Chapter 581: Everyone's Leaf
Kabuto switches tactics back to trying to persuade Sasuke to turn against Itachi. He is able to correctly (or close enough) read the situation between the brothers and Sasuke's current plans to take revenge on Konoha for causing his brother to suffer. But, he does not convince Sasuke to ally with him.
Instead, his words remind Sasuke of a conversation he overheard in a bar or inn at some point while he was traveling with Tobi. Some Leaf nin were talking about the death of the “traitor” Itachi and speculating what kind of reward Sasuke might receive for killing him. Sasuke nearly turns to confront them for insulting his brother, but Tobi stops him, pointing out that they have no reason to believe “the truth” about Itachi and the Leaf, and that Itachi chose to be labeled a traitor.
Sasuke reacts to the shinobi he overhears bad-mouthing his brother.
Back in the present, Sasuke insists that “crushing the Leaf” is his own and that he doesn't want to share that with Kabuto. Kabuto goes on to explain his own reasons for wanting to crush the Leaf. Since he was a spy from an early age, always traveling to other countries, always lying about who he was, he lost track of who he was. The village couldn't trust him anymore and removed him from missions. He says he served his village, but like Itachi, only received shame and dishonor in return.
Kabuto took on different identities as a spy form a very young age.
Itachi cautions Sasuke not to listen to Kabuto. Itachi agrees that Konoha has a dark side, but he is still committed to the village. He says that what has happened to Sasuke is his fault, and that he's not in a position to criticize, but he does have something he wants to say to his brother—just not yet.
Itachi wants to defeat Kabuto first, but Kabuto explains all the reasons why this is not possible. Itachi reminds Sasuke that even though Kabuto has a point, he's not taking into account the power of the Uchiha. He discusses with Sasuke the power of Izanagi, which he witnessed in the fight with Danzo. As Kabuto dives at Itachi for a new attack, Itachi declares that Izanagi's twin power is already prepared for him—Izanami, a jutsu that can “decide destiny”.
Itachi braces for Kabuto's attack, declaring that he will use Izanami to defeat him.
Thoughts on the chapter
- Sasuke's flashback
The timing of this scene seems to be shortly after Itachi's death, probably before Sasuke went after Killer Bee. The reactions of the Leaf ninja imply that Itachi's plan to send Sasuke back to Konoha as a hero would have been successful, had Sasuke not publicly sided with the Akatsuki (or seemed to have done so, at least). It's interesting that, at least in the eyes of these men, killing the “traitor” Itachi would have erased Sasuke's abandonment of Konoha and association with Orochimaru.
- Kabuto's history
I felt that Kabuto's backstory was not especially surprising. It didn't really shed much new light on his character, as many fans have already guessed how being a spy from an early age probably affected his personality. Indeed, even now we can't necessarily trust his story, as it may be more an attempt to manipulate Sasuke than a sincere expression of his feelings about Konoha.
- Itachi's forbearance for Konoha's dark side
Why is Itachi so willing to forgive Konoha, even though he of all people knows the worst about it? Is there something special about Konoha that makes it worthy of loyalty, despite its flaws, or is it simply a matter of loyalty to one's own native country?
- “At least one thing”
What do you think will be the “one thing” Itachi will tell Sasuke? Something about Konoha? Something about the Uchiha? Something about Tobi/Madara? Or will it not be anything particularly revelatory, and just a personal expression of whatever Itachi wants to say to his brother before he “dies” a second time?
Many fans correctly predicted that there was at least one more Uchiha eye jutsu to be revealed based on the Japanese myths about Shinto gods and goddesses. The first jutsu of the Mangekyo Sharingan that we learned of were Tsukuyomi, the powerful genjutsu from the right eye, and Amaterasu, the black fire from the left eye. In Japanese mythology, these were two deities who were “born” when the god Izanagi washed his eyes, and they became the moon god and the sun goddess, respectively. When Izanagi washed his nose, Susanoo, the god of storms and the sea, was born. Susanoo provides the name for the third Mangekyo jutsu, the protective warrior that creates a shield for the user.
When Danzo used the reality-altering technique Izanagi in his battle with Sasuke, many fans reasoned that if the name of the male god who fathered Tsukuyomi, Amaterasu, and Susanoo was used to name an even more powerful jutsu, that yet another extremely powerful jutsu named after his wife Izanami might yet be revealed. It turns out that guess was right, but it's still not clear what the nature of this jutsu might be.
