Back to the Basics: Chakra
Renee here, aka Elfarren, getting back to more serious manga matters this time around. I’ve noticed a lot of debates going on in the comments over the past few weeks that all come down to one thing – chakra – and the more I thought about it, the more I realized how complex Kishi has made the entire concept, so I wanted to round up everything we know and lay some ideas out for everyone to chew on ^_^
We’ve been learning more about chakra throughout Shippuden, yet there is still a lot we don’t understand. From yin versus yang to Kekkai Genkai to accessing the full potential of the Kyuubi, Kishi has left readers quite a bit to speculate about. So, without further ado, let’s go back and review what we know about the Narutoverse’s most basic guiding principle: chakra.
Anyone else notice the yin/yang symbolism there? Keep in mind that was from chapter 17, when the manga was still in its infancy. Some 392 chapters later, in the Hurricane Chronicles, Fukasaku reminds us of Sakura’s lesson, complete with his own illustrations reinforcing the yin/yang symbolic representation in our minds.
The Sage chakra drawing kind of reminds me of the sharingan eye wheels, but getting into a debate about that will push me totally off topic, so I’ll leave that for all of you in the comments section. Getting back to the issue at hand, in addition to Sakura and Fukasaku, we also get an impromptu lesson on chakra from Maito Gai during the final preliminary rounds of the Chuunin exam.
This panel screamed at me when I was looking for material, because in many ways it’s a perfect explanation for the fundamental disparity between yin/yang as it applies to chakra. Both fighting styles cause severe damage, but Lee’s reliance on physical chakra is unbalanced by his complete lack of spiritual chakra. In the same sense, Neji is also unbalanced by relying so heavily on his spiritual chakra (Gentle Fist) as opposed to his physical chakra (Iron Fist). Looking at these examples, what if the explanation behind yin/yang is as simple as separately manipulating the two main types of chakra – to unbalance them, if you will? It’s tempting to consider … until Yamato throws a wrench in this simple explanation.
Thanks to Yamato, we now know that physically recomposing yin/yang chakra isn’t quite as simple as it sounds. It is the defining characteristic of secret clan techniques like Shikamaru’s shadow jutsu, Choji’s expansion jutsu, and Ino’s mind transfer jutsu; in other words, it is so difficult it takes the knowledge of generations to pass on just one set of techniques. The recomposition of yin/yang chakra also has something to do with medical jutsu and genjutsu, which are both difficult to master if we take Tsunade and Jiraiya’s word on the matter.
So, where does this leave us? Well, in its most basic form, we know that:
Spiritual energy + physical energy + hand signs = an awesome jutsu.
Taking it one step further:
Spiritual energy + physical energy + natural energy + hand signs = a totally awesomeness jutsu (or possibly the sharingan *clears throat*)
And, because of Maito Gai, we also know that you can apply chakra while fighting in two ways: externally (Iron Fist) and internally (Gentle Fist). Add to that our knowledge of how hard medical and genjutsu are to learn, and all I can say for sure at this point is that this whole chakra business is more difficult to explain than first meets the eye. But it doesn’t stop there …
Did you catch that? There is another wholly separate application – that we don’t know about yet – involved in the physical recomposition of chakra associated with having a kekkai genkai. Not only that, it can be learned! Kishi has laid it out for us plain and simple here: if you can manipulate two separate elements together at the same time, you will have one type of kekkai genkai. I’m not talking about the eye techniques of the Hyugas and Uchihas, but bloodline limits such as Haku’s or Yamato’s. Someone with the right pedigree *coughNARUTOcough* could create their own if they have the skillz, with a z. I’ve said all this before, though, so moving on …
Last but not least, we come to the Nine-Tailed Fox Demon. After a short lesson about Minato’s sealing method, Jiraiya realizes the “key” to unlocking the Fox’s chakra is heightened emotional or personal danger. Then, to prove his point, he throws Naruto into a ridiculously jagged ravine and tries to kill him, thereby breaking Minato’s seal.
I’ve been reconsidering the whole debate about unsealing the Fox’s yin chakra lately, and using what Jiraiya said above with what we know of the “key” before his fight against Pain, I’ve begun to wonder if Jiraiya began that process in part one. We know he used their two and a half years of training together to keep tweaking the seal bit by bit, resulting in his near death experience, but which half does it represent? Does Naruto already have access to the yang chakra and yin is represented by the seal, or did the yin chakra go with Minato into the Death God and yang is represented by the seal? If anyone can find some real, undisputable, no questions about it answer in the manga, please let me know! LOL