Uchiha Itachi: Hero or Villain

“We are humans, not fish. We don’t know what kind of people we truly are until the moment before our deaths. As death comes to embrace you, you will realize what you are. That’s what death is, don’t you think?”

Uchiha Itachi
Itachi and his brother, Sasuke
Image via Gifer

In my previous personal essay for the blog, I wrote about my journey into the anime world, which is quite a beautiful experience and I have my brother to thank for that. I promise that my next personal essay will be about a whole new content so I don’t bore you  with just anime write-ups. Now back to my love for anime, my favourite anime of all time is Naruto (p.s. I do not care about the old/upcoming animes) and it revolves around the growth of an extraordinary young man, Naruto.  It is an enchanting story–– a few episodes into it and you are hooked–– but that isn’t the most captivating thing about this anime, as it also boasts of many memorable characters. In fact, no character in Naruto is insignificant because there is always an exceptional quality about each of the characters. Amongst these interesting characters is Uchiha Itachi, a prodigy and one of the toughest Shinobi (also means ninja) in Naruto

Who is Itachi?

Itachi is one of those phenomenal and inexplicable characters that divides an audience. He is the pride of his clan, the Uchiha, a remarkable talent and an all-round genius. Itachi graduated from his Academy at the age of 7; mastered the Sharinghan (a rare optic ability of the Uchihas) at 8; passed the Chunin exams (an exam to become a fully-fledged ninja) at age 10; became an Anbu captain (specialized assassination squad) at age 13; and years later, he murdered his whole clan and spared only his younger brother, Sasuke. Itachi’s character, particularly his philosophy, has been a subject of debate, one I believe has been going on even before I watched Naruto–– the question of whether he is a hero or a villain. He is a man who mercilessly murdered his whole clan and left his brother to carry the painful burden of loss at a young age, for reasons hinged on the sole basis of fighting for the greater good. While some people believe it is a barbaric and a terrible thing to do, some believe it is the most heroic act in Naruto

Image via Gifer

As a child, Itachi witnessed a Shinobi war that shaped him into a pacifist due to his past experience on the battlefield; he wouldn’t want any part in any act that would incite war or bloodshed. Ironically, the Uchihas themselves stand for the very thing he opposes–– war. His tribe is an embodiment of hatred. The Uchihas feel they are superior to every clan in Konoha village and therefore have every right to be part of the ruling class instead of being cast aside and banished to the extreme end of the village. Therefore, the Uchihas began a plot to invade the village and they assigned Itachi with the role of spying on the village. However, knowing that this act would lead to bloodshed, Itachi turned his back on his clan and instead reported his clan’s plans and movement to the village elders. His role as a double agent resulted in a great dilemma, in which he needed to make a choice––either he kills his whole clan and sides with the village or the village revolts and there is more bloodshed which might also result in his brother’s death. On this basis, he chooses to annihilate his whole clan for the purpose of peace and absolute love for his brother. 

Is Itachi a Hero or a Villain?

There is no word to vindicate Itachi of his wrongdoing, since he committed genocide (by wiping off his entire clan) to save his village, and most importantly, his brother. Itachi’s love for his brother outweighs the fate of the village. In my opinion, no one has the right to determine how valuable one life is compared to another. He promised the village head to do the deed on the basis that his brother will be spared, which means he might not have agreed if they didn’t reach a consensus. In this way, on his path to be branded as a traitor of Konoha village, Itachi fueled his own selfish desire too. He planted the seed of vengeance in his brother and waited patiently for the day he would be strong enough to set him free. This shows that no matter how much a man tries to be righteous or virtuous, his concern for himself will always be exhibited.

The creator of Naruto, Masashi Kishimoto, blurs the line between what it means to be a hero and a villain. In other words, in an attempt to make Itachi the ultimate villain, he humanized and empowered him with heroic traits that make it hard for viewers to arrive at a general viewpoint. Itachi’s role as a villain or hero depends solely on one’s belief. Although Itachi believes his actions and choices are for peace-keeping, this does not in any way make them morally right. His goal is for the greater good but his means of getting there is a close gap between good and evil. From my own perspective, Itachi is more of an anti-villain than a hero or villain because in the long run, his approach and strategy in achieving things is questionable.

With this little summary on the character of Itachi in Naruto, do you think he should be praised for his heroic deed or he should be condemned for committing such an atrocity?

You can share your thoughts in the comments section or on our social media accounts.

7 comments

  1. Itachi is a hero
    The writer/creator, employed the use of empathy as a tool in characterization of Itachi. Until you go deep into the series, you won’t understand Itachi or even why he committed the ‘big crime’. The author then use distillation of spirit to separate the villain perspective to give birth to a hero.
    1. Itachi couldn’t kill the Uchiha people, he had to contract Obito to do it with the expectation of Sasuke.
    2. The people of Uchiha were sitting on a barrel filled with gun powder.. with the continual unrest and an impending protest, it’s no surprise that the Leaders of Hidden Leaf village want to crush them. If Itachi hadn’t done it the assassination team would have done it.
    Itachi’s love for his people was so great that he took it upon himself to be called the ‘great’ murderer and prevent a genocide.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Maybe coz he made obito do the deed makes him a humane but that didn’t wipe off their blood off his hand…but he still agreed to it on the reason that it is fr a greater purpose…and part of the bargain he had witg the hidden leaf heads is that he spare his brother…coz he loves his brother more than anything

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    • But even when itachi sow the seed of vengeance in him…it was also fr his own purpose, fr his own ‘selfish’ reason…he wanted sasuke to be stronger so that he could set him free frm the agony and pain…and do not forget that he almost ruined sasuke…I even feel like he shld have killed sasuke too…

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    • And yeah…I finished the whole series…what itachi did was grand and also horrible at the same time, no one should ever go through that…yeah, he stopped a war outbreak in d village…but at what cost????
      He worked fr the akatsuki to help the village, a group that almost annihilated the whole world…he did his part, he helped them but he almost ruined the brotger he ws so hellbent on protecting….he served a greater purpose but his means are questionable…
      I hope you see this message anyway 😀
      Thanks fr commenting

      Like

  2. An anti-villain, as you said. I think the only bone I have to pick with him is that in his selfishness, he dragged his brother to hell with him. He didn’t have to scar Sasuke like that. But deep down, he was a masochist of some sort and he needed Sasuke to be the one to punish him and to properly punish Itachi, you have to see what he did and how he did it.

    That’s a huge role to fill. Worse, to fill that role, Sasuke had to be ruined, his humanity stolen from him. It made Sasuke stronger, but it also made him a lot of terrible things, a villain.

    Itachi is still my favourite bastard of all time, though. ☺️

    Liked by 1 person

  3. He is such a beautiful character…I just feel he ruined the brother who he claimed he loved more than anything along his path to fight fr a greater purpose…amd leaving him alive in a way is fr his own selfish reason …

    Like

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