| (猿飛ヒルゼン, Sarutobi Hiruzen)
|Anime||Naruto Episode #1|
|Movie||Naruto Shippūden 3: Inheritors of the Will of Fire|
|Game||Naruto: Ninja Council|
|OVA||Hidden Leaf Village Grand Sports Festival!|
|Appears in||Anime, Manga, Game and Movie|
Hiruzen Sarutobi (猿飛ヒルゼン, Sarutobi Hiruzen) revered as the God of Shinobi (忍の神, Shinobi no Kami), was the Third Hokage (三代目火影, Sandaime Hokage; Literally meaning "Third Fire Shadow") who hailed from Konohagakure's Sarutobi clan. He was part of Team Tobirama alongside Homura Mitokado and Koharu Utatane under the leadership of the Second Hokage. He was also trained by the First Hokage and would later become the teacher of the Legendary Sannin Tsunade, Jiraiya, and Orochimaru.
Born into the Sarutobi clan to Sasuke, Hiruzen was a prodigy who truly stood out in talent. He and his former team-mates, Homura Mitokado and Koharu Utatane, were students of Tobirama Senju, the Second Hokage. He was also trained by Hashirama Senju, the First Hokage. While once a close friend of Danzō Shimura during their early childhood, Danzō developed a one-sided rivalry with Hiruzen who always managed to be a step ahead of him. During the First Shinobi World War, Team Tobirama along with Danzō, Kagami Uchiha and Torifu Akimichi were pursued by enemy Kumogakure ninja. Knowing that one of them would need to be a sacrificial decoy so the others can escape, Hiruzen volunteered. However, Tobirama chose to be the decoy instead, naming Hiruzen his successor while driving a further wedge between his student and Danzō. Later in his life, he married Biwako and became the father of at least two children, Asuma Sarutobi and at least one other, who has yet to be seen in the series. This unnamed child would later give Hiruzen a grandson: Konohamaru Sarutobi and Asuma later, another grandchild.
Prior to the Second Shinobi World War, Hiruzen became the teacher of Jiraiya, Orochimaru, and Tsunade. Coming to appreciate Orochimaru's natural talent, Hiruzen saw him as a once in a lifetime genius. However, while explaining to Orochimaru the symbolic significance of a white snake the boy found near his parents' grave, Hiruzen unknowing caused his pupil to go down a dark road while attempting steer him away from it. After serving as Hokage for many years, Hiruzen started looking for a successor to the title. While he hoped to be able to give the position to Orochimaru, he saw that he only was interested for the power it offered. Though he turned to Jiraiya, Hiruzen instead named Jiraiya's student Minato Namikaze as his successor.
In the aftermath of the Third Shinobi World War, knowing the danger if Kurama were to break loose during the childbirth of its current jinchūriki, Kushina Uzumaki, Hiruzen assigned Biwako and a few ANBU for security to oversee the birthing process in a secured location on the outskirts of the village. However, also learning of Kushina's pregnancy, a masked man found the location and slaughtered the protection and maternity detail before releasing Kurama to destroy Konoha. Unaware of how Kurama got loose, Hiruzen lead the ninja in subduing the Nine-Tails before Minato arrived and transports himself and the tailed best away from from the village. Hiruzen soon arrived to the scene when Minato decided to seal Kurama into his own son, unable to intervene because of the erected barrier. With Minato dead, Hiruzen once more assumed the role of active Hokage while deciding to protect the orphaned child by giving him his mother's last name to conceal his relation to Konoha's Yellow Flash. With this, Hiruzen also passed a law in the village that no one was to speak of the beast sealed within the young man and hoped that Minato's dying wish that his son be seen as a hero be honoured, but the people who had lived first-hand the devastation that the Nine-Tails could bring forth were unable do this. And though most obeyed Hiruzen's law — with those who didn't being severely punished — the children of the village, also came to fear and dislike Naruto, simply because their parents did.
