(CHARACTER ANALYSIS) Kabuto
Thanks to oro
With the arrival of Kabuto on the scene once again in chapter 356 we finally saw a little into Kabutos mind. And so, the birth of these wandering thoughts. A look at Yakushi Kabuto from his introduction in chapter 39 to his most recent appearance in 357. For this essay I will lean more heavily on matters of psychology since his issue with identity is such an overwhelming part of his character. But I am overly fond of astrology and bloodtyping Im tossing those in here as well. First chunk will be dealing with identity formation, second part will be personality-oriented.
Disclosure and Potential Past
With great persistence you overcame the gazes directed at the nine-tails and thats why you came to know your own identity
(ch 356, pg 17). With that line we see how Kabuto believes Naruto came to know who he was as a result of the Kyuubi being locked within him. And so Kabuto is using Orochimaru's presence as a measure of himself. So that he can finally learn what it is that makes him who he is and not someone who is listening to the remnants of someone else's dictations. He is looking for the strength to overcome the power of someone who held so much control in his world. It brings him some kind of joy to know that, Part of me is doing everything it can to resist being taken over! I can truly sense that part that strives to surpass Orochimaru-sama (ch 357, pg 4). That element of him fighting to survive is a portion of his will. Something that he could call his own, something he could not locate within himself without a powerful life force like Orochimarus trying to eclipse it.
Kabuto also talks about how individuals looked at Naruto with scorn because of the Kyuubi. Am I Uzumaki Naruto
or am I the nine-tails
Im sure you asked yourself such in the past, the victim of the heartless gazes of people surrounding you (ch 356, pg 15). This observation might show us something about how Kabuto himself was treated initially. He was the only surviving member of one of Konohas enemies, something which was discussed by Anko and Sarutobi. He was the only one brought back from the battle at Bellflower Pass
by the medical units squad leader (ch 66). There was bound to be a lot of caution in dealing with him considering he was the product of war and in the Narutoverse it is a regular event to have children kill people.
With others watching Kabuto, judging him for his origins, the origins he was too young to know, it must have been a bitter experience. And also, another reason to not do well academically. From his adoption from the battle at Bellflower Pass, was he a spy starting there or was he one only after going to Konoha and perhaps meeting up with Sasori later (Kabuto was with Sasori first as indicated by chapter 290)? Kabuto took the exam seven times over 4 years and failed (ch 39). During that time it is not unreasonable to believe he was spying for Orochimaru. In Part II Kabuto is 22, and he graduated from the Academy at 10 after failing two times (databook 2/ch 66). At least during that span of time he has been spying for either Orochimaru or Sasori. Meaning he worked as a spy for at least 12 years, but how much of that time did he spend being fully in control of his actions?
Orochimaru left Akatsuki 7 years from the end of Part I. Sasori would had to have gotten Kabuto to the Sannin before that time. During the bridge scene where Yamato is masquerading as Sasori and ends up meeting Kabuto, he says, Its been about 5 years, eh? (ch 289, pg 12). It is possible that for two years he was under the control of Sasoris mind control. After all, if Orochimaru knew Kabuto was going to meet Sasori 5 years ago why wouldnt he have tried to kill his former partner at that point? Kabuto says, Ive been feeling a little weird
ever since Sasori-samas jutsu lost effect and I started to remember who I was (ch 289, pg 13). Saying such a thing means it was something that would occur normally. After the jutsu wore off he started to remember who he was? That would have been quite a shock to realize a good deal of what he was doing was a result of a jutsu. And so, in comes Orochimaru with his marvelous goal, how could Kabuto, freshly liberated from such a jutsu, not be taken in by the idea?
For how long did Kabuto operate under his possible skill level? Since his academy days he was a student who didnt stand out much, his grades were average
no spectacular battle history
(ch 66). If he displayed any skill initially, people would have suspected something if he had a steep decline in academic performance. I do not believe Kabuto was under the direction of Sasori prior to going to Konoha. There is no indication of such an event, rather, Sasori probably along later and somehow saw something about Kabuto which made him see him like a fitting spy. Meaning he always worked under his capabilities. So, if he wasnt a spy for all that time, why exactly would he not try his best given how confident he appears in his abilities currently? It is possible that he acted under his skill level so people would not treat him as something to be feared considering where he came from. Kabuto has always been well aware of what people think, even Orochimaru commented, Youre so intuitive that its scary (ch 88, pg 8). And later Kabuto further proves his ability to analyze situations when he assesses the best method to get the scroll Team 7 needed and used it as an excuse to travel with them to better assess Sasuke (ch 61, pg 8) and figures out how to work his body despite how Tsunades charka disrupted it (ch 164, 16-17).
Importance of Others
Kabuto refers to Konoha as the enemy even from when he was first taken in. So does this mean that even at the beginning of his time with them he did not accept them as his peers? Still, even if he did not see himself as part of them, there was no indication that he acted out against them publicly. Bringing up the point again of how Kabuto spoke of the way people looked at Naruto being potentially tied in with how he was viewed in his own past, perhaps this explains why Kabuto lashed out at Tsunade when she flinched away from him (ch 166, pg 15). It could have brought up memories of how others would look upon him with the same revolution when he was a child. Yes, I am completely hung up on the idea of children being treated poorly, but considering the histories of a great deal of the cast, I do not think this belief is completely unfounded.
