The Reanimation Jutsu (Edo Tensei): Everything You Need To Know

The Reanimation Jutsu is a forbidden jutsu that has an interesting history beyond its use by Kabuto Yakushi during the Fourth Shinobi World War, while it was eventually stopped, this formed most of the battles within the war.

Kabuto purposefully chose the shinobi he wanted to reanimate, bringing back the most mourned characters, often sensei or family members, to purposefully rile up the Allied Shinobi Forces while also creating poignant moments for fans who also remember many of these reanimated characters.

In terms of writing, this is a very clever move by Mashashi Kishimoto, the creator of the manga which the anime is from, in which Edo Tensei also appears.

Anime is often known for its deaths, when characters die it is often a very poignant moment where emotions are very high.

The Reanimation Jutsu

Moreover, it’s a very common motif in the genre, so Kishimoto pulls a genre-defining move where he actually reanimates the characters who had the most mournful and sad deaths.

With this move he creates some moments that are truly unique within the genre and demonstrates his awareness of the genre as well as how to redefine its limits.

However, the Reanimation Jutsu, known as Edo Tensei in the original Japanese script of the anime and manga, is an extremely complicated jutsu and can be hard to understand.

Many fans felt that the Edo Tensei was a purposeful plot tool by Kisihimoto which is what led to its complicated operation. In any case, we have provided the only guide to the Edo Tensei you need to read. Let’s explore this forbidden jutsu together!

What Does The Reanimation Jutsu Do?

In simplicity, the reanimation jutsu allows its caster to summon shinobi who have died. The shinobi who has been reanimated has access to unlimited chakra, can regenerate from any attack, and all of their previous powers (even powers that aren’t theirs) are accessible.

Worth noting is that when Kabuto reanimates Nagato, he even has his Rinnegan which are Madara’s. Moreover, even Madara has his own Rinnegan which couldn’t be taken in his original body. 

The Reanimation Jutsu is actually derived from the common summoning jutsu, just like when Kaskashi summons his dogs, or when Tsunade summons Katsuyu.

One difference between the Reanimation Jutsu and the Summoning Jutsu is that in nearly all cases a Summoning Jutsu can only be performed when a blood contract has been made with the object or person that is being summoned. In the case of the Reanimation Jutsu, this is not a necessary feature.

The Reanimation Jutsu was originally created by Tobirama Senju but in its original form was relatively weak in comparison to Kabuto’s. Tobirama’s version could only reanimate a specific amount of shinobi and said reanimated shinobi were often weaker than they were when they were alive.

Orochimaru, in his conquest to find all the forbidden jutsus, did manage to reduce these ailments somewhat but it was Kabuto who finally perfected the jutsu into what it was in the Fourth Shinobi World War.

Through perfecting it, Kabuto devises a way to have complete control over the reanimated soul, he can essentially choose if he wants them to have their personality and free will whenever he wants. 

In essence, the master of the Reanimation Jutsu is seriously overpowered, this is perhaps one of the most overpowered jutsu in all of Naruto, which is why many think it is a clear plot tool.

The caster can, in theory, create an army of the most powerful shinobi to ever exist who can no  longer die and have an infinite chakra supply – all of whom are controlled by the caster.

In addition to the clones of Zetsu, Kabuto and Tobi essentially created their own army that was controlled only by Kabuto, while Tobi fought on the front lines. 

Edo Tensei

How Is The Jutsu Cast?

As the Reanimation Jutsu is based on the Summoning Jutsu, it operates much the same but is also somewhat different. As mentioned, there is no contract like a summoning jutsu so some other things are required.

Most of this is explained and demonstrated to Tobi by Kabuto just before the Fourth Shinobi World War commences.

To replace the usual blood contract of a Summoning Jutsu, Kabuto explains that DNA is required from the original corpse of said shinobi.

Moreover, a living body to sacrifice in place of the reanimated shinobi is also required, the reanimated soul takes possession of this living body as a vessel for their soul but the reanimated shinobi actually assumes their normal form when successfully reanimated. 

One thing worth mentioning is that the shinobi you want to reanimate must exist in the pure plain, the ‘pure plain’ is essentially the afterlife within the Naruto universe.

For instance, Kabuto could not reanimate the first four Hokage as they had all been sealed within the Shinigami, which is the Death God that is summoned when the Reaper Death Seal is used, so Kabuto couldn’t access their soul nor DNA.

The ritual is pretty similar to the Summoning Jutsu, a seal is formed around the living sacrifice, the DNA is placed on the scroll, and Kabuto’s binding talisman is used in the ritual and is what allows him to control of their soul and personality.

The reanimated person then takes control of the sacrifice and is transformed into their former self.

How Is The Reanimation Jutsu Stopped?

This was basically the main focus of the Fourth Shinobi World War, the Allied Shinobi Forces had to fight with reanimated shinobi for a long time with no real solution being formed.

Their best course of action was to seal the defeated reanimated shinobi, this was the only solution to actually stopping them.

Different sealing techniques were used to seal the multiple reanimated shinobi; they couldn’t be actually defeated because they could regenerate from any attack. 

Without an actual way to stop the technique, which Kabuto insists only he had to the knowledge of, meaning even if they killed the caster then the Jutsu wouldn’t be able to be stopped, the jutsu and it’s reanimated shinobi wouldn’t stop.

