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The Untold Truth Of Pain From Naruto

Even by Naruto's complex standards, the story of Nagato, the shinobi who later becomes known as Pain, is complicated. Remember, this is a series that revolves around a plot to cast the entire world into an eternal dream state utilizing a statue pulled down from the moon. Even against that wild backdrop, Pain's path is a twisted one. He is an orphan, a recluse, a god (to some, at least), a criminal, and a pacifist. His ideals are entwined with violence, and his death is hardly the end of his story. 

But for Naruto fans, Pain's circuitous story is a feature, not a bug. His journey is deep and rich, providing viewers with a wide variety of factoids, tidbits, and revelations to enjoy. Born Nagato Uzumaki, his tale is a long one, encompassing reincarnation, control of corpses, and a complex relationship with Naruto Uzumaki. We're here to explore his story from its brutal beginning to its elegiac end. This is the untold truth of Pain, one of the Naruto saga's most complex warriors.

Humble beginnings

Pain was not, as you might have guessed, born Pain — names might get weird in Naruto, but not quite that weird. He was, in fact, born Nagato Uzumaki in Amegakure, or the "Village Hidden by Rain." This is one of the most mysterious locales in all of NarutoIt is a small but highly industrialized town, surrounded by a massive lake. All in all, it's a fitting place for Nagato to hail from.

This dreary town is unfortunate enough to be located between three of the Great Shinobi Countries. The Great Shinobi Wars and their many smaller skirmishes left the village deluged with refugees and orphans. Nagato had the misfortune of being the latter: His parents were killed by a pair of ninja warriors who broke into their home, searching for food. Upon realizing that Nagato's parents weren't enemy fighters but ordinary civilians, the men who took their lives attempted to apologize to young, traumatized Nagato. But it was too late — Nagato, reeling with loss, unleashed the Rinnegan unknowingly impanted in him by Madara Uchiha, killing the men easily.

A selfless life

Now orphaned, Nagato was forced to fend for himself on the unkind streets of Amegakure. Luckily, he was discovered by a pair of orphans named Konan and Yahiko after collapsing from hunger. The three of them became a united trio, selfless towards each other and eager to make the world a better place. Make no mistake, they were schemers — but these weren't cynical war orphans, out to protect no one but themselves. Rather, the three kids began to dream of a day when they, having taken power for themselves, would transform their world from a war-torn wasteland into a peaceful place of harmony and love.

Nagato took this mission deeply to heart and let it shape the rest of his life, doing everything he could to keep his friends safe and see their dream realized. Over the years, the trio became a fearsome force indeed. And while Yahiko was undoubtedly the leader of the outfit, Nagato would be the one to take their fight the farthest.

Family connections

Naruto, our unimpeachable hero, has more than a few connections to the fiendish, complex Nagato. This isn't a surprise — Nagato is, after all, a descendant of the Uzumaki clan, the same one Naruto hails from. All Uzumaki descendants have massive inborn chakra reserves that make them incredibly likely to become powerful ninja. Nagato, like Naruto himself, is a standout example of this fact.

But Nagato's ties to powerful ninjas go beyond the page — his name connects him to a legendary group of real-world fighters. His namesake appears to be Fujibayashi Nagato, a powerful 16th-century leader of the Iga school of ninjitsu. Fujibayashi's fighters went into hiding during an invasion of Iga, in the hopes that their culture would be able to survive. Similarly, Naruto's Nagato was forced to take his clan underground in order to preserve their ultimate goal.

Nagato also takes his name from a Japanese battleship of the 1920s, as do his parents, Fuso and Ise.

Taught by the Sannin

Nagato's connections to Naruto don't end with their family ties — Nagato was set on his path by the same legendary shinobi who helped train Naruto. Years before Naruto was born, Nagato, Konan, and Yahiko came to believe they were the last true hope for the world. Their plans grew more and more complex, masterminded by the brilliant Yahiko. As street urchins, however, they lacked the training necessary to accessing the halls of power. In desperation, they approached the Legendary Sannin. These three great fighters had differing opinions on how to handle the children. Ever the dark side of the group, Orochimaru offered to kill the orphans so that they wouldn't suffer anymore.

Jiraiya, however, felt shamed by the children, knowing that he had played a part in the war that orphaned them. As penance, he gave the trio a place to stay, and taught them survival skills. Initially, he refused to train them in ninjitsu — until Nagato's Rinnegan emerged. Then, he began to train the three in the art of war — setting the orphans on the path to eventually forming the Akatsuki.

Corrupted by the Rinnegan

Nagato's most potent power is his command of the Rinnegan, or "Samsara Eye." One of the Three Great Dojutsu, the Rinnegan is an eye technique considered to be the most powerful of its kind. Legend has it that the Rinnegan is bestowed in times of great crisis, and that its wielder will either become a god of creation ... or one of destruction. Those possessing its power can master any jutsu, observe the flow of chakra, and unlock unique abilities.