Some time after resuming his post, Hiruzen began investigating a number of disappearances within Konoha and learned that Orochimaru was behind them. Having used those that he kidnapped as test subjects in his quest to gain immortality, Orochimaru allowed his former master a chance to kill him. Ultimately, Hiruzen could not bring himself to do it, allowing Orochimaru to escape. A few years later, Hiruzen learned of the Uchiha Clan's plot against the village and attempted to find a peaceful resolution for both sides. However, before reaching such an alternative, Danzō inveigled Itachi Uchiha to slaughter his kin. However, prior to Itachi leaving the village as a missing-nin, the young man sought out the Third and begged him to protect his little brother and not tell him the truth, and Hiruzen obliged.
Similarly in the anime, Hiruzen assigned Yakumo of the Kurama clan to hone her genjutsu under Kurenai Yūhi. However, Kurenai learns of the evil persona within Yakumo and Hiruzen regretfully gives her permission to seal Yakumo's child's abilities to prevent the alter ego from killing Yakumo at the cost of ending the Kurama clan.
Due to the long life he had lived, Hiruzen served as a source of wisdom for much of the series, passing on the things he had learned to the next generation. As Hokage, he had also acquired a habit of attempting to end things peacefully, and did what he could to avoid bloodshed amongst his allies and his enemies. At the series' start, Hiruzen was one of the few people who saw Naruto as more than the container of Kurama, and, as such, became someone that Naruto truly admired, even thinking of Hiruzen as a grandfather-figure.
According to Kakashi Hatake, Hiruzen loved his students deeply, including Orochimaru, no matter how far he had fallen. This ideal stems from his belief that Konoha's next generation is a precious resource that must be protected. However, it was the same belief that forced Hiruzen to allow Orochimaru to escape after uncovering his experiments in replicating Hashirama's DNA at the cost of many lives, thus unknowingly allowing his former student to commit even more tragedies.
Hiruzen was also bit lecherous as well, as he enjoyed spending much of his free time talking to young girls, which was his favourite pastime, and when Jiraiya was still his student, he offered to help Jiraiya test the technique that would allow the user to spy on naked women unnoticed. Even Jiraiya, in this instance, noted his sensei's perverted qualities. He also fell victim to Naruto's Sexy Technique on more than one occasion, fainting after he saw it.
Hiruzen was a light-skinned man of below-average stature with grey hair. Since his time training the Sannin, he has had a small goatee and short spiked hair — both being dark brown in colour during his youth. He also initially had a single line running vertically under outer corners of each eye, which stretched down into his face as he aged until they reached his cheeks. As an old man, age had not taken much of a toll on his overall appearance. His only changes were slight; he obtained more pronounced cheekbones, a longer and thicker goatee, a prominent crease across his forehead, grey hair, a few wrinkles, a wart near his left nostril, and a few liver-spots.
During his reign as Hokage, Hiruzen would commonly wear the official uniform — consisting of the customary hat and haori, along with a red, full-length kimono that was tied using a white sash. With age, had also taken to smoking a pipe. His combat attire consisted of a black jumpsuit, which featured mesh segments over the lower portions of his limbs, and a grey gauntlet that covered his right wrist, forearm and elbow. He also wore an armoured hood with a bandanna-like Konoha forehead protector over this, which featured two long straps. The kanji for "Third Hokage" was inscribed onto an additional piece of fabric attached to the back of his outfit, although at the time of Kurama's attack when he retired the post, it merely had the kanji for "fire" (火, hi). He also had two shuriken holsters strapped to either side of his back.
Hiruzen was one of the most powerful shinobi in history, so much so that he was admired as the God of Shinobi (忍の神, Shinobi no Kami) in his prime and was said to be the strongest Hokage that Konoha ever had. Even in his old age, he was also said to be the strongest of all the five Kage at the time of his death. Enma commented on his battle with Orochimaru, saying that it was "miserable" compared to his prime, even though he had clearly been able to hold his own against Orochimaru and two former Hokage without losing his composure. Even in his old age, his chakra was noted for being very strong, causing a dense effect on the atmosphere when released; furthermore, he was known for having immense reserves of chakra in his youth. He was also the longest living and longest reigning Hokage. Hiruzen also had keen senses, being able to track down the former Hokage under Hashirama Senju's Bringer-of-Darkness Technique.
