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Naruto's Baryon Mode Transformation Explained

Warning: Spoilers for "Boruto: Naruto Next Generations" ahead.

Like most anime, the abilities and powers of the characters in "Naruto" are essential to the story of the series as a whole — but the mystical arts known as jutsu may just be the most iconic power in all of anime. The various forms of jutsu allow characters to master a wide array of techniques and abilities, and ninjas can perform complex hand seals to manifest whatever jutsu technique they desire. There are thousands of potential techniques to be created or discovered.

In the case of someone like Naruto Uzumaki, those techniques are enhanced by the power of the chakra inside him, since he is what's known as a Jinchūriki. A Jinchūriki is a human who has one of the nine-tailed beasts sealed within them — the beasts being living manifestations of the chakra itself. This allows someone like Naruto to unlock abilities other ninjas can't even come close to mastering.

Indeed there is one ability directly related to Naruto's status as Jinchūriki that is so powerful and so dangerous it forces the wielder to sacrifice their own life force in order to use it: Baryon Mode.

Baryon Mode is the ultimate fusion of Kurama and Naruto

Baryon Mode is a unique transformation only accessible to the Jinchūriki of Kurama: the nine-tailed beast sealed within Naruto at the very beginning of the series. 

On the day Naruto was born, his village was attacked by the 9-tailed beast known as Kurama, and the village's leader (Naruto's father) sacrificed his own life to seal the beast in his newborn son to save the village from destruction. Over the years, Kurama and Naruto began to form a mutual respect for one another, and the beast that once swore its hatred for all humans eventually formed a strong bond with its human host. This bond is part of what makes Baryon Mode possible, as the ability is the ultimate fusion of Kurama and Naruto: the chakras of both beings are consumed as raw materials to form a new type of energy, and in essence a new being (via Narutopedia).

In this form, Naruto takes on the appearance of the nine-tailed beast: the space around his eyes grows pitch black, his whisker marks become more pronounced, and his irises turn red. Naruto also becomes wrapped in a red chakra cape with 9 distinct tails. Baryon Mode dramatically increases Naruto's reflexes, speed, and overall power — but the transformation comes at a great price.

The cost of power

When Naruto first learns about Baryon Mode, Kurama explains that the transformation is extremely dangerous if used for too long, as it gradually drains the user's strength and lifespan. Furthermore, due to the connected nature of chakra, any being Naruto comes into contact with will also have its life force drained — but this is only partially true. In reality, the fusion reaction necessary to activate Baryon Mode will actually result in the destruction of Kurama, as his chakra is consumed for one last burst of extreme power. Naruto would survive, though with Kurama gone it would deprive him of all the beast's chakra and abilities.

This is the crux of what makes Baryon Mode so unique, for the bond between Kurama and Naruto is so great that the beast lied about what the transformation would cost, knowing full well that the truth would have stopped Naruto from using the ability, and that sacrificing itself was the only way for Naruto to survive.