Chapter 38 Notes

Chapter Notes:

“Losing Everything” — the chapter title directly refers to Pain’s words in the last chapter: “Think about what I’ve said. Akatsuki offers you protection, the Rain offers you a place to belong,” Pain said, watching him from hooded eyes. “You are still young. You have not experienced the loss that brings understanding. So you could not fully understand the value of what is offered…. You do not know what it feels like to loose everything you hold dear.”

• The chapter is very much about loss — So it’s about the deaths of Katsuro’s team and then the captain, plus Katsuro still dealing with the loss of Sakura, but in the very end, also about Katsuro inflicting pain on Konoha so that they will see what they’ve lost. In anger and pain, he turns to things he never would have done before. Very much like what Pain was explaining. In order to join Akaktsuki, or want to join, he had to loose everything, but still survive. Only then could he begin to understand how it twists you. Katsuro didn’t realize he had more to loose than just Sakura. But he did. And just at the moment he understood his team’s worth and his captain’s worth, its all taken from him.

Katsuro’s motivation to join Akatsuki (Or how to make him turn bad without making him evil) — The searing loss is as a result of warring ninjas. Katsuro blames them, directs his immediate anger at them, and lets that anger shape his future choices. It was very important not to have Sakura be wound up in that cathartic revenge-driven anger. He’s heartbroken over her. And he buries that pain instead of acting on it. It was very important for me to establish that this chapter. He decides to join the Akatsuki because of his own issues, not as a vengeful rebound from Sakura. His love for her (a true love) should not make him flip a switch and make harmful, bitter, resentful choices when it is withdrawn. And this is important for later in the story, when he returns to Konoha. His love was true, and even when it’s gone he can’t hate it. As much as he’d like to or tells himself that he does, that’s the cruel truth. He can’t. So it would never motivate him to make bitter decisions like joining the Akatsuki. So while on the one hand he gives into hatred and revenge for Konoha, his feelings for Sakura are very different and are buried down deep, so they are actually insulated from his anger.

• Fang country ninjas vs. Konoha nins from last chapter. — So the Fang country ninjas are in stark contrast to the Leaf nins. They want to kill, whereas the Leaf nins don’t. (From last chapter: As he left, he heard one of the nins yell, “Dammit! Taichou wants ’em left alive for questioning—“ ) The Konoha shinobis wanted them alive for questioning. But they were young and little over-zealous, their aim with less-lethal weapons was still good, and they killed his teammates instead of disabling them. Fang country nins want to kill. Also an image that not all shinobis in this world are good, as Konoha nins try to be.

Katsuro forced his legs to move. A cry of desperation tore from his throat, but it was cut short when black-clad nin dropped in front of him, hitting the leafy floor with in a squat. A coil of rope landed beside him like a snake. He stood slowly, drawing up the rope with him. As he approached Katsuro he cracked it in giant figure eights in front of him. A silver blade at the end of it licked the ground. — So, I’m focusing more on real life weapons, and letting the powerful aspects of the manga be very unique and special. Most nins in this story have to fight on their own abilities. That makes the ones lucky enough to have special power/chakra/element/sharingan/whatever/bijuu be very powerful. But regular ninjas can be just as dangerous. I don’t want to hand out special powers like candy. So the battle with the Fang ninjas is an example of that. They are very powerful, without the aid of special powers.

• His voice ricocheted against the darkened ceiling and bounced back to him, sounding angrier than he’d ever been. More rings of water rippled from his legs, rolling out towards the walls and the cell bars. — Katsuro’s own anger is spiraling outward, and this is what the demon responds to. This connects up at the end, with the demon curling up satisfied behind its bar. Katsuro decides to give in to his angry side, and the demon decides to stop fighting him.

• Predator and prey imagery — use to reinforce the change in Katsuro:

– Katsuro blinked again. The canopy was drenched in red. Each branch was perfectly etched against the sky. He saw every detail, even down to a small owl clinging to a high branch, watching for its next meal.

– There was silence, but only for the time it took to heave a terrified breath, then the men scattered like mice, dashing in all directions for the safety of the forest.

– Katsuro perched on a high branch, waiting…watching…. Suddenly the man scrambled across the forest floor. Katsuro watched him tear through the red woods, dashing from tree to tree. His chakra signature was flaring. He knew he was in trouble.

• He vaguely remembered sensing chakra before, but he couldn’t remember when. It felt like a lifetime ago. — Again, reinforcing that this time is different, Katsuro can’t remember the last time the kyuubi took control with Sakura and Mai at the farm. It’s a lifetime ago, like it’s another life. And really it is for him. 

• But the captain…. The captain saw him as a person. A soldier, the highest term of respect the captain could give. To him, Katsuro was someone worth waiting for. Someone worth dying for — So, for Katsuro, this is loosing everything. The captain was the last good thing that he had. He sees Itachi as someone who uses him for an end. But the captain didn’t. So this is the final blow for Katsuro.

• Somewhere deep down inside him, beyond the orange-tinged water and the golden cell bars, a black shape turned around and around before coiling up on the cell floor. It had given up some of its chakra control, but in return there was a warmth in his cell, a consuming heat like the demon hadn’t felt in a long time. And it wasn’t all coming from him. Eyes like fire flickered closed, certain in the knowledge that it would survive another day, and, judging by that angry heat, many more days to come. — From the kyuubi’s pov, we see that Katsuro has finally given into his anger. It’s not a passing thing. So not only is the demon feeding him malicious chakra, Katsuro is producing his own fury.

