scout the village, called Shangri-la by the villagers. Hohozuki explained that it was a small village, meaning that strangers like Hidan and Kakuzu would stick out and be regarded with suspicion. Hohozuki suggested that Kakuzu use the Transformation Technique to assume Hohozuki's appearance, which Kakuzu complied with; because Hidan was ill-suited for infiltration, he would remain behind with Hohozuki. Hohozuki explained how to reach the village and how to locate his friend, Ameyuki, who would then guide Kakuzu around Shangri-la. He gave Kakuzu a ball of mud, telling him to show it to Ameyuki. Kakuzu found this odd but accepted the mud ball before departing.
When he made it to Shangri-la, Kakuzu concluded that leaving Hidan behind was the right idea, as the villager's strangely happy expressions would likely have provoked Hidan into attacking them. When he found Ameyuki he gave him the mud ball as instructed, having already noticed that it had Hohozuki's chakra in it; when Ameyuki absorbed this chakra, he immediately understood what Hohozuki wanted him to do and began escorting Kakuzu. Sensing that Kakuzu was wary of his assistance, Ameyuki assured him that his sole purpose was doing as Hohozuki wished.
Meanwhile, Hidan continued to tell Hohozuki about Jashin. Hohozuki had already decided to join the faith and kill in the name of Jashin, but worried that he wasn't as strong as the people in the world who advocated for peace. Hidan assured him this wasn't a problem by noting that such people don't actually exist, using his own experience in Yugakure as an example: when he tried to kill his fellow villagers for being peaceful, they responded by trying to kill him first; if they truly loved peace, they would have let themselves die. Hohozuki then asked about Jashin's demand that worshipers kill their neighbor, asking if that meant Hidan would need to kill Kakuzu. Hidan made explicit that he hated Kakuzu, and for that reason he would never consider Kakuzu to be his neighbor. Hohozuki was comforted by this.
Kakuzu eventually returned empty-handed, having been unable to locate the dead man's family. Although Hidan wanted to leave the valley immediately, Kakuzu insisted they wait until the morning. Hohozuki returned to Shangri-la, promising to come see them off before they left. When he was gone, Kakuzu noted they would need to kill him as well as Ameyuki, as they knew too much. Hidan suggested they not wait until the morning, but Kakuzu insists, having noticed some that some of the villagers, beneath their happy facades, seemed worried about something. Indeed, during the night, these same villagers came searching the forest for the dead man. Kakuzu allowed them to find the man's body, distracting them while he activated his Earth Grudge Fear and killed them with Lightning Release: False Darkness.
Kakuzu examined their bodies and recognized them as the man's family. He realized they must all have been using the Transformation Technique, with their deaths causing them to revert to their real appearances. Suspecting that all of Shangri-la's villagers are bounties in disguise, Kakuzu decided to attack the village, to Hidan's relief. As they started assaulting the village, Kakuzu's theory proved correct, as everyone's face changed when they died and every face had a bounty on it. Kakuzu guessed that the village's leader must be especially valuable and went off to find him, instructing Hidan to deal with Hohozuki and Ameyuki, who had come to meet them.
Though he hadn't been bothering with Jashin's ritual thus far, Hidan promised Hohozuki he would now do the ritual properly, starting with Ameyuki. When he struck Ameyuki, however, he discovered that he was made from mud. The mud body fell apart, prompting Hohozuki to remove his own Transformation Technique and reveal himself as the real Ameyuki. Ameyuki explained that he'd been disguising himself as his friend Hohozuki ever since he came to Shangri-la, living alongside a mud lookalike of himself. With the lookalike now gone, Ameyuki could be himself once more. Hidan was confused by this, but was at least able to recognize that Ameyuki wanted to fight; Ameyuki explained that he regarded Hidan as his neighbor and was willing to kill him.
Ameyuki attacked Hidan with Mud Release, his kekkei genkai. Having never heard of it before, Hidan was placed at a disadvantage, allowing Ameyuki to force large quantiies ofmud down his throat; Hidan saved himself from suffocation by piercing himself in the lung. Hidan retaliated against Ameyuki and was able to get a sample of blood. But every time he tried to initiate his ritual by drawing Jashin's symbol on the ground, Ameyuki turned the ground into mud. When Kakuzu, having killed the village leader, returned, Hidan requested his help, but Kakuzu declined, explaining he wanted to see who else he could find in Shangri-la.
At Kakuzu's suggestion, Hidan fled back into the forest with Ameyuki in pursuit. As he continued evading Ameyuki's mud, it occurred to Hidan that Kakuzu was not telling him to retreat. After putting some distance between himself and Ameyuki, he located a tree stump upon which he could draw Jashin's symbol. Because Ameyuki could only turn dirt into mud, he was unable to destroy the symbol on the tree stump, allowing Hidan to create a link. Hidan stabbed himself in the side, preventing Ameyuki from moving further. Ameyuki praised Hidan's skills and, when Hidan promised to kill him, said it was what he wanted.
Like many with kekkei genkai, Ameyuki was hated by most of the people in the village he was born in. The exception was Hohozuki, his only friend. When slavers attacked their village and kidnapped the women and children - Hohozuki included - Ameyuki went after them and killed the slavers with his Mud Release, saving Hohozuki yet earning a bounty on his head. Rather than thank Ameyuki for stopping the slavers, the villagers became fearful of his power and tried to kill him. Hohozuki made plans for them to escape to Shangri-la, but the villagers found out about this before they could leave and killed Hohozuki. Ameyuki felt guilty for his role in Hohozuki's death, but decided to live on at Hohozuki's request.
Although Ameyuki looked forward to being made a sacrifice to Jashin, he wanted to make a sacrifice of his own first. Quoting Jashin's commandment that he kill his neighbors, Ameyuki performed Mud Release: Landslide, causing the mountain to fall upon Shangri-la and kill everyone still living there. Hidan praised Ameyuki's last act and stabbed himself in the heart, killing him.
Kakuzu located them a short while later, having managed to escape Shangri-la with several valuable bounties in tow. He noted that Ameyuki's would be the most valuable, as in addition to killing the slavers he'd also killed his entire village, for which reason he'd been listed in the Bingo Book. He speculated that Ameyuki's interest in Jashin, who demanded slaughter, was a way of coping with what he'd done. Moreover, he probably went around with a lookalike of himself because he wanted to be found and killed. With so many bounties to turn in, Kakuzu requested Hidan hurry up with his post-killing ritual. Hidan refused, noting he would in fact take longer than usual because he had a martyr to celebrate: Ameyuki.
- The Day of Emergence (浮かびあがる日, Ukabiageru Hi)
Sasori and his partner, Deidara, had just finished destroying a village in the Land of Wind. The attack had depleted most of Deidara's supplies of Exploding Clay and he would need to replenish it. Sasori suggested they travel to the nearby Ceramic Village, which was once famous for its "Hanasaki" pottery that used very high quality clay. Although the village was still technically famous for its pottery, Sasori felt it no longer had any artistic value. When they reached the village, Deidara could see what Sasori meant, as every building was littered with pure white ceramics.
Sasori and Deidara noticed the village's leader, Gosho, arguing with a young potter, Kanyū, berating her artistic style. This angered Deidara, prompting him to scare Gosho off with a C1 spider. This amused Kanyū and she invited them to dinner. Although Sasori, being within his Hiruko puppet, couldn't take part in the meal, he and Deidara enjoyed their evening with Kanyū, as she shared their belief that the village's current Hanasaki lacked quality. She wanted to restore Hanasaki to its former glory, and both Deidara and Sasori agreed she had the necessary vision and talent. However, she was hampered by the quality of her kiln, which did not fire her ceramics fast enough for them to achieve their full potential.
After resting for the night in Kanyū's home, Sasori and Deidara set out early into the warm morning to begin murdering the villagers, punishment for not appreciating Kanyū's work. They exploded and poisoned their way to Gosho's office, where the white clay used for Hanasaki was stored. They killed Gosho, only to discover that the clay was kept in a room protected by a seal only Gosho could open. Deidara circumvented this by blowing up the building. The explosion woke up Kanyū and alerted her to the ongoing attack. She sought out Deidara and Sasori and confronted them, who instructed her to flee Ceramic Village so that she could continue to pursue her art. Kanyū did as instructed, running from the village just as it was destroyed by Deidara's C2 dragon.
Kanyū woke up later to find the village destroyed and everyone dead. However, the C2 explosion had the effect of firing her pottery at a fast enough speed, causing her vision to be fully achieved for the first time. She watched as Sasori and Deidara flew away and shouted her thanks to them.
- The Unwithering Flower (枯れぬ花, Karene Hana)
Madara Uchiha instructed Konan to meet Hidan and Kakuzu near the Valley of Lies to help them investigate reports of a jinchūriki. Konan refused, saying she needed to attend to Pain. Madara became angry, but before things could escalate Pain assured Konan he would be fine on his own. She traveled from Amegakure to the rendezvous point, but along the way she noticed a flower. The flower reminded her of Yahiko, evoking memories of her time with him before they met Nagato and, in later years, as their relationship began to bud.
When they formed Akatsuki and began advocating for world peace, Yahiko and Nagato variously led the organization, but they both felt that Konan played the most important role: she would someday bear children, and those children would be the seeds of a peaceful future. With Yahiko's death, however, Konan reflected that she could no longer fill that role, and that she had otherwise killed too many to be a preacher of peace. She picked the flower and resumed her journey. On locating and engaging the apparent jinchūriki, Konan struggled against it. When she realized that the flower she still had with her was being used to dull her senses with a genjutsu, she discarded it, allowing her to quickly defeat her opponent.
Elsewhere, Zetsu advised Madara to eliminate Konan, believing it was inevitable that she would someday betray them. Madara refused, knowing they needed Konan in order to keep Pain under control.
Sasuke finally says goodbye to Ōmitsu and Komitsu and departs. As he travels back through the forest, he crosses paths with Kiino, Ōmitsu and Komitsu's older brother. He mistakes Sasuke for and Itachi begins talking to him, forcing Sasuke to correct him. As they talk, Kiino concludes that, despite all the terrible things Itachi did when he was alive, he was still a good person deep down. Sasuke sadly agrees.