Itachi Shinden: Book of Bright Light (イタチ真伝 光明篇, Itachi Shinden Kōmyō-hen, Viz: Naruto: Itachi’s Story, Vol. 1: Daylight, Literally meaning:Itachi True Story: Book of Bright Light) is an original story written by Takashi Yano and illustrated by Masashi Kishimoto. It is the first instalment of the Naruto Shinden series.
The Hatchling in the Dark Night, Yet to Leave the Nest (暗夜に在りし雛、未だ巣立たず, An’ya ni Arishi Hiyoko, Mada Sudatazu)
At age four, Itachi Uchiha is brought to a recent battlefield of the Third Shinobi World War by his father, Fugaku. Fugaku intends for the mounds of dead to be an early lesson for Itachi, imprinting on him that it is a shinobi’s role to fight, kill, and die. Itachi is indeed affected by the scene, but he does not submit to this reality that his father intends him to. Rather, as he cries, he resolves to become strong – stronger than anyone else – so that with his power he can end the fighting and thus save the world’s shinobi from this fate.
When the war ends a few weeks later with Konohagakure’s victory and its Third Hokage, Hiruzen Sarutobi, steps down, none in the village propose Fugaku to be Hiruzen’s successor. Many in the Uchiha clan interpret this as another snub of Fugaku’s and the Uchiha’s contributions to the war, a further effort to keep the Uchiha isolated from the rest of Konoha. As Itachi secretly observes the clan’s outrage, he cannot help but be reminded of the same horrors and ill omens he experienced on the battlefield.
At age five, Itachi spends his days training diligently. Largely this is to gain the strength he desires for himself and to, in turn, expedite the end to fighting he wants to bring about. But he is also motivated by the recent birth of his brother, Sasuke, in whom Itachi finds something he is compelled to protect at all costs. Itachi develops rapidly through his training, proving to have a particular flare for shurikenjutsu. Shisui Uchiha, a genina few years older than him, is impressed by Itachi’s talents and asks to be his friend. Itachi finds occasion to use the skills he’s developed amidst the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox’s Attack; when falling debris threatens to crush Sasuke and their mother, Itachi instinctively comes to their rescue, surprising their mother with his display of strength.
Although the rest of the Uchiha in the Konoha Military Police Force wish to render similar assistance to Konoha’s villagers during the attack, Konoha’s leadership orders them to patrol the village’s borders. Fugaku and his clansmen realize that, even as the village is being destroyed by the Nine-Tails, Konoha already believes that an Uchiha is behind the Nine-Tails’ actions and so want them to stay away. Angered by this distrust, the Uchiha decide that the best way to prove their innocence is to follow instructions. This does not dispel the suspicions of the Konoha Council, who make their first priority after the Nine-Tails’ defeat to round up and monitor the entire Uchiha clan. The Uchiha are uprooted, forced to settle around the Naka Shrine, and, in their anger, the adults begin holding secret meetings at night. Itachi despairs that his father and the rest of the clan cannot set aside their personal feelings and simply do what is best for Konoha.
At age six, Itachi enters the Ninja Academy. He immediately proves better than everyone else in his class, better even than some full-fledged ninja. His teacher and classmates are so awed by his abilities that they can find little to say to him; only Izumi Uchiha, a girl in the class next to his, makes any effort to talk to him. Itachi is not bothered by his lack of friends in class, nor is he much interested in Izumi, as his training with Shisui and his time with Sasuke are all he could want. Izumi is not put off by Itachi’s indifference and comes to his defense when he starts drawing the ire of older students. Because of her kindness and support – as well as the fact that she has already awakened her Sharingan – Itachi accepts her as a friend.
After only four months in the Academy, the faculty acknowledges that there is nothing more they can teach Itachi. Because Konoha is still recovering from the Nine-Tails’ attack and is therefore in need of new ninja, he is allowed to take the graduation exam early; he passes with ease. Itachi completes the school year and graduates as valedictorian while his family watches with pride. As he looks for them after the ceremony, he is confronted by Danzō Shimura, who gives him a riddle regarding ten men, nine of them healthy and one too sick to save. Itachi answers that he would kill the sick man since he will die anyway, thereby ensuring he does not infect the other nine. Danzō is pleased with Itachi’s answer and departs.
