Chapter 500: Naruto’s Birth
This chapter continues Kushina’s talk with Naruto and her major revelations about the past. At the end of the last chapter, she revealed that she was the previous host of the Kyuubi, and now she prepares to explain more about this to Naruto.
She begins by explaining that she was brought from the Land of Whirlpool (Uzu) to Konoha for the purpose of becoming the jinchuriki. She says her village had a long alliance with Konoha because the Uzumaki clan is related to the Senju clan. She also explains that the people of her village were exceptionally long-lived and gifted in seal-making jutsu. These jutsu were the source of the seal that holds the Kyuubi within Naruto. She reveals that the spiral symbol that Naruto wears on his back—and which also appears on the vests and sleeves of higher ranking ninja in Konoha—is actually the Uzumaki crest, and is a sign of the two villages’ alliance. Unfortunately, Kushina’s village was feared for their sealing jutsu and was destroyed during the ninja wars as a result.
The Uzumaki crest graces the backs and arms of many Konoha shinobi.
Kushina says that she was chosen, because of her powerful chakra, to be the second host of the Kyuubi, and she was brought to Konoha for that purpose. The first host was a kunoichi from her clan named Mito Uzumaki, who became the wife of the first Hokage. Kushina notes the irony that she followed in Mito’s footsteps and became the wife of the fourth Hokage. Kushina asks Naruto if he knows about the great battle between Madara and the First. She then explains that in winning that battle, the First gained control of the Kyuubi. Mito then sealed the Kyuubi inside herself and became the first host.
Mito, the wife of the first Hokage, sealed the Kyuubi within herself.
When long-lived Mito-sama drew near to the end of her life, Kushina was brought to Konoha so that she could become the new host. At first, she didn’t know the reason she was brought to Konoha. It was all a top-secret operation known only to the Third and the two elders. When she learned the truth, Kushina was crushed with loneliness, but Mito comforted her by saying that before she became the vessel of the Kyuubi, she must first be a vessel “filled with love”. She could therefore be happy despite being the host.
The aged Mito-sama comforts Kushina, but the meaning behind her words is not clear.
Naruto is visibly touched by his mother’s story and seems inspired that she was able to make peace with her role as the jinchuriki. As he wipes tears from his eyes, he asks her the question all the readers have been wondering for two weeks: If the masked Akatsuki was behind the attacks, as Minato said, how could Kushina have had the Kyuubi then? Kushina confirms that what Minato said was true. The Kyuubi was inside her up until the time of the attack, but somehow the masked man knew that the seal would be weakest when Kushina gave birth.
A flashback to the time around Naruto’s birth begins. Minato and Kushina make plans with the Third and his wife to hide Kushina behind a barrier outside the village during the delivery—with only Minato, the Third’s wife Biwako, and an Anbu named Taji in attendance, and a few more Anbu bodyguards outside.
On the way to the hiding place, Kushina and Biwako meet Mikoto, Sasuke’s mother, with baby Sasuke in her arms. Kushina asks if the baby is a boy or a girl, and Mikoto answers that he’s a boy, and reveals that she named him Sasuke, like the Third’s father. Mikoto notices that Kushina is due soon and asks about her plan for the baby’s name. Kushina asks if giving birth really hurts that much and Mikoto teases that she’s surprised Kushina is afraid of something.
Readers are treated to a glimpse of baby Sasuke, who has a full head of spiky hair at only two months old.
Biwako guides Kushina away from Mikoto and reminds her this is a top secret operation and that she should avoid any further conversations—and that even when she’s in labor she’ll have to keep the noise down. The next page has Kushina completely disregarding this advice and screaming loudly. Minato worries over her, but Biwako reminds him to just worry about the seal. She says this much pain would kill a man, but women are strong enough. Kushina seems to not only be struggling to push the baby out, but also struggling to hold the Kyuubi in. Minato holds on to the seal and tries to encourage her.
While Kushina struggles to birth Naruto, the Kyuubi struggles to break free of her control.
Meanwhile, a cloaked figure has killed or incapacitated the Anbu guards outside. He wears a mask that seems to be halfway between the masks worn by Anbu and the mask Tobi/Madara wears in the current timeline.
Back inside, Kushina is sweating and pushing and Naruto is crowning. The Kyuubi cries out, and Minato tells it to stay in. The next moment, Naruto’s first cries ring out and Biwako announces it’s a healthy baby boy. Baby Naruto arrives complete with whisker birthmarks, which are apparently not a result of containing the Kyuubi (though perhaps the demon fox’s proximity while Naruto was in the womb had something to do with it.) Minato cries and says, “I’m a father.” Kushina looks at the baby and says, “Naruto, I finally get to see you.”
Naruto has his characteristic whisker marks even before becoming the Kyuubi’s host.
Minato and Kushina only have a brief moment to greet their newborn son before things go awry.
