More than 15 years after its debut in naruto Chapter 312, Kakuzu remains one of the series’ most memorable and terrifying villains. Identified by his signature technique, the Earth Grudge Fear kinjutsu, Kakuzu’s design and personality have inspired both admiration and speculation from fans.
Many of these quirks, such as Kakuzu’s singular obsession with money, have never been fully explained. Although much remains shrouded in mystery, examining Kakuzu’s backstory in naruto and his inspirations from outside sources offer insight and raise new questions about this compelling antagonist and his signature kinjutsu, Earth Grudge Fear.
Kakuzu’s design was inspired by Mobile Suit Gundam
Beginning with the kinjutsu name, Earth Grudge Fear, Kakuzu is a network of references and reminders. In the naruto databook, the pronunciation of its kanji “Jiongu”, refers to Mobile suit Gundam. The Zeong or “Jiongu” was a class of mecha that used control threads to detach its own limbs for attacks. In narutothe kanji themselves 地怨虞” bring together additional meanings from folklore and contemporary culture. Of these, the most significant is the second character 怨 (“to”), whose literal meaning “grudge” coincides with the famous 2002 Japanese supernatural horror film “Ju-on” (“The Grudge”), and highlights both the character and the ultimate design of the jutsu.
The Patchwork “The Grudge”
In these films, inspired by the onryo of Japanese folklore, a vengeful spirit returns to terrorize the living for its mistreatment and death, becoming a living curse – a motif with clear parallels to Kakuzu’s backstory. More specifically, in Naruto, the events of Kakuzu’s life, from his wrongful imprisonment and torture, his theft and use of Earth Grudge Fear to cannibalize his village elders out of revenge, his life as a bounty hunter, and his eventual recruitment into the Akatsuki weave together disparate narratives into a single narrative. Similar to the explicit function of Earth Grudge Fear in Naruto, the character’s inspirations and design also “come together” unlike elements of sci-fi, horror, and folklore to form its own unforgettable patchwork monster.
Earth Grudge Fear is a medical jutsu gone horribly wrong
In naruto, most kinjutsu are just radical improvements to existing jutsu. For example, the member of the Akatsuki kinjutsu that Deidara stole from Iwakagure is not the ability to craft his explosive clay, but rather to implant the strange mouths on his hands and chest that enhance this ability. This ties in with speculation that Kakuzu was in his past, a medical ninja. The genesis of “Earth Grudge Fear” then could have been a forbidden form of medical ninjutsu that allowed its users to use chakra as a medical suture. This would offer miraculous healing potential by preserving individual chakra natures and special abilities. This would also explain his knowledge of kinjutsu while imprisoned in Takigakure, and his later use of the same kinjutsu on Hidan and Deidara, in Akatsuki. Yet, for the true form of “Earth Grudge Fear”, Kakuzu twists this original, benign function and harvests the hearts of victims, grafting them into his own body. This in turn allows Kakuzu to preserve their chakra nature as masked constructs that aid him in battle.
Questioning the cost of these transgressions brings out Kakuzu’s most enigmatic characteristic, his greed. To date, no response has been provided. naruto for Kakuzu’s avarice, and many fans lamented the apparent “uselessness” of this quirk. Nonetheless, it’s possible to explain Kakuzu’s greed in terms of backstory and “Earth Grudge Fear”. but rather that he needs it. This is based on the presumption that all kinjutsu naruto have a price, and for medical or vital kinjutsu in particular, such as Creation Rebirth, Outer Path – Samsara of Heavenly Life Technique, or Chiyo’s Kishensei, the user gives his life. In this theory, Earth Grudge Fear follows this lead, but with another twist, one that stems from Kakuzu’s most famous quote.
‘Money dominates everything around me’
In naruto Chapter 314, Kakuzu says in a matter-of-fact tone to his partner Hidan, “Hell runs on money.” At its most basic level, this theory takes Kakuzu at his word, that remarkably and unlike other kinjutsu, Earth Grudge Fear allows its users to literally pay their fees. This explains the desperation and avarice of Kakuzu’s greed, and provides a practical motivation for his need to consume hearts: he must do so to stay ahead of his debt. Essentially, then, Kakuzu is an indentured servant trapped in a monstrous patchwork body that he must piece together with human hearts, while scrambling to pay the lease on his kinjutsu. While bizarre, this theory places every detail of Kakuzu’s life and personality, from his battle with Hashirama, Takigakure’s mistreatment, his gruesome revenge, and his mercenary partnership with the Akatsuki, into a new and helpful context. .
Finally, this theory aligns Kakuzu with Naruto’s main theme, the futility of hatred, with “Earth Grudge Fear” serving as a literal warning. Betrayed, Kakuzu sold his soul for revenge but must live, cannibalizing others to balance the debt his own “grudge” incurred, the stitches disfiguring his body a constant reminder of this eternal slavery to hate.
KEEP READING: What the Big Three Shonen Anime Have in Common – Naruto, Bleach, and One Piece
Anime and manga heroes who killed for their cause
About the Author