Naruto Chapter 582 – 583 Double Breakdown: Kabuto’s Blood-stained past….
When it comes to Naruto, there is one nuance Kishi seems to have carried throughout this series, that he has never fail to adhere to, even to this very day. That is, of course, the manner in which he builds up the back stories of his characters through a series of flashbacks that present the first-laid foundations that made them who they are today.
This seems to be even more prominent with the villains Kishi has introduced in his story – from Deidara and Sasori, to Orochimaru and Nagato – each of whom have their own personal reasons for following their the causes they do, whether they are related to revenge, the pursuit of all knowledge, peace or even simply just to find the meaning of their own existence.
It’s also common that these moments of insight often precede a characters death – particularly in the case of villains – and so, we come to the latest entry in a long list of flashback victims…
Enter Yakushi Kabuto.
At least, that’s what I would have said under most normal circumstances, but the strange truth of this particular case is that we actually don’t know Kabuto’s real name and neither does he. In fact, Kabuto has no memories of his past leading up to the time he was found in the ruins of what was once probably a thriving village that fell victim to the destruction of war.
This created an interesting premise for the build-up of Kabuto’s character, because he is established as a being without any real sense of identity, who doesn’t understand who he is or where he came from. His only footholds in life are the memories he built up from the moment he first entered a war orphanage under the care of a kind-hearted woman – who found and cared for many other children facing similar destitute circumstances – known to him only as “Mother”.
Another interesting premise here was that this mother figure herself is also someone who is introduced into the story without any real tangible identity. The term “mother” itself is very vague, generic and abstract, and relates more to a role one would fill than to a person’s actual identity. It wasn’t something that really struck me as odd at first glance, but the meaning behind why Kishi introduced her that way became blatantly clear later on.
I suppose for Kabuto, who had no real understanding of his circumstances, “mother” was his first foothold in life – the first person he could latch onto and form some sort of cohesive bond with reality. She also presented him with a unique gift, which would also become something we’ve closely related Kabuto’s identity with, and that was, of course, his glasses.
All of this has the potential for some really deep and poignant character development and yet, for some strange reason, this visit into Kabuto’s past seems to have faltered somewhere along the way. I can’t quite put my finger on what exactly it is that made it stumble, but it just feels like this flashback was missing that something “special” even despite the uniqueness of Kabuto’s amnesia-induced circumstances. This, in turn, made it a somewhat bland read for many of us out there who failed to make the connection.
Perhaps it’s Kabuto’s own lack of identity that makes it difficult for us to relate to him in any meaningful way like we have with many other characters in the past, which in turn made it more difficult to become absorbed by his story.
Luckily, the flashback was saved by the presence of a few more enigmatic characters who arrived at the scene further down the line.
And so Orochimaru enters the fray.
I must admit, this was the part I was really waiting for, to be honest. I’ve always wanted to see just how Orochimaru and Kabuto met and became involved with one another, although I never realize just how far back they went or just how young Kabuto was during their first introduction.
However, in saying that, this introduction was only temporary. Much like a snake waiting patiently for its prey, it seems that Orochimaru decided to bide his time before cashing in on a potentially remarkable investment. It’s part of what makes Orochimaru such an interesting character to me, because he was always so methodical in everything he did and he also had the charisma needed to enchant others and allure the subjects of his interests to his cause.
Of course, Orochimaru wasn’t the only character we know who decided to make a cameo appearance, although the second of them was more of a surprise.
This is where we get another glimpse of the dark side of the shinobi world, in particular, the dark side of Konoha known as ROOT as they try to employ the “mother” who’s name is now revealed to be Nonou. It’s also this point in the chapter that brings me back to what I said earlier about Nonou’s previously mysterious identity in that she too is someone who’s true nature is forever shifting to suit her needs, whatever they may be.
Whether it’s spying on an enemy village as “The Walking Maiden” or caring for children in an orphanage as “Mother”, Nonou has lived her life adapting herself to suit whatever role she was fulfilling at the time. We can’t even be sure if Nonou is her real name and so, just like Kabuto, her identity is somewhat of an enigma.
It’s this ability of Nonou’s to be whatever she needs to be, that serves as the reason behind Danzou’s interest in recruiting her for a long term espionage mission to Iwagakure, knowing that she is the best for the job. However, Nonou isn’t the only person he has his eyes set on, and Kabuto also becomes an almost unwilling victim of a system that demands sacrifice.
Now, I know raising children to be ninja has been a long-running theme in this manga, but for the most part, it has always been portrayed in a far lighter tone. Being a ninja seemed to be a dream many children aspired to follow through their own free will, much like Naruto himself, so the thought of them being forced into that harsh life against their will isn’t something that often came to mind. Yet here in this chapter, the cold, hard reality hits us like a ton of bricks.
Children are forced into a life of grueling servitude against their will, seemingly by necessity, and although the cause sounds noble – the protection of the leaf at any cost – the methods behind that cause are questionable at best.
Kabuto – realizing that one of the children in his new home will be taken against their will to serve ROOT – decides to nominate himself as a candidate first, probably in an effort to save his peers from a potentially dangerous fate, and so begins his life as a shinobi, where his identity would become even more obscured than it was before.
I will admit this particular detail did shake me up a bit, being the kind of person who doesn’t handle those kinds of themes without some form of deep, inner rage welling up inside. Kisu would call me a tree-hugger for that, but I suppose it is was it is. In any case, it also brings up a few questions to mind that challenge the morally ambiguous mindset ROOT seems to have adopted.
In the end, this new path Kabuto has decided to walk, ultimately leads him to tragedy. In a world where your life is dedicated to becoming someone you aren’t, two people who have no identity unwittingly clash, not knowing whose life they are struggling to take away anymore than they seem to know whose life they are trying to protect. Lines become blurred, allegiances are distorted, and it becomes difficult to distinguish friend from foe. In this moment of blind panic, Kabuto deals a mortal blow to the person he once called “Mother.” It was already too late by the time he realized his mistake and yet, even despite his last vain efforts to gain Nonou’s recognition as she lay dying in front of him, she was unable to grasp who he was.
It makes me wonder if Nonou even knew what her mission was anymore, or whether she became so absorbed in her own lie, that she began to believe that she truly was a ninja of Iwagakure. Either way, her last question “who are you?” is a question I am sure resounded through Kabuto’s heart many times.
“Who am I?”
And that is when, his answer finally appeared.
At least now, hopefully, we’ll get to the good parts where we actually see some history between Orochimaru and Kabuto and how their partnership blossomed. Heaven knows this flashback has been long enough, so at the very least, it should try hard to pay off in the end.
In any case, that’s all from me for now. Here’s the winner for last week’s Bubbliton Contest.
Well done Kantonkage. You deserve this win, because that was a really funny and strangely true entry. Even though I say that, you’d probably still shoot me with a rocket launcher anyway. <_<
Well, here’s this week’s Bubbliton.
See you all in the comments section! ^ ^