In this article, I’m going to talk about the Akatsuki organization from the manga series Naruto. I’ve already reviewed the manga itself, so you can read the article here. Now, let’s get onto the description of Akatsuki.
Warning! For those who aren’t up-to-date with the manga Naruto this article contains lots of spoilers!
The introduction of Akatsuki
Akatsuki is an organization comprising the main antagonists in the series. The name literally means “dawn” although it’s consonant with the phrase “red moon”.
For the first time we see the members of Akatsuki after the war between Konohagakure and Sunagakure ignited by Orochimaru. Taking advantage of the fact that the village was in difficult situation, Itachi and Kisame tried to capture the protagonist of the manga, Naruto, for unknown reasons. Luckily, Naruto managed to escape due to the help of shinobi from the village. The village was left in peace for a while but in several years the members of Akatsuki came back to capture jinchuriki (and Naruto is one of them) around the world.
Who are jinchuriki?
Jinchuriki are humans that have biju, i.e. the Tailed beasts, sealed within them. They are intelligent monsters possessing a huge reserve of energy and destructive potential. Split up in pairs, Akatsuki took them away, sometimes with fighting. Eventually, it became clear that Akatsuki captured jinchuriki to extract biju from them. They sealed them within Demonic Statue of the Outer Path.
The Sealing technique and Akatsuki’s plans
The technique Akatsuki used to extract biju is really horrifying. Their provocative and yet demonstrative violence and insolence will shake anybody to their foundations. The members of the organization are ready to kill everybody on their way, even if it’s a whole army. They showed themselves as real monsters, either literally or metaphorically, that changed their human bodies for unique powers and techniques. The string of battles led to a huge number of human deaths. By the way, some Akatsuki died too.
Every Akatsuki member pursued their own goals and entered the organization to accomplish them. For example, terrorist Deidara didn’t mind to blow up everything around him, treasurer Kakuzu aspired to make some extra cash, sectarian Hidan committed ritual murders, and so on.
The relationship between the Akatsuki members also left much to be desired. For instance, Kakuzu killed some of his partners just because he didn’t like them. One of Akatsuki was hiding from the others long before the main events started in the manga. Thus, Akatsuki joined the organization in order to obtain power but not because of ideological or moral principles. Their genuine goals remained unknown for a long time. There were different suppositions: from that they wanted to monopolize the market of the orders for shinobi to that they were going to take the power over the world. Only one thing was obvious – they were up to something global!
The leader of Akatsuki
Interestingly, at first the leader of Akatsuki operated in the shadows and appeared in the form of a hologram. For a long time, the persona was veiled in mystery. An attempt to reveal the secret cost Jiraiya (Naruto’s godfather) his life. He managed to get into Amegakure as he knew that the leader of Akatsuki was hiding there. Jiraiya found out that the mysterious person was the ruler of Amegakure on a part-time basis. Unfortunately, he was spotted and murdered in a fierce fight. Readers discovered that the leader of Akatsuki called himself “Pain” and that he was connected somehow with Nagato, Jiraiya’s ex-apprentice. And that’s it. No more information.
Then Pain left Amegakure and attacked Konoha in an effort to find Naruto. Endowed with extraordinary abilities and linked to each other with a single mind, six shinobi destroyed a half of the city in order to get some information. Moreover, when Pain couldn’t find Naruto, he razed the whole city with its citizens to the ground without any doubt and pity. Pain’s enormous power, huge arsenal of abilities and an absolute ruthlessness were staggering even against the background of his organization consisted of monsters. Sometime after that, he met Naruto. Their conversation finally threw light on the mystery of the origin of Akatsuki, his leader and their real objectives.
The origin and objectives of Akatsuki
Akatsuki was founded by Yahiko together with his friends Konan and Nagato in a small country Amegakure. Their aim was to fight against the tyranny and oppression reigned in Akatsuki and bring peace to the whole world. However, after Yahiko’s death everything has changed. Having become a new leader, Nagato recruited the criminals of S-rank from different countries. They were the most dreadful and dangerous fighters in the world. Although there were only ten members, they represented a huge power due to the high level of each fighter. For a long time, the organization acted as international mercenaries executing orders for moderate pay.
