When we delve into the rich tapestry of characters in the anime world, few are as intriguing and multifaceted as Kabuto Yakushi from Naruto Shippuden. This enigmatic figure’s journey through the series is a testament to the complexity and depth that anime can bring to its characters.
In this article, we’ll explore the enigma that is Kabuto Yakushi, from his origins to his evolution throughout the series, and the profound impact he had on the Naruto Shippuden storyline.
All about Kabuto Yakushi
- Birthdate: February 29
- Sex: Male
- Age: Part I: 19–20/Part II: 23–24
- Height: Part I: 176.2 cm/Part II: 177 cm
- Weight: Part I: 65 kg
- Blood type: AB
- Affiliation: Konohagakure/Root/Konoha Orphanage/Otogakure/Ryūchi Cave/Akatsuki
- Team: Team Kabuto
- Partner: Orochimaru
Kabuto Yakushi’s Background
Kabuto was found as a child by Nono Yakushi on the outskirts of a city recently destroyed in a battle; he had suffered a head injury, leaving him with no memory of his name or past.
Nono treated his wound and brought him to the Konoha Orphanage. Urushi, another orphan, placed a helmet on his head so he wouldn’t be injured again, prompting Nono to name him “Kabuto”. Kabuto liked the name and left his bed that night so that he could thank her, unaware of the orphanage’s strict schedule.
When Nono found him, she discovered that this was in part because he couldn’t read a clock due to his poor eyesight. She gave him her glasses so that he could see, overwhelming Kabuto with thankfulness.
To earn money for the orphanage’s operations, Nono used her medical ninjutsu to treat injured shinobi of Konohagakure; Kabuto, having been taught medical ninjutsu by Nonō, would assist.
Although the money helped, they still relied on direct funding from Konoha in order to get by. Aware of this fact, Danzō Shimura visited the orphanage one day threatening to withhold Konoha’s funding if Nono didn’t turn one of the orphans over to his Root organisation.
Kabuto, after eavesdropping on this conversation, volunteered against Nonō and Urushi’s protests. Root trained Kabuto in espionage and over the years sent him to gain intel by, at different times, posing as a ninja of Kumo, Kiri, Suna, and Iwa.
While in Iwa, Kabuto’s spying was discovered and an Iwa-nin cornered him. He was able to strike down his pursuer, but only afterwards discovered that it was Nonō, who was also working for Root.
Kabuto apologised profusely and tried to heal Nonō, but she didn’t recognise his face, even when he told her his name. She died from her injuries and Kabuto was forced to flee before Nonō’s backup found him.
Once safe, Kabuto was disillusioned by what had happened, wondering who he was if even Nonō didn’t know him. He was soon confronted by Orochimaru, an underling of Danzō who’d taken an interest in Kabuto over the years.
Orochimaru explained that Danzō had been giving Nonō falsified photographs of Kabuto so that she would no longer recognise him when they met.
This in turn allowed Danzo to pit Nono and Kabuto against each other and thus eliminate Root’s two most effective, and consequently, knowledgeable spies. Assuming that Orochimaru planned to finish him off, Kabuto attacked him, distraught by the loss of both Nonō and the self identification he’d acquired through her.
Orochimaru survived the attack and suggested that Kabuto now try making a new identity for himself using whatever knowledge of the world he could acquire.
Orochimaru offered to help him in this regard and invited him to help make a new village, Otogakure, where individuality could thrive. Kabuto agreed and Orochimaru gave him a new backstory: that he was found by Nono a captain of Konoha’s Medic Corps after the Battle of Kikyō Pass and adopted as her son.
With this backstory, Kabuto was able to become a genin of Konoha, which he used to enter the biannual Chūnin Exams so that he could gather information on his fellow participants for Orochimaru’s use.
Later, he was found by Akatsuki and was turned into one of Sasori’s sleeper agents so he would spy on Orochimaru. Shortly afterwards, Orochimaru realised the truth and freed him from this control, allowing Kabuto to effectively infiltrate the organisation for Orochimaru.
When not spying, Kabuto helped Orochimaru with his experimentations and his studies of different Oto-nin’s abilities. In the anime, Kabuto also helped Orochimaru find genetic samples for use in the Impure World Reincarnation and also helped him escape from Itachi Uchiha after the latter’s failed attempt to capture Itachi.