The Brilliant Fledgling, Not Knowing About the Silence After Dusk (英明な若鳥、夕闇の後の静けさを知らず, Eimeina Wakadori, Yūyami no Nochi no Shizukesa o Shirazu)
At age seven, Itachi is assigned to Team 2 under the leadership of Yūki Minazuki. To Itachi’s disappointment, the team’s first meeting is only meant as an introduction. Because one of his teammates, Tenma Izumo, has been openly critical of Itachi since they met in the Academy, and since his other teammate, Shinko Inari, only further incites Tenma in her attempts to stick up for Itachi, Itachi opts to leave. He runs into Izumi on his way home and walks with her back to the Uchiha’s compound. Despite their efforts to keep the conversation light, their talk inevitably turns to the clan’s secret meetings. Itachi, now officially a ninja, attends the meetings and knows they concern the clan’s growing dissatisfaction with Konoha, but he cannot share this with Izumi and they fall silent.
When Konoha becomes embroiled in the Hyūga Affair, most of the village’s shinobi are mobilized to be ready for an outbreak in hostilities. When, as this is going on, an Iwagakure spy is discovered in the village, the task of dealing with the spy is given to Team 2 as their first mission. Although such a mission would ordinarily be too dangerous for a genin team, Konoha’s leadership believes that Itachi’s skills alone are more than enough. While they are in the process of leading the spy into a trap, Tenma, eager to prove himself just as good as Itachi, confronts the spy. He is nearly killed, but Itachi saves him and the spy is captured. With open reluctance, Tenma thanks Itachi and apologizes for his prior behavior.
At age eight, after a year with Team 2, the mission with the spy remains the most difficult mission Itachi has been assigned. Although he’s disappointed that he hasn’t been able to do anything more meaningful in all this time, Itachi contents himself with the polishing of his skills this year has allowed him. His one irritation is that Yūki has not entered them in the Chūnin Exams since Tenma and Shinko aren’t ready for it. Nevertheless, Team 2’s stellar performance, due primarily to Itachi, earns them the assignment of escorting the Land of Fire’s daimyō on one of his annual visits to Konoha. Since there are no ongoing conflicts that would make the roads unsafe, since the daimyō will have some of his Twelve Guardian Ninja with him, and since Anbu will be keeping watch over them, Team 2’s presence is largely symbolic. Tenma and Shinko are excited by the opportunity, but Itachi worries that it’s all becoming a poor use of his time.
Halfway between the Land of Fire’s capital and Konoha, Itachi spots a masked man approaching them on the road. The man’s jaunty walk and his seemingly oblivious personality put the daimyō and his retinue at ease. With everyone’s eyes on him, the man is able to capture them all in a genjutsu except for Itachi – who remained on guard and avoided it in time – and Tenma – who specializes in genjutsu and was able to free himself. Tenma quickly charges at the man, but his attacks pass right through and the man quickly kills him. The man compliments Itachi for not attacking recklessly like Tenma did and assures him he’s only after the daimyō. When the man passes by him, Itachi forces himself to strike. Like Tenma’s, his attack passes through the man, but before the man can retaliate he senses the approaching Kakashi Hatake. The man vanishes just before Kakashi and three other Anbu arrive to lend assistance.
When they get back to Konoha, Tenma’s death convinces Shinko that the life of a ninja isn’t for her and she leaves Team 2. Itachi, meanwhile, is given a few days off. He spends the time processing what happened to Tenma and agonizes that he wasn’t strong enough to protect his teammate. As a feeling of helplessness overwhelms him, he awakens his Sharingan, the same eye that the masked man had. When he returns to active duty, Team 2 resumes its series of D-rank missions, only now with fresh Academy graduates Yōji Aburame and Himuka Suzukaze as Itachi’s teammates.
At age nine, Itachi is once again denied by Yūki the opportunity to take part in the Chūnin Exams, leaving Itachi only his training with Shisui as his source for improvement. Feeling that Konoha is being deprived a valuable asset so long as Itachi remains a genin, Danzō convinces the Third Hokage to offer Itachi a chance to take the Exams alone. Fugaku accepts the Third’s offer without consulting Itachi first. Although Itachi is glad to finally have the opportunity to prove himself, he worries about what Fugaku and Danzō each seem to have planned for him.
The Glossy Black Crow, Shivering at the Grief of Its Brethren, Squirming Under a Moonlit Night (濡羽色の烏、月夜に蠢く同胞の嘆きに身震いす, Nurebairo no Karasu, Tsukiyo ni Ugomeku Dōhō no Nageki ni Miburuisu)
The first stage of the Chūnin Exams is a written test. The test’s questions are intended to be too difficult for genin to be able to answer, thereby forcing them to cheat without being caught. Itachi, however, completes the test on his own. He uses the time remaining after he’s done to study what methods the other examinees are using to cheat, forms hypotheses about their abilities based on their methods, and then files those hypotheses away in case he must ever fight them. When the time is up, the remaining genin are informed that they will not receive their test scores until after the second stage, and may therefore fail the Exams even if they pass the second stage. Itachi ends up receiving the second highest score in the written test’s history, beaten only by Minato Namikaze.
