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Why Kakashi Was A Terrible Role Model In Naruto

Kakashi Hatake is one of the most important "Naruto" characters nearly from the beginning. As the jonin-level instructor and leader of Team 7, Kakashi is instrumental in shaping the lives and development of Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura. To a certain extent, he succeeds. By the end of the series, all three of his pupils become some of the strongest and most important ninjas around. Naruto and Sasuke serve their village as the Hokage and Shadow Hokage, respectively, and Sakura becomes one of the world's leading medical ninjas. However, Kakashi can't take credit for all of this success. In fact, he probably shouldn't take credit for most of it.

For all of his power, skill, and eventual political influence as the Sixth Hokage, Kakashi is simply a terrible role model in many respects. His students' successes often have more to do with others than himself, and at times, he even contributes to their failures. Furthermore, he has more than one bad habit holding him back from being a truly amazing mentor.

Kakashi barely taught his students

As their squad leader and teacher, it should be Kakashi's job to guide and teach his students in the way of the shinobi. That's why, despite technically being professional ninjas, genin ranks almost universally refer to their jonin instructors as "sensei," meaning teacher. Yet, teaching is something we very rarely see Kakashi do. While he does teach Team 7 the importance of teamwork prior to their first mission through his bell test, as well as certain techniques like walking on walls, the most important abilities used by his students are actually learned from different masters.

Case in point, Naruto's most frequently used skills — the Shadow Clone Jutsu, the Summoning Jutsu, and Rasengan — are either self-taught or are taught to him by Jiraiya. This is despite the fact that Kakashi also knows all of these abilities. Granted, Kakashi does help Naruto learn to apply his chakra element to Rasengan (which happens in "Naruto: Shippuden" Episode 81), but the actual foundation of Naruto's most important skills still comes from people other than Kakashi.

The same can be said about Sakura and Sasuke as well. Sakura, especially, is practically an afterthought while under Kakashi's tutelage, and it isn't until she meets Lady Tsunade and learns medical ninjutsu that she improves. Likewise, Sasuke gains the lion's share of his power from people like Orochimaru long after Kakashi brings the young Uchiha under his wing during the Chunin Exams. Speaking of which...

Kakashi failed to help Sasuke

If you're looking for a mentor who can set you on the right path, Kakashi probably isn't the best one. He may not be a bad guy, but he can be quite aloof, and positivity isn't always his forte (we suggest studying under Might Guy if you want some top-tier positive reinforcement). This normally isn't too much of a problem, but when you have a dangerous and disturbed student like Sasuke Uchiha, a little bit of helpful guidance can come in handy.

Even though Kakashi cannot bear all the blame for Sasuke becoming a rogue ninja following the events of the Chunin Exams (after all, it's not like he kills Sasuke's family), he's still one of the people who fails Sasuke the most. This is not through lack of trying, as Kakashi advises Sasuke against giving into his anger and despair in "Naruto" Episode 108, and he even teaches him useful ninja skills like the Chidori in preparation for fighting Gaara. In the end, however, it just isn't enough, and Sasuke turns to Orochimaru to gain the power he desires. Perhaps if Kakashi spends less time reading adult novels, he would be able to do more.

Kakashi is hardly a virtuous guy

Because "Naruto" is a fantasy-driven story aimed at kids and teens, it can be easy to overlook some of the darker themes present in its plot. That's not to say that "Naruto" is deceptive in its cynical side, as even on the surface it's a violent show about the dangers of war and the pitfalls of politics. Even so, there are certain twisted aspects about the universe of "Naruto" that nobody ever seems to bring up, mainly how societies downright encourage the use of child soldiers in open combat.

Putting aside how the people of "Naruto" think 12 year olds (and younger) are fit for large-scale wars, espionage, assassination, and genocide, the show at least presents a moral standard that shinobi (generally) should aspire to. If this is the case and most parents typically disapprove of their teenager becoming a war criminal, then Kakashi is probably the last ninja they would want in charge of their children.

Barring genocide, Kakashi is guilty of every gruesome act just listed thanks to his time as a member of the extremely shady ANBU Black Ops organization. While he certainly settles down as a teacher, he's still no saint. He's often late to the team's meetings and he openly reads erotica in front of his students. Heck, none of his students even actually know what he really looks like. War criminal or not, he's kind of a louse in more ways than one, and he probably shouldn't be in charge of children.