Chapter 39 Notes

This chapter was initially title “Transformations.” But rereading it, there’s a connection between the idea of writing poetry in a dying language and of Katsuro transforming to Naruto, even though he doesn’t know the whole of the plan. So the theme stood out as being about beginnings, in spite of not knowing where the journey is going to end up. Hence “A New Beginning.”

• Bringing back some old characters, introducing some new ones. Each helps show a facet of Katsuro/Naruto’s personality, or will aid in their development, presently and in the future.

— Raiden and Fumio — These two will serve to show the difference between Katsuro and Naruto, and how first has to restrain his anger, while the latter no longer as to. And they will serve as the only link to this time of transformation for Katsuro.

— Masato — He represents an inner sanctuary for Katsuro, a place where important things are preserved, waiting for a time when they can be useful again. On the surface, it’s only about Katsuro’s necklace. But later in the story, the Rain poetry will help Katsuro understand that some things are worth preserving and even fighting for.

— And the long awaited Naruto — He is someone that is part Katsuro…but part something else entirely.

His past…. That’s all she was now. — There is a little bit of intentional mixed messaging here. Katsuro tells himself Sakura is in his past, yet he worries about the necklace. Even if he won’t admit it to himself, it still carries meaning for him. So the fact that he’s going to great lengths to hide it, instead of just stashing it somewhere, means that deep down he still feels something….

• Katsuro’s hand instantly went to the back of his neck. “Oh! I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt—“ but Masato stopped him. — Katsuro’s movement is very Katsuro. He feels comfortable here, so he acts the way he usually does. But things are about to change in his life, and it will be a long time before he feels comfortable enough to slip into these old habits again.

• Mists of color — pale blue, sandy brown and moss green — drifted across the background. Only flecks of bright gold illuminated the dreamy scene. Long streams of ink-black writing tumbled vertically down the page, tracing a path like a falling leaf down each line. — The description is based on real ancient Japanese scrolls, hand painted with scenes or sprays of color and used as a beautiful background behind hand-written poetry and tales. For an example, checkout The Tale of Genji on Wikipedia. The writing is based on the Manyogama, Japan’s oldest writing system which is now obsolete, only written or read by experts in that style. I liked the idea that modern eyes would not be able to unlock the old texts. It applies here with Katsuro basically realizing that he is witnessing the death of an entire culture. More on this to come….

“It’s a hidden base, only used by Akatsuki members for certain…rituals. Nothing you need to worry about.” — As I’m sure everyone’s figured out, it’s the cave where the Akatsuki extract the bijuus.

It struck him that these eyes didn’t look like him at all. These eyes looked like they belonged to someone else. Only he didn’t know who…. — So, in a lot of fics, Naruto’s eyes are this lovely part of his description. All sky-bright cerulean orbs. But I wanted to make Katsuro a little uncomfortable with the it all. Sometimes blue can look warm…or sometimes it can look really, really cold…. And I think you can guess the direction I’m going to take here!

“You look like the—” There was note of honest surprise in Itachi’s voice, but he stopped himself. Whatever it was, he thought better of sharing it. “You look like you’re from the Leaf, with your blond hair.” — Itachi gets it! Naruto looks exactly like the Fourth Hokage.

Itachi merely shrugged, a ghost of a smile flickering across his lips. “Nothing. It’s a delicate thing, removing a jutsu of this nature. It wasn’t meant to be removed.” — Katsuro picks up on Itachi’s words about the jutsu. Eventually he will put together that perhaps Itachi hadn’t meant for him to mature, and then he’ll begin to question the implication: What are Itachi’s true plans for him?

