The Akatsuki

The Akatsuki

Introduction

The Akatsuki are a major terrorist organization which have been in all three parts of the Naruto franchise so far (Naruto, Shippūden, and Boruto). The organization was introduced in Naruto, and was briefly revived in Boruto, but served as the main antagonist group for most of Shippūden.

While the organization does have one “official” goal, each member of the Akatsuki has their own personal goals they wish to accomplish, as well as their own reasons for joining. These individual goals and reasons for joining are mainly what I’ll be discussing today.

For simplicity’s sake, I’ll only be going over the 10 primary members of the Akatsuki present in Shippūden. These are Nagato, Konan, Obito, Zetsu, Itachi, Kisame, Sasori, Deidara, Hidan, and Kakuzu.

The organization is also split up into teams of two, with each pair of members having something in common such as goals, reasons for joining, or even abilities. Because of this, I’ll be going through each pair instead of each member individually.

The Akatsuki organization's red cloud logo from the Naruto anime franchise
The Akatsuki Logo

Nagato/Konan

Nagato and Konan are the two original members of the Akatsuki who remain. Originally they founded the organization alongside their friend, Yahiko, but he was killed by the then-leader of the Hidden Rain village, Hanzo the Salamander.

They both joined (founded) the Akatsuki in order to bring an end to the shinobi world wars which were ravaging their small nation. The Hidden Rain village lies in the middle of three of the great nations, and so was a constant battlefield for a war in which they weren’t even involved (initially).

Their goal, and the “official” goal of the Akatsuki, is to gather all of the tailed beasts and use them to destroy the five great nations. While this would undoubtedly kill a lot of people, they believe this is the only way to create a world in which there is no more wars. A war to end all wars, as it were.

From their perspective, the Akatsuki isn’t a terrorist organization, but rather an organization fighting for justice, the same as it did back when they were a small group of rebels fighting against the larger nations during the third shinobi war.

Nagato is an Uzumaki, and so has access to all of the Uzumaki clan’s various abilities, but that’s not actually what makes him special. What makes him so powerful, and the leader of the Akatsuki, is his Rinnegan. The Rinnegan are the most powerful of the three great dōjutsu, and make their wielder a god on Earth.

Konan simply serves as Nagato’s right hand. She’s the only female member of the Akatsuki, and like Nagato, doesn’t often go off on missions for the organization. Instead, she mainly seems to manage the Hidden Rain village. While Nagato is the leader of the village in private, Konan is the more public leader who the people refer to as an angel.

Her jutsu involves paper since she likes origami. She uses origami weapons, and can also turn her body into a mass of paper. The reason the people of the Hidden Rain refer to her as an angel is because she often has large, paper wings when she’s in public.

Obito/Zetsu

While Nagato and Konan are the founders of the Akatsuki, Obito and Zetsu lead the organization from behind the scenes. It was actually Obito who gave the Rinnegan to Nagato, as well as gave him the idea of collecting all of the tailed beasts.

However, what Nagato didn’t know is that Obito never intended for the tailed beasts to be used to destroy the five great nations and bring about an era of peace. Instead, he was working for his mentor, Madara Uchiha, and planned to cast the Infinite Tsukuyomi jutsu, putting everyone on Earth in a dream-like fantasy.

While it could be argued that this would in turn bring about world peace, which is kind of why Madara was doing it, Obito was simply doing it for his own selfish gain. He wanted to be reunited with his crush, Rin, who died when they were teenagers.

But what about Zetsu? Zetsu is actually made up of two halves, White and Black Zetsu. White Zetsu is the name for a seemingly infinite number of clones created from the first Hokage’s cells, while Black Zetsu was a being created by Kaguya Ōtsutsuki.

I covered all of this in my Naruto: Shippūden review, but basically, while Obito was simply using Nagato, Zetsu was simply using Obito in return. By having Obito cast the Infinite Tsukuyomi, he could revive Kaguya.

As a side note, the reason Zetsu has a plant-like appearance when he’s in his combined form is because of the White Zetsu half. It’s a clone created from the first Hokage, who was a master of Wood-style jutsu, aka plant jutsu.

Itachi/Kisame

Nagato and Konan were the founders, and Obito and Zetsu were the leaders from the shadows, but Itachi and Kisame are our first pair of regular members. The thing linking these two together is the fact that they both killed their comrades for the good of their villages.

Itachi wiped out the Uchiha clan before they were able to revolt against the Hidden Leaf, and Kisame killed his superior and comrades because they were selling off secrets of the Hidden Mist. However, while they both committed similar acts, these two joined for different reasons.

Kisame already knew Obito and decided to join him after he was invited into the organization when he became a rogue ninja. After killing his comrades, Kisame was fed up with the lies and deceit in the shinobi world, and Obito promised him a world without lies.

