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In the story, Kakashi is the leader and teacher of Team 7, consisting of the series' primary characters, Sasuke Uchiha, Sakura Haruno, and Naruto Uzumaki. He is initially portrayed as a detached and apathetic figure, but as the series progresses, his loyalty to his friends and students becomes increasingly apparent. Kakashi's past has been extensively explored in the series, resulting in a gaiden being devoted to his past experiences. Kakashi has appeared in several pieces of Naruto media, including three of the four featured films in the series, all of the original video animations, and several video games.
Numerous anime and manga publications have praised and criticized Kakashi's character. Although he has been noted to be an echo of similar detached shōnen manga characters, the duality of Kakashi's apathetic and serious sides have been praised. Kakashi's popularity has been noted by reviewers; T.H.E.M. Anime Reviews commented that the series could simply be renamed "Kakashi." Kakashi has been highly popular with the Naruto reader base, placing high in several popularity polls. Merchandise based on Kakashi has also been released, including key chains and plush dolls.
Creation and conceptionEdit
Masashi Kishimoto originally intended for Kakashi to debut in the second chapter of the Naruto manga, appearing prior to the other members of Team 7. This Kakashi was designed as a laid back, affected, skilled ninja that ended his sentences with the polite "de gozaru" in the Japanese versions of the series. After speaking with his editor, Kishimoto pushed this debut back, allowing him to better develop Kakashi and the rest of Team 7. Despite this, Kakashi retains many of his original personality traits, being easygoing, unfazed by the actions of others, and appearing to be half-asleep. Kishimoto feels that this makes Kakashi a compelling leader and helps to keep the diverse members of Team 7 unified. Because he acts as a link between the other main characters of the series, Kakashi is rarely featured prominently in promotional artwork, instead appearing in the background while his students are the focus of the scene. In an interview in Shōnen Jump's, Kishimoto said that if he were to make an extra story from the manga with a different character, such character would be Kakashi.
When deciding upon Kakashi's name, Kishimoto considered a number of possibilities: Kuwa (クワ, "hoe"), Kama (カマ, "scythe"), Botan (ボタン, "peony"), Enoki (エノキ, a nettle tree), and Kakashi (カカシ, "scarecrow"). He eventually decided upon Kakashi, and remains glad that he did to this day. In keeping with the meaning of his name, scarecrows are occasionally used to represent Kakashi; Naruto, for example, uses a scarecrow that is dressed like Kakashi to help him train for a combat test between the two. Likewise, scarecrows are at times added to the background of scenes in which Kakashi appears, as is the case with the cover of the Naruto manga volume three.
Kakashi's background goes unexplored for the first part of the series, not being shown in any detail until Kakashi Gaiden, a six chapter series that divides the gap between Part I and II of the manga. During Kakashi's youth, his father, a ninja who was highly revered in Konohagakure, abandoned a mission crucial to the village in order to save the lives of his teammates. Disgraced by the villagers and those he had saved because of the repercussions the village suffered, Kakashi's father committed suicide. Wishing to avoid his father's dishonor, Kakashi adopted the philosophy that the success of a mission must always come first, becoming humorless and by-the-book in the process.
In later years Kakashi was assigned by his teacher, Minato Namikaze, to lead a mission that would turn the current war in Konoha's favor. When his teammate, Rin, was captured by enemy ninja, Kakashi elected to leave her behind and finish the mission. His other teammate, Obito Uchiha, rejected this alternative, stating that those who abandon their mission are trash but those who abandon their teammates are worse than trash and that Kakashi's father had done the right thing by saving his teammates. Touched by Obito's words, Kakashi joined him in a rescue effort, though his left eye became damaged in the ensuing battle. After finding Rin and preparing to escape, an enemy-induced cave-in crushed Obito's right half. With his dying wish and the possibility of enemy reinforcements, Obito urged his teammates to leave and finish the mission. Before leaving, Obito had Rin implant his newly acquired Sharingan into Kakashi's damaged eye socket as a gift. His new eye in place, Kakashi fled with Rin as the cave collapsed, eventually completing their mission and forever mourning Obito's death.