But if Kabuto was not mistreated early on, he still did not see the people of Konoha as people he belonged with. Since a young age Ive moved about countries and villages as a spy
to me things like countries, villages
they hold no firm reality in my mind (ch 356, 15). From here we see how he is lacking in one of the foundations for the formation of his identity. A persons perception of self is very much shaped by their environments, and these surroundings mean having some sense of peers, of parents, and of culture to evaluate and incorporate into or reject from ones own schema. After all, positive parental involvement is very important in how a child sees the world. But even in the beginning, Kabuto did not see the people he was around as something he could compare himself to because he knew he was completely different from them. But still, even though he did not see himself as a part of them, he has to stay in order to survive and spy. What does this mean exactly?
The most important point here is that identity is something that is discovered through dealing with different situations, it is not something people are born with. I have to explain a little about Erik Eriksons psychosocial theory (Erik Erikson )of personality development. It is a developmental theory about how a persons growth is separated into eight stages. The stages progress with a challenge that individuals need to overcome at certain ages. And as the social part of the theory indicates, each of them place importance upon interactions with other people. For example, the stage that takes place for adolescence is identity vs. role confusion, where the goal is, to develop a lasting integrated sense of self . And that is the very stage I will be looking at now.
As mentioned earlier, Kabuto is 22, barely an adult in years. The one thing he had grounded his self in was Orochimaru, and now that is gone. So he has to go back and re-evaluate himself to find what to do with his life. This is a common enough occurrence, going back to work on a stage to reach a higher resolution of the issue. Why does no one else take it to the extremes that he does? It is because before he never explored different possibilities (and because he needs to believe the goal was his own choice I will talk about this later). Yes, he did pretend to have different personalities while spying, but despite all his talk about willingly following Orochimaru, I dont think it would have been his first choice if he had anywhere else to go.
Did Kabuto follow Orochimaru because he believed in the man's plan of world domination? Among the members of Otokagure, all who originated from elsewhere, perhaps Kabuto really did feel at home among the misfits. Even if he were to run away to a new village, he would still not be himself because he would have to live a life in which people do not know of what he was originally. Showing his medical skill, something he is so proud of, would doubtlessly raise questions elsewhere. However, in Otokagure, they know he is a spy, they know what he really is, and so around them he can do as he pleases.
Fidelity and Foreclosure
His apparent loyalty is a mask to hide the fact that he really had no where else to go. He has been moving from village to village as a spy since he was a child. And he called Konoha the land of his enemies. Im inclined towards believing Orochimaru lifted the mind control jutsu not that long before the start of the exams because Kabuto remark on how, I havent gained your absolute trust yet
(ch 88, pg 9). This fits in my earlier assessment of Kabuto having been under the mind control jutsu for about a year prior to the beginning of Part I. If he had been working completely under his own willpower for a while there would not be such a question of trust. But that lack of confidence in Kabutos faithfulness is not unreasonable considering when Orochimaru lifted Sasori's mind control jutsu, what could Kabuto do but follow the snake Sannin? He couldn't go back to Sasori, it would mean that he might once again loose his free will to yet another mind control. And as mentioned before, he never viewed Konoha or the other villages as his home. And so, he stays with Orochimaru because there was nothing else, even though he would not admit it to himself. Kabuto deceives himself into believing he really did [fall] pray to Orochimaru-samas magnificent way of thinking (290, pg 14).
This ties back in with a search for identity because he did not have a chance to explore what he could geniusly become. He learned to become a medic and he was given the task of becoming a spy, neither of which he truly decided for himself no matter how much he wants to believe such a thing. Because these roles were pressed onto him, he is in what is called the foreclosure phase of Marcias Identity Status (James Marcia - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia). The foreclosure stage is when the persons position in life is decided by someone else. A conflict between what fits with an individuals personality and the given role can happen. This may be the case with Kabuto. But because he has no choice in the matter, even though he wants to believe he does, he goes towards the extreme to defend his position. Kabuto is not completely happy with this given all the questionable moments we see hinting at how he might turn against the Sannin.
All the times he could have betrayed Orochimaru, Kabuto toyed with the ideas because they were paths he could take. Because he does not have a firm grasp of who he is, he does not know for sure what he himself wants. And so, he goes through with the actions he considered because he could and because he wants to try them to see if they feel right. He easily gives information about the location of Sasuke to Team 7 (ch 304, pg 11) as well as the Tsunade part mentioned awhile ago. Trying it might help him figure out who he is even though he wasn't aware of that possibly being the reason for his urges to do anything. He wanted to test whether or not the activities fit into who he is. But he does not go outside the bounds of what Orochimaru suggests for him. Even the idea of going after Sasuke was something Orochimaru had originally brought up. It is unknown if Kabuto ever considered the possibility before that.
