First of all, I’d like to say that I’m pretty happy to know that the AuthorLord is back home and getting better. It’s pretty amazing how he kept us updated and always reminded us that his stories were not dead. If you’re reading this, Matthew, please don’t hurry. Take your time to get well, we’ll still be here.
Note: This is a very long post. Please sit back and relax.STOP
This thread contains major spoilers. If you did not read Team 8 up to the end of Chapter 22, stop reading here. You have been warned.
So, to the point. I’m creating this thread to share a few thoughts I had while rereading Team 8. I was imagining how the story might unfold and thinking about “what if?” when one of then stuck to my head and refused to leave:
What if Kurenai is alive?
Yeah, I know. She’s dead for sure. It’s written there, there were witnesses, there was the funeral and everything. There was even the AuthorLord comment at the end of Chapter 20, which I’ll reproduce here:
Here we see the AuthorLord telling us “Yeah, she’s gone and Itachi is not a good guy. Deal with it.”"Killing Kurenai off wasn't easy, and it wasn't done on a whim. I've actually had this plot point in the outline since day one."
"This story was outlined well before the whole 'Itachi was actually a good guy working for Konoha' shark jump. At some point you have to just draw the line and say 'based on canon up to this point in the series' and not change everything when the source material reveals that 'everything you thought you knew about ________ was wrong!'."
Okay. So what’s the purpose of even opening this discussion? Well, some subtle points in the writing of Team 8 [hereby T8] caught my attention, and I’d like to know if anyone else is also thinking on the same line, or maybe if it can be pointed out why I’m completely wrong.
So I’ll divide this theory in Why and How.
To try and make sense of why Kurenai should have survived the fight with Itachi, we need to make many assumptions and guesswork, and bend the AU of T8 a lot towards canon. First of all, what’s the first major difference between canon and T8? When was the earliest point that we know the stories got separated from each other?
The answer is Families.
A deadly cute kid
In canon, Kurenai’s father was a shinobi of the Leaf, whereas in T8 he and his wife were merchants. Growing up in a family not involved in shinobi affairs, having Nomaru-sensei teaching her everything, and losing her parents at still a young age, were probably the main reasons she developed her overly analytical personality in T8.
After that, the next big difference is her devotion to Konoha clashing with her disappointment with many of its inhabitants. They seemed illogical, even stupid to her by how they treated Naruto. Even in chapter 1 we can already see how this upsets her. Her loyalty to the Hokage and willingness to point out to him, plain and simple, everything that was wrong with the village, reminds me a lot of Someone else. And now I must step into canon and analyze a key character: Itachi.
Uchiha Itachi was only a child when he witnessed the Third Shinobi War. In canon, he grew up hating war and everything it brought with it. He was, as we know, a double agent inside the Uchiha Clan. While the clan was organizing a coup d'état, Itachi was trying with all his might to prevent it. The Third Hokage tried as much as possible to make peace, and when war seemed impossible to avoid, Danzō won the argument and gave Itachi his most painful mission: Slay the Uchihas, before they possibly started another Shinobi War.
The only person who would be allowed to survive, the only one he could not kill, was his little brother Sasuke.
Not really the expression of a psychopath
When I think about Itachi killing his own clan because he was an actual villain, it makes no sense for him to leave Sasuke alive. It also makes no sense for him to have awakened his Mangekyō sharingan. We know it awakens by suffering the loss of a loved person, and in his case it was Shisui. If he didn’t have brotherly feelings for him, he just couldn’t have awakened that power.
Another point is why he came to Konoha after Orochimaru’s attack. In canon, he wasn’t ordered to do it, he volunteered. After the death of the Third Hokage he wanted to make his presence known to Danzō. Remind him that “I’m still alive”, warn him again not to harm Sasuke. Not killing Sasuke, and enforcing his brother’s hate towards him when he broke Sasuke’s wrist, was also part of his plan of making Sasuke one day kill him and become a hero of the Leaf.
"You are weak"
Then we come back to T8. Sasuke is still alive, still swearing vengeance, still, apparently, being fooled by his brother. Itachi didn’t kill him in that fatidic night. Didn’t kill him in Shukuba Town, and not only that, he still came to Konoha after Orochimaru’s attack.
One possible explanation to that, I think, is that the AuthorLord is fooling us as much as Kishimoto did. Let’s assume this and see where it gets us:
Itachi can still be loyal to Konoha.
