The undoubted star of the Naruto franchise may be a certain enthusiastic blond-haired youngster but it was Minato Namikaze and Kushina Uzumaki that brought Naruto into the world, figuratively speaking at least.
Although Minato and Kushina may have only birthed their son in a narrative sense, both parents are excellently conceptualized and vividly fascinating characters in their own right. More importantly, they both contribute to the personality and character traits of Naruto himself, and despite being absent for his entire upbringing, the future Seventh Hokage inherits elements from both parents-- some subtle, some very obvious.
Although Minato was a revered ninja as a young child, Kushina’s role as Jinchūriki of the Nine Tails – as well as her striking appearance – made life difficult for the young girl, but when she and Minato paired up, their love brought harmony and balance to both of their lives. However, the tale of Minato and Kushina is a tragic one.
With Minato installed as Hokage and Kushina pregnant with the couple’s first child, things could hardly have been better for the budding family. Unfortunately, on the night of Naruto’s birth, an invader attacked the village, releasing the Nine Tailed Fox from Kushina during childbirth.
Ultimately, both parents gave their lives to save their newborn son and the entire village, sealing the Nine Tails into their child and kick-starting the entire story in the process.
Although both characters died prior to the beginning of Naruto, the title character’s parents are pivotal and popular figures in the franchise.
Here are 15 Things You Never Knew About Minato And Kushina.
Everybody knows that Minato Namikaze had a frightening array of techniques at his disposal and that the ninja became famous for his use of the Flying Thunder God and the Rasengan. However, in the Naruto Shippuden movie The Lost Tower, Minato uses a very different type of technique – memory erasure.
The Lost Tower is a time-bending tale that sees a present-day Naruto team up with Minato from the past in order to take down a common enemy.
Although Minato eventually makes the connection that Naruto is his future son, he is also acutely aware of the Butterfly Effect and makes a conscious effort to not learn anything that may alter the natural course of time. As a precaution, Minato uses the Memory Erasing Seal on himself and his team to wipe the encounter from their minds.
Such a technique would be a significant ability for Minato to possess, but seeing as he only ever used it once and movies aren’t generally considered canon, it could be argued that the true Kishimoto version of Minato may not have had this power.
As science's “nature or nurture” debate rumbles on eternally, it seems that Naruto is leaning more towards the “nature” camp, particularly where ramen is concerned. Naruto Uzumaki’s love for the noodle-based dish is well documented and can be partly attributed to his being an orphan and not having anyone at home to cook meals.
However, another factor in Naruto’s choice of favorite food is surely that his mother also considered ramen her favorite meal. As revealed in the third Naruto data book, Kushina was particularly fond of shio ramen – a salt based variety.
It’s certainly interesting that, despite growing up without even knowing who his parents were, Naruto still took on some of their characteristics such as eating ramen and the annoying “ya know!” speech habit.
As Kakashi so expertly explains, everyone has an affinity for at least one of the five basic elemental natures: Fire, Earth, Wind, Water, and Lightning. However, with skill and training, a Shinobi can master more than one nature transformation, for example Sasuke was proficient in the Lightning and Fire styles from an early age.
As is typical of a high level ninja, Minato could harness three different elements: Fire, Lightning, and Wind. Interestingly, Kushina could use both Wind and Water styles, presumably as a result of her home village. Therefore, the only element Naruto’s parents didn’t have covered between them was the Earth transformation.
Strangely, Naruto was only seen to master one element (without the help of Tailed Beasts or the Sage of Six Paths) and that was the Wind element that both of his parents had an affinity for.
Very often, the most popular and relatable characters are the ones who are based on real-world figures from the writer’s own life, and this is as true in the world of animation as it is in live-action. Despite not appearing very often in Naruto, Kushina became a very popular and well-rounded character and this may be due to the fact that Masashi Kishimoto partly based her on his own wife.
In a 2013 interview with Naruto publisher Shonen Jump (available to read at Saiyan Island), Kishimoto stated “Kushina is based a little bit on my wife. She’s a bit like that, a little scary.” This is, of course, a reference to Kushina’s famous temper which she displayed when teased about her red hair.