Kabuto Yakushi’s Personality
Kabuto Yakushi is a fictional character from the Naruto manga and anime series created by Masashi Kishimoto. His personality undergoes significant development throughout the series, and he is known for his complex and multifaceted nature. Here are some key aspects of Kabuto Yakushi’s personality:
- Intelligence: Kabuto is portrayed as highly intelligent and analytical. He possesses a keen intellect and often uses his intelligence to manipulate situations to his advantage. His ability to gather information and adapt to different circumstances makes him a formidable opponent.
- Manipulative: Kabuto is a master manipulator. He is skilled at deceiving and controlling others, often using psychological tactics to achieve his goals. His ability to blend into different environments and personas makes him a skilled infiltrator.
- Ambition: Kabuto is driven by a strong sense of ambition. He desires power and recognition, and he is willing to do whatever it takes to achieve his goals. This ambition leads him to align himself with various factions and individuals throughout the series.
- Complexity: Kabuto’s character is layered and complex. He struggles with issues related to his identity and past, which contributes to his inner turmoil. His true loyalties and motivations remain shrouded in mystery for much of the series.
- Adaptive: Kabuto has a remarkable ability to adapt to different situations and opponents. He is a skilled medical ninja (a medic-nin) and can modify his body with surgical enhancements to become more formidable in combat.
- Emotionally Reserved: Kabuto tends to keep his emotions in check and rarely reveals his true feelings. This emotional detachment makes it difficult for others to gauge his intentions.
- Loyalty: While Kabuto may appear disloyal due to his frequent shifting alliances, he is ultimately loyal to his own agenda and pursuit of power. His loyalty to Orochimaru, in particular, is a central aspect of his character, even if it is driven by his desire for Orochimaru’s knowledge and abilities.
- Loneliness: Throughout the series, hints are given about Kabuto’s loneliness and longing for a sense of belonging. His past and the circumstances of his upbringing contribute to his feelings of isolation.
- Conflict: Kabuto’s internal struggle between his desire for power and his inner turmoil adds depth to his character. He grapples with questions of identity, morality, and purpose, making him a morally ambiguous figure in the series.
Kabuto Yakushi’s personality is a blend of intelligence, manipulation, ambition, complexity, and inner conflict, which makes him one of the more intriguing and enigmatic characters in the Naruto series. His character arc explores the themes of identity, loyalty, and the consequences of one’s choices in a world filled with ninja warfare and complex alliances.
Kabuto Yakushi’s Appearance
Kabuto has onyx eyes and ash-grey hair, which he normally keeps in a ponytail. His most consistent feature are his black rimmed circular glasses, given to him by Nono.
During Part I and for much of Part II, Kabuto wears a dark purple shirt with a high collar, a white under-shirt, and dark purple pants with a white cloth waistband. In Part I he wears also dark purple fingerless gloves with armoured plates on the back of the hand and a blue forehead protector.
During Part II, he infuses himself with Orochimaru’s remains, causing his skin to turn white and scaly around the point of application on his left arm; this gradually spreads its influence across the rest of his body.
In the anime’s Power arc, set before his body is fully covered by Orochimaru’s remains, Kabuto wears a black robe with red lining and he starts allowing his hair to grow long and unkempt, all of which help to hide the changes to his body.
Once his body is fully converted, his appearance becomes starkly similar to Orochimaru’s, so much so that Sasuke Uchiha initially mistakes Kabuto for him. In addition to the changes to his skin, Kabuto’s eyes become yellow with slitted pupils, around which are Orochimaru’s characteristic purple markings.
A long, white snake also fuses with his abdomen, which he wraps around his waist and which sometimes slithers under or behind him like a tail. His mostly human appearance is actually a shell, as his true form is much more serpentine, having a long body, comparatively short legs and arms, and an elongated face.
During the Fourth Shinobi World War, Kabuto wears a maroon coloured cloak with a hood designed to resemble a serpent’s head, with white, red, and yellow markings that resemble eyes.
