A Spiritual Observation of an Anime · Naruto Shippuden

Itachi’s Story and the Symbolism Behind It

I always thought Itachi was overrated. Girls ooh and aw over the eldest Uchiha brother on countless social media networks these days. Up until just recently, I snorted in response to them. Episode 140 in Naruto Shippuden changed something though. Light was not only shed on the life of Itachi, but on my heart as well.


In episode 140, we learn that Itachi Uchiha, the one responsible for the annihilation of the Uchiha Clan, is actually a pacifist. It was his mission to eliminate the members of his clan, and so he carried it out, regardless of his personal beliefs. This addition to the story might have complicated the plot a bit, but at first I still felt the same way I always did when it came to Itachi. I failed to see the Naruto fandom’s obsession with him. After all, he killed his entire clan. Honestly, that’s just a bit too much to swallow for me. Sure Itachi has a cool voice, cool clothes, and even a cool jutsu or two, but none of those things could make up for what he did to his family.

Why did I feel so strongly about this? you may ask. Well, I suppose when it comes down to it, it’s because of Sasuke. Itachi’s younger brother, and the sole survivor of the Uchiha Clan is one of the series’ three main characters. I grew up with Sasuke. I saw the genocide happen through the young boy’s eyes. I felt the pain and sadness he carried with him. I almost couldn’t blame him for leaving the Leaf and joining Orochimaru. If it meant avenging the death of the Uchiha Clan, than I was okay with it. In every moment of the series, Sasuke’s thoughts echoed my own, Itachi deserved what was coming for him.

Still there was something about Itachi’s story and the world’s obsession with it that I just couldn’t shake. Vague familiarity scratched at the back of my head. And then it finally came to me. Abraham and Isaac. The bible story? Yeah.

Sacrifice of Isaac (Caravaggio)

In Genesis 22, God asks good ole Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. The deed frightens Abraham, I’m sure, but he does not hesitate to obey his Leader. He proceeds to carry out his orders, despite the way he or anyone else may feel about the matter. Are you seeing the similarities yet? Both Itachi and Abraham were asked to do something strongly against their personal beliefs -to kill. Not only where they asked to kill however, but they were asked to kill those most precious to them. Despite their own thoughts, both men looked to their leaders and honored their wishes.

Once I recalled these similarities between the two stories, I started to see the honor in what Itachi did, and why more than a few girls are obsessed with him. I guess you could say the parallel gave me a growing respect for Itachi. There are two major differences in his and Abraham’s story, however. The first difference is that Itachi had a little more than his leader’s words to go on. Because he had been exposed to the spoils of war at such a young age, Itachi believes ironically that the bloodshed of his clan will stop further world warfare. The second difference between the two stories is that Abraham was stopped in the process of slaying his family, while Itachi was not. This is inevitably where both of the Uchiha brothers’ pain begins.

The reason why Itachi let Sasuke live is the only unanswered question where I’m at in the series right now. Was it because Itachi believed the village would spare him and let such an insignificant mistake in the mission slip by? Or could it perhaps be Itachi’s guilt that stopped him from killing Sasuke? Did the older brother actually want the younger one to kill him? Did Itachi believe he deserved such a fate because of the shame of what he’d done?

Perhaps I’ll figure out the answers to these questions in the next couple of episodes. Meanwhile, I have a few for you: Can you see the parallel between Itachi’s background and Abraham’s testing? Are there any other parallels between the two stories (or any other story for that matter) that you can depict? I would love to hear from you! **
**Please refrain from spoiling what happens next if you can though 😛


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