Kishimoto was obviously keen on using his own partner as a template for the wives of Naruto, as the new Boruto anime series has painted the likes of Hinata and Temari in a similar “scary” fashion.
Despite coming from a relatively unknown clan, Minato Namikaze was heralded as a child prodigy very early in his ninja career and the youngster’s skill was made even more obvious when he attained the highest scores in the history of Konoha academy.
In the Itachi Uchiha spinoff Book of Bright Light, Itachi is taking the famous written section of the Chūnin Exams where students are encouraged to cheat without getting caught by the invigilators. Itachi manages to complete the test without outside aid and is later told that he received the second-highest score of all time, only being bested by Minato Namikaze.
The reveal is testament to the Fourth Hokage’s supreme intelligence, observational skill, strong work ethic and resourcefulness and until stated otherwise, it must be assumed that Minato still holds the record in the current timeline.
In the Naruto franchise, it’s very common for character names to have some kind of deeper significance and this is true for both Minato and Kushina.
The Japanese myth of Yamata No Orochi (whose own name should sound familiar to Naruto fans, bearing in mind the creature was serpent-like) features a princess called Kushinada who is saved by the god Susanoo, with the two eventually becoming husband and wife.
Although the story itself mirrors how Kushina and Minato fell in love, the name Susanoo is mostly associated with the Uchiha clan in Naruto, rather than the Fourth Hokage. However, the mythological character was the god of seas and storms and Minato’s surname “Namikaze” translates to “waves and wind.”
Certainly then, there seems to be a strong connection between this classic myth and Naruto’s parents.
If any fans of the Final Fantasy series felt that Minato’s voice sounded a little familiar, there’s a good reason for that: the same voice actor is responsible for playing one of the best known villains in video game history-- Sephiroth.
Indeed, voice artist Toshiyuki Morikawa has played the sword-wielding villain in the Advent Children movie, as well as a variety of video games including Crisis Core, Dissidia, and Kingdom Hearts 2. Although able to turn his vocal cords to both protagonists and antagonists, Morikawa is known for mostly playing powerful and authoritative types in animation and video games.
Intriguingly, the actor is also frequently the Japanese dubbed voice of Hollywood A-Listers Ewan McGregor, Tom Cruise, and Keanu Reeves, voicing characters as diverse as Ethan Hunt, Neo, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and John Wick in his career.
Pin-pointing ages in the Naruto universe can be a bit of a nightmare, particularly when it comes to characters that died before the series began and are then get reanimated, but are revived at the same age they were when they died etc, etc...
The fourth Naruto data book did, however, manage to clear up some of the confusion surrounding Minato and Kushina’s ages, confirming that, when the duo first fell in love after Minato’s rescue mission, they were roughly 12 years old. Furthermore, when the Nine Tails attack took place, Naruto was born, and the couple sadly lost their lives, Minato and Kushina were only 24.
Although the lovers enjoyed a long relationship together, their adult lives were very much short-lived and the budding young family were cut down in their prime. Strangely, this also means that, when Naruto and Minato team up in the final arc, Naruto (at 17 years old) isn’t actually much younger than his 24 year-old reanimated Dad.
Minato was one of the most intelligent Shinobi of all time, one of the strongest characters in the entire series and mastered a glut of amazing techniques. So it perhaps shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that he didn’t favor one hand over the other.
In fact, you could possibly argue that Minato was predominantly a leftie, as when the character performs a summon technique, he does so with his left hand. This means that the hand he signed the original contract with was also his left.
However, in Minato’s fight scenes, he is regularly seen to use both hands interchangeably, either to throw kunai, use sealing Jutsu, or throw the Rasengan. Therefore, it has to be concluded that the Fourth Hokage can add being ambidextrous to his extensive set of skills.
Naruto’s mother was always famous for her long, red, Uzumaki hair and, although it was often a point of ridicule for her as a youngster, it also ultimately brought Minato and Kushina together. However, there seems to be a discrepancy between the anime and manga as to just how long her hair should be.