Even though she’s exhausted, Kushina still has the task of regaining full control over the Kyuubi. But suddenly, the masked man arrives. He takes out Biwako, and, with newborn Naruto in his arms, threatens Minato to step away from Kushina—otherwise the child will die.
The masked man—presumably the same one who haunts the current timeline—threatens baby Naruto’s life.
The Uzumaki clan
One of the most striking moments for me in this chapter was when Kushina pointed out that the spiral symbol worn by many Konoha shinobi, including Naruto, is the Uzumaki clan’s crest. This made me think that Kishimoto has had at least some of these revelations planned for quite a while. I’ve been arguing about this a little bit with some people on chuunin who think that Kishi is just making things up as he goes along, and that Kushina’s history seems to be out of left field. I do admit that these are fairly unexpected plot twists, but I don’t think they are unfair plot twists, and I think it’s likely Kishi had some semblance of this story in mind at least as far back as Chapter 367, when Jiraiya and Tsunade revealed a bit of info about Naruto’s mother, including her name and that she came from “the former Country of Whirlpools”. And I have to say I think he probably meant for there to be at least some connection between the Uzumaki (Uzu = whirlpool) clan and Konoha from the very beginning, considering that the whirlpool symbol can be seen on Iruka’s sleeve in the very first chapter.
And now we have a confirmed connection between Naruto and the Senju clan, although it still isn’t a blood connection. Naruto is related to the First’s wife, which means he shares blood with the First’s descendents—including “Granny Tsunade”—but not necessarily with the First himself. How this new info might connect to the legend of the Rikudou Sennin and his two sons, I’m not sure.
Mito Uzumaki and her advice to Kushina
Mito Uzumaki is an interesting character. It sounds as though she volunteered herself to become the Kyuubi’s host and even created the seal herself. As far as I know, this is the first we’ve heard of someone choosing to become a jinchuriki. However, it does seem that Kushina also became a jinchuriki willingly, although she probably didn’t have any real choice. She at least knew what was going to happen to her and accepted it.
Of course, I’m sure there will be a lot of speculation on what Mito meant by saying that the vessel “must first be filled with love”. Does she mean that Kushina must first be filled with love for others, or that she should be filled with love from others? The next panel, where Kushina says she would be able to be happy as the host, shows her and Minato smiling at each other as children. I’m not sure how to interpret Mito’s advice.
I’m also curious how old Kushina is when this conversation takes place. We only see her from the back, with her head on Mito-sama’s lap, so it’s not clear if she’s still a child, or if perhaps she’s a bit older, near womanhood, when this occurs. To me, it sounds like she was brought to live in Konoha for a while before she learned anything of the plan to make her the next jinchuriki, so perhaps she is not still a child at this time. I’m guessing she might be close to Naruto’s current age when this happens.
Some people are rolling their eyes at the connection between Mikoto and Kushina, and others are jumping with glee. Personally, I don’t think this conversation necessarily means that the two mothers were BFF. They were clearly friends, but the level of intimacy between them in this scene is fairly moderate for female friendships—it feels kind of casual to me. Anyway, I think the more interesting issue is whether or not this scene is meant to suggest that Mikoto either betrayed Kushina or was suspected of betraying Kushina. The fact that the scene ends with Biwako warning Kushina of the top secret nature of their departure from the village seems a little bit ominous.
Women and childbirth
I have to say I’m pleased to see a chapter of Naruto—a whole mini-arc, really, where women have prominence and even a fair amount of agency (at least compared to the rest of the series). In fact, women (Kushina, Mito, Biwako, and Mikoto) drive almost all the action of this chapter, with the men (Minato and the Third) playing fairly minor roles by comparison. The main exception is the masked man, who changes the flow of events at the end of the chapter. More on him in a moment.
I’m sure some will complain that, despite the prominence of women in the chapter, the focus is on motherhood and childbirth. And I will concede that they have a point; it is somewhat stereotypical. On the other hand, I have to admit that I personally feel a bit gleeful to see a childbirth scene in a shonen manga. Hee. (There was also a childbirth scene in FMA, come to think of it. But FMA was at least written by a woman.)
Anyway, I found Mikoto’s little joke about Kushina fearing the pain of childbirth amusing. It suggests that Kushina is generally a tough, fearless gal—probably a lot like her son. And while the cut between Biwako’s warning to keep quiet and Kushina screaming her head off was a bit of a joke at her expense, I didn’t find it offensive. (Of course, even though I’m a woman, I haven’t given birth, so what do I know?) Besides that, I thought it was implied that her pain was exacerbated by trying to keep the Kyuubi in during the whole process.
The masked man
The masked man who captures Naruto at the end of the chapter is almost certainly the same one who now claims to be Madara. I hope that we will get more information about him as the flashback continues in the next chapter, and perhaps some of fandom’s long-standing questions about his ends and means will be answered.