Naruto: Shippuuden picks up over two and half years following the conclusion of its predecessor, where we saw the young ninja, Naruto Uzumaki leave the Hidden Leaf Village and train under the legendary shinobi Jiraya. Naruto: Shippuden introduces the audience to brand new jutsu, new conflicts, as well as new teammates and enemies while bringing some familiar antagonists back from the past. In this article, we plan on highlighting some of the key concepts you need to know before jumping into this series. This will be especially helpful for those who haven’t watched Naruto before.
Chakra and Jutsu
Chakra is energy made up of physical and spiritual components that lie within shinobi. Chakra fuels the various skills and tactics shinobi utilize through control of their own chakra, accomplished through intense training. Each shinobi’s innate chakra can have one or multiple natures assigned to it, such as water, earth, fire, lightning, and wind. The nature of chakra helps in defining what kinds of jutsu or skills a shinobi may have an affinity for. Kakashi Hatake’s Chidori is a lightning-based and close-ranged offensive jutsu. Kakashi can accomplish this because his chakra has a lightning affinity.
Jutsu refers to the various styles of combat and skill that shinobi use to complete missions and protect their respective villages. Jutsu, for the most part, fall under the banner of either being referred to as Taijutsu, Genjutsu or Ninjutsu. Taijutsu refers to the physical fighting style of a shinobi. Genjutsu refers to techniques that involve the utilization of chakra to create illusions or to deceive an opponent. Ninjutsu refers to the techniques, often specialized, that shinobi use in combat that utilizes their own chakra and nature affinity that aren’t considered Genjustu. When you see a shinobi utilizing hand signs harnessing elements around them, it tends to mean they are using ninjutsu of some sort.
Geopolitics and Ranks
The world of Naruto: Shippuuden is much larger than Naruto’s hometown, the Hidden Leaf Village which resides in the Land of Fire. Beyond the Land of Fire, there are also the Lands of Earth, Wind, Lightning, and Water. Each land maintains its own hidden villages where shinobi and regular people reside. The Hidden Leaf, Sand, Stone, Cloud, and Mist Villages all have their respective ‘Kages’ who lead over the village and report to the Feudal Lord of their land.
The Kages are often considered the strongest shinobi in the village and in their respective lands. Below them are Jonin, incredibly skilled and accomplished ninja who tend to lead teams of Chuunin as well as Genin. Chuunin are a rank above Genin. In order to become a Chuunin you need to currently be a Genin and complete a rigorous examination process. In order to be a Genin, you need to have successfully graduated from the ninja academy in your village. Genin and Chuunin may often range in age from elementary to high school, though there is no age restriction in how old a Genin or Chuunin can be.
The prime antagonist of the previous series, Orochimaru, returns with a purpose in Naruto: Shippuuden, teaching the now-older Sasuke Uchiha who left the Hidden Leaf Village many years ago. Orochimaru’s end goal is to take over Sasuke’s body and harness the unique powers at Sasuke’s disposal.
In addition to Orochimaru, we see the return of Itachi Uchiha, Sasuke’s older brother, and his partner Kisame Hoshigaki. We learned in the previous series that they were members of the infamous and mysterious organization of rogue ninja referred to as Akatsuki who conspire and intervene in various conflicts. In Naruto: Shippuuden, the members of Akatsuki, their leader, and their mission are slowly unraveled. Naruto, Sakura, and their new teammate Sai will work together under Kakashi Hatake and Yamato to gather intel, find Sasuke, and defeat the Akatsuki organization.
In this world, there exist nine tailed beasts, often seen as demons, that have been sealed and contained inside the bodies of shinobi at birth. In the previous series, we were introduced to the Nine-Tails and the One-Tail. The Former resides within Naruto and the latter inside Gaara of the Hidden Sand. Naruto, Gaara, and others who retain one of the tailed beasts inside themselves are referred to as Jinchuuriki. These shinobi are known to carry with them extraordinary power and large chakra reserves as a result of having the tailed beasts inside them. The lore of the tailed beasts is further expanded on and discussed in Naruto: Shippuuden, playing a pivotal role in driving the plot of the series forward.
If you are new to Naruto: Shippuuden or the Naruto universe in general, we hope you have found this article helpful and informative. We hope you go forward with a firmer understanding of the popular anime than you had before!