Ninja: ranks, title and organizations
The academy is where would-be ninja start; they are not actually considered ninja until they graduate. Academy students take formal and practical tests of all sorts and are taught basic ninja skills, such as martial arts, techniques, physical fitness and the way of the ninja. Basic weapon usage, such as kunai andshuriken, are commonly taught. Elementary ninja techniques, such as transformation jutsu and clone jutsu, though they vary from village to village, are also taught. Once a student has become proficient in these areas they are allowed to graduate. Upon graduation, students are organized into three-man teams under the leadership of a Jonin. In some villages, the Jonin administers a final test to determine whether or not the team will be able to advance to the rank of Genin. Those who fail must return to the academy. When Naruto Uzumaki graduates at the start of the series, only nine of the twenty-seven graduates become Genin.
Genin (下忍?, literally "Lower Ninja", Viz "Genin" and "Junior Ninja") are the lowest level of ninja. Genin are given headbands with their village's symbol on it to represent what village they come from and that they are full fledged ninja. Genin are also put in a platoon of three-man-cell, and are then assigned a Jonin sensei to mentor them. This is done to teach the Genin teamwork and experience true ninja life under the supervision and protection of an elite shinobi. The make-up of these teams is based on the individual skills of the Genin, so that there will remain a balance between the teams. When they become Genin, ninja start to do their bit for their village's economy, for which they are given a small payment. They are typically sent either on D-rank missions, which are the lowest rank and are almost entirely risk-free jobs of manual labor, or experienced Genin are sent on C-rank missions, which are a cut above that and begin to verge on real "ninja" work, though they generally have a very low possibility of risk to the ninja involved. In some circumstances, a genin may have the skills of jonin or above, but is not officially considered a chunin or jonin because they have not passed the chunin exams. An example of this is Naruto Uzumaki.
Chunin (中忍Chūnin?, literally "Middle Ninja", Viz "Chūnin" and "Journeyman Ninja") are ninja who are qualified to watch over and guide other ninja. Chunin have reached a level of maturity that primarily consists of leadership skills and tactical prowess. Some of them, like Shikamaru Nara, serve as team leaders in charge of small teams who need to make decisions and utilize the skills of the shinobi under their command to the maximum effect. Upon reaching Chunin level, ninja can wear an identifying tactical vest that holds ninjutsu scrolls. This vest is not required; instead, some look for more elaborate clothing like capes or robes. Chunin are typically sent on C or B-rank missions.
To become a Chunin, a Genin can either be appointed by his\her village leader or participates, with his or her team, in a large examination, known as the "Chunin Exams," hosted twice a year due to the growing number of ninjas. In the past, each village held their own Chunin exam. After the 3rd Ninja World War, allied ninja villages agreed to hold the exams together at the selected village that would host the exam, so villages could improve and strengthen their relationships. Another advantage is that ninja that took the exam might attract clients who are interested in hiring them. The exam is a test not only of strength, but information gathering abilities, survival skills, and adhering to guidelines. Those who have all of these qualities are grouped together into predetermined fights, watched by a council that decides who becomes a Chunin and who does not. While the winners are able to proceed to fight the next opponent, it is aptitude, rather than winning, that is evaluated to determine whether a candidate is promoted. This way even one who loses his or her first match can become a Chunin as evidenced by Shikamaru's promotion while he surrendered to Temari in the first round.
Jonin and Special Jonin
Jonin (上忍Jōnin?, literally "Higher Ninja", Viz "Jōnin" and "Elite Ninja") are generally highly experienced ninja with great individual skill who serve as military captains. They are often sent on A-rank missions, and experienced Jonin, like Kakashi Hatake, may even be sent on S-rank missions (which are considered to be the most difficult), and may carry out missions alone. They are sometimes assigned as sensei for three-person teams of Genin. Most Jonin are able to use two or more types of elemental chakra. Though it is as yet unknown what one has to undergo to become a Jonin, it is mentioned in the Naruto Anime Profiles that Jonin are appointed by their village leader when they have proved that they are ready for the responsibilities of Jonin.