Itachi, on the other hand, joined the Akatsuki as a way to keep an eye on the movements of the organization and protect the Leaf from them from the inside. He made a point to be the one assigned to capturing the nine-tails because he didn’t want any of the other members to go on a rampage and destroy the Hidden Leaf, or kill his brother.

However, despite their differing reasons for joining the group, the two are actually more similar than you might expect. We later learn that Itachi was actually a good guy, but it’s easy to forget we learn the same thing about Kisame.

They were both haunted by the memory of killing their comrades, but at the same time they both understood that it needed to be done to save their respective villages. Also, despite seeming to love destruction and death, Kisame doesn’t really hate anyone and kill for fun, he just follows orders.

This pair is also potentially the most powerful in the organization. With Itachi’s Mangekyō Sharingan, and Kisame’s Samehada and vast chakra reserves, it’s likely the two of them could even defeat Nagato and Konan, or Obito and Zetsu if they had really wanted to.

If Itachi had ever actually decided to go against the Akatsuki, I find it likely that Kisame would have followed him. The pair came to understand each other over their years working together and Kisame appears to always follow Itachi’s orders because he respects him.

Obito even worried that Kisame would leave the Akatsuki once Itachi died, but in the end, Kisame stuck around until it was just him, Obito, and Zetsu left.

Sasori/Deidara

While Kisame was one of the longest lasting members of the organization, Sasori was the first of these 10 members to die. That’s right, best girl Sakura helped take down the first Akatsuki member. His partner, Deidara, was also the newest member of the group.

Unlike Itachi and Kisame, Sasori and Deidara seem to hate each other. The reason they’re paired together is because they’re both “artists,” although they constantly argue over what true art is. They also both joined the group because they were rogue ninja whose abilities the Akatsuki wanted.

Sasori was a rogue ninja because he created puppets out of people he killed, such as the third Kazekage. Deidara was a rogue ninja because he used his detonation clay jutsu to blow up various buildings as a rebel terrorist. In both cases, their art is what made them rogues.

For Sasori, art is something that lasts forever. This is why he takes human bodies and turns them into puppets so that they can live on. However, Deidara believes art is something that’s over in an instant, which is why he creates clay animals that explode moments later.

Of all the Akatsuki members, these are the two who work together the least. In fact, rather than working as a pair as the Akatsuki usually do, these two seem to prefer dividing up their tasks so that they don’t have to deal with each other.

Sasori and Deidara were also both killed by their own art, which is another thing they have in common. Sasori was stabbed through the heart by the puppets of his own parents, and Deidara blew himself up by turning his body into a bomb.

Hidan/Kakuzu

The final pair of the Akatsuki are the immortals, Hidan and Kakuzu. The fact that these two are both immortal is really the only thing linking them together as a pair, but at the same time, it’s also the most important.

Before Hidan was recruited, Kakuzu had a habit of killing his teammates for various reasons. Sometimes he would stab through them to kill an opponent on the other side, and other times he killed them simply because they annoyed him. However, Hidan solves that problem.

Since Hidan is also immortal, Kakuzu can’t kill him even if he tries.

However, their immortality comes from different places. Hidan’s immortality appears to come from his god, Jashin. He kills people in a ritualistic fashion and offers them to Jashin. In return for these sacrifices, Jashin has rewarded Hidan with true immortality, unlike that of his partner.

Kakuzu’s immortality is actually just caused by his jutsu, and so he can be killed if his jutsu is figured out. He’s able to steal the souls of his opponents and sew them into his body, thus granting him the remaining years of their lives. If he’s killed, he simply swaps to the next soul’s lifespan to continue living.

The reason this means he isn’t truly immortal is because he would die if he didn’t continue to collect souls, but also because he can only store four spares at a time. If he’s killed four times without acquiring any new souls, he’ll run out and die for real.

So why would two immortals feel the need to join an organization like the Akatsuki?

Hidan joins because the Akatsuki’s missions give him access to all the sacrifices he could ever want, but also the group gives him protection from being captured. Although Hidan is immortal, that doesn’t mean he can’t be captured and confined for the rest of eternity, which is exactly what happens to him.

Kakuzu, on the other hand, simply wants money. He sees joining the Akatsuki as a good way to make a lot of money, although what he spends it all on is unknown. It’s because of his love for money that he’s made the treasurer of the organization.

Conclusion

So in the Akatsuki we have five very different pairs of 10 members. There are the founders, the leaders, the betrayers, the artists, and the immortals. Each member has their own individual goal and reason for joining the organization, and yet they all work together.

So who’s your favorite Akatsuki pair? I know that Itachi/Kisame are probably the favorite for most, or Nagato/Konan, but I have a soft spot for Hidan/Kakuzu. I enjoy their relationship in which they both hate each other, but can’t actually kill each other.

I also find them to be the most interesting of the group because I feel they had the least backstory. I would have enjoyed to learn a lot more about exactly how Hidan’s immortality worked, or just anything about Kakuzu other than the fact he loves money.

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