Ironically, it was the reanimated shinobi who actually figured out how to stop the jutsu, or at least how to make Kabuto stop it himself. We will explain both cases of this.

Firstly, we have the notorious Itachi Uchiha who stopped the jutsu himself and was able to break the jutsu while remaining reanimated.

He achieved this with the help of Shisui Uchiha’s eye which has the ability to cast Konoamatsukami. Itachi implanted this eye into a crow a long time ago, reserving its powers for a necessary moment.

One of the main flaws of the jutsu is that genjutsu can still be cast on reanimated shinobi. This meant that Itachi was able to use Shisui’s eye to cast Konoamatsukami on himself, giving him the singular direction to protect the leaf village.

This allowed him to break control from Kabuto and remain reanimated but in control of his own body. 

In this state, and under the genjutsu of Konoamatsukami, Itachi went in search of Kabuto’s true hiding place and with a plan to stop his jutsu. The fact Itachi was already dead actually gave him an advantage in stopping the jutsu. 

The way Itachi stopped the jutsu was by casting Izanami, an equally overpowered and complicated jutsu. Izanami was purposefully created to humble those who think they are invincible due to their mastery of jutsu, in the original case it was Izanagi.

Izanami, without getting into the nitty and gritty details, puts the target in a loop, chosen by the caster, in which they constantly fight the caster but constantly miss, like a bad dream.

While originally reserved for Uchiha members who got too cocky with their Izanagi, this allowed Itachi to put Kabuto into a comatose state where he had control of him.

4 Hokage

Just like Izanagi, Izanami completely totals the Sharingan in that user’s eye, however Itachi was already dead so this didn’t really matter. In this state, Itachi was able to trick Kabuto into showing him the hand signs to stop the Reanimation Jutsu, which he then proceeds to do.

When Itachi stops the reanimation jutsu, all the reanimated shinobi return to the pure plain whence they came, apart from one – Madara Uchiha. Madara already knows the Reanimation Jutsu hand signs, so just re-cast it on himself when it was lifted from Kabuto. 

This is bad, because Madara was already one of the most powerful shinobi in the world, and now he is not only immortal but has infinite chakra, not good news for the Allied Shinobi Forces.

In addition to the endowment of the Edo Tensei, Madara’s body was also modified by Kabuto to be in his prime age of youth, with his original Rinnegan eyes and Eternal Mangekyou Sharingan, as well as the ability to use Wood Release, and still having Hashirama Senju’s cells implanted into him.

As Madara says himself: ‘Tell the summoner, that forbidden techniques should be used with caution!’

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Board That Kabuto Uses?

It’s hard to say with confidence that this is a direct part of the jutsu. This seems to be a way for Kabuto to keep track of all the reanimated shinobi, which are numerous at some points, and know when they are sealed.

Perhaps, this was a plot tool so not only Kabuto but also the audience can have some knowledge of what is going on.

How Is Anko Mitarashi Used In The Jutsu?

Anko is caught by Kabuto when she tries to stop him from casting the jutsu. With his powers from Orochimaru, he can absorb her increased chakra as a result of her stil having her Curse Mark from Orochimaru. Kabuto simply siphons here chakra to help him keep the jutsu going.

Why Couldn’t Kabuto Summon Orochimaru?

Some may be wondering why Orochimaru didn’t turn up among other returning cameos. This is because of one of the reasons previously mentioned. While Kabuto has Orochimaru’s DNA, even in himself, he cannot summon Orochimaru because his soul was sealed.

When Sasuke ‘killed’ Orochimaru, he didn’t properly kill him (not worth going into right now). During Sasuke’s battle with Itachi soon after, when they were duelling with their Sussano, Itachi was able to seal Orochimaru in his sword, the Sword of Totsuka, which is enchanted with sealing jutsu.

Itachi also used this sword to seal Nagato when he broke the spell on himself. In summary, Orochimaru’s soul was sealed and not accessible to Kabuto.

The Final Say

As you can see the Edo Tensei is seriously one of the most powerful jutsu to ever exist and there’s no surprise it is classed as a forbidden jutsu, Madara is right that these jutsu should be used with caution.

In summary, the Edo Tensei, or Reanimation Jutsu in the English Dub, is a forbidden jutsu that has the power to reanimate almost any shinobi that has died, with full use of their powers, infinite chakra, and the ability to regenerate from any attack.

The jutsu has existed for a long time and was created by Tobirama Senju, it has only been known to have the power it does as it was mastered by Kabuto, both Tobirama and Orochimaru failed to reach the levels that Kabuto took it to.

The jutsu was essentially unstoppable unless Kabuto turned it off himself, Itachi had to use a forbidden Sharingan ability to put Kabuto into a state where Itachi could extract the hand signs necessary to stop the jutsu.

There are a few, but really important, flaws that ultimately led to the downfall of the jutsu. If a reanimated shinobi knows the hand signs for Edo Tensei, as Madara Uchiha already did, then they can break the spell. Moreover, genjutsu can still be cast on reanimated shinobi, which is what allowed Itachi to break the spell in the same way.

Overall the Edo Tensei is probably one of the most overpowered jutsu in the animanga of Naruto, when mastered. It’s a clever invention by Kishimoto that allowed him to cleverly dig up previous trauma to make the ending of Naruto particularly poignant for fans.