• Katsuro nodded and brought his hands up. An identical copy popped into existence beside him. But where Katsuro stood relaxed, sweaty hair sticking out in all directions and his too-small pants unbuttoned at the waist, the Naruto beside him appeared in well-fitting black fatigues, hair tamed and orderly. He stood like a soldier, shoulders squared, feet apart and hands clasped behind him, as if he’d done it a thousand times. — I can imagine this is not what everyone wanted. Lol, even Katsuro. But wait till next chapter and this turn of events will make sense. As a reader it’s always frustrating to see the main character transform based on a weak set of events. Katsuro has transformed physically into Naruto, but he is going to become the Naruto that serves as a loyal Akatsuki member, then he has to transform emotionally as well.

Next chapter: 40 – The Death of Katsuro

Spoiler Notes:

• Raiden and Fumio — These characters will serve as markers for the change in Katsuro’s character. As Katsuro, he has been unable to fully stand up to these bullies and put them in their place. Even when he’s in charge of them. But as Naruto, he will have the power to make whatever examples he likes out of whomever he chooses. Naruto may finally prove victorious over his bullies, but like anything else, his new position in Akatsuki and its unrestrained power may have some hidden consequences down the road.

And at the next turn of the footpath, a lone campaign tent suddenly hung before him, grey and phantomlike behind the dark columns of trees. — So the description of the tent is supposed to be slightly creepy, slightly ethereal. It’s not in sync with the rest of the camp, its men or its missions. Sets the tone for this place and the man in side as being something elusive. The supply tent, functioning as a hidden sanctuary in the heart of the violent camp (and only its true worth seen by Katsuro), is a literal metaphor for the “Hidden Places” theme of the temple and Katsuro’s time with Sakura. He is leaving his necklace behind him, locking it away in one of those ‘hidden places’ as he moves on with the direction of his life. So just like the locked room in the temple, it will be there waiting, or so he believes, but he will have to work hard to find it again. It will be an emotional as well as physical journey to return to this hidden place. And since Masato is so old….

• Masato’s Rain Country poetry — on the surface they are a nice reason for Katsuro to rethink his decision to not hide his necklace under a tree, in the future, the poetry scrolls will come to have some importance to him. First in saving them and returning them to the Rain, and much later when he realizes what a village and the culture behind it is worth, and that you must do everything you can to try to save it. Whether it’s the Rain…or another village that you once thought was your sworn enemy.

• Piercing blue eyes stared back at him, surprising him with their color. Had they been that blue in his childhood? He couldn’t remember. But even in the dark cave they picked up the light and reflected it back, giving him the impression of something cold and hard. Like the silvered edge of his blade after he’d sharpened it. The glacial blue gaze was more than just a little unfamiliar…. — More on Naruto’s description in the next chapter. But right now, Katsuro is getting used to the change. And most notably, he doesn’t identify himself as Naruto yet. Next chapter, he will.

• Itachi reached in his bag and unfurled a new Akatsuki cloak. But instead of stopping at Katsuro, Itachi flung it around the shoulders of the new Naruto next to him. The whirl of black and red terminated with a ripple of the hem over the ground. Katsuro turned to watch the whole spectacle with open curiosity. Dressed like Itachi, this Naruto was both fierce and ominous. But he was not impressed. He smoothed out a single wrinkle that ran down the red cloud on his chest then resumed his stance. Face scrubbed free of all emotion, he silently awaited his orders. — Even though it’s explained by Itachi that the new Naruto clone is basically just a shell, Naruto’s clones will eventually take on more of his personality as he eases into his new identity. But in this chapter, Katsuro’s having a bit of an identity crisis. Changing back is harder than he expected. There has been a lot of freedom in being the kid, even though he didn’t realize it. Now he’s looking at becoming a man, basically overnight. So he’s going to have to readjust his thinking somewhat. The physical differences between Katsuro and Naruto help illustrate that. Standing side by side, they both have the same physical traits, but Naruto stands like a soldier, chest out, hands back and every hair in place. Katsuro is slouching, standing in too-small pants, hair going everywhere, sweating, and questioning every request from Itachi. They look the same but couldn’t be more different. Katsuro has to emotionally accept the transformation as well.