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The world of Naruto.

Try as I might, this wouldn't leave me alone... since I'm really committed to writing a Naruto fic I'm currently trying to make sense of the series world. It's not that easy though, so any comments, suggestions and corrections would be very welcome.


Musings on the technology and social structure of the Naruto world


There is radio and video technology, movable print, possibly even computers. There are trains (high speed) but no cars and no paved roads. The look is that of 19th century Japan mixed with a few modern elements here and there. The haphazard, patched-together feel of it suggests some great catastrophy might have taken place and whatever technology is in use now was scraped together from the remains of the previous civilization.

All chakra-using jutsus are akin to magic spells, and the actual use of chakra for casting seems to be a genetic trait. So basically some people can use magic, some can’t. Chakra is like manna, or maybe the Star Wars concept of the Force as a sort of energy that fuels every living thing but can only be used consciously and in controlled ways by a select few.

Actually the concept of zouka, the life-giving, ever changing force that is nature in Japanese philosophy is considerably older than Star Wars. Nature is spontaneous, unpredictable and powerful, and all of this is expressed in the variety of available ninjutsu and even in the summonings – the greater the summoned spirit is, the more volatile and harder it is to control.

It's possible that the proven existence of both a spirit dimension and deities like the death god might account for the erratic use of technology. While there are no discernible signs of religion anywhere the existing deities might have taken an interest in ensuring the available technology doesn’t exceed a certain level. Kyuubi’s attack might have been just that – an attempt to restrain the growth of an emerging power. Of course this is just speculation, but it’s fun anyway.

I actually wonder whether the Naruto world wasn’t suddenly confronted with the emergence of magic, a complete change in natural law as they knew it. That would explain a lot. The technology that does still function might be powered by imps for all we know.

Back to bloodlines… From Haku’s example I deduce that children with bloodline traits seem to be ostracized especially in the rural regions; the hate goes so far that parents would attempt to kill their own children at the first display of even a hint of bloodline ability. Possibly this sentiment is rooted in historic events; however, it is more probable that the daimyos have been responsible for anti-bloodline propaganda because they didn’t want the peasants to become too strong. The structures are very much those of feudal Japan after all, with only a slight modern influence.

Since there don’t seem to be any samurai in the Naruto world (merely owning a katana doesn’t make one a samurai after all) the ninja have taken on both roles. The Naruto ninjas seem to have adopted bushido style concepts regarding honor, loyalty to comrades and service to their masters, but they can also be ruthless and self-serving when they choose to. This is because they fulfill a dual role – that of global army and secret service. In Konoha the ANBU are probably the closest to the original concept of ninjas as ruthless, silent killers as well as information gatherers and brokers.

Interestingly enough there are yakuza, illustrating that there are many small local power vacuums the ninja villages don’t have the desire -- or power -- to fill.

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Comments

( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
croaky
Sep. 27th, 2004 09:23 am (UTC)
I can only agree, it has been in my ehad too. The Naruto world is a bit of a mystery that could have countless answers. Quite fascinating.
technoelfie
Sep. 27th, 2004 04:26 pm (UTC)
It's definintely fascinating (although I still maintain that the characters are the one *really* good thing about Naruto). :)
total_lockdown
Sep. 27th, 2004 01:08 pm (UTC)


glad to know i'm not the only one who ponders these things.

i was thinking maybe some large-scale nuclear holocaust or something, possibly resulting in widespread radiation-induced mutations, which in turn became the bloodlines. such an event would also trigger a wariness of technology.
residual fear of the mutants might explain the anti-bloodline business out in the countryside.

that doesn't explain the whole demonic and spirit world, though. so i'm probably just blowing hot air. :3

technoelfie
Sep. 27th, 2004 04:29 pm (UTC)
glad to know i'm not the only one who ponders these things.

Not at all!

I did think about some nuclear end of the world thing, but as you said, it doesn't account for the magic. So maybe the (re-)appearance of magic itself might have been a traumatic enough event, especially if some people started to change/mutate and a great deal of the technology stopped working overnight. That's pure speculation though and has no basis at all in canon.
questofdreams
Sep. 27th, 2004 07:04 pm (UTC)
wow...you've definitely thought quite a bit about this...I've wondered about it as well (particularly during naruto and Jiraiya's walk to find Tsunade and they were walking alongside electric poles)...but I've never put my thoughts together quite as eloquently as you've put yours ^_^ Fascinating stuff...
technoelfie
Sep. 28th, 2004 03:03 am (UTC)
Hee, thank you! The thing is that I can't bear to have no idea where I'm going when I write a fic. So I need to know as much about the world as possible, at least for myself. :)
dreaming_aeryie
Sep. 27th, 2004 07:14 pm (UTC)
Wow. I really loved reading everyone's take on the Naruto-verse. In some respects I like to compare it to SChamploo's crazy mixed up world where you have these incredibly anachronistic elements. As for Naruto, I can't help but feel like magic and chakra took over some of the elements of technology, where it's not used for the most basic elements, because it's not energy efficient, but it's been honed for specific aspects, like offensive and secretive shinobi tactics. Which raises the question: can they use their chakra to do other things that are non-military? For example: Sandaime was able to do that earth raising jutsu (Birth of the trees or some such) and it was used to trap the enemy. But could/would they ever use it for agricultural purposes?

