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Compared to some of its contemporary shounen titles, Naruto draws heavily on a variety of religious and mythological sources to inform its narrative, themes and cosmology. Kishimoto's use of explicit Hindu, Buddhist and Shinto motifs has already been discussed in a number of places. Common elements identified include deity names for jutsu, shamanic activities such as obtaining the eyes of others to 'see' as they do, making pacts with animal and other nature spirits, summoning 'demons' such as Susanoo, etc (Shinto, heavily associated with the Uchiha clan); Jimmu Tenno motifs for both Rikodu Sanin and later Naruto himself, such as his magatama and staff of 6 rings, manifestation of Gedo Mazu upon a lotus, etc (Buddhist, heavily associated with the Senjuu/Uzumaki clans); chakra, the 6 lokas (worlds) and 6 components of the bhavachakra corresponding to the 6 paths of Pein and referenced with the Rikodu Sanin as well, the Garuda, Jashin religion (apparently influenced by the Thug cult) and the battle between Indra and the Ashuras, complete with spiky hair imagery for his protagonist (and to a lesser extent the antagonist) frequently associated with ashuras (who are known for great rage and passion) - probably derived from Toriyama's Dragonball, a major influence on Kishimoto (Hindu, many elements absorbed into Mahayana Buddhist culture).

However, relatively little work has been done examining Christian influences to date, though some have already pointed out elsewhere that there seem to be a number of Christian references appearing, especially towards the end of manga/anime series, for example:

  • Kaguya, a woman who ate forbidden fruit from a powerful tree and brought powerful but potentially evil forces into the world (chakra from the chakra tree) (Eve);
  • two of her descendants who were "brothers" (Asura/Indra then Naruto/Sasuke) fighting each other (Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau);
  • Sasuke, a betrayer who turned his back on his best friend for personal gain (Judas), yet Naruto repeatedly attempts to win him back, even to the extent of proclaiming his willingness to die in the effort (Jesus, the good shepherd); this eventually works and Sasuke repents and seeks forgiveness for his behavior (prodigal son);
  • Naruto as a messiah figure who was prophesied (by the Toad Sage) to save the world (plus his 'Christ the Redeemer' poses on high points, e.g. chap. 245);
  • Naruto as the new Sage, who was the progenitor of the ninja world (Jesus as the new Adam);
  • wooden memorial crosses marking the graves of Zabuza and Haku;
  • frequency of resurrection jutsu (by Pein, Madara, Kabuto etc), even mass resurrections of the dead;
  • Adam Barkman has suggested the use of crucifixion motifs (presumably referring to Kakashi's tortue by Itachi and/or the rongusodo ninja ato: waiya haritsuke jutsu) as having Christian significance.

The heavy use of religous and mythological themes at the heart of Naruto, suggests that these may not be coincidental parallels. (This does not necessarily suggest that these examples were exclusively derived from Christian sources, e.g. the cosmic conflict between Naruto/Sasuke could be influenced by the primordial 'brotherly' conflicts in both Hinduism (Indra vs the Ashuras) and Christianity (Cain vs Abel) simultaneously.)

One potential source for such themes could be Kishimoto's favorite movie The Matrix, known to be a source of some artistic inspiration as well (The Art of Naruto: Uzumaki, 2007), which is filled with many overt Christian themes and images.

Is anyone aware of other sources that discuss Christian influences and sources on the text, e.g. interviews with Kishimoto, academic texts, discussion groups, etc?

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    Is it not true of any complex narrative that one can draw similarities to other complex narratives, even when no such intent exists? – Oded Aug 12 '15 at 20:10
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    I don't think this is the right place for this question. – Kaguya Otsutsuki Aug 13 '15 at 7:40
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    The only allusion which seems possible is the consumption of the Fruit. To say that the rest are reaching is a severe understatement. – kaine Aug 13 '15 at 19:29
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    This question is the most downvoted (non-deleted) post on the site by a large margin, and I don't see why. While I'm not sure what exactly OP is getting at here (since I don't know Naruto), this question is clearly not that bad. – senshin Aug 16 '15 at 0:47
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    Public Service Announcement: Just because a question contains religion doesn't make it automatically bad. – Madara Uchiha Aug 19 '15 at 7:07
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I'd say that Kishimoto draws a lot from Christianity and other religions. It's not just similar stories by chance. The events you list from Naruto are almost the exact events that happened in the Bible. That's not just chance, nor is it surprising. Almost all elements and events in Naruto are influenced by outside forces. So, it's not surprising that the more supernatural seeming events would be influenced by religion.

I'd also like to add that, although Kishimoto hasn't went into full detail on all of the influences of Naruto, Christianity seems to be well known in Japan, considering it's influences in other anime and manga. The stories from the Bible are probably known by a large number of Japanese people. Especially the more important ones like the forbidden fruit, which has been referenced numerous times in other anime.

Here are some interesting subtle influences of Christianity in Naruto:

  • Danzo Shimura originally went by the nickname Kanzo when originally meeting with the Akatsuki, which appears to be a nod to Kanzo Uchimura, a protestant and creator of the Nonchurch Movement. Kinda like a rebel among religious bodies at the time, who often got fired because of his beliefs and practices.

  • Mifune is based off Toshiro Mifune a famous Christian actor. (I'd link to it, but I don't have enough reputation for more than 2)

  • Sasuke is not only similar to Judas, but Obito CALLED him Judas in the manga, just before he became the Jinchuriki of the Juubi.

There's been evidence of Christianity's influence on Naruto before, but that latter example seems to act more as proof than evidence.

I feel like many people downvoted this simply because they didn't want it to be true, but Naruto takes influences from Christianity, and that shouldn't be thought of a bad thing. The influence of Christianity can make for some really cool narration if it's not Americanized propaganda (because everything here appears to be nothing but propaganda of some kind). Take Final Fantasy 7 as an example of this fact.

  • Actually, according to the Religion in Japan Wikipedia article, it states that Christianity is practiced by 2.3%, while Shinto is 51.82% and Buddhism is 34.9% – wcarhart Aug 16 '16 at 21:51
  • Yeah, I went off a false assumption I got from the anime Ef. That's my bad. :P – The Chayed Aug 16 '16 at 21:52
  • You can and should edit your answer to reflect the true information – wcarhart Aug 16 '16 at 21:54
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    I did, could you refresh your browser and check it for me? I want to be sure it's not misleading. – The Chayed Aug 16 '16 at 21:59
  • Yes, looks good to me – wcarhart Aug 16 '16 at 22:00

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