Kabuto Yakushi is a former villain turned anti-hero in the anime series Naruto. He spent most of his life as a spy working for many different individuals, organisations, and countries during his life. His natural talents in intelligence-gathering and medicine attracted the attention of Orochimaru when he was younger, who made Kabuto his right-hand man. Although Kabuto learns much about the world under Orochimaru, he eventually decides that his life of serving others has prevented him from making an identity for himself.
He thereafter seeks power and becomes a major factor in the Fourth Shinobi World War, using his higher place in the world so that he can find where in it he belongs. After finally finding himself in the world, Kabuto returns to Konohagakure to run the orphanage there, helping others such as himself to find their own way.
He is voiced by Henry Dittman.
Kabuto was found as a child by Nonō Yakushi on the outskirts of a city recently destroyed in a battle; he had suffered a head injury, leaving him with no memory of his name or past. Nonō treated his wound and brought him to the Konoha Orphanage. Urushi, another orphan, placed a helmet on his head so he wouldn't be injured again, prompting Nonō to name him "Kabuto". Kabuto liked the name and left his bed that night so that he could thank her, unaware of the orphanage's strict schedule. When Nonō found him, she discovered that this was in part because he couldn't read a clock due to his poor eyesight. She gave him her glasses so that he could see, overwhelming Kabuto with thankfulness.
To earn money for the orphanage's operations, Nonō used her medical ninjutsu to treat injured shinobi of Konohagakure; Kabuto, having been taught medical ninjutsu by Nonō, would assist. Although the money helped, they still relied on direct funding from Konoha in order to get by. Aware of this fact, Danzō Shimura visited the orphanage one day threatening to withhold Konoha's funding if Nonō didn't turn one of the orphans over to his Root organisation. Kabuto, after eavesdropping on this conversation, volunteered against Nonō and Urushi's protests. Root trained Kabuto in espionage and over the years sent him to gain intel by, at different times, posing as a ninja of Kumo, Kiri, Suna, and Iwa. While in Iwa, Kabuto's spying was discovered and an Iwa-nin cornered him. He was able to strike down his pursuer, but only afterwards discovered that it was Nonō, who was also working for Root.
Kabuto apologised profusely and tried to heal Nonō, but she didn't recognise his face, even when he told her his name. She died from her injuries and Kabuto was forced to flee before Nonō's backup found him. Once safe, Kabuto was disillusioned by what had happened, wondering who he was if even Nonō didn't know him. He was soon confronted by Orochimaru, an underling of Danzō who'd taken an interest in Kabuto over the years. Orochimaru explained that Danzō had been giving Nonō falsified photographs of Kabuto so that she would no longer recognise him when they met. This in turn allowed Danzō to pit Nonō and Kabuto against each other and thus eliminate Root's two most effective, and consequently, knowledgeable spies. Assuming that Orochimaru planned to finish him off, Kabuto attacked him, distraught by the loss of both Nonō and the self-identification he'd acquired through her.
Orochimaru survived the attack and suggested that Kabuto now try making a new identity for himself using whatever knowledge of the world he could acquire. Orochimaru offered to help him in this regard and invited him to help make a new village, Otogakure, where individuality could thrive. Kabuto agreed and Orochimaru gave him a new backstory: that he was found by Nonō - a captain of Konoha's Medic Corps - after the Battle of Kikyō Pass and adopted as her son. With this backstory, Kabuto was able to become a genin of Konoha, which he used to enter the biannual Chūnin Exams so that he could gather information on his fellow participants for Orochimaru's use. Later, he was found by Akatsuki and was turned into one of Sasori's sleeper agents so he would spy on Orochimaru. Shortly afterwards, Orochimaru realised the truth and freed him from this control, allowing Kabuto to effectively infiltrate the organisation for Orochimaru. When not spying, Kabuto helped Orochimaru with his experimentations and his studies of different Oto-nin's abilities. In the anime, Kabuto also helped Orochimaru find genetic samples for use in the Impure World Reincarnation and also helped him escape from Itachi Uchiha after the latter's failed attempt to capture Itachi.