Here is the story of Izanami, via the Wikipedia article on Japanese mythology. I don't know if it will offer any clues as to what the technique will be like, but I think it's worth a look:
The seventh and last generation of Kamiyonanayo were Izanagi no Mikoto ("Exalted Male") and Izanami no Mikoto ("Exalted Female"), and they would be responsible for the creation of the Japanese archipelago and would engender other deities.
To help them to achieve this, Izanagi and Izanami were given a naginata decorated with jewels, named Ame-no-nuboko ("Heavenly Jeweled Spear"). The two deities then went to the bridge between heaven and earth, Amenoukihashi ("Floating Bridge of Heaven") and churned the sea below with the halberd. Drops of salty water formed the island, Onogoro ("self-forming"). The deities descended from the bridge of heaven and made their home on the island. Eventually, they fell in love and wished to mate. So they built a pillar called Amenomihashira around which they built a palace called Yashirodono ("the hall whose area is 8 arms' length squared"). Izanagi and Izanami circled the pillar in opposite directions, and when they met on the other side, Izanami, the female deity, spoke first in greeting. Izanagi didn't think that this was proper, but they mated anyway. They had two children, Hiruko ("leech child") and Awashima ("pale island"), but the children were badly formed and are not considered gods in their original form. (Hiruko later became the Japanese god, Ebisu.)
The parents, who were dismayed at their misfortune, put the children into a boat and sent them to sea, and then petitioned the other gods for an answer about what they had done wrong. They were informed that Izanami's lack of manners was the reason for the defective births: a woman should never speak prior to a man; the male deity should have spoken first in greeting during the ceremony. So Izanagi and Izanami went around the pillar again, and, this time when they met, Izanagi spoke first, and their union was successful.
From their union were born the Ōyashima, or the eight great islands of Japan:
Iyo (later Shikoku)
Tsukushi (later Kyūshū)
Yamato (later Honshū)
Note that Hokkaidō, Chishima and Okinawa were not part of Japan in ancient times.
The divine couple bore eight more offspring, who later became the eight great islands of Japan. Izanami, however, died giving birth to the child, Kagutsuchi (incarnation of fire) or Homusubi (causer of fire). She was then buried on Mt. Hiba, at the border of the old provinces of Izumo and Hoki, near modern-day Yasugi of Shimane Prefecture. In anger, Izanagi killed Kagutsuchi. His death also created dozens of deities.
Izanagi lamented the death of Izanami and undertook a journey to Yomi ("the shadowy land of the dead"). Izanagi found little difference between Yomi and the land above, except for the eternal darkness. However, this suffocating darkness was enough to make him ache for light and life. Quickly, he searched for Izanami and found her. At first, Izanagi could not see her for she was well hidden in the shadows. Nevertheless, he asked her to return with him. Izanami spat at Izanagi and informed him that he was too late. She had already eaten the food of the underworld and now belonged to the land of the dead.
Izanagi was shocked at this news, but he refused to give in to her wishes to be left to the dark embrace of Yomi. Izanami agreed to return to the world but first requested to have some time to rest. She instructed Izanagi to not come into her bedroom. After a long wait, Izanami did not come out of her bedroom, and Izanagi was worried. While Izanami was sleeping, he took the comb that bound his long hair and set it alight as a torch. Under the sudden burst of light, he saw the horrid form of the once beautiful and graceful Izanami. The flesh of her ravaged body was rotting and was overrun with maggots and foul creatures.
Crying out loud, Izanagi could no longer control his fear and started to run, intending to return to the living and to abandon his death-ridden wife. Izanami woke up shrieking and indignant and chased after him. Izinami instructed the shikome, or foul women, to hunt for the frightened Izanagi and bring him back.
Izanagi, thinking quickly, hurled his headdress, which became a bunch of black grapes. The shikome fell on these but continued pursuit. Next, Izanagi threw his comb, which became a clump of bamboo shoots. Now it was Yomi's creatures that began to give chase, but Izanagi urinated against a tree and created a great river that increased his lead. Unfortunately, the shikome still pursued Izanagi, who began to hurl peaches at them. He knew that this would not delay them for long, but he was nearly free, for the boundary of Yomi was now close at hand.
Izanagi burst through the entrance and quickly pushed a boulder to the entrance of Yomi. Izanami screamed from behind this barricade and told Izanagi that, if he left her, she would destroy 1,000 living people every day. He furiously replied that he would give life to 1,500.
And so began the existence of Death, caused by the hands of the proud Izanami, the abandoned wife of Izanagi.
There is a lot that could be said about the story of Izanami...but I'll leave that up to you.