Anyhow, that's just me going off on the third fork. It's been a long day.
bika_k
Sep. 27th, 2004 09:17 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I agree with you. Just like my fanfic http://www.fanfiction.net/s/1968302/1/ which was my first Naruto fanfic.
technoelfie
Sep. 28th, 2004 03:08 am (UTC)
In some respects I like to compare it to SChamploo's crazy mixed up world where you have these incredibly anachronistic elements.

To me, SC works much better in terms of the believability of the world. I never found myself asking 'can this be real'? Because the art follows the story in such a perfect way the suspension of disbelief is complete. Not so in Naruto, at least for me. I often found myself pondering 'would they talk so much?' or 'are they trying to be flashy or are they trying to kill?' or even 'what ninja actually explains their strategy and techniques during the battle, or even after?'. It bugged me a lot. :P

Which raises the question: can they use their chakra to do other things that are non-military?

I suppose so. I don't think the usage of it is bound to combat. However, it might have nasty effects on whetever they're growing -- to take the agriculture example -- so the things might not be exactly edible. :)
dreaming_aeryie
Sep. 28th, 2004 04:48 am (UTC)
Hmm! You make good points. I completely agree about the excessive talking during battle. But then again, I think that part of it definitely stems from the fact that the whole anime suffers from excessive slowness. Anyone remember the 10 ep arc of sandaime dying? Honestly, at times I think that it's the biggest weakness of the series. That and the flashbacks.
muffytaj
Sep. 27th, 2004 10:30 pm (UTC)
Actually, actually *jumps up and down* I remember them mentioning how the blood heritage people became hated.

A long time ago, a lot of countries went to war, and the people with the special abilities were used in the wars. Now, I don't know about you, but to me it seems like their genes were fiddled with with technology, and quite possibly nuclear mutation or something occured deliberately. And during the passage of time, the abilities would mutate, and stuff like the Sharigan would mutate from the B-something. The all-seeing one.

Anyway, the wars ended, and people hated the people with the bloodlines because they had been used to kill so many, and people thought if the bloodlines continued to exist, the people would be used to kill again.

I dunno if that was in the manga though, but in the subs of the Haku-childhood episode that was said.

And if the people had been used in the wars, and the wars were as horrific as they appeared to have been, I think a lot of offensive technology would have been gotten rid of. After all, if they hate even people with abilities that may or may not be used, think of how they would have reacted to WMD etc. The only technology that exists is practical, nothing defensive or offensive.

It seems to me that people are born with the ability to transform their stamina into chakra. I know that it takes a lot of training to be able to sucessfully transform stamina into chakra, and people like Nartuo and Saskue are not as successful as say, Sakura. But that is because they have not trained at that as hard as her (she has less than them, and so obviously had to focus it and use wisely) and people like Lee, although he tries really, really hard, is simply incapable of transforming stamina into chakra. That makes me think it is inborn, and can sometimes be totally random, as there is no evidence of Sakura's parents being ninjas.

As for government types, the ninja nations seem to pretty much keep each other in check, and the governing done in-nation. There used to be police, but then Itchai kinda...killed them all. So I dunno, your assessment seems pretty accurate.

Aaaand I've officially spent Too Much Time thinking about this.
technoelfie
Sep. 28th, 2004 03:19 am (UTC)
A long time ago, a lot of countries went to war, and the people with the special abilities were used in the wars.

I remember now! But I think that to get rid of offensive technology all of the world leaders at the time must have been wiped out instantly. Because for example just because Hiroshima and Nagasaki happened no one was in any rush to get rid of the A-bomb, and testing continued happily ever after. So I really think great portions of the technology must have been destroyed in the actual catastrophy for that to happen. :)

It seems to me that people are born with the ability to transform their stamina into chakra.

As far as I understand the series, everyone has chakra. It's theri life force, really, which is why they die when they're utterly, utterly drained of all reserves (like when they use the Gates). It's the ability to use chakra for ninjutsu that sets them apart. I recall they said about Lee that he has an incredible amount of chakra.

I suppose the mutations *were* quite random at first -- maybe there were some government experiments, but the Sharingan seems to have been consciously developed from the Byakkugan. Whether that happened through a breeding program (likely) or through actual genetic manipulation I have no idea.

As for government types, the ninja nations seem to pretty much keep each other in check, and the governing done in-nation.

That's true. But the daimyos would not only worry about ninjas as a threat, they would be bothered by their own lack of a loyal power base. A lord might hire mercenaries now and then, but they would want trrops of their own that wouldn't be instantly flattened in the case of a ninja attack. At least that's the premise I'm building part of my story around. :P
rianax
Dec. 2nd, 2004 11:30 pm (UTC)
I have always thought at the bloodline limits surfaced from a supernatural origin rather than mutations. You obviously have yoakai in this world evident in the presence of Kyuubi and Gamabunta; it is not a far fetch to assume that demonic and divine blood has not mixed in with the mortal ones somewhere down the line.
technoelfie
Dec. 3rd, 2004 03:57 am (UTC)
That's an interesting point. The supernatural element might account for the bloodline limits, but when it comes to propagation, the supernatural component seems to work much like human genetics do.
rianax
Dec. 3rd, 2004 07:17 am (UTC)
That was my point. A few months ago, I did some digging on Japanese myths and pretty much summarized the orgins of the Hyuuga/Uchiha and Haku's lines.

In short, powerful clans would have the resources availabe to protect their hanyou children, and police their bloodline to ensure the dominance of the supernatural traits much like how dog and horse breeds are formed. After a few generations, the otherworldly heritage becomes a stapple in their bloodline though thinned to a few unique physical characteristics rather the while supernatural shebang.
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )