Itachi Uchiha is a cult acclaimed character in the TV anime series Naruto Shippuden, created by Mashashi Kishimoto and based on a manga of the same name.
Itachi is the brother of the anti hero, yet widely loved, character of Sasuke Uchiha who is one of the main characters of the series.
Itachi Uchiha is a supporting character in the series, so some viewers may not catch his whole narrative arc, while others find the Uchiha Clan Downfall to be one of the most interesting and adult narratives within the whole anime and manga.
Itachi’s death is an interesting and important moment within the manga, we explored the events that led to Itachi’s rise and fall.
Who Is Itachi?
Itachi Uchiha is a member of the powerful Uchiha clan, and brother of Sasuke Uchiha. The Uchiha clan was one of the most powerful and famed clans in all of the Hidden Leaf Village, mainly due to the clans calling card which is their unique sharingan and natural combat skill.
While the Uchiha clan was one of founding clans in Konoha, after their downfall few uchiha’s actually survive to the present day.
The Uchiha clan is descended directly from Indra Otsutsuki, one of the celestial beings that created the world. The Uchiha’s inherited the ‘eyes’ of the Otsutsuki tribe enabling large chakra reserves and their unique sharingan powers.
They also inherited what is referred to as ‘The Curse of Hatred’ in the clan, which causes many Uchiha’s to have powerful emotions that eventually are overwhelmed by hatred.
As a child, Itachi was fairly non-violent and his experience of the Third Shinobi World War prompted him to want to become the first ninja that erased fighting from the world.
He witnessed the Nine Tail Fox attack which resulted in Naruto becoming the jinchuriki. The Nine Tailed Fox attack started a rift between the village and the Uchiha clan who started to distrust each other and blame each other for the near destruction of the village.
By age 10 Itachi had aced the chunin exams and graduated from the academy, leading him to sit in on clan meetings from an early age and by age 11 he had joined the Anbu, the covert assassin and tactical squad of Konoha.
Itachi’s advancement through the ranks of the Anbu was closely monitored and encouraged by the Uchiha clan elders who sought that Itachi become a spy against the Konoha elders.
This was due to the Uchiha clan planning a coup d’etat against the Konoha leaders, for what they assumed would be the best for the village.
Itachi, while his actions created a different image, knew that an Uchiha clan uprising would simply lead to another shinobi war, and, having been traumatised by the third war, did not want this to happen.
As a result Itachi chose to become a double agent and report the Uchiha’s activities and plans to the Hokage.
Itachi was a double agent alongside his childhood best friend Shisui. Shisui had his own agenda and issues with the clan. But with his own options exhausted chose to commit suicide in the Nake River.
Other Uchiha clan members, once aware of Shisui’s death, blamed Itachi and accused him of murdering his best freind and staging his suicide. Enraged, Itachi awakens his Mangekyo Sharingan, making him stronger, and kills his accusers.
Itachi was promoted to an Anbu captain at the young age of 12. As Danzo, leader of the Anbu, realised there was no outcome that would be in the clan’s favour, gave Itachi a choice.
Either support the coup and let the clan die in conflict, including his brother Sauke, or destroy the whole clan before the coup starts, sparing Sasuke, and saving the village. Itachi, helped by the masked Madara Uchiha, murdered the whole clan in one night.
While Itachi personally executed his own parents, he spared Sasuke and using Tsukuyomi convinced Sasuke that his actions were motivated by anger and power and that he wanted to test himself against his own brother, encouraging him to become a powerful shinobi and seek Itachi out and kill him when he is strong enough.
Now branded an international war criminal and outwardly shunned by the village, Itachi sought out the Akatsuki so he could infiltrate them and protect both Konoha and Sasuke.
When Does Itachi Die?
During Itachi’s perilous travels with the Akatsuki he actually contracts a terminal illness. Through medecine, healing, and sheer willpower he remains alive purely so that Sasuke can kill him.