For the second stage of the Chūnin Exams, teams have five days to reach the center of the Forest of Death with two scrolls in their possession. Itachi heads directly for the center as soon as he enters the forest, openly carrying his scroll in order to lure another team into attacking him. When he’s finally confronted by some Kiri-nin, he tries to convince them that his young age and the fact that he’s alone must mean he’s much more skilled than they are and that they’d be better off giving up. They laugh at the idea until they fall prey to Itachi’s Crow Clone Technique, then his Fire Release: Great Fireball Technique, and finally glimpse his Sharingan. The three Kiri-nin surrender their scroll to him and he knocks them out so they won’t follow him. Itachi completes the second stage in five hours and thirty-seven minutes, a new record.
The final stage is to be a series of one-on-one matches between the remaining participants. Itachi is scheduled to fight a Konoha ninja in his first match, but his opponent withdraws rather than face him. His second opponent is Nemui of Kumogakure. Itachi intends to put on a show of force against Nemui in order to impress the audience, but Nemui’s ability to fight while sleeping enables him to instinctively dodge all of Itachi’s attacks and his closed eyes prevent the use of genjutsu against him. Itachi speculates that Nemui is a coward when he’s awake and that it is only his sleeping subconscious that can fight. So when, after several minutes, Nemui briefly wakes up to see how the fight is going, Itachi quickly uses his Sharingan to show him visions of his own gruesome death. He repeats this each time Nemui wakes up until finally Nemui is too frightened to fall asleep and forfeits. Nemui’s wails of fear frighten the audience to a similar degree, leaving only Danzō able to applaud Itachi’s victory.
Itachi is scheduled to have a final, third match, but the exam officials decide that his performance up to this point has more than qualified him from promotion to chūnin. The Uchiha celebrate Itachi’s success at their next meeting and begin planning for his career with the Military Police Force, which all Uchiha traditionally do. Fugaku suggests that they break with tradition and instead have Itachi join the Anbu, giving them a line of communication to the Hokage. Many of those assembled argue against this until Fugaku points out that Itachi will be able to report on Konoha’s activities to the Uchiha. Itachi reminds them that the Uchiha are part of Konoha and therefore this whole idea is self-defeating. Fugaku attempts to explain the distinction that Itachi is missing, but he is drowned out by the clan’s outrage at Itachi’s words and Itachi is left no option but to apologize.
At age eleven, after five months of extraordinary service as a chūnin, Fugaku submits Itachi’s name for consideration in the Anbu. The Third Hokage discusses this with Danzō, expecting him to oppose it due to his long-held distrust of the Uchiha. To the Third’s surprise, Danzō is in favor of the idea. The Third has no objections other than Itachi’s young age, so suggests that Itachi be given an Anbu-caliber mission to make sure he is ready. Itachi is mandated to take a week off from missions and training – all of which he ends up spending with Sasuke except for a lunch outing with Izumi – before being summoned to a meeting with Danzō. Danzō explains that before he can become an Anbu, Itachi must prove himself by assassinating Mukai Kohinata, a Konoha-nin who has been selling secrets to Kirigakure. Itachi, having long since decided that being an Anbu is vital to his dream of ending conflict and establishing peace, accepts the assignment.
Danzō permits Itachi to have the help of one other individual of his choosing in order to deal with Mukai. Itachi selects Shisui. Shisui already has some familiarity with Mukai and his skills: as a distant descendant of the Hyūga clan, Mukai excels in the Gentle Fist style of combat. Since it would be a good idea to have Itachi witness Mukai’s abilities firsthand, Danzō arranges for a member of Mukai’s usual team to be injured and has Itachi assigned as their replacement. Itachi accompanies Mukai’s team on a mission to observe negotiations for a secret alliance between Kiri and Sunagakure. Their presence is discovered and they are attacked by twenty Suna-nin. Although Itachi intends to fight alongside Mukai’s team in order to secure their escape, Mukai fights the twenty alone, defeating them all without difficulty.
While Itachi begins formulating how best to deal with Mukai, he attends the next meeting of the Uchiha clan. Fugaku announces that Itachi’s application in to the Anbu has been accepted and will soon become official. From the reactions of the other Uchiha, Itachi guesses that their plans will finally begin moving in a direction he has long feared: though he silently wills his father not to say it, Fugaku reveals that the Uchiha mean to overthrow Konoha’s leadership with a coup d’etat. Itachi has difficulty hearing the glories Fugaku promises for their clan, too overwhelmed by the horrors that the Uchiha intend.
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