Awakening his Mangekyō. Letting Sasuke live. Joining Akatsuki to spy on them. Coming to Konoha after the attack, when the Third was, okay, not dead. But weak. These could all be clues to his loyalty.
So what if he’s still “loyal” to Konoha? Where does Kurenai come in in this whole story? Well, this is where things start to overlap.
Consider the following. You are head of a powerful and influent clan in Konoha. Your distaste with a pacifist Hokage who treats you just like he treats peasants from other clans only grows day by day. Sometimes you just wish the old man could disappear, so your clan could be restored to its former glory and rightful place. Your hate and ego start to manipulate your actions and you start to indirectly, subtly, disobey the Hokage’s orders.
And then this other powerful clan, which shares those same ambitions and distastes with you, gets wiped out in a single night. Being in the council, you are informed that this attack was planned by the ANBU itself. What do you think of the whole situation?
I think that’s one of the main reasons Hiashi acts like he acts in T8. He’s possibly thinking the Hyuugas will be next after the Uchihas. His actions, not of direct violence, but of conspiracy, reveal how far, and also how smartly, he’s willing to go to destroy this party that could wipe out his clan as easily as it did with the Uchihas. And so we come to the theory of the second conspiracy.
Maybe the Hyuugas are also trying to take over the power in Konohagakure.
This probably didn’t happen in T8
Fine. I still didn’t say what Kurenai has to do with all that. But as Naruto pointed out to himself, "Sensei didn't accept mysteries in life - everything could make sense, and would make sense if she had enough time to figure it out.". Kurenai hated unfinished business.
It’s possible that her investigations with Iruka were leading her to discover this whole conspiracy. Something much deeper than just killing her team. The abuse of power and assets moved against Naruto, the killing of her team, the disdain for everyone outside the clan. All could point out to imminent treason.
If the Hyuugas tried to take over the power in Konoha, the resulting war would be as horrible as it would have been with the Uchihas. That puts Kurenai in a position comparable to Itachi’s.
We all know what happens here
Then we come to the day we don’t like to remember. Here’s what I Think might have happened:
Itachi comes back and witnesses, first-hand inside the Tsukuyomi, the fury of the Kyuubi. The frustration of Kurenai with the village. The clues and suspicions she’s got against members of the council. And sharp as only Itachi can be, maybe he sees the pattern. History repeating itself.
Being for Konoha as much as we are assuming here he can be, we can think he’s now working in the shadows again. Finding the dirt in the Hyuugas as he did with the Uchihas. And how could Kurenai not come with him in this mission? For the purpose of it being secret even from the readers, we would not see it, but inside the Tsukuyomi they would have all the time in the world to talk. To explain. To plan.
Unfinished business. Being dead is a smart way to take your enemies off you. To make them comfortable, careless. Being dead makes you nobody. Makes you unknown. Makes you dangerous.
Kakashi was there. Asuma was there. Even Kisame was there. How could Kurenai be alive? Everyone saw her being hit. Nobody looked into Itachi’s eyes. So how?
"The Uchiha threw the shuriken in his left hand toward Kakashi. [...] During that split second, Itachi palmed a kunai and hurled it toward kurenai[...]"
There’s a genjutsu called Utakata, which can be activated by fingers instead of by the eyes. In canon, Itachi uses this jutsu against Naruto, who easily falls on it.
It’s possible that Itachi’s hand movements were meant to make the others in the fight look at his hands. If he was able to put everyone in a genjutsu, Kurenai would be able to just leave, with Itachi leaving a clone apparently dead in her place.
Being now “dead”, she would be free to join Itachi and take more direct actions towards the Hyuugas and other parties against Konoha. The third Hokage would probably know about that, just like he knew about Itachi, and would stay silent all the same about it. With Jiraiya, Tsunade and the Aburames around, Team 8 would be in good hands.
It would be pretty cool if at some point in the story she came back alive and revealed all this plan in a moment of triumph. But this is probably not happening. As much as this thread gives a theory on how and why she could be still alive, it’s still just speculation and guesswork. The current info we have is that she’s gone, and I don’t think the AuthorLord is planning on bringing her back. However, if he is, I’m really sorry for giving you guys such a major spoiler of future chapters.
Anyways, what’s your opinion on the matter? Would there be any other ways or reasons for her to be alive? If not, how do you think the whole business with her assassinated team will play out with only Naruto remaining to avenge them? What’s Itachi’s business if he’s really a villain in T8? Please leave a comment.