At times, Kabuto can seem quite open, more than willing to approach people and always confident in his own words and actions. By his own admission, he is an introvert who doesn't like to be looked at and who wants to stick to the background. He can be very critical of others, dismissing their personal desires and outlining all the flaws he perceives them to be making. To those he feels are deserving, he is nothing but polite, regarding them with deference, using the appropriate honourifics, and chastising those who don't do the same. He can be cruel, preying on sensitive topics in order to rile someone up and punctuating his comments with sarcasm. Other times he is kind, putting himself at risk and being helpful for no immediate benefit to himself.
The many contradictions of Kabuto's personality are a result of his frequent role as a spy, having spent most of his life changing identities and loyalties in order to gather information for some organisation. Although he's been serving Orochimaru for the longest period of time, even Orochimaru isn't always sure what Kabuto's trues feelings are: he trusts Kabuto implicitly, yet secretly suspects that Kabuto might intentionally undermine him. When Kabuto begins working with Tobi, Tobi is careful to be on guard with Kabuto and keep him on a short leash, aware that Kabuto does not always act for the reasons he claims to; even so, Kabuto is able to make himself simultaneously so valuable yet so dangerous that Tobi can't really do anything about it.
Kabuto appears to take his shifting allegiances in stride, but in truth he suffers an ongoing identity crisis. Because of the head injury he experienced when he was younger, Kabuto's early past is unknown to him and he has been having to construct an identity for himself ever since. While he was recruiting Kabuto, Orochimaru encouraged him to follow his own example and quite literally build who he wants to be out of whatever knowledge and abilities he can gather. Kabuto latched on to this idea at the time, but eventually realised that this was no different than what he did as a spy: aligning himself under some larger entity and then defining himself according to that. Kabuto decides it is better to follow Naruto Uzumaki's example and establish his own identity by becoming even greater than those under whose shadows he's lived under, namely Orochimaru. Kabuto sets out to become stronger, perfecting all the skills that Orochimaru could not, and use the resulting power so that he would never need to be answerable to anyone ever again.
In his quest to surpass Orochimaru, Kabuto convinces himself that he has become the "perfect" being. He uses this believed distinction in order to ally with Tobi during the Fourth Shinobi World War, pitting Tobi against the Allied Shinobi Forces so that they will destroy themselves and enable Kabuto to capitalise in the aftermath. But when his plans see continued setbacks, especially in his repeated failure to defeat Sasuke and Itachi Uchiha in battle, Kabuto's self-image as "perfect" starts to crack and he begins desperately trying to defend his final attempt at being recognised. Itachi tries to explain the misstep that Kabuto has been making, but it isn't until he is subjected to Izanami that Kabuto accepts it: in the act of making an identity for himself, he has only been burying who he truly is. When he peels away all his false personas, Kabuto again becomes the adoptive son of Nonō Yakushi, one who could be trusted to do things on his own and who was valued by the entire orphanage because of it. Despite having claimed to have surpassed Orochimaru, Kabuto still held great respect for Orochimaru, still referring to him with the honourific "-sama". Kabuto feels indebted to Itachi for restoring to him the knowledge of who he is and where in the world he most belongs; he later returns the favour to Itachi by saving Sasuke's life. After the war, Kabuto returns to the orphanage where he was raised - his long-neglected true home - and resumes the life he once had there. He believes it is vital that the orphans have identities of their own and not allow themselves to be defined by their past associations.
List of summoning of the Reanimation Jutsu
- Itachi Uchiha
- Torune Aburame
- A The Third Raikage
- Mū the Second Tsuchikage
- Gengetsu Hōzuki the Second Mizukage
- Hayate Gekko
- Rasa the Fourth Kazekage
- Shin (Anbu)
- Zabuza Momochi
- Yugito Nii
- Yagura Karatachi the Fourth Mizukage
- Tonika Village Head
- Madara Uchiha
- Kinkaku and Ginkaku
- Mangutsu Hozuki