Nagato's Rinnegan was placed within him by the villainous Madara Uchiha. Madara, knowing his death was near, passed the power onto the young boy as part of a plan to restore himself to life. The Rinnegan set Nagato on a path that he had almost no control over: The power of the eye, combined with the machinations of Madara's minions and the immense pain that Nagato suffered throughout his life, twisted him into a fiendish mastermind. This was very much according to Madara's plan, ensured by his underling, Tobi, who manipulated Nagato into villainy, following Yahiko's death. Nagato, in many ways, never stood a chance.

A man of many names

Nagato didn't stay Nagato forever — eventually he became the malcontent known as Pain. But how did that transition come about?

Nagato and his companions trained under Jiraiya for years. Empowered by the Rinnegan, Nagato mastered everything he was taught with ease, and in time, the trio set out on their own, eager to make the world a better place. They formed the Akatsuki, led by Yahiko, an organization dedicated to ending war and promoting peace. Their ranks swelled quickly — they were far from alone in being tired of endless war — and in no time, they had become a formidable power that had to be listened to. Hanzo, leader of Amegakure, took particular notice.

Hanzo offered to work with the Akatsuki, and organized a meeting to discuss an arrangement. It was an ambush, however — Hanzo and his forces captured Konan, threatening to kill her if Nagato did not kill Yahiko.

Yahiko took the decision out of Nagato's hands by impaling himself on Nagato's kunai. Nagato is utterly disillusioned by the attack, and comes to regard his previous, peaceful ideals as naive. Accordingly, he renamed himself Pain, and shifted the Akatsuki's goals: Now, the group was dedicated to bringing so much suffering upon the world, it would have no choice but to work towards peace.

God-like status

Pain, newly cynical and massively powerful, took over Amegakure, killing Hanzo and all who supported him. But in rescuing Konan from Hanzo, he had lost the use of his legs and became a recluse, mastering a technique that allowed him to control corpses as macabre puppets to carry out his bidding. His power over the village, combined with his life in hiding and unsettling powers, cast a spell over the people of Amegakure — they began to treat Pain as a god. His aesthetic choices furthered this deification: Pain spent most of his life ensconced within a wooden altar. Every Sunday, he made it rain in Amegakure, and kept news of Hanzo's death from making it way into the wider world. Beyond their borders, people believed Amegakure to be locked within a never-ending civil war.

But Pain was not as all-powerful as he appeared to be. Though the people living under his reign were utterly ignorant of this, he was secretly being controlled by the malicious Tobi to further the goals of the new Akatsuki.

His technique is based in Buddhism

Pain maintained his terrifying control over the recently deceased through a technique known as The Six Paths of Pain. But the names of the Six Paths are far from fantasy. Each of the six paths are named for (and based around) the six Buddhist paths of reincarnation: the Deva, Asura, Human, Animal, Preta and Naraka paths.

Naraka is the lowest level of reincarnation. It is an appropriately hellish path in the series, utilizing a sort of torture to interrogate people. Preta are ghosts filled with desire and possessiveness. This path enabled Pain's absorption of chakra. The animal path is the the first level of reincarnation that allows a person to come back to Earth, albeit below the status of a human. In the show, this path was used to summon animals. The human path in Buddhism is self-explanatory — you're living it right now. This path allowed Pain to read minds. The Asura path finds a soul reincarnated as a warring demon who lives in a realm of violence and betrayal. Pain's Asura path allowed him to augment his strength with summoned armor and body modifications. Deva is the highest form of reincarnation still subject to the cycle. While those within it are not yet fully enlightened, they inhabit a divine realm well above our own and must live with the fact that they are not yet free of the cycle. In the show, it allowed Pain to manipulate gravity.

Splintered ties

Pain isn't the only person to wield the legendary Six Paths technique. Several other fighters have commanded its power, expressing it in unique ways. Pain customized his take on the Paths in a dark direction, manifesting in corpse control. His six undead soldiers were terrifying to begin with, but made all the more disturbing for being based on people he knew through Jiraiya.

Pain eventually attacked and killed his former teacher with his six corpses. But it wasn't in vain: A moment of recognition before Jiraiya died unraveled the secret to defeating Pain and, by extension, the Akatsuki. Though Pain can seemingly summon endless soldiers at will, Jiraiya noticed that Pain himself was not among his summoned fighters. Though he didn't know this, Pain was, as he had been for years, in hiding. Jiraiya sent an encoded message to Naruto with his last ounce of strength that said "the real one's not among them." This was the key to taking Pain down once and for all.

He had a change of heart after death

Follwing Yahiko's death, Pain became a twisted, miserable villain, puppeting the dead to extend his control and punish all who opposed him. But once he passed away, he clearly had a change of heart upon reaching the other side. 

Pain, along with other dead members of the Akatsuki, was brought back to life by the villainous Kabuto and Tobi. But he wasn't content to simply do the bidding of others. After discussing it with Itachi Uchiha, Pain came to understand exactly how thoroughly he was manipulated in life — and how those same people who sought to control him and his Rinnegan were still pulling his strings. Along with the other reincarnated souls, Nagato staged a sort of undead revolt. His spirit turned on its captor and fought for the forces of Konohagakure, ultimately helping them win the war. Freed from the influence of Tobi and other schemers, Nagato returned to his core selflessness and expressed his hope that Naruto would bring peace to the world where he had failed.