The Role of Kabuto in Naruto: Good or Evil?

Kabuto Yakushi, a prominent figure in the Naruto franchise, frequently ignites discourse regarding his moral stance within the fandom. The question of whether Kabuto is a force for good or evil in Naruto has remained a contentious topic among fans. Kabuto’s narrative is marked by manipulation and a lack of genuine guidance, leading him down a potentially detrimental path. Initially depicted as a dutiful follower of Orochimaru, known for his villainous actions, Kabuto’s character is complex and constantly evolving.

On the other hand, Kabuto’s actions and choices were greatly influenced by those close to him, particularly Orochimaru. Orochimaru manipulated and exploited Kabuto’s abilities and vulnerabilities for his own gain. Despite appearing to have committed wrongdoings, at his core, Kabuto is not a malicious character, but one who has been heavily influenced and controlled throughout his life.

Kabuto’s upbringing left him constantly being taken advantage of by others, leading to a distorted viewpoint and actions. However, his complex perspective reveals that he was not inherently malicious, but rather a pawn in a larger scheme as he struggled to find his place and purpose.

Please be aware that this article contains spoilers for the anime series Naruto.

The Origins of Kabuto in Naruto

Young Kabuto Yakushi as seen in Naruto (Image via Studio Pierrot)
Young Kabuto Yakushi as seen in Naruto (Image via Studio Pierrot)

As a young child, Kabuto was found with no memories of his past. Nono Yakushi, the caretaker of the village’s orphanage, took him in and brought him to the Konoha Orphanage. Due to his poor vision, Kabuto faced challenges until Nono generously provided him with her glasses. Together, they utilized their medical expertise to assist the orphanage.

Despite Danzo Shimura’s decision to have Kabuto join Root for the purpose of espionage, it ultimately jeopardized the funding of the organization. During a mission, Kabuto’s involvement resulted in the accidental death of Nonō, who was unable to recognize him due to Danzo’s alterations to his appearance. Overcome with grief, Kabuto sought solace in Orochimaru, who granted him a new identity and purpose. This led Kabuto to infiltrate various groups and participate in unethical experiments.

Kabuto’s Actions and Atonement in Naruto

Under Danzō’s orders, Kabuto utilized his skills in medical ninjutsu to gather intelligence by posing as a spy among multiple ninja villages. His allegiance to Orochimaru was demonstrated when he aided in the execution of unethical experiments, including forbidden techniques and those involving human subjects.

Kabuto Yakushi as seen in anime (Image via Studio Pierrot)
Kabuto Yakushi as seen in anime (Image via Studio Pierrot)

Kabuto initially operated as a covert operative within the ranks of Akatsuki, but eventually betrayed them, revealing his true intentions to use the group for his own agenda, in line with Orochimaru’s schemes. This was particularly evident during the Fourth Shinobi World War, where he utilized the Impure World Reincarnation technique to resurrect fallen warriors as mindless soldiers.

Following the end of the war, Kabuto returned to the orphanage where he dedicated himself to caring for the children. He utilized his medical expertise for positive purposes, striving to make amends for his previous misdeeds. He abandoned his previous associations and chose to lead a more ordinary existence.

Kabuto Yakushi as seen in Boruto (Image via Studio Pierrot)
Kabuto Yakushi as seen in Boruto (Image via Studio Pierrot)

In the beginning, Kabuto’s loyalty lay with Orochimaru as he searched for a sense of identity and belonging. This drove him to engage in tasks such as espionage and conducting immoral experiments.

Despite causing significant harm through his use of Edo Tensei, it was not until the Fourth Great Ninja War that Kabuto’s true nature was revealed. When Itachi Uchiha’s genjutsu broke through to him, he was forced to confront his past and ultimately chose a path of redemption, using his abilities to save lives and become devoted to caregiving.

Final Thoughts

Kabuto Yakushi’s character arc in Naruto delves deeply into his true identity and journey towards forgiveness.

Initially, he is portrayed as a pawn manipulated by figures like Orochimaru and Danzo. His actions were driven not by malice, but by a desire to belong and find his purpose.

Kabuto’s character is far from straightforward, as evidenced by his participation in spying, unethical experiments, and war crimes. However, after the war, he made a conscious effort to repent for his actions. He chose to dedicate himself to caring for orphaned children and using his medical skills for healing rather than causing harm.

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