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Facts Only True Naruto Fans Know About Anko Mitarashi

How much do you know about Anko Mitarashi from the "Naruto" series? The beautiful yet intimidating ninja instructor hooked fans immediately with her hilarious introduction during the Chūnin Exams arc. Despite her comical entrance, Anko made sure no one would mistake her as a one-note joke character by humbling Naruto Uzumaki before the Forest of Death challenge: She took the cocky student down a peg by surprising him with a kunai knife toss that grazed his face. While an incident like this would make it easy for people to dismiss her as edgy for the sake of it, Anko also revealed her vulnerable side through her melancholy backstory involving Orochimaru and the cursed seals.

Although Anko's presence in the "Naruto" series began as impactful, her significance in the grand storyline waned after the conclusion of the Chūnin Exams, lost among a large roster of characters that continues to grow to this day. However, Anko is still present in the sequel series "Boruto: Naruto Next Generations," and while she's older now, she's still the badass that burst onto the scene in the original "Naruto" anime. How much do you really know about Anko Mitarashi? Here are some facts about her that only true "Naruto" fans would know.

Her name is related to Japanese sweets

There's a deeper meaning behind Anko's name, as is the case with many characters from "Naruto." The names of the Legendary Sannin — Orochimaru, Jiraiya, and Tsunade — came from a Japanese folktale from the 1800s, for example. The meaning of Kurenai Yuhi's name is a nod to her use of lipstick. And the name of Naruto Uzumaki himself relates to a type of cured fish cake that's found in his favorite meal (ramen), which comes into play in an unexpected way in one of the "Naruto: Shippuden” movies. But what's the meaning behind Anko Mitarashi's name?

"Anko" is based on the word for the sweet red bean paste that is commonly used in Japanese sweets, such as the popular dessert dumpling dango. Her surname, meanwhile, is also the name of a sweet soy syrup that's typically served with dango, leaving no doubt that this was intentional on the part of "Naruto" creator Masashi Kishimoto. Considering the sweet tooth she displays during the original "Naruto" anime series, Anko Mitarashi is the perfect name for this sadistic shinobi.

She has a surprising hobby

Although Anko Mitarashi didn't have much screen time compared to the major players of the "Naruto" anime series, her bombastic debut during the Chūnin Exams arc was enough to give audiences a good idea of who she was. In a lot of ways, Anko's personality is surprisingly similar to Naruto Uzumaki's. Both are loud, stubborn, and brash in their decision making. She's also a little twisted, based on her intimidating introduction to Naruto that ends with her cutting his cheek. And, as evidenced by her complicated history with Orochimaru, she's hellbent on doing whatever needs to be done to protect the Village Hidden in the Leaves.

Based on these personality traits, it's a little shocking to learn that someone as feisty and aggressive as Anko is into something as calm and elegant as hosting tea ceremonies. As stated in the official databooks for the "Naruto" series, conducting tea ceremonies is among Anko's favorite hobbies. Who knew? Only the biggest fans of the character.

She was one of Orochimaru's students

There are many fascinating things about Anko Mitarashi, but perhaps the most interesting thing about her is her connection to the dreaded Orochimaru. She was one of Orochimaru's test subjects for a cursed seal — the Cursed Seal of Heaven — and out of the ten people who were subjected to the experiment, she was the only survivor. Despite living through the ordeal, she refused to use the Cursed Seal of Heaven and turned against her mentor when she realized the truth about the horrible intentions Orochimaru was hiding from her.

In relation to the Chūnin Exams storyline, the brief reactivation of Anko's cursed seal by Orochimaru was a preview of what was about to happen to Sasuke Uchiha and his cursed seal, and how it would pave the way for him betraying his own village for Orochimaru. The brief display of shame for letting Orochimaru get away and her determination for revenge as a former pupil made Anko a deeper character than what was previously teased. Her story wasn't just a warning sign of the fate that awaited Sasuke, but also a possible preview of redemption, as Anko was able to move past her relationship with Orochimaru and rebuild her life as a respected individual in the Village Hidden in the Leaves.

Her intro was changed for the anime

Although "Naruto" gets away with a lot more than your typical Saturday morning cartoon in America, the anime isn't completely free of censorship. Likely because of the young target demographic, the "Naruto" anime adaptation has toned down some suggestive and explicit scenes from the manga. A prominent example of this is the anime tidying up Orochimaru's lab to remove the dead bodies that were hanging from his walls in the manga, sanitizing the cruel human experimentation that was performed there. The creators of the anime took a similar approach to Anko's introduction, cutting one particularly shocking moment.

When Naruto meets Anko during the Chūnin Exams arc, he initially brushes off her dire warning of the fate that awaits him and his fellow students in the Forest of Death challenge. Naruto's cockiness doesn't last long, as Anko swiftly cuts his cheek — and then immediately licks the blood right off his face. However, that last part doesn't happen in the anime. Instead, Anko just intimidates Naruto by throwing her kunai knife at him, which is then retrieved by Shiore (who, as it turns out, is actually Orochimaru in disguise). In "Naruto: Shippuden," the controversial scenario is recreated and finally played out, as Anko licks the blood off the face of an older Naruto.

Her hair color is different in the manga

In the "Naruto" manga, Anko is depicted as having black hair that has a blue tint to it. The "Naruto" anime, however, presents her hair as a violet color. Why did the anime make such a significant change to Anko's original appearance? There's no official word on the matter, but this practice isn't uncommon in anime adaptations. Rangiku Matsumoto from "Bleach" is shown to have golden blonde hair in the manga. However, the anime series gave an orange tint to Rangiku's hair. Interestingly, Rangiku's hair color has reverted back to golden blonde in "Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War."