• He had been here before, at this very fire circle…with her…. But that felt like another life now…. — It was very important to me to have Katsuro’s transformation based on a culmination of things. Not just a knee-jerk reaction to Sakura’s supposed betrayal. So every time he thinks of her it is with a sense of loss, not hatred. But those emotional wounds, coupled with the loss of other things he held dear, are enough to drive him to change his life. Anyway, this last memory, bringing it all completely full circle and having him dismiss it as another life, is absolutely like him closing the door on her and the way he was when he was with her.

• Katsuro pushed down the wayward thoughts, locking them away deep inside as just a memory now. They faded away easier than he’d ever thought possible. He turned toward his next task. — This line is in specific reference to the room locked in the temple. Katsuro and Sakura both have secret spaces inside where they lock away the things that hurt them (very much like the kyuubi’s cell). But the things that are inside, like the gorgeous painting in the temple room, don’t disappear. Instead they wait there, untouched by time, until those doors are opened again.

• But this time it didn’t make him sad. He devoured the pain, and fed it into the burning furnace that had taken over his soul. — Again, this ‘burning furnace’ isn’t necessarily the kyuubi. Katsuro is now generating his own anger that will protect him and keep him warm.

• Water streamed down Katsuro’s face, carrying dirt and blood and grime from his hair. Black streaks ran down his forehead, fractured beside his nose and continued in spidery cracks over his cheeks and neck. — Strong imagery that Katsuro’s mask is finally cracking.

• Itachi looked up suddenly, meeting Katsuro’s fierce expression. “Yes,” he breathed. “Yes— It will work. I’ll take it off.” His eyes glittered. “You will become Naruto Uzumaki.” He let the words roll off his tongue. “And Konoha will learn what they have lost.” — Flipped the chapter title at the end to also represent the loss of Naruto to Konoha. By having him stolen, Tsunade herself has said that they have already lost their most important asset. So, the chapter title works on different levels! 🙂

 Spoiler Notes

• Instead, it seemed like there was a deep internal fire keeping him moving. It was blocking out his need for sleep, staving off his hunger and giving him energy when he should have had none. He was weary but not exhausted, and his stomach wasn’t growling at him constantly to find food. — This will be a facet of Katsuro’s life later on, that his stamina allows him to do much more than others can. But it’s not always healthy for him.

• Katsuro closed his open mouth, grabbed for the Rain dagger in his waistband, sunk into his stance. The handle was more round than he was used to and felt heavy in his hand. He watched and waited. — So this a little reference for things much later in the story. Basically, all these people around him have weapons that are well-suited to them. But Katsuro has none. Even the Rain dagger feels strange in his hands. So this is a set-up for when he gets back to Konoha, and has to choose a weapon style for himself. It’s to illustrate being on a path that was already laid out for him, and to show the differences between a village life and a guerrila one, where there is an armory and a blacksmith, etc. And lastly, to reinforce the idea that Naruto is putting down roots somewhere, settling in and acquiring things that belong solely to him.

• The pounding of his feet blew up leaves in his wake, revealing, for the barest of moments, a fresh set of tracks next to his. Then the leaves drifted back down, resettling themselves over both prints. — This scene, and a little while later on the trade road when Katsuro hears a crack of twigs behind him, are to illustrate a little of the paranoia that comes on with borrowing the kyuubi’s power for long stretches of time. Katsuro is in fact being tracked by a Fang nin. But the animalistic tendencies of the kyuubi keep him on greater edge. In the future, he will have to learn to trust again, that the people around him will not let anything happen to him. But right now, he’s on his own and the kyuubi is pretty much feeding his instincts, even though he doesn’t realize it.

• It was deep under the cover of night when he closed in on the old campsite. Sakura had been here too. He had brought her here, to the site hidden in an rerouted riverbed. — The old trade road and the riverbed campsite reinforce that things are coming full-circle for Katsuro. He’s going back to the place where it all started, and where he lets it all go.

• The ninja took advantage of his distraction and came at him from another angle. The blade bit into Katsuro, but didn’t catch him. But the next hit would…and Katsuro was counting on it. — Katsuro’s using a fighting approach from earlier on, but he underestimates his opponent, and so it doesn’t work for him.

• Standing among the dead bodies of their compatriots to fight him, the ninjas worked in unison, a perfect harmony of muscles and whips, spinning in turns so none tangled together. It would have been impressive to watch if they weren’t fighting for their lives. — Setting up for future interactions with Konoha nins, where he is impressed to see teamwork in action. His life and fighting skill is solitary, so he is surprised to see it. This scene will tie in to that future one, where Katsuro learns that there is great power in a group instead of alone.

• The captain’s death: “You’re my soldier,” he said, locking eyes with Katsuro. “I die for you, boy.” The captain moved his hand to pat Katsuro’s arm, but he winced suddenly. More blood seeped from his neck. He exhaled, long and deep. The words came much slower. “Not the other way around…. I—“ — The captain represents a good mentality. He fights for Rain, so he has to fight for Itachi now, but his love and devotion is the same as the Konoha nins. The mentality that the captain has — that it’s an honor and a duty to die for the ones you love — will be brought full circle with Jiriaya much later in the story.