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Kakashi Hatake by Masashi Kishimoto
|First appearance||Naruto manga chapter 4|
|Ninja team||Team 7|
Kakashi Hatake (はたけ カカシ Hatake Kakashi ) is a fictional character in the Naruto manga and anime series created by Masashi Kishimoto. Kishimoto originally planned to introduce Kakashi in the manga to the series’ titular character, Naruto Uzumaki, early on, but pushed back this meeting so that Naruto’s teammates could be better developed.
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 all of the 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.
Kakashi Hatake is introduced as the leader in charge of Team 7, a new ninja team team including Naruto Uzumaki, Sasuke Uchiha and Sakura Haruno. He first appears as a weak-looking character as he tends to lose track of time when he is there, and is frequently late to his appointments as a result. However, when testing his students, Kakashi reveals himself as a strong opponent to the point he fights while reading Make Out (イチャイチャ Icha Icha ) series of erotic novels. Kakashi is revealed to be very famous in the Naruto world, earning him the moniker “Kakashi of the Sharingan” (写輪眼のカカシ Sharingan no Kakashi ) for possessing the Sharingan, an eye technique in his left eye. It grants him the ability to mimic the movements and jutsu of others. Although most of Kakashi’s abilities were acquired with his Sharingan, he also created the Lightning Blade, a collection of lightning chakra in one’s hand. When first forming Team 7, Kakashi does not turn them into his students until instilling in them the concept of teamwork even if they have to break the rules he gave them. Kakashi continues to further this philosophy for the duration of Part I upon Sasuke Uchiha but is unable to get through to him before the latter’s defection from Konoha. Kakashi also reluctantly participates in various kinds of challenges by Might Guy who considers Kakashi his rival.
Kakashi’s background is explored Kakashi Gaiden, a six chapter series that divides the gap between Part I and II of the manga. Following his father’s suicide Kakashi adopted the philosophy that the success of a mission must always come first rather than comrades in contrast to his father. Kakashi is assigned by his teacher, Minato Namikaze, to lead a mission that would turn the current war in Konoha’s favor. When his teammate, Rin, is captured by enemy ninja, his other teammate, Obito Uchiha, convinces him to rescue her despite the mission’s ending. After finding Rin, an enemy-induced cave-in crushed Obito’s right half. With his dying wish and the possibility of enemy reinforcements, Obito has Rin implant his newly acquired Sharingan into Kakashi’s damaged eye socket as a parting gift. His new eye in place, Kakashi flees with Rin as the cave collapsed, eventually completing their mission. Rin is later revealed to have been killed by Kakashi by her request due to the fact she was forcibly turned into a Jinchuuruki of the Three-Tailed Beast by the Hidden Mist in order for them to unleash it upon Konoha. However, Kakashi killing Rin countered this tactic.
Two-and-a-half years later in Part II, Kakashi reforms Team 7. During the gap in time, Kakashi developed a Mangekyo Sharingan as a result of Rin’s death. With his Mangekyo he is able to send any targeted object to another dimension. 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 dies as a result of forcing all his energy. However, after his confrontation with Naruto, Pain decides to use all of his remaining power to revive all those killed in the battle at Konoha, including Kakashi. Following a brief encounter with Akatsuki, Kakashi becomes one of the generals to participate in the war against Akatsuki. As Naruto and Bee continue to battle against Tobi and his forces, Kakashi and Might Guy arrive to join the fight Tobi. During the encounter, Kakashi learns that Tobi is Obito Uchiha who started his plans following Rin’s death. Despite his sadness for what happened with Obito, Kakashi is encouraged by Naruto to continue fighting for the people he cares.
Kakashi has made 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 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.
In the TV show Kappa Mikey, there is a doctor named Katashi Takashi, who’s name and appearance parody Kakashi.
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 but very 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 eyes 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 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 third, with Naruto Uzumaki and Sasuke Uchiha acquiring the top two positions. 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. Manga author Yoshihiro Togashi found Kakashi’s first battle against his students as one of the first series’ moments that impressed him due to how the difference in strength between such characters was shown by just making Kakashi read a book during the fight.
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