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Naruto's Sasuke Uchiha Was Inspired By A 1960s Manga

Stories, especially nowadays, do not exist in a vacuum; they are always in a preferably inconspicuous dialogue with other works. Every artist has their influences, but what they do with them and how they creatively sculpt them distinguishes some as visionary.

It should not be surprising to know that, when coming up with the vast world of "Naruto," Masashi Kishimoto drew inspiration from multiple places, from traditional Japanese folklore to popular culture to his personal life and childhood. Two well-known examples of manga that were sources of inspiration for Kishimoto were Akira Toriyama's "Dragon Ball" and Katsuhiro Otomo's "Akira." (via Los Angeles Times) The mangaka even made some obvious tributes to these; for example, the four-tailed beast, Son Gokū, and its Jinchūriki, Rōshi, are undeniably honoring characters in Toriyama's "Dragon Ball."

There is yet another character in "Naruto" that was inspired by another manga, older than "Dragon Ball" or "Akira" and less well-known than these two.

The importance of the role played by Sasuke Uchiha in the overall storyline of the long-running shonen series is irrefutable. He is simultaneously Naruto Uzumaki's rival and best friend – although his behavior as a friend can sometimes be questionable. He is a deuteragonist who becomes an anti-hero before fully turning into an antagonist fixated on avenging the massacre of his whole clan. But some people may not know that he did not come into being solely through Kishimoto's imagination.

Sasuke Uchiha or Sasuke Sarutobi

Sasuke Uchiha is based on Sasuke Sarutobi, a ninja character who has appeared in different media since the 19th century. TV Troupes even compared the ubiquity of the name Sasuke for ninja characters to the name Jeeves for butlers – for instance, the Desmond family butler in "Spy x Family."

According to some fans, Kishimoto's main inspiration for the character was likely Sanpei Shirato's 1960s manga series "Sasuke. The manga follows the growth and accomplishments of a young ninja boy named Sasuke, who has to fight against the assassins who killed his mother and are now hounding him.

The surname Sarutobi was also used by Kishimoto for the family of the Third Hokage. The first half of the word "saru" means "monkey" in Japanese, which is the animal Hiruzen Sarutobi can summon. Interestingly, Hiruzen's father was called Sasuke, making him Sasuke Sarutobi, like the famous character.

Some believe that the repeatedly replicated character of Sasuke was based on a real-life 19th-century ninja named Kozuki Sasuke (per "Ninjas: Japan's Stealthy Secret Agents"). Nowadays, however, it seems that most people, especially Western audiences, have no idea about the long chain of inspiration revolving around the character of a ninja named Sasuke, for Kishimoto's version has arguably become the most widely recognized one.