From Nagato himself readers found out about the aims of extracting biju – to achieve peace in the world! He intended to destroy the world order based on suffering and violence with creating a powerful weapon capable of obliterating a whole country. Nagato’s plan was to give all countries access to such a weapon in order to make the governors suspend hostilities and thus to maintain peace. Nagato’s intentions are similar to the policies of nuclear deterrence in the modern world.
Nuclear deterrence means prevention any opponent’s actions by having a nuclear weapon as threat. If one country has a nuclear weapon, it guarantees its security as the rest of the countries are afraid to attack it. Thus, a nuclear weapon isn’t the weapon of war but the weapon of peace aimed to prevent war. I think it’s quite a feasible approach. It’s fraught with small conflicts though but makes it possible to prevent massive world wars.
After Nagato’s death, it has emerged that he was just a formal leader and one of the ordinary members, mysterious Tobi, was the secret leader of Akatsuki. He joined the organization after Yahiko’s death and exerted a profound influence on its development. (At least he believed he did although I think Nagato didn’t share his views and just waited for the moment to get biju.)
Tobi as well as Nagato intended to achieve peace but through other means. He wanted to break the circle of wars, sufferings, and deaths by trapping all people in a dream. Naturally, it would have caused the conflict of interest since every leader used another one but Nagato died and Tobi taken his place unleashed a world war.
I think I’ll stop here and won’t make any more spoilers. You can read the manga yourself and find out how everything turns out.
What makes Akatsuki different?
Now, I’d like to explain why I decided to review Akatsuki in a separate article. The reason is simple. Although there are similar organizations in many other mangas (Espada in Bleach, Shichibukai in One Piece, etc.), in my humble opinion, Akatsuki is the most developed and interesting among them. Of course, I mean only the titles I’ve read myself.
I’d like to focus on some strong sides of Akatsuki.
The author of Naruto, Masashi Kishimoto, paid a lot of attention to the development of the characters’ personalities. Fans even made cults of some of the members of Akatsuki and split up into implacable groups. It’s worth noting that the characters attract readers with not only their memorable looks and well-developed personalities but also with the fact they each of them have their own history. Kishimoto managed to reveal the personages’ past lives and explain their motives. Readers could look at each Akatsuki from different sides and create thorough images with their own personalities. Each flashback let readers see the story in a different light, form their opinion on the characters and even change their views towards the characters.
2. Powers and abilities
Akatsuki are endowed with the most extraordinary techniques among the characters in the manga since they are more developed in comparison with humans. Such personages as live doll Sasori, Kakuzu made of threads, and anthropomorphous plant Zetsu boast not only colorful looks but also unique fighting styles. In addition, due to Akatsuki the level of destructiveness increased greatly. With every new battle they brought something to surprise readers. Almost every member had an impressive arsenal of techniques striking with their power and specificity.
As I mentioned in the review of Naruto, Kishimoto was able to show the characters’ deaths in the way to touch the reader to the heart. In the scenes with fights and deaths, the author managed to reveal Akatsuki’s personalities to the full extent. Moreover, such moments usually involved the conflict of characters’ views which made the things even tenser. The author exposed the sides of some characters that readers didn’t expect them to have. For example, Kisame, who seemed to be sadistic and cynical, turned out to be an idealist striving for peace, valuing his friends and ready to give his life for them. After that, I completely changed my opinion about him.
Overall, I believe that such developed, logical, and rational organization as Akatsuki can’t allow anybody to stay indifferent. Personally, I was enraptured with all the events connected with this it, looked forward to the introduction of new “pairs”, and empathized with every member.
Actually, I can call myself a fan of Akatsuki and assure you that I haven’t seen its analogs in other manga and anime series. The history of origin, development, and ending of Akatsuki fascinates the reader and at the same time leaves the bitter taste of loss after its ending. Besides, the idea itself is quite original and can make readers take the side of antagonists.
If you want to become better acquainted with Akatsuki, start reading Naruto – you won’t be disappointed!
What do you think of Akatsuki and similar organizations? Share your opinions in the comments section.