art by https://twitter.com/Paji__

Masashi Kishimoto the author and illustrator of Naruto and Naruto Shippuden is thanked worldwide for the cultural ribbon he embedded the world into. Naruto long transcended being just an Anime about a Ninja in a Leaf village. Today it stands atop the popularity list for all Animanga creations ever, along with other notables such as Dragon Ball or One Piece (Bleach even). Such a feat makes you beg the question – when exactly did it become something legendary? My answer is when it introduced Nagato Uzumaki or as you may know him, Naruto’s one of the greatest villains – Pain. (Possibly history’s greatest Animanga Antagonist).

Six Paths of Pain in Naruto
Six Paths of Pain in Naruto Shippuden (via Crunchyroll)
  • Pain believed that the world ran in a cycle of hatred. A nation wages war and kill a nation out of selfish intent. The survivors then bear resentment and attack their attackers with gathered forces.
  • This entraps the people of the nations into a trap of serving a war that they hadn’t started. The battles of their ancestors bleed onto them, inflicting pain again and again. People justify their vengeance in the name of justice, and such vengeance seeks further hatred. Everyone keeps inflicting pain on the other in the name of justice.

A Brief Summary of the origin of Pain

The Origin of Nagato Pain

Naruto Pain Nagato
Child Nagato (via crunchyroll)
  • Nagato Uzumaki was a resident of the village hidden in the rain. His country was torn between a proxy war forged by two great nations that bordered his home.
  • During the second Shinobi War, two Konoha (Hidden Leaf Village) Shinobi broke into his house for shelter. While he and his parents hid and tried to sneak out of the house, the Shinobi noticed the escape.
  • Overwhelmed and heated, both his parents tried to attack the Shinobis in fear of being struck first. Nagato watched as his parents were killed during their attempt at presumed self-defense.
  • Having realized that they were merely civilians, the two Shinobis apologized to Nagato. But for the beholder of the Rinnegan, it was already too late. Nagato broke down in anguish as he released hin Rinnegan for the first time murdering the two Shinobi in front of him.

Madara Uchiha had earlier planted his Rinnegan into Nagato unbeknownst to his parents and himself.

Nagato finds friends in the warren state of Amegakure

Naruto Pain Nagato
Orphaned Yahiko, Konan and Nagato (courtesy of Crunchyroll)

After burying his parents Nagato wonders aimlessly in the lands hidden by the rain (Amegakure). He eventually meets Yahiko and Konan, two other orphans just like him. Encaged by Yahiko’s charisma, Nagato starts believing in a new cause – to be so powerful as to bring an end to the war.

Meeting the Sanin

The three sanin
The three sanin meets the orphans (via Crunchyroll)

Eventually, the three meet the legendary Sanin of the Konoha. Their initial meeting is interesting. Upon seeing and hearing their circumstance, Orochimaru straight up even offers to end their misery by killing them – a rather straightforward solution to the suffering of life. Not one we would recommend. But Jiraya saw things similarly to us, as me.

Jiraya felt pressed by the guilt of having participated in the war and causing incalculable damages to the land of the rain. Jiraya decided to train the three but refrained from teaching them Ninjutsu.

The Akatsuki

One day during an attack by Shinobis of the Hidden Stone village, Nagato finds no other way but to kill them using Rinnegan. It is then that Jiraya sees the legendary Sage of The Six Paths’ resemblance to the boy. Jiraya finally musters the decision to teach them Ninjutsu which Nagato learns almost flawlessly due to his Rinnegan’s visual prowess. The three form what comes to be known as Akatsuki of the Hidden Rain after departing from Jiraya. 

The death of Yahiko

Things take a tragic turn when the Akatsuki is confronted by the village leader, Hanzo of the Salamander. Konan is seized and held hostage, while Hanzo orders Nagato to murder Yahiko. It is now that we see the beginning of Pain when Yahiko willingly impales himself to save Nagato from the conscience of the act.

Nagato losing his senses becomes enraged in anguish upon the revisiting of his past traumas – to see his loved ones be killed in front of him because of his powerlessness. Yet similar to his past, he unleashes the depths of his visual powers, slaughtering Hanzo’s mean although Hanzo himself escapes.

Yahiko dies by Nagato
Yahiko kills himself at the hands of Nagato (picture snapped from Crunchyroll)

The Birth of Pain

It is now that Pain is born. Using the corpses that he gathered during his attack on Hanzo’s men, Nagato forms the six paths of pain. The Rinnegan allows the user to control multiple objects so long as those are connected to the user through his body. The battle with Hanzo however left him crippled and fragile.

Why Pain wanted to Destroy the Leaf Village – Naruto’s home

Pain didn’t want to destroy only Leaf village per se, although Konoha was of special interest to him. It was the metaphorical representation of the beginning of his suffering. The Shinobi that killed his parents were of Konoha. Besides the symbolic value, Konoha contained the last of the Jinchurikis that he needed to deal with – the Nine-Tailed fox hiding within Naruto Uzumaki. 