And for someone who says he was completely taken in by Orochimarus goals, his thoughts about Sasuke show otherwise, We stood out too much. We were both unfortunate to catch the eye of Orochimaru-sama
(ch 88, pg 16). Now that certainly does not sound like someone who was at all pleased with his situation in life. While Kabuto had no distaste towards how Orochimaru killed a servant because of the pain in his arms (ch 153, 11), the medic nin showed disgust at how Orochimaru used the death of Tsunades loved ones to his advantage. We see how Kabuto frowns and thinks to himself, Ah
Orochimaru-sama, you are cruel (ch 156, pg 2). Blind devotion would not allow such words to exist. Yet still, he blocks Shizunes attack of needles on Orochimaru with his own body. And Orochimaru stands there, not particularly concerned about the whole exchange. This part involving the talk with Tsunade is interesting because much of the time we do not see Kabutos eyes and his reactions to what is being said (especially in chapter 157). All we can tell is that he is not all smiles like he usually would be when dealing with other people.
He does not do all he does for Orochimaru, instead he has accepted Orochimarus goal as his own. Whenever he spoke of an achievement he referred to it as something which benefited the both of them, not just the Sannin. Just an example of this could be seen in, We may have failed in destroying Konoha
but we were able to accomplish the plans for Uchiha Sasuke
(ch 140, pg 4). With that line it felt like he was talking to himself, which explains his expression of surprise towards Orochimarus acidic words because Kabuto was just thinking about the goal. At the end of the KN4 fight, Kabutos violent reaction towards Sais appearance (ch 297, pg 14) could be seen as a type of jealousy, in that he does not anyone else there to distract from the goal.
He only cares about Orochimarus existence because the mans ambition gives him something to aim for. He is committed to the aspiration Orochimaru provides, but loyalty is something I would be reluctant to call it. After all, fidelity is something which can only arise after successfully surpassing Eriksons identity vs. identity confusion stage, which Kabuto has not done. Kabuto doesnt seem particularly concerned with Orochimarus pain from having necrotic arms, easily saying I mixed the medicine myself...it should make you feel at least a little better (ch 153, pg 12) without any sign of worry. Later we even see the Sannin say to Kabuto,
But I trust you completely, Kabuto (ch 163, pg 9). While Orochimaru could have said such a thing in order to have the medic nin listen to him even more, Im inclined towards believing it is true considering how he saw right away Tsunade was the one who betrayed him, not Kabuto. So at some point between him questioning whether or not Kabuto will kill Sasuke and the Tsunade arc Orochimaru grew to rely on Kabuto. Perhaps Orochimaru realized that since Kabuto has made himself a target of Konoha he really has nowhere else to go.
Kabuto does appear to gain some satisfaction whenever Orochimaru appears confident in his abilities, like when he smiled about Orochimaru saying I have you
(ch 161, pg 9) in response to his question about whether or not it would be a simple task to make Tsunade heal Orochimarus arms. And later, when Kabuto has the opportunity to interrupt Tsunade and Orochimaru we find him thinking about Orochimarus words from so long ago, telling Kabuto he is not capable of killing the Sannin (ch 163, pg 4). Later Kabuto even offers his body under the pretense of devotion (ch 198, pg 16). The alternative thought of him needing the Sannin to guide him is too grim an outlook for someone who so wants to be independent.
Change and Reaction Formation
With the major life change of having Orochimaru out of the picture, Kabuto has to deal with the new challenge of what to do with himself now. But since he had no other experiences to use as a new starting point, he is left with the only thing he knows. Kabuto is different from Kimimaro. While Kimimaro believes he is content with living for someone else, Kabuto wants to be able to live for himself, he wants to believe that he is of great enough important to the world to exist. A reflection of this is seen as a note in the first Databook, he desires to be independent. But still, after all those years of not knowing who he was and serving under people like Sasori or Orochimaru, he does not know how to function autonomously anymore. He has to have Orochimaru's eye to watch over everything. Even though he wants to become the new greater being he still needs something there to look over him. Having been surrounded by people who could barely classify as human all his life, he goes the path of becoming a monster himself.
While foreclosed people may seem well-adjusted with a strong goal in mind, they will unfailingly react very defensively whenever their ambition is challenged. Kabutos response to Orochimarus demise is a very apt example of what is called a reaction formation, which can occur in people at the foreclosure stage of Marcias identity statues. This reaction is typically characterized by the need to go to absurd lengths to maintain their foreclosed convictions because it takes them that much effort to keep those convictions alive( Foreclosed Identities - Depression, Generalized Anxiety, Panic & Bipolar Disorder fantastic read, particularly the bit about the drowning mermaid, which ties in nicely with Kabuto being a Pisces incidently). And what more extreme response can a person have then to risk having their body completely taken over?
And Kabuto's statement of, Ill exact revenge on Orochimaru-samas murderer, Sasuke-kun (ch 357, ph 6)? Partially it is a reflection of his supposed loyalty, but also, he is bitter towards Sasuke for taking away his reason for being satisfied with who he was. He hid in the reasoning of working towards Orochimaru's great goal instead of trying to really decide a path for himself even though he puts forth the impression of considering his options.