Obito's death greatly changed Kakashi, as he adopted many of Obito's traits and philosophies. Most recurring of these is his concept of teamwork: when first forming Team 7, Kakashi gauges their abilities with a bell test in which the three must capture the two bells he keeps on his person. Only by working as a team, regardless of the fact that there aren't enough bells for each of them, are Naruto, Sakura, and Sasuke able to pass, instilling in them the concept of teamwork early on. Kakashi continues to further this philosophy for the duration of Part I upon Sasuke Uchiha, whose drive to get stronger causes him to slowly turn against his friends and teammates. Though Kakashi frequently reminds Sasuke of the importance of teamwork and tries to show him how strength can be found in friendship, he is unable to get through to him before the latter's defection from Konoha.
Kakashi keeps his personal life separate from his interactions with his students, only going so far as to say that he has a number of hobbies and dreams that are "none of [their] business". He also states that everyone precious to him is dead. What is known of Kakashi's personal life is that he spends much of his free time at a memorial site where Obito's name is engraved. He tends to lose track of time when he is there, and is frequently late to his appointments as a result (another trait adopted from Obito). Similarly, Kakashi constantly keeps the lower half of his face covered, and thus the appearance of his face remains a mystery. Episode 101 of the anime, an omake episode dedicated to Team 7's efforts to unmask Kakashi, implies he is quite handsome, as two employees from the Ichiraku ramen shop (male and female) are left awestruck after he briefly removes his mask to eat (although a distraction prevents Team 7 and the viewer from seeing his face). In another omake included with the third Naruto databook, his own pack of dogs struggles with remembering what he looks like: each remembers him as having a completely different face and, after they finally agree about what he looks like, they realize that their description was entirely wrong.
One pastime that Kakashi makes no attempt to hide from even his students is his fondness for the Make Out (イチャイチャ, Icha Icha?) series of erotic novels. The books, detailing the author's (Jiraiya) experiences in love, are runaway best-sellers within the Naruto world. When asked more specifically about the contents of the books, Masashi Kishimoto explained that Naruto's target demographic was not old enough for him to disclose the details of the plot. Kakashi is usually seen reading one of the books during events that do not require his complete attention, such as his early conversations and training sessions with Team 7. Naruto has on occasion used Kakashi's attachment to the books against him; he threatens to spoil the ending of the latest installment in the series, forcing Kakashi to shut his eyes and cover his ears to avoid learning the secret and leaving him off guard in the process.
The Sharingan given to him by Obito is a sticking point to Kakashi's fame in the Naruto world. Granting him the ability to mimic the movements and jutsu of others, the Sharingan gives him an edge in battle by allowing him to turn his opponent's abilities against them. This has allowed him to add over one thousand different attacks to his repertoire, leading to his nickname of "Copy Ninja Kakashi" (コピー忍者のカカシ, Kopī Ninja no Kakashi?). Because the Sharingan only naturally occurs in those of Uchiha lineage, and because his is always active, Kakashi depletes his energy quickly when using it and so must cover it with his headband during his daily activities. During the gap in time between Part I and II of the series, Kakashi develops a Mangekyo Sharingan through unknown means. With it he can perform a jutsu called Kamui (神威?, literally "God's Authority"), which sends any targeted object to another dimension. Because performing this ability requires extended bed rest afterwards, Kakashi avoids using it unless absolutely necessary. Although most of Kakashi's abilities were acquired with his Sharingan, he has two abilities he developed by himself. Lightning Blade, a collection of lightning chakra in one's hand, was created by Kakashi in his youth. By rushing at the enemy and thrusting the Lightning Blade into his target, he can kill most opponents with one strike. He was not able to effectively utilize the Lightning Blade until gaining his Sharingan, as regular eyes experience a tunnel-vision effect when using it and thus leaving the user open to counterattacks. In Part II he displays other lightning-based abilities, such as a clone that can act in his place and paralyze what it comes into contact with, but it is unclear if these are his own creations.
His second unique ability is the pack of eight ninja dogs (忍犬, Ninken?) he is able to summon to his side. The dogs are capable of talking. Each one has a henohenomoheji on his back, a face used on scarecrows. He primarily uses them for tracking purposes, sending them out to find and if necessary pin down a target until he arrives. Because of his proficiency and well-roundedness with ninja abilities, Kakashi is noted to be an obvious candidate for the position of Hokage, the protector of Konoha, should the position ever become vacant.
