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Monday, August 18, 2008

Kakuzu


Kakuzu (角都) is a fictional character from the manga series Naruto. The first kanji in Kakuzu's name (角) stands for kakugyō, a bishop in shogi.

Background

Very little is known regarding Kakuzu's past; however, according to his scratched forehead-protector, he was a missing-nin from Takigakure. He appears to have been with Akatsuki for some time, since his current partner Hidan is noted to be the first to be able to safely travel with him (all his previous partners having been killed by him). Kakuzu is one of the longest-lived characters in the series, having been around since at least the time of the First Hokage, whom Kakuzu mentions having fought at one point. He doesn't elaborate on the outcome of said battle. Due to the fact Kakuzu is from the same time as the founder of Akatsuki, Madara Uchiha, it is possible Kakuzu was among the first members of Akatsuki.

Out of all the Akatsuki members, Hidan and Kakuzu display the most animosity towards each other, since neither are very fond of the other's interests. The two often trade barbs with one another, Kakuzu's usually having better timing than Hidan's. Hidan gets annoyed with Kakuzu's greed and occasional habit of doing or saying blasphemous things, such as attacking a temple and killing the head monk for the bounty on the monk's head. Kakuzu, in turn, dislikes Hidan's religion, believing the rituals associated with it to be a waste of time. Kakuzu is also rather impatient with Hidan's drawn-out speeches and battle style.

The only reason Kakuzu puts up with Hidan is because he cannot get rid of him. Due to his violent temper, Kakuzu often kills anyone close by when enraged. Hidan is, therefore, the perfect partner for Kakuzu, because of Hidan's apparent inability to die. Kakuzu's somewhat indiscriminate attack style also makes Hidan an ideal partner, since Kakuzu need not worry about catching his partner in the crossfire.

[edit] Personality

Kakuzu is a greedy, miserly individual, often arranging goals in terms of the highest profit he can gain from them, and he is often unwilling to involve himself in something unless there is something to gain. He even remarks that money is the only dependable thing in the world; therefore, he wouldn't mind going to hell because money probably runs it too. Due to this point of view, he refers to himself as the Treasurer of Akatsuki. Given his friendly relationship with a bounty officer, it would seem he collects bounties rather frequently to earn cash, and does so (or at least tries) during his missions on several occasions. The frequent side tasks and devotion to money are both major points of contention between Hidan and Kakuzu.

Despite his obsessive personality and violent rage, Kakuzu is much more cautious than his partner. Kakuzu frequently warns Hidan not to let his guard down, and then teases Hidan when he inevitably does. Kakuzu is shown to be a keen analyst as well, which is somewhat attributable to his age. (His age gives him several lifetimes of battle experience.) He was able to quickly discern the purpose of Shikamaru's various shadow attacks and devise ways to counter them almost instantly during battle. Despite his status as a missing-nin, Kakuzu apparently seems quite willing to follow orders. When ordered to retreat by Pein, Kakuzu complied immediately (while Hidan attempted to argue), despite the rather large bounty he could have gotten on Asuma Sarutobi. However, Kakuzu does make it a point to retrieve the case with his bounty. Although, he seems to forget the greater goals of the organization when enraged, as he attempted to kill Naruto in spite of Akatsuki's need to capture all the tailed beasts alive.

[edit] Part II

Spoiler Warning: Spoiler details may follow.

[edit] Hunt for the Two-Tails

Kakuzu first appears with his partner, Hidan, in their pursuit of the Two-Tailed Demon Cat's host, Yugito Nii. She allows herself to be cornered in order to spring a trap on them and eliminate them herself. Yugito transforms into her full demon form, a large flaming cat, after Hidan provokes her (which annoys Kakuzu). Kakuzu claims Hidan just made their job more difficult. Despite her efforts, the two defeat her and Zetsu arrives to drag her off. Kakuzu then notes that their next target will be in the Land of Fire. In spite of the implication, they are apparently not chasing Naruto, as indicated by a later conversation with Deidara.

[edit] Attack on the Fire Temple

On their way, Kakuzu decides to attack the Fire Temple in order to collect the bounty on the head monk, Chiriku, who was a former bodyguard for the Fire Country's nobility. (Chiriku is listed in the bingo book with a three million ryō bounty.) They slaughter most of the other monks, but one escapes to warn Konoha of the incoming threat. While the Niju Shotai are mobilized to deal with the pair, Kakuzu is stuck carrying the head monk's corpse.

One Niju Shotai team consisting of Asuma Sarutobi, Shikamaru Nara, Kotetsu Hagane, and Izumo Kamizuki catches up to the pair at a bounty station, where Kakuzu is cashing in the deceased monk. For the most part, Kakuzu lets Hidan fight, only intervening when Shikamaru deduces the purpose of Hidan's curse jutsu and disrupts it, allowing Asuma to decapitate Hidan. Being immortal, Hidan survives, and Kakuzu repairs the wounds using the threads in his body. Kakuzu then fights with Kotetsu and Izumo, easily holding the two off while Hidan deals a fatal blow to Asuma. Their battle is interrupted by the appearance of another Niju Shotai team, this one consisting of Ino Yamanaka, Choji Akimichi, Aoba Yamashiro, and Raido Namiashi. Kakuzu is unwilling to leave Asuma behind, since Asuma has a substantially higher bounty than the monk he just cashed in, but is forced to retreat by Pein, who wants to seal the captured demons.

