OMG,Jiraiya IS stronger than Itachi!
OWYB has opened my eyes:
Before: based off of reputation.
Itachi:"Even if I had more back up, it probably wouldn't change the outcome."
During: based off of expectation.
Jiraiya: "You won't take Naruto..."
Itachi: "And why not?"
Itachi is already afraid of Jiraiya, and backing off.
After: when knowledge is attained.
Kisame: Why is retreat necessary... for you?
Jiraiya: his distance is the only thing stopping him...
Much later: with the plot twists.
This actually does not apply to him running from Jiraiya. That was fear.
Nor does this.
It is clear that Jiraiya has been portrayed as stronger all along. Itachi's techniques like Tsukuyomi, Amaterasu, and Susano'o are perfectly countered by Jiraiya's method of fighting by looking at the feet, a super-reflexive shunshin when checking the Sharingan for a build-up to Amaterasu, and Yomi Numa, respectively. Itachi's other Sharingan Genjutsu won't work on a Sannin. Thus, Jiraiya will be able keep his hands clasped together for that mere minute to enter Hermit Mode, and if base Jiraiya can't just dodge all of Itachi's attacks and techniques himself in that minute without forming any hand seals, Gamabunta will easily hold Itachi off for a minute as Itachi has shown to be incapable of swiftly defeating large reptiles or amphibians, and the Sharingan has been shown incapable of instantly putting them in to a controlling Genjutsu. So I have to say, guys, I'm an Itachi fan, but it seems Jiraiya, like Itachi, is significantly stronger than Orochimaru, and even stronger than Itachi himself. That one time Orochimaru slammed him in to the ground without arms, incapacitating him long enough to severely wound Tsunade, was just because Jiraiya had bad chakra control, and was limited to his less hyped jutsu like Yomi Numa where as Orochimaru could use most of his jutsu without seals... even if he told Kabuto that he lost nearly all of the jutsu that he had ever learned along with his arms. So yeah, I'm sure Orochimaru would say similar things about Jiraiya, like that he was stronger than him, or that it was impossible to defeat him, instead of the opposite, and I'm positive that Orochimaru would avoid Jiraiya like he avoided Itachi, especially if he didn't have arms. It's all there in black and white.
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