Tokubetsu Jonin (特別上忍Tokubetsu Jōnin?, literally "Special Higher Ninja" English "Special Jonin", sometimes known as Tokujō for short) are ninja who, rather than all-around Jonin training, have Jonin-level ability in a single area or skill, much like warrant officers of real-world militaries (e.g. Ibiki, who specializes in interrogation). They are elite specialists in their areas and are often assigned as subordinates to regular Jonin when their services are needed. They sometimes are seen as lower ranked than Jonin because they are good or the best in one field and they lack talent, or even ability in others.
Jonin Commander (上忍班長Jōnin Hanchō?) is the title given to the highest-ranking jonin of Konoha. This shinobi is capable of representing all other regular shinobi of the village, for instance when a new Hokage needs to be chosen. Shikaku Nara is the current Jonin Commander of Konoha.
Those who have achieved the title of Kage (影?, literally "Shadow") are the leaders of the five most powerful Hidden Villages and generally the most powerful ninja in their respective villages. These villages do not rule the country, but are equal to the government. The Kage stand equally with the rulers of their countries, oversee the activities of their villages, and are the leaders of ninja society. There may be exceptions, however, as a ninja may be the most powerful at the time of being installed as Kage, but may become less powerful upon aging, eventually being surpassed by a younger ninja. A Kage may retire and give the title to someone else; however, once granted, the title is held permanently, creating a situation where a village has two Kage at the same time, with only one of them actually active. Their elite status is also attributed to the tendency for most Kage to have family members who were previous Kage, or be personally taught by a former Kage or student of a former Kage, or some combination of these factors. The five Kage have different titles depending on their country. Those titles are:
- Hokage (火影?, literally "Fire Shadow") Kage of Konohagakure. Currently Naruto Uzumaki is the Seventh Hokage. The former holders of the title are Hashirama Senju, Tobirama Senju, Hiruzen Sarutobi, Minato Namikaze, Tsunade and Kakashi Hatake. Danzo Shimura once acted as Sixth Hokage Candidate.
- Kazekage (風影?, literally "Wind Shadow") Kage of Sunagakure. Currently Gaara is the Fifth Kazekage, his father being his immediate predecessor.
- Mizukage (水影?, literally "Water Shadow") Kage of Kirigakure. Currently Mei Terumi is the Fifth Mizukage, her immediate predecessor being the Three-Tails' Jinchūriki, Yagura.
- Raikage (雷影?, literally "Lightning Shadow") Kage of Kumogakure. Currently A is the Fourth Raikage.
- Tsuchikage (土影?, literally "Earth Shadow") Kage of Iwagakure. Currently Onoki is the Third Tsuchikage.
The anime introduced a sixth Kage, the Hoshikage (星影literally "Star Shadow"?) from Hoshigakure (Village Hidden in the Stars). However, this was a self-given title and not officially recognized by the five other villages.
The ANBU (暗部?, literally "Dark Side", Viz manga "Black Ops", English TV "ANBU Black Ops") is actually short for Ansatsu Senjutsu Tokushu Butai (暗殺戦術特殊部隊?, literally Assassination Tactics Special Force), and is an organization of assassination squads that serves directly under the village's leader. It is still unclear as to what requirements a shinobi must possess to be an ANBU operative. The ANBU wear porcelain animal masks in order to distinguish themselves from normal shinobi and to conceal their identities, and also have standard uniforms consisting of black and gray armor, arm guards, a signature spiral tattoo on their shoulder(Men: left shoulder. Women: right shoulder) and a Ninjatō strapped on their back. They know the layout of the human body in detail, and have developed several techniques to perform their duties, such as paralyzing the target. ANBU are considered the elite, and they perform high-ranked and dangerous missions. Within the ANBU of Kirigakure, and presumably other ninja villages, there exists a sub-group called Hunter-nin (追い忍Oinin?, literally "Chasing Ninja", English TV "Tracker Ninja"), given the specific duty of hunting down rogue ninja, and destroying their bodies, so their village's secrets won't be revealed to foreign ninja.