Kakashi's role in the series predominately consists of his time with Team 7, leading them on missions and training them to improve their ninja abilities. He takes a special interest in Sasuke Uchiha during Part I, who he trains exclusively in an attempt to steer him away from Orochimaru, an enemy to Konoha. His efforts prove unsuccessful when Sasuke defects from Konoha at the end of Part I. Naruto and Sakura also part ways at this time, leaving Kakashi's tutelage to train under new teachers. Two-and-a-half years later in Part II, Kakashi reforms Team 7 with Naruto, Sakura, Sai, and Yamato. He assists and leads the new Team 7 in their continued efforts to find and retrieve Sasuke, but with each attempt Sasuke has eluded them. Because his students are now capable of taking care of themselves, Kakashi takes a more active role in the battles that go on during the series, particularly those with the criminal organization Akatsuki. When the Akatsuki leader, Pain, invades Konoha, Kakashi engages him in battle but he is defeated and killed. However, after his confrontation with Naruto, Pain decides to use all of his remaining power to revive those killed in the battle at Konoha, including Kakashi. He later finds and decides to engage Sasuke in battle having realized he has become a menace.
Appearances in other mediaEdit
Kakashi has made several appearances outside of the Naruto anime and manga. He is in three of the featured films in the series: in the first movie he battles Nadare Rouga and later defeats him, in the third Kakashi battles the hired ninja Ishidate, whom he fights to a standstill, and he later acts as a distraction for his team by battling the minister Shabadaba's soldiers, and in the fourth Naruto movie Kakashi fights against a large group of stone soldiers. He is also present in all three of the original video animations produced for the series, helping Naruto and Konohamaru Sarutobi to find a four leaf clover in the first original video animation, joining his team in escorting a ninja named Shibuki to his village in the second, and participating in a tournament in the third.
Kakashi is a playable character in nearly all Naruto video games, including the Clash of Ninja series and the Ultimate Ninja series. In some games, he is able to use his Sharingan in combat, often as a different character with the ability activated, and in other games, he is available in his ANBU attire.
Kakashi has ranked within the top five characters in every official Weekly Shōnen Jump popularity poll, acquiring the first position as the most popular character several times. In the most recent poll, he ranked second, with Sasuke Uchiha acquiring the top position. There has not been another official poll since the poll as of 2006. In the Anime Awards 2006 from About.com, Kakashi won in the category "Best Supporting Male Character". He was also a nominee during the first "Nickelodeon Magazine Comics Awards" in the category "Best Hair in Comics", losing to Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes. In an Oricon poll of "manga master", Kakashi was third with 8.4% of the votes. In an interview, Dave Wittenberg, who does the voice acting for Kakashi in the English dub, comments that he feels he is similar to the character since he tends to have one eye open at a time and he becomes angry if he is interrupted while reading. He also added that what he likes most about Kakashi is his relation with his students, noting him to be "a very nice person". Merchandise based on Kakashi's character has also been released, including plush dolls, key chains, and a limited edition figurine.
Several publications for manga, anime, video games, and other related media have provided praise and criticism on Kakashi's character. IGN noted the duality of Kakashi's serious persona in combat and his laid back, apathetic countenance when dealing with his students, but accepted that he is one of the most popular characters in the series. They also commented that Kakashi is one of the more popular characters they have seen cosplayed at anime conventions. Active Anime celebrated Kakashi's abilities, noting that he fell into the overall theme of characters hiding detailed personalities and secrets. T.H.E.M. Anime Reviews derided Kakashi as a stereotypical "Man of Mystery" seen in other shōnen manga, but praised him as being "much more interesting" than the three main characters, and felt that for all intents and purposes, the show could be renamed simply "Kakashi". Mania Entertainment's Dani Moure likes how Kakashi fits into Team 7 due to the fact he is a "hilarious character in that sometimes he doesn't seem all that bothered about things and yet is so masterful of his craft." Chris Beveridge from the site stated that Kakashi is his favorite character from the series because of his personality and praised his fight against Pain, and that after its ending, the character gets "a very humanizing moment", making the episode from the battle stand out.