Hiruzen was also called The Professor (プロフェッサー, Purofessā), due to his mastery of all forms of shinobi combat, and his vast knowledge of techniques, purportedly knowing all the techniques within Konoha. In the anime, even Danzō, Hiruzen's life-long rival, openly acknowledged the Hokage's sheer prowess in utilising any technique as unsurpassed. His title also came from creating a considerable arsenal of original techniques; one of which was the Shuriken Shadow Clone Technique. With this technique, he could create a thousand clones of a single thrown shuriken in an instant to overwhelm the opponent with the extreme difficultly in evading them all. This method also meant that he didn't have stock up on a lot of shuriken. To watch over the village, he would use the Telescope Technique, allowing him to observe others through his crystal ball over long distances. Despite his diminished reserves of chakra in his old age, he also showed great chakra control, needing only the minimum amount of chakra to use each technique.
Sarutobi was highly skilled in elemental ninjutsu, using Fire Release and Earth Release. Fire Release: Fire Dragon Flame Bullet allowed him to exhale a stream of fire from his mouth. Earth Release: Earth Flow River created a river of mud beneath the opponent to throw them off balance, and he could use the mud with Earth Release: Earth Dragon Bullet, which creates a dragon's head that launches mud balls at an opponent. He had also been shown to be adept in combining elemental techniques, as seen when he ignited the mud ball projectiles with Fire Release: Fire Dragon Bullet, creating a stream of lava that can melt nearly anything. Earth Release: Earth-Style Wall allowed Hiruzen to spit a stream of mud that solidifies into a protective shield.
Hiruzen also had a personal summon: Monkey King: Enma, who was capable of turning into a diamond-hard staff, which could alter its length and width at will, or become a cage to protect the summoner. The staff was Hiruzen's weapon of choice as he showed great proficiency in wielding it; he successfully pushed back Kurama with it during its attack on Konoha. Enma could also manifest parts of his body and attack an enemy with his claws and fangs, which added an element of surprise.
In terms of taijutsu, Hiruzen displayed a very high level of it in old age. He was able to counter Tobirama and Hashirama in close combat, despite them being in their prime in the Summoning: Impure World Reincarnation. He could lay an explosive tag on each of them without them or Orochimaru who was controlling them even knowing. After summoning Enma, he could break Hashirama's Wood Release branches with ease.
Even when robbed of his sight from the genjutsu Bringer-of-Darkness Technique, he could still defend himself from Hashirama's and Tobirama's assaults, blocking all their attacks to prepare for his Dead Demon Consuming Seal. After sealing both former Hokage, he faced Orochimaru in single combat. Despite his sealing parts of his soul away in the Shinigami, as well as fighting for a prolonged amount of time before he engaged Orochimaru one on one, he effortlessly disarmed him of his sword.
Hiruzen's first appearance in Part I was when two men reported to him that Naruto Uzumaki had vandalised the Hokage Monument. He was then seen standing next to Iruka Umino after the Academy graduation test, telling Iruka that they needed to talk and they were talking later about Naruto. In the manga when Naruto tried to steal the Scroll of Seals, Hiruzen found him and comically fell against his Sexy Technique. Later when Naruto succeeds in stealing the scroll, Hiruzen was seen instructing a large group of shinobi to stop and capture Naruto, observing the whole incident - including Mizuki revealing his intentions - from a crystal ball.
While criticising Naruto's ninja registration picture, in the anime he became the target of the boy's Sexy Technique, and fell prey to the mentioned. He was then unsuccessfully "assaulted" by Konohamaru Sarutobi who followed Naruto on the way out. He then watched the skirmish between Naruto and Ebisu, thinking that he would be heavily affected by the Harem Technique, blushing at the mere thought of it.
He was seen with the Konoha jōnin that would soon be assigned their genin cell. He told Kakashi Hatake that he would be leading Team 7. He and Kakashi then visited Naruto's apartment, pointing out few things like the expired milk that had caused Naruto much trouble after drinking it. He was then talking to Iruka about Kakashi's teaching methods, showing Iruka a book with the number of trainees that Kakashi failed. Iruka could only stare in shock upon realisation that no genin team assigned under Kakashi has ever got a passing mark.