Pain’s ideology of Pain is that of mutually shared understanding

How Yahiko influenced Nagato’s philosophy of Pain

Yahiko’s death had a profound transformation on Nagato’s ideals. Nagato grew up as the child who always teared up first. It was Yahiko who taught Nagato to not cry because grown men don’t cry – a phrase we all may have essentially heard. Putting aside the gender stereotype, it is empowering in a way.

Nagato, Yahiko, and Konan could not afford to wallow in their suffering

To tell someone to buckle up and face the cruelty of the world head-on. Because unlike our comfort-fazed citizens of the democratic western nations, orphaned Akatsuki founders had nowhere to complain. Even in the face of an adversary they could only hold their Kunai and defend their lives to the bitter end – wherever that end may have lied, in their death or in the murder of the one on the other end.

Pain wanted to bury the pain of all others with him 

Naruto talks to Nagato
Naruto meets Nagato (via naruto.fandom.com)

Once Pain had told Jiraya that he doesn’t want to cry and instead wants to bear the pain of everyone else so that nobody else has to tear up. That is quite noble of him. But the harshness of the Shinobi world and the pain it carries wounded his soul to a depth beyond repair. (At least until he met the child of prophecy, Naruto Uzumaki.) This was to the point that years later when Jiraya confronts him (right before he is defeated and well.. never mind) Pain replied to his sensei “Yahiko, there was someone like that“.

Pain was so engrossed in the suffering that had yielded him and the vision that he wanted to create that he had long forgotten his origin. It mattered less to him how he began for someone like him could only manage to think of moving forward. Something Eren Jeager fanatics would relate strongly with.

The Philosophy of Pain is that of shared pain that helps human beings understand each other

Pain in Naruto Shippuden wanted to end wars once and forever. He considered himself a god as someone who stooped at the peak of human strength. Yet his reason for gathering all this power was not to rule the world but only to teach everyone the value of Pain. Nagato learned that only through the sharing of pain can one understand another.

Those who have lost their parents understand others who have gone through something similar. Only when one loses and falls down do they understand picking themselves up and standing up. It is suffering itself that connects people. Yet those who have never felt pain shall never understand what it means to be united. 

Pain kills Jiraya
Pain’s battle with Jiraya sensei, via crunchyroll

Pain believed that human beings will never understand each other, at least not until they feel similar suffering. This is the reason why he wanted to collect all the Tailed Beasts and release them to all the great nations of the world.

Pain decided to be the uniting factor for all others, the one who will beat the mark of the one true enemy – the one true god. Against the pain he will inflict upon the world, it shall finally stop the cycle of hatred. To bear the ending of the cycle of hatred means to bear all the hatred of the world, and all the deaths to his ends are mere means and sacrifices which are necessary.

Naruto reached Pain through the pain he himself had suffered

Despite Pain’s attempts, what finally defeated him was not brute strength. The depth of Pain Nagato in Naruto was such that he should not be killed through brute strength. For a villain with such a diverse and complex storyline, it would not be justified if he was defeated for the sake of the protagonist’s character development. But to revere the brilliance of Kishimoto sensei, he gave a fitting end to Pain.

Although fans call it talk-no-Jutsu, it was simply the child of prophecy that Jiraya always thought of, Naruto Uzumaki truly reaching the heart of another Shinobi. From one who has suffered to another, Naruto defeated pain using his own philosophy.

How Naruto parallels Nagato’s suffering

  • Naruto felt the pain that Nagato had gone through as someone who lost the people he loved at the hands of his enemy. It was Pain himself who had killed Naruto’s beloved sensei, and ironically it was Naruto himself who found forgiveness in his heart for his enemy.

Despite initially wanting to kill Pain, Naruto changed his mind after hearing Pain’s story. It is a tremendous feat of fictional storytelling where all the dots connect so mesmerizingly. Pain said that the world will only understand each other through mutual pain, and it was indeed true.

  • Naruto understood Pain through his shared understanding of the suffering both of them had gone through. Straight from losing his parents to the attack by the very demon that lays within Naruto, to the point where his beloved is killed by the enemy. (Yahiko in the case of Pain and Jiraya in Naruto’s point of view).

Yet what reached Nagato was Naruto reaching beyond his pain and hatred to forgive the very person responsible for Naruto losing his only godfather.

How Naruto fulfilled the destiny that Nagato was promised by Jiraya

After confronting Naruto, Pain was bedecked with a resolution unlike that of anything he had felt ever before.

  • Interestingly Jiraya considered Nagato to be the child of prophecy – the one who shall bring forth a change in the world for good. But Jiraya knew in his final breaths that the Child of Prophecy was actually Naruto.
  • In his final moments, Jiraya was sure to death that Naruto is the one, although never really living to see the end of his story. Both Nagato and Naruto were Jiraya’s most promising students and both wanted to change the world for the better.

Concluding 

Naruto overcame the suffering he had gone through, while Nagato used it to fuel his hunger to change the world. Naruto was no different, he too was forwarding his own philosophy of overcoming Pain through love. Yet what separates both is the fact that Naruto wanted to share his joy, while Pain wanted to share his, well, the name has it, the name has it 🙂


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