In Kishimoto’s original artwork, Kushina’s hair comes right down to her ankles, emphasizing the feature that she was widely renowned for. In the anime however, Kushina’s locks are chopped down to a more regular waist-level length. This alteration is most noticeable during the scene in which Naruto and his mother meet for the first time.
It’s not clear why Kushina’s most distinctive feature was scaled down for the anime adaptation, but it perhaps has something to do with making the character look more conventional and motherly.
The color orange has been a part of Naruto’s character and design since the ninja first appeared, with his distinctive jacket later morphing into an orange and black get-up for Shippuden. The character even referred to himself as “Konoha’s Orange Hokage.”
However, there is more meaning to this characteristic than meets the eye. Naruto’s father Minato was widely known as “Konoha’s Yellow Flash” due to his unmatched speed and bright blond hair, whilst Kushina was nicknamed the “Red Hot Habanero” due to both her hair color and fiery temper.
As anyone who successfully graduated pre-school will known, putting together yellow and red produces orange, just as putting together Minato and Kushina produced Naruto. It’s unclear whether Kishimoto intended this from the very start, or whether it was an extra layer of depth added later in the series.
The Naruto series has regularly attracted criticism for the portrayal of its female characters and the video game Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution did absolutely nothing to dispel this myth.
Kushina is a fully playable character in the game, but instead of using traditional ninja tools such as shuriken and kunai, her weapons are kitchen utensils. Obviously this was a reference to Kushina’s skill as a cook – Minato in particular was a big fan of her food – but it’s also hard to escape the sexist overtones that giving a female ninja a pan instead of a weapon creates.
The move is particularly insulting, as the character was a skilled ninja in her own right, able to do wonders with sealing Jutsu. She was also one of the few people who managed to survive a Tailed Beast extraction.
Released in 2004, Hidden Leaf Village Grand Sports Festival is an O.V.A. that sees the Konoha 11 compete in sporting events to win a break from missions. Unfortunately, Naruto is suffering from one of his awfully timed stomach complaints and keeps rushing off to bathroom. Thrilling stuff.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the entire special however, is that when Naruto is running to the toilet, several rarely-seen characters can be spotted in the hallways, including Naruto’s own father Minato.
Although now viewed as nothing more than a comedy cameo in a filler animation, back when Grand Sports Festival was released, the full story of Minato had yet to be explored. As such, this early on-screen appearance was quite significant and furthered some fan theories that the Fourth Hokage was actually still alive.
Teachers aren’t usually allowed to have favorite students but that rule doesn’t apply to teacher’s spouses apparently. When Minato became a Jonin, he was put in charge of his own three-man Genin team consisting of Kakashi, Rin, and Obito. At that time, Kakashi was selfish and withdrawn, still suffering from his father’s death and Rin was her typical cheerful, supportive self.
Obito, on the other hand, was charismatic, friendly, and helpful but with a determined and hard-working side that drove him towards his goal of becoming Hokage. It was this attitude that made Obito Kushina’s favorite youngster in team Minato, and she hoped that her own child would possess a similar outlook on life.
Although Naruto did indeed end up having a similar personality to that of young Obito, Minato’s former student was ultimately responsible for Kushina’s death, her husband’s death, and the orphaning of her child. It's safe to say that her favorite is probably Rin nowadays.
Shonen Jump regularly hold fan polls to decide which characters in their premiere series are the most popular, and in the seventh Naruto poll, it was revealed that, although readers were fond of both characters, Minato (ranked 7th) was more popular than Kushina (21st).
To be fair, Minato enjoys a lot more screen time than his wife and his scenes are considerably more action-packed, with loads of flashy attacks. Subsequently, his high popularity compared to Kushina was perhaps inevitable.
However, it’s testament to the strength of both characters that, despite debuting relatively late in the story and not having a huge amount of time on screen, fans immediately took both Minato and Kushina to their hearts and embraced them just as strongly as Naruto himself did on screen.
Do you have any further fascinating facts about Naruto's Minato Namikaze or Kushina Uzumaki? Leave them in the comments section!