Many years later, after returning to the orphanage, he starts wearing the staff’s typical garb and once again ties his hair in a ponytail, although the effects of infusing himself with Orochimaru’s remains appear to be permanent, as Kabuto’s body continues to resemble Orochimaru’s.
Kabuto Yakushi’s Abilities
While Kabuto was just a child he possessed a natural talent in the shinobi arts, a trademark that caught the attention of Orochimaru upon first meeting Kabuto and studying his service record with Root, which ultimately led to Kabuto being his right-hand man.
In Part I, Kabuto’s skills are noted to be comparable to Kakashi Hatake’s, and enough to defeat members of Konoha’s Anbu with ease, noting that they should have readied at least ten guards for him.
Tsunade even notes that his knack for ninjutsu and his sharpness surpass that of hers in her prime. During Part II, Kabuto sets out to correct the talents he feels were never fully realised: he later boasts that he has surpassed Orochimaru, is the closest living person to match the power of the Sage of Six Paths, and is the single most important player in the entire Fourth Shinobi World War. Kabuto’s improved prowess enabled him to overwhelm Sasuke and the reincarnated Itachi, two Uchiha clan prodigies, several times in battle.
In order to achieve the “perfect being” identity he desires for himself, Kabuto makes a number of modifications to his body prior to the Fourth Shinobi World War, causing him to develop a different chakra signature and granting him a larger reserve that is strong enough to visibly effect his surroundings.
The first and most notable of these modifications was infusing himself with the remains of Orochimaru’s body, thus obtaining the Power of the White Snake.
Over time, the remains alter his body, making his “true” appearance very snake like, in which he can move around quickly and use his large mouth to swallow and thus capture targets. He usually disguises his appearance within a more normal looking skin, which he can shed as needed.
This outer skin has a snake embedded in its navel, which he can merge with others’ bodies in order to heal them. Kabuto can in fact produce white snakes of varying sizes from his body, either to act as additional appendages or to detach from him and carry out his will.
These snakes can use their heightened senses to communicate targets’ locations to him, communicate on his behalf, possess his chakra signature to throw off sensor types, and share some of his other bodily modifications.
From his extensive study of Orochimaru’s various human test subjects, Kabuto alters his body to replicate certain others’ trademark skills:
- he creates a version of Suigetsu Hōzuki’s Hydrification Technique to escape capture by liquefying his body; he can reproduce Karin’s natural Uzumaki-based rejuvenation to heal injuries he suffers;
- he can use Jūgo’s kekkei genkai to passively absorb natural energy, allowing him to continuously use Sage Mode without the need of remaining still.
While in Sage Mode, he can make further use of others’ abilities through his Strange Transmission Distant Shadow technique, granting him all the skill-sets of whoever he has genetic samples of. He does this through an application of Sakon’s body merging ability, generating mindless clones of others from his navel snake that can use all of their techniques.
With this, he is able to access the abilities of the Sound Five, such as Kimimaro’s accelerated bone production and Kidōmaru’s spider web-based bindings.
Kabuto’s natures include Earth, Water, and Wind, as well as Yin and Yang release. He can use Earth Release travel underground and, with Jirōbō’s DNA, upend the earth. He can also use Water Release without a nearby water source, able to create large water projectiles and water dragons. Kabuto can produce barriers to hide his location and, in the anime, make himself invisible.
Kabuto was taught medical ninjutsu by Nonō Yakushi when he was young and immediately displayed a natural talent for it. He can heal most injuries without difficulty, even performing the ordinarily close-contact Mystical Palm Technique from a slight distance.
He invents Yin Healing Wound Destruction as a way of keeping test subjects alive longer by preemptively healing damage they receive, but he can also use it on himself when he expects to be badly injured.
He uses chakra scalpels quite extensively outside their intended surgical use, either to cut through defencesor augment his physical strikes, severing muscles on contact in order to disable opponents. Kabuto was also able to sever the chakra pathway system, which also prevented a jinchūriki from receiving chakra from their tailed-beast.
Kabuto has an unprecedented knowledge of the human body, enough that, when his body’s electrical signals are scrambled, he is able to quickly compensate and relearn how to control his limbs.
For others, he can use his knowledge to create drugs to various effects, either as pain killers, hormones to enhance physical attributes, poisons to specifically neutralise a particular target’s abilities or immunities, and truth serums to aid in interrogations.
