Chapter 6 Notes

Chapter 6 – Out of the Darkness

Chapter notes:

• In the dim light of morning, things were conspiring against Sakura. — This line is about her being awoken by noises, but it also foreshadows the end of the chapter. When something literally does come out of the darkness to get her.

Passing through the narrow doorway, Sakura quickly found herself descending a winding stairwell, down over crumbling steps, past window holes and landings with other narrow doorways. Some still had rustic wooden doors, others had lost theirs long ago. — I wanted them to feel like kids here, left alone to explore a cool, abandoned place. Even though Katsuro is in charge, he’s still just a kid, like her. The older rogues don’t even care. But Sakura shows Katsuro just what he’s been missing in this place.

• “There are paintings in here. Really remarkable paintings,” she said slowly, sticking her head inside the doorway, squinting into the low light. — The inspiration for the panels came from the tale of the Shuten Doji, a Japanese folktale. It is a graphic retelling of a man who defeats a demon. It was painted on screens, fans and scrolls and retold over and over down through the centuries. So it fit nicely with a myth about a sage who does battle with a demon.

• It was like the sun had risen on another world. Painted screens wrapped around the room and were covered from top to bottom with glorious illustrations of villages and landscapes, battles and clan gatherings, men training and women visiting. There was a single path wandering through it all, upon which traveled a man who looked like none of them. — So obviously, I want to make this a really special place. Magical. Katsuro, who has been deprived of a normal childhood, gets to see this through Sakura’s eyes. It’s also a controlled environment. A painting of a village. It can’t harm him, like the real village of his past did. So for the first time, Katsuro lets down his guard and begins to see things in a new perspective.

• She bounded down behind him. The bottom steps emptied out in front of her onto a large stone floor. But peering out through the narrow doorway, Sakura was unprepared for the sight that waited there. If the room on the upper floor had been all darkness and concealment, then this was its lofty, light-filled opposite. — Another play on the title. Both rooms are revealing themselves to be amazing places where you would only expect to find darkness. And both scenarios are revealing different sides of Sakura and Katsuro to each other. This chapter is shifting the balance from a captor and hostage to something more equal.

In the center of the room, where Katsuro stood smiling, there was a large stone well. He rested his hand on its heavy wood lid and waited for her. “Beautiful, isn’t it?” he said. — Unlike Sakura, whose discovery was a complete surprise, Katsuro knew this little room existed. And he is secretly pleased to have someone to show it to.

• Leaning over, Katsuro said quietly, “Apple or orange?” “Orange,” she said, after deducing he was going to go find them some food. He nodded. — Orange, which is such a prominent color for Naruto in the manga, would never in a million years be a good choice for an actual ninja. So here, Katsuro (and Sakura) both have a preference for oranges.

Spoiler Notes

• It’s hard to believe that both the painting scene and the well scene are in the same chapter. They will be so significant for both Sakura and Naruto before the end of the story. Though these places will not be overtly visible (perhaps never even visited again by them), it’s hard to understate their importance to the story. Katsuro and Sakura have unknowingly opened a kind of ‘Pandora’s box’ together by visiting these places.

• There was a single path wandering through it all, upon which traveled a man who looked like none of them. — Hmmm…this could even apply to Naruto’s story…. 😉

• Sakura remembered it from her academy days. This was a folk tale about an old traveling monk who first brought chakra control to the realm of humans. — Right now, the painting is just a magical experience for them, a common thing for them to bond over. But on another level, it’s a story about the sage who first “discovered” chakra and brought it to humans. It was the sage who got the ball rolling on the clans and their unique powers. And the painting that are there show him traveling and teaching it. It is interesting for what it show, but also for what is missing. It doesn’t show where he got the power. It doesn’t show the resolution of the battle. And, perhaps more importantly, it doesn’t show how the sage’s story ends. But maybe, just like these painted panels are a fragment of a story, there are other fragments out in the world, waiting to be uncovered. More to come….