Bulma from the "Dragon Ball" series is practically the poster child of changing hair colors, as her original purple hair from the manga was changed to various hues of blue in the anime TV series and movies (one of which restored Bulma's purple hair from the manga to celebrate the series' 10th anniversary). Whatever the reason for changing Anko's hair to purple in the anime, it's a stylistic decision that the anime staff has remained committed to from "Naruto" to "Boruto: Naruto Next Generations."

The anime fleshed out her backstory with Orochimaru

The enormous roster of characters in "Naruto" is one of the series' greatest strengths, but it can also be seen as one of its weaknesses. So many amazing characters have been introduced in the franchise over the years, but a lot of them have not given the time they needed to shine. Anko, sadly, is a victim of this, as her brief role in the Chūnin Exams was the most attention she ever got in the official storyline. Even in "Boruto: Naruto Next Generations," her role remains minimal to the overall plot — at least at the time of this writing.

Thankfully, the "Naruto" anime did dedicate some extra time to Anko with its anime-original storyline "Kaima Capture Mission," which explored Anko's history with Orochimaru. The story itself is pretty straightforward: Anko is tasked with the job of escorting a delivery ship to the Land of the Sea and investigating reports of a mysterious sea monster that's been attacking the cargo ships. She's assigned a team of Ino Yamanaka, Shino Aburame, and, of course, Naruto Uzumaki. They come to discover that the mysterious sea monster is actually a young girl named Isaribi, who was a former test subject of Orochimaru.

Anko uses her cursed seal in the Naruto games

Fans of Anko Mitarashi would argue that her true potential as a character was never reached in the official "Naruto" series, despite the odd attempt to flesh out her backstory after the Chūnin Exams arc. Among the many great teases regarding her character, Anko bearing the Cursed Seal of Heaven is one of them. The manga and anime never dived deeper into the disturbing powers Orochimaru embedded in her back when she was just a child following the questionable directions of her mentor.

While this blank slate has provided a fun art prompt for fan artists to imagine what a Cursed Seal Anko would actually look like, there's never been an official rendering of one. However, what's interesting is that, in the "Naruto: Ultimate Ninja" games, Anko is able to activate her curse mark when matched against Orochimaru. Visually, it's not much to write home about, but it's the best fans have when it comes to an official depiction of Anko using her cursed seal.

She knows a forbidden ninjutsu

Anko didn't get a lot of opportunities to show viewers what she was made of in the "Naruto" anime, but that doesn't mean she wasn't packing an ace up her sleeve. It's easy to forget, but Anko actually demonstrated a forbidden ninjutsu on the show, one that has devastating consequences for both the victim and its user. In Episode 30 of the original "Naruto" anime, Anko attempts to perform the Twin Snakes Mutual Death Technique on Orochimaru in the Forest of Death story arc. The move, as one would expect from its name, simultaneously claims the lives of the user and the victim.

While Anko was willing to sacrifice her own life to extinguish Orochimaru's, she backed out of the Twin Snakes Mutual Death Technique after realizing that the Orochimaru in front of her was just a shadow clone. Naturally, because of the severity of using the murder-suicide technique, there's been no complete presentation of the Twin Snakes Mutual Death Technique on the show. The move is available to perform in "Naruto: Ultimate Ninja 3," but — because it's a video game and no player would use it if it meant certain death — Anko's life isn't sacrificed after performing the move in-game.

The anime gave her additional skills

Thanks to some additional, anime-original stories from the TV series, Anko's onscreen move set is bigger than it is in the manga. Anko is able to perform moves like Hidden Shadow Snake Hands, as well as its stronger variant, the Many Hidden Shadow Snake Hands. She can also make a perfect Konoha symbol out of dango sticks. It's stated in the anime — "Naruto: Shippuden" Episode 261, to be exact — that she has built up an immunity to poisons thanks to Orochimaru.

Anko is capable of manipulating fire to perform the Fire Release: Dragon Fire Technique, as seen in Episode 169 of the original "Naruto" anime series. She's also capable of performing moves from the Nature Transformation of Yin Release, like the Sly Mind Affect Technique, demonstrated in Episode 36 of "Boruto: Naruto Next Generations." This move tricks the victim into thinking they're walking in a straight direction when they're actually running around in circles, wasting the target's time and energy.

She has multiple English voice actors

In the original version of "Naruto," Anko is voiced by Takako Honda, a veteran of the voice acting industry who has provided Japanese dubs for numerous Hollywood stars. These include the likes of Halle Berry, Milla Jovovich, Charlize Theron, Sandra Bullock, and Cobie Smulders (she's the voice of Maria Hill in the dubbed version of the Marvel Cinematic Universe). Honda has continued to be the voice of Anko all the way through to "Boruto: Naruto Next Generations." The English side of things is a little bit more complicated.

For the English dub of "Naruto," Anko was initially voiced by Julianne Buescher, who is otherwise best known for her work on the "Zatch Bell!" anime. Then, Laura Bailey (who has huge shows like "Dragon Ball Z," "Bleach," "Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood," and "One Piece" on her resume) took over the role for the Kaima Capture Mission story and for "Naruto: Shippuden."

At the time of this writing, Cherami Leigh (who is perhaps best known for voicing Kazari Uiharu in "A Certain Magical Index" and "A Certain Scientific Railgun") provides the voice of Anko in "Boruto: Naruto Next Generations." A fourth voice actor, Kari Wahlgren (who anime fans may know from her role as Scarlett in 2004's "Steamboy"), took on the role of Anko for the video game "Naruto: Ultimate Ninja 2."