In the first act of teh anime, Sasuke and Itachi do cross paths which sets Sasuke off on his own fall from grace due to his inability to better his brother. In his double agent capacity within the Akatsuki, Itachi is seeking Naruto as ordered.
He uses his skills as an Anbu to enter the village undetected but runs into his old friend Kakashi who recognises him. When Sasuke gets wind of Itachi’s return to the village, empowered by rage, Sasuke seeks out his brother and attacks him on sight.
Itachi, the much more powerful ninja at the time, easily defeats Sasuke and breaks his wrist, scorning his weakness. Itachi uses Tsukuyomi to torment his brother with the memories of his parents death before escaping to avoid a fight with Jiraiya.
The main purpose of this reemergence in Konoha, by Itachi, was to remind Danzo and other Konoha elders that he was still active and they should not harm or enlighten Sasuke. So that Sasuke can complete his destiny to murder Itachi.
How Does Itachi Die?
Itachi, hearing of Sasuke’s training under Orochimaru and his subsequent murder of his teacher, sends out a shadow clone to lure Sasuke into an Akatsuki lair.
It is when Sasuke engages the clone in combat that Itachi knows it is time to confront Sasuke who is now strong enough to defeat Itachi. Itachii uses the clone to invite Sasuke to a Uchia hideout to engage in a battle to the death.
They commence battle by trading genjutsu and in the course of battle Itachi tells Sasuke of Madara’s existence as Tobi as well as the mysteries of the Mangekyo Sharingan.
The real fight ensues after this and the two engage in battle. Sasuke generally out strategizes his brother, although Itachi proves hard to defeat.
Once Sasuke has used all his chakra reserves he activates a jutsu taught to him by Orochimaru, and in an act of desperation unleashes the form of Orochimaru to end Itachi’s life.
Itachi, hoping this would happen, defeats Orochimaru as he understands he wants to take over Sasuke’s body and wants to protect Sasuke from this.
Having defeated Orochimaru as he wished, Itachi engages Sasuke again, propped up by his Susanoo, with the false intention of wanting to take Sasuke’s eyes.
As he reaches the weak Sasuke his resolve wanes and he can no longer hold up the mirage of evil. Poking Sasuke on the forehead like he did when they were children, he apologises to Sasuke and smiles at him before collapsing and succumbing to his fatal disease.
So, Itachi actually dies because of his disease, although partly due to the battle with Sasuke. Had Sasuke not relied on Orochimaru to kill Itachi he probably could have overcome Itachi himself.
Some fans believe that Itachi chose to succumb to his disease rather than letting Sasuke kill him so he wouldn’t feel the trauma that Itachi had, and ultimately so he didn’t have to kill his own brother.
Sasuke, after Itachi’s death, learns of Itachi’s true story and reasons for wiping out the Uchiha clan. This only confuses Sasuke further and sends him further down his path to destroy Konoha and defeat Naruto.
Legacy After Death
Itachi does return throughout the series as his corpse is reanimated by different parties, although this helps Itachi reconcile his mistakes and give further advice to his troubled brother. This also enables him to have a conversation with Sasuke once Sasuke learns the truth about Itachi.
Itachi’s legacy has a profound effect on Sasuke’s future. It’s undeniable that Itachi changed the course of Konoha’s history forever with his choice to massacre his whole clan, but it potentially works in favour of the Hidden Leaf Village, as Itachi was trying to prevent a war.
Once Sasuke learns of Itachi’s true intentions during the Uchiha Clan Downfall it changes his tune somewhat, and after being defeated by Naruto, Sasuke understands that he must protect Konoha as it was his brother’s goal all along.
It is this concession from Sasuke, along with his renewed partnership with Naruto, that allows the reunited Team 7 alongside the Allied Shinobi Forces to finally defeat the Akatsuki and end the Fourth Shinobi World War which in turn saves the world and brings some peace to Konoha, finally.
Itachi, while a supporting character, is one of the most important stories in understanding the story of the Hidden Leaf Village and why the shinobi protect the village with their lives.