• It ran like a thin golden ribbon, disappearing into the stylized clouds that separated the areas, then reappearing on the other side. — Connection to the first line here….

She went panel by panel, moving across the canvas, telling the tale with her hands. Brown eyes wide, Katsuro was rapt. He listened closely and watched the action being played out on the walls in front of him. —  It’s a story that she is telling to Katsuro, who has never had stories told to him. So it’s riveting for him. It could be about anything, and he’d still be fascinated.

The path of the sage nearly disappeared here. But he would pop up from time to time. Sometimes giving demonstrations, sometimes accepting a meal from a temple. But always moving forward. His outfit never changed, nor did his hair or his staff. Life around him was changing, but he wasn’t. He was only focused on his goal. — The story of the sage will also be reflected in this story, with the origins of power and the tug-of-war between the human and spirit worlds, the seen and the unseen.

• “What’s wrong with his eyes,” he asked; “Um…I don’t really know,” she said. — In one scene, Katsuro has seen the rinnegan painted into the sage’s eyes. Neither of them have seen or even heard of that technique, so it’s a mystery to them. But it has to do with the origins of the powers that are at stake between the villages. And, of course, the sage could control them. So this is a really subtle hint of things to come.

• Here the path of the sage reappeared, winding through the first panel, an ominously dark forest of dimly lit scenes divided by dark clouds. It was hard to see in the low light, but they could just make out fantastical creatures with grotesque faces popping out from behind trees and dark buildings. Obviously trying to scare him. But he was too determined to be frightened away. — Sakura thinks the painting has turned into a morality tale for the monks of the temple, and this segment is meant to scare them away from the temptations of the world. But really, this panel is like the Forest of Death. It is the dark, spirit-filled forest the exists outside the realm of humanity. It is full of hidden mythical creatures and is very dark, so much so that she can’t see everything hidden there. But the sage’s journey has taken him out of the realm of man and into the spirit forest in pursuit of his final prey.

The heroic sage had his staff raised, streamers billowing out around him, and his eyes were riveted to an enormous beast — a fanciful blend of dragon and demon — snarling at his feet. Both were poised to attack amid the long streams of moonlight. — The final conquest in a glorious panel created by people who wanted to keep the sage’s epic tales alive. But sometimes, the embellished stories get the facts wrong. And maybe the great snarling made-up beast has a much closer connection…to Katsuro…. More to come on that.

• A large dragonfly suddenly alighted on a patch of moss on the window ledge. The breeze ruffled the vines at the window, parting them for a moment, and a stream of sunlight shot down, illuminating the dragonfly’s wings. They glittered in a shattered rainbow of colors. — Katsuro and the dragonfly. If the painting room is about Sakura and her explaining the outside world to him. Then the well room and the dragonfly is all about Katsuro. Dragonflies signify heroes or victory because they never back down. (They only fly forward, not backward.) And Katsuro, of course, means ‘victorious son.’ (More on that in the chapters ahead.) Much later in the story, the dragonfly will come to be connected with Naruto as a symbol, as something that he chooses to wear. 🙂 So it’s touching that he sees it, feels embarrassed, but realizes they have this shared experience at a place that is so much about him.

• The creature tipped its head, sizing up the intruders to its world. — A subtle theme here: This world belongs to the dragonfly. Later in the story, there will be themes of the human world and the spirit world. It has already been alluded to in the painting. But here, it’s just the dragonfly landing behind Katsuro’s back, hinting that perhaps Katsuro/Naruto’s world isn’t exactly all human…. 😉

• Katsuro plunked the bucket on the stones below the well, found a rustic, long-handled old ladle amid the stack of buckets in the corner and motioned for her to join him. — The long-handled ladle is part of tea ceremonies and the purification process before you enter a Shinto shrine. Here, it is just another forgotten implement. But since this was a temple, it is appropriate that a sacred object like this would just be laying around. It’s bit of foreshadowing too, because this place will be special to Naruto — possibly even, in a sense, sacred — in the far off future.