Kabuto has a unique affinity for corpses, able to reanimate them for use as allies in combat or decoys; in the case of the latter, he can quickly alter the corpse’s appearance to look like someone else, which is so convincing that the alteration is only noticeable on close scrutiny. He in fact likes to keep a supply of variously-aged corpses with him at all times, which he stores in scrolls until he needs them.
Kabuto uses his own blood to help Orochimaru summon snakes a few times in Part I, but it’s not until after he takes on Orochimaru’s remains that he starts summoning snakes for himself.
Like the snakes he makes with his own body, he can use these snake to restrain targets or inject them with venom or various drugs. He also managed to clone and genetically augment animals for his own usage, such as Manda II a much larger and stronger clone of Manda.
In the anime’s Power arc, he summons several other varieties of modified snakes that can absorb chakra, morph into copies of himself, and small clone snakes that can combine into replicas of others.
Kabuto claims to have perfected the Impure World Reincarnation: he is able to reincarnate dozens of individuals at a time – something its creator, Tobirama Senju, could not and bring them back with the same power they had while alive – something Orochimaru could not.
Kabuto typically allows his reincarnated forces to keep their personalities while they carry out his bidding, making them more effective and allowing for a degree of psychological warfare against those who knew them when alive.
By siphoning chakra from Orochimaru’s cursed seals, he can remotely suppress their personalities and take full control of their actions. In the case of Madara Uchiha’s reincarnated body, Kabuto makes several modifications to it in order to restore Madara’s youth and give him the Rinnegan and Wood Release.
Due to the larger chakra reserves he gains from Orochimaru’s remains, Kabuto is able to learn senjutsu from the White Snake Sage at the Ryūchi Cave. This allows him to enter Sage Mode, which he can use indefinitely due to his replication of Jūgo’s passive ability to constantly absorb natural energy.
In Sage Mode, Kabuto’s only noticeable physical alterations are the markings around his eyes, the four horns on the back of his head, and brille to give him immunity to genjutsu and other visual attacks he describes his transformation as changing him from a snake to a dragon.
Using Sage Mode makes Kabuto’s jutsu and physical attacks stronger, improves his physical defences, heightens his speed and reflexes, and allows him to sense his surroundings.He can also infuse natural energy into inanimate objects, giving them life.
During his years in Root, Kabuto became one of the organisation’s best spies, a role he continued to serve for Orochimaru. Over the years, he uncovers a great deal of information unknown to most of the world, such as how Zetsus are made, the truth surrounding the Uchiha Clan Downfall, and Tobi’s true identity.
Like Orochimaru, Kabuto has shown himself as an extensive researcher, performing multiple experiments to empower or neutralise an individual’s abilities. In combat, Kabuto can use his gathered knowledge to plan around an opponents’ abilities by employing appropriate countermeasures.
This also speaks to his considerable ability to manipulate opponents, as he frequently tries to break down their resolve, turn them against their allies, or even come up with similarities that might convince them to join forces with him.
Even if his manipulations fail or they cannot in and of themselves benefit him, Kabuto is good at making all possible outcomes work in his favour: the Allied Shinobi Forces’ losses helped his stated objective of winning the Fourth Shinobi World War, while the Allied Shinobi Forces’ victories helped his long-term objective of undermining Akatsuki.
Although Kabuto rarely uses genjutsu, his high skill with it allows him to put a large number of people to sleep. After integrating Tayuya’s DNA, he could use trap Itachi and Sasuke in her flute based genjutsu, and despite the two being genjutsu masters, they were unable to break it independently.
Although Kabuto admits that taijutsu is not his forte, he has shown to have good reflexes, reacting to threats just in time to defend himself or allies as well as fending off Naruto Uzumaki’s and his shadow clones despite being outnumbered.
Kabuto Yakushi’s character in Naruto Shippuden is a masterclass in character development. From his mysterious origins to his complex moral compass, Kabuto keeps viewers captivated throughout the series. His evolution, impact on the storyline, and quest for identity make him a character worth celebrating and dissecting for fans of the anime. In a world filled with ninjas and battles, Kabuto Yakushi stands out as a character who reminds us of the enduring power of storytelling.