Why Naruto’s Kakashi Always Wears a Mask
Naruto’s Hatake Kakashi is famous for keeping his face covered, but why do Konoha’s Copy Ninja elite stay hidden behind a mask?
Like any great shonen franchise, naruto features a wide cast of handcrafted and compelling characters. Members of naruto The family has made their way into every popular character roster and every anime cosplay convention around the world. However, a member of naruto The cast has reached a level of popularity that eclipses even the series’ titular hero.
Since his first appearance in Chapter 3 of the soap opera naruto manga, Hatake Kakashi has become not only a fan favorite, but also iconically recognizable even to those unfamiliar with anime or manga. Moreover, Kakashi’s popularity is well deserved. As well as possessing remarkable intelligence and combat abilities – including the Sharingan eye which allowed him to copy over 1,000 (!) different Ninjitsu – Kakashi’s design is both appealing to the public and consistent with his character traits. In short, Kakashi is cool, and his design says it all.
Perhaps the most unique aspect of his design is Kakashi’s ubiquitous face mask. Unlike all the other members of naruto, Hatake Kakashi’s face is covered from nose to chin by a tight-fitting cloth covering, which he rarely removes. Indeed, Kakashi is so rarely unmasked that his own students – Naruto, Sakura, and Sasuke – have never seen his face. As such, entire (filler) episodes of both naruto and Naruto Shippuden are devoted to the trio attempting to sneak a peek into Kakashi’s face through surreptitious means.
Surely such an important detail must play a central role in Kakashi’s character development or in the narrative structure of naruto serial. Could Kakashi be hiding a horrible deformity, or perhaps an unfortunate overwhelming resemblance to a villain? From Ayame’s reaction in episode 101, “I have to see! I have to know! The real face of Kakashi-Sensei!”, this doesn’t seem to be the case.
Also integral to his appearance (or his secret), a concrete rationale for why Kakashi wears a face mask isn’t given in either the naruto manga or the anime adaptation. So, much like his face, Kakashi’s motivations for hiding his appearance are somewhat mysterious. However, rather than taking on dour or insidious overtones, the mystery behind Kakashi’s identity and the mask that conceals it has become something of a running gag.
In the very parody spin-off series Rock Lee and his ninja buddies, it is said that Kakashi constantly wears a mask to hide the nosebleeds he suffers from reading his favorite (adult) book series. While this is the only firm explanation for Kakashi’s face mask rendered in the media, Rock Lee and his ninja buddies isn’t considered part of the franchise’s canon, so it seems inappropriate to adopt it as the ultimate vindication, while still being humorous. Nevertheless, a more legitimate explanation behind Kakashi’s carefully guarded appearance exists.
In an interview, series creator Kishimoto Masashi said that he originally designed Hatake Kakashi wearing a face mask because it fit the secrecy and mystery inherent in being a consummate shinobi. Additionally, Kishimoto had hoped to introduce more masked characters. Unfortunately, conveying Kakashi’s emotions proved difficult, so much so that Kishimoto ultimately opted to forego face masks for the main characters largely.
There’s no denying that it would be interesting to see early concept art of masked versions of the main characters. However, the emotional depth and complexity of narutoThe main characters are part of what sets the title apart from its three great contemporaries. Obscuring this complexity behind the masks would have softened – and perhaps even negated – the emotional aspect of the overall narrative, ultimately hurting the series as a whole.
Additionally, if more characters were masked, it seems unlikely that Kakashi would have enjoyed the same meteoric rise to international popularity. So while his origins may be rooted in a creative faux pas, Kakashi’s face mask is proof that certain vanities can – if used with care and precision – benefit a particular character and bring audiences closer to them. .
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