Konoha is shown having two ANBU-like organizations, though are separate from ANBU entirely. The Konoha Military Police Force (木ノ葉警務部隊Konoha Keimu Butai?, English TV: "Leaf Anbu"), or Military Police for short, is a unique organization in Konoha, though other villages may have similar organizations. Their symbol is the Uchiha crest because the Uchiha family founded the organization as a sign of trust with the Second Hokage. The Military Police previously consisted of mostly Uchiha clan members, though now that Itachi has eliminated all but Sasuke this is no longer the case. Kakashi Hatake is a former member of the force. The Military Police are in charge of law enforcement within the village, and their jurisdiction is virtually unlimited except in matters that are under the Hokage's direct control. The Nijū Shōtai (二十小隊?, Twenty Platoons) is a task force created by Tsunade, the Fifth Hokage, for the purpose of tracking down, attempting to capture, and, if necessary, eliminating Akatsuki members in the Fire Country. This force consists of twenty four-man teams, making eighty shinobi in all.
Konoha ANBU are usually under the direct command of the Hokage, but several years before the start of the series there was an ANBU Training Department known as the "Foundation" (根Ne?, lit."Root"). The Foundation was created and directly controlled by Danzo, who trained and conditioned children intensively from a very young age. This was done to completely eliminate emotions and enable its members to complete missions without being held back. The Foundation tends to go further in its belief that ninja must not show any emotion than most other ninja groups do, as they forbid any members to possess anything that may invoke emotion. It was implied that the department might have used methods similar to Kirigakure's graduation exam, including putting students against each other in fights to the death. Because Danzo is a war hawk and opposed the Third Hokage, the Foundation was disbanded. However, many former members are still loyal to the Foundation, and act on Danzo's orders despite this.
Medical-nin (医療忍iryō-nin?, English TV "Medical Corps Ninja") are ninja who specialize in medical treatment and use medical-oriented jutsu to heal others. Examples include Tsunade, Shizune, andSakura Haruno. Becoming a medic-nin requires excellent chakra control, because medic-nin use chakra to heal injuries. Aside from their medical training, their combat training consists mainly of taijutsu skills, with emphasis placed on evading enemy attacks, as the death of the medic-nin could result in the death of the team, though medical techniques can also be used offensively. On dangerous missions, a medic-nin will usually be sent along with the team, to increase the survival rate of that team.
Rogue Ninja (抜け忍Nukenin?, literally "Fugitive Ninja", also called "Missing ninja"/"Missing-nin") are ninja who have abandoned their Hidden Village, and as such can include ninja of every rank. These ninja are considered traitors and are hunted down because of the secrets they may hold. Other Hidden Villages would be interested in purchasing this information because it could be useful in gaining an upper hand in battle or obtaining a bloodline limit unique to a village. Some villages (Kirigakure being the only known example) create special units of hunter-nin to take care of this problem, although it's unlikely that every missing-nin has a team of hunter-nin sent after them.
- ^ Kishimoto, Masashi (2007). Uzumaki: the Art of Naruto. Viz Media. p. 145. ISBN 1-4215-1407-9.
- ^ Shonen Jump #33 Volume 3, Issue 9 September 2005. Viz Media. p. 8.
- ^ "NARUTO―ナルト―［秘伝・臨の書］" (in Japanese). Shueisha. Retrieved May 3, 2008.
- ^ Minami, Noritaka (2006). Naruto Anime Profiles: Episodes 1-37. Viz Media. p. 178. ISBN 1-4215-0657-9.
- ^ Kishimoto, Masashi (2009). NARUTO-ナルト-[秘伝・皆の書]オフィシャルファンBOOK. Shueisha. p. 116. ISBN 4-08-874834-4.