Land of Waves Arc
After Team 7 completes their first D-rank mission, Hiruzen congratulates them on their success. Because the mission consisted only of finding a lost cat, Naruto complains that the mission was too easy and demands their next mission be more challenging, to Kakashi's embarrassment. Hiruzen tries to explain how missions are assigned by skill level and that, as genin, they cannot be expected to accomplish more difficult missions yet. Naruto does not relent, so Hiruzen agrees to assign them a C-rank mission: escorting Tazuna to the Land of Waves.
Chūnin Exam Arc
He first appeared in this arc consulting the jōnin about their decision to register their genin into the upcoming Chūnin Exams. Asuma Sarutobi, Kurenai Yūhi, and Kakashi Hatake all deemed their students worthy. Thereafter, a slight argument ensued between Iruka and Kakashi where the former claimed that Naruto and his team-mates were not ready for such a challenge. Kakashi silenced him by saying that they were no longer Iruka's students but Kakashi's soldiers. Hiruzen was then sent to the tower in the Forest of Death after Anko Mitarashi encountered and was defeated by Orochimaru. After hearing Orochimaru's message for him, he tried to ease Anko's pain from the Cursed Seal.
After the second portion of the exam, he is seen congratulating all the genin who passed, and explaining the next round. He then witnessed the preliminary rounds of the final matches, only to tell the advancing genin about the challenge and their training. From there, he was seen reporting to the council that Hayate Gekkō had been killed, and that Orochimaru may have been involved. He then decided to carry on the Chūnin Exams as normal. Later that day, he assured Anko, who visited him to apologise, that she did not need to feel guilty about returning alive in the Forest of Death, after her encounter with her former master. He then departed for some air some seconds later to head to the Hokage Monument, where he gave a speech to the Academy students about what it really means to be a shinobi. When the time of third portion of the exam comes, Hiruzen was present on a stadium as one of the judges. He welcomed Fourth Kazekage who really was impersonated by Orochimaru.
Invasion of Konoha Arc
When the invasion began, Hiruzen was taken by Kazekage who revealed himself as Orochimaru and forced to battle him, as the Third's former student infiltrated the village and planned Konoha's destruction just so he could kill Hiruzen and kidnap Sasuke Uchiha. Soon after the battle began, Orochimaru reincarnates Hashirama and Tobirama, so that Hiruzen could feel the enjoyment of fighting his former masters.
Hiruzen quickly resolved to kill his masters and used a very powerful fire technique that was easily countered by one of Tobirama's walls of water that was then turned into an attack that was stopped by Hiruzen's own earth wall. Hiruzen was then however caught by Hashirama's Wood Release. Even after summoning Enma to free himself from Hashirama's Wood Release, Hiruzen, in his old age was unable to defeat the two Hokage, as any damage that was done was simply regenerated. He was further inhibited by his desire to not hurt either.
Hiruzen's fight is also impeded by Orochimaru's presence, horrified at seeing just how monstrous his treasured student had become through mastering Living Corpse Reincarnation and his intentions to use it on Sasuke. Left with no other choice, Hiruzen creates two shadow clones while executing Dead Demon Consuming Seal on his former masters to stop them. As he bid a heartfelt goodbye to his teachers, he turned his attention to Orochimaru and reveals the technique's double edge as he must sacrifice both his soul and those of his predecessors to the Shinigami. Intending to have Orochimaru join them in the spectre's stomach while throwing aside his former pupil's Kusanagi, Hiruzen attempts to seal Orochimaru's soul as well. Realising it as he starts to see the Shinigami, Orochimaru called his Kusanagi to him, stabbing Hiruzen in the back. Despite the fatal injury, Hiruzen continued to try to remove Orochimaru's soul as his death would come one way or the other.
After an hour of struggling, Hiruzen comes to accept that his old age and the punishment he ensure had left him too weak. Seeing that completely removing Orochimaru's soul is impossible yet desires to redeem himself for allowing his former student's escape, Hiruzen decides to instead have the Shinigami take the part of Orochimaru's soul within his arms to rob him of using ninjutsu as his way of fitting punishment for Orochimaru's obsession with power. As Orochimaru began to curse his former master for the act, Hiruzen bids his student farewell as he collapses with the hope that they would meet again. Seeing Orochimaru as the boy he once was, Hiruzen died with a smile on his face with the knowledge that he saved Konoha and its next generation that would come.
After Hiruzen died, seeing him as a great Hokage, Tsunade noted that the village has produced some very fine and determined shinobi under her mentor's leadership, as when she saw Rock Lee's determination to go through with a life-risking operation. Succeeding Hiruzen as the Fifth Hokage, Tsunade practices her mentor principles during her term. Also, Asuma passes to his student Shikamaru Nara his father's ideals of the significance of protecting Konoha's next generation, having a child with Kurenai Yūhi would be Hiruzen's second grandchild, posthumously. As the Fourth Shinobi World War begins, Kabuto Yakushi would reveals to Tobi that Hiruzen's use of the Dead Demon Consuming Seal during his fight with Orochimaru ago has left Kabuto unable to summon him, Hashirama nor Tobirama via Impure World Reincarnation.
While he promised Itachi that he would protect Sasuke, one of his motives that led to his death, Hiruzen did not foresee the boy becoming a terrible enemy to Konoha, due to his inability to look past the tragedies of his life, developing a hatred-induced mindset. When Sasuke was confronted by Kakashi soon after he killed Danzō, hesitant at killing his former student at first, the latter remembers Hiruzen's resolution to kill Orochimaru and finally understood how the Third felt.
Hiruzen Sarutobi is a playable character in the following video games:
- Hiruzen is one of only three known Kage to predominantly wear the position's official uniform — the others being the Fifth Kazekage, and the Fourth Raikage.
- His father's and clan's name, inspired by Sarutobi Sasuke, means "jumping like a monkey", further supported by his Summoning Technique, which summons Enma. Tobirama also nicknamed him "Monkey" (サル, Saru).
- Many aspects of his character were borrowed from the Chinese literature classic Journey to the West. Hiruzen's summon, Enma, bears a very strong resemblance to Sun Wukong (孫悟空, Monkey King), the protagonist of the novel, and Hiruzen's chosen weapon was identical to the Monkey King's magical staff.
- Hiruzen's ghost could be briefly seen in Naruto: Shippūden episode 129.
- During his battle with Orochimaru, maybe as a premonition to his death, Hiruzen's likeness on the Hokage Monument cracked across the face. While the crack was fairly prominent due to its size, it didn't always show up in the anime, due either to a bad angle or a mistake by the animators.
- Hiruzen shares the same nickname with the Sage of the Six Paths. They were both known as the "God of Shinobi" (忍の神, Shinobi no Kami).
- Masashi Kishimoto originally planned for Hiruzen to be a dog, but eventually dumped the idea for being "too weird".
- According to the databook(s):
- (About Naruto) "He has combined shadow clones with his own invention, the Sexy Technique. What a foolish ninja technique… and he could probably get me with it, too."
- (To Iruka) "I wonder… do you have it, young as you are… the Will of Fire?"
- (To Orochimaru) "Konoha is my home! The Hokage is one who continues to act as the main pillar of the house, protecting it!! He's the one who carries the will of Konoha, entrusted with it… It won't be that easy for you!"
- (To Orochimaru) "To me, Konoha isn't just an organisation. Every year there are a lot of ninja born and raised in Konoha… They live, fight to protect this village and what is precious they would go to their death. Even if we are not related by blood, those of the village like these are, to me, my most precious, most important… family!"
- (To Orochimaru) "Even if you were to kill me, the pillar would not crumble. I'm the man who inherited the will of Konoha, the will of the First and Second. I am the Third Hokage!!! No matter how much you target Konoha, there'll be a new Hokage who'll inherit my will… and become the pillar to protect Konoha!"
- (To Orochimaru) "In this society, true power is not attained from mastering all the world's techniques. This is something I have already taught you. When there is something important to protect… that's when a shinobi's true power emerges."
- (To Orochimaru) "Your foolishness is unparalleled, Orochimaru. My one regret is that I couldn't take you with me. Farewell, disciple! May we meet again in the next world."
- (Last words) "When the tree leaves dance, one shall find flames. The fire's shadow will illuminate the village, and once again, tree leaves shall bud anew."