[edit] Hunt for the Nine-Tails

After the sealing is complete, Kakuzu and Hidan set out on their search again, only to be cut off by Team 10 (with Kakashi Hatake in place of Asuma). Kakuzu habitually notes that Kakashi has a high bounty. A clever move by Shikamaru pins both Akatsuki members in place, but Kakuzu catches onto the trick beforehand and, using a separated arm, breaks free. Because of his ability to harden his skin, Kakuzu proves largely invulnerable to subsequent attacks. Kakashi, however, is able to pierce Kakuzu's heart with his Lightning Blade, exploiting the weakness Kakuzu's earth-based jutsu have against lightning-based ones.

While this would normally be fatal, Kakuzu has five hearts (now four), and thus recovers fairly quickly. Removing his cloak, he reveals four masks on his back, one of which is now broken. Each mask contains a heart, the broken one having given its heart up to keep Kakuzu alive. The four masks break from his back into separate entities, and the broken one melts after doing so. Each mask is able to attack with a specific and powerful elemental attack, making Kakuzu almost too much for Team 10 to handle. While Kakuzu sets his sights on replacing his lost heart with Kakashi's, Shikamaru drags Hidan away from the battlefield for a one-on-one fight.

Ignoring the two for the most part, Kakuzu focuses on taking Kakashi's heart. He does note that Shikamaru could have collected an impressive bounty had he lived longer (he believes Shikamaru is doomed). Though Kakashi is unable to handle Kakuzu, Kakashi is saved when Shikamaru tricks Hidan into using some of Kakuzu's blood in his curse ritual (Kakashi had collected it earlier when he pierced Kakuzu's chest). Though slowed, Kakuzu adapts quickly, dragging another heart from one of his masks to replace the lost one. He then catches the rest of Team 10 with his threads, hoping to replenish his stock.

Team 10 is saved by the arrival of Team 7, consisting of Naruto Uzumaki, Sakura Haruno, Yamato, and Sai. Naruto decides to fight Kakuzu himself, while Sakura and Sai are sent to help Shikamaru. Kakuzu is able to identify Naruto, thanks to the missing-nin's earlier conversation with Deidara, and, at first, is not concerned. This changes when Naruto unveils his Wind Release: Rasenshuriken, which Kakuzu recognizes to be dangerous if it connects. Naruto's inability to maintain the technique for more than a few seconds puts him at ease, especially since its failure almost allows Kakuzu to kill Naruto (Yamato and Kakashi save him), but he decides to fight long range just to be safe. Using his threads, Kakuzu attempts to crush Naruto from a distance, but is surprised when the real Naruto shows up behind him, using the technique effectively this time.

Left with no usable hearts after being battered by Naruto's technique, Kakuzu before he dies, laments being defeated by those he considers "kids". Kakashi assures Kakuzu that the previous generation being surpassed by the next is perfectly natural; Kakashi then gathers lightning in his hand and finishes Kakuzu off.

[edit] Abilities

Kakuzu is a very powerful and experienced combatant with very unique skills. A mid-range combat specialist, Kakuzu can adapt to all ranges of combat quickly and easily, drawing on his lifetimes of experience to keep ahead of his opponents and outmaneuver their attacks.

All his abilities revolve around his unique body structure, which is composed of hundreds of thick black threads woven throughout his flesh, holding his body together like strings of a rag-doll. This allows him to separate his body parts at will to perform long-range physical attacks and sew up almost any injury he suffers, making him very difficult to defeat. These threads can also be used to repair the bodies of others, as seen which he reattached Deidara's arm, although Hidan is his most frequent patient. Due to his immortality, Hidan can survive any form of dismemberment, allowing Kakuzu to simply stitch him back together to return him to fighting readiness.

Most significantly, these threads have granted Kakuzu a degree of immortality (though he declines to think of it that way). The threads can pierce the flesh and bodies of others, allowing him to remove their organs and integrate them into his own body, thereby extending his life. He most commonly removes hearts in this fashion, keeping a total of five at any one time. The four extra hearts are stored in animal-shaped masks on his back. With five hearts, it means he must be killed a total of five times before he will truly die. These extra hearts also grant him numerous elemental affinities and a vast supply of chakra. The individual hearts can be released from his body and wrapped in a vast blanket of threads, forming a monstrous body with a mask as its face. These masks can move and attack independently, unleashing powerful blasts of elemental chakra from their mouths.

  • Fire - A tiger-like mask, it forms a demonic bear-shaped body and can fire huge waves of flame, which spread across the ground consuming everything it touches. It can fuse with the eagle mask to create a dual fire/wind attack that is almost impossible to stop.
  • Lightning - A bull-like mask with a deformed bipedal body, it can unleash deadly twin lightning bolts.
  • Wind - An eagle-like mask with a strange four-legged body and thin thread wings, it can project huge hurricane-force air blasts that are capable of leveling a large region of forest. It can fuse with the tiger mask to create to more powerful attack.
  • Unknown - This last mask was broken by Hatake Kakashi before being seen. It's element is implied to be the remaining element of the primary five, water element.

His original heart: Its power is implied to be Kakuzu's Iron Body defense, which hardens his flesh like steel and makes him almost invulnerable to physical attacks. Since he never uses this power again once his heart has been punctured, it is safe to assume the mask was the source of the power.

In addition to these many powers, Kakuzu can use his own body's threads to attack from long-range and restrain or dismember opponents. His threads can even compact together to form a giant spider-like form around him.

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