Saturday, January 10, 2009
Kankuro (カンクロウ) is the brother of Temari and Gaara; the middle child of the Fourth Kazekage.
Like his siblings, Kankuro is usually seen less often than the other main characters in the series. In Part I, one noticeable personality trait he displays is an apparent dislike for children, first seen when he attempts to beat up Konohamaru for running into him. This carries over to many of his interactions with other characters as he is noticeably irritated when in the presence of someone younger than him. This is most evident when he is seen with Gaara, who Kankuro is forced to put up with due to the fear his younger brother imposes on him.
Despite their apparent differences, Gaara and Kankuro become very close over the timeskip as Gaara begins to confide in Kankuro, and shares his dreams of wanting to risk his life to protect Sunagakure. As such, Kankuro has become very protective of Gaara, willing to challenge anyone who puts Gaara down in his presence. When Gaara is captured by Akatsuki, Kankuro rushes to his brother's aid in an attempt to save him. He is quickly defeated and bedridden as a result, though joins Temari in looking for Gaara as soon as he is able to walk. Once Gaara is found and saved, Kankuro joins Temari in thanking Team 7 for saving their brother.
Kankuro changes the design of his face paint with each of his appearances to correspond with the design of his newly added puppet.
In the original Japanese, Kankuro speaks with a distinctive Yokohama accent. He can often be heard ending his sentences with "jaan." This makes him sound tough, as this accent is often used for biker gang members or punk kids (called yankii in Japanese, Yokohama supposedly has many) in manga. It is possible that he was given this accent to make him sound different from the Konoha characters' standard Tokyo Japanese.
 Part I
 Chunin Exam
[[Image:Kankuro.jpg|thumb|left]Kankuro when fighting Misumi Tsurugi] Kankuro first appeared the day the Chunin Exam was announced. He was seen with his sister, Temari, and an unexplained bundle on his back by Naruto and Sakura, while tormenting Konohamaru and the other children. Naruto demanded that he stop, but Kankuro payed him no mind and easily overpowered him physically. He was stopped when Sasuke Uchiha managed to hit him on the wrist with a rock. Kankuro, surprised that Sasuke could manage to sneak up on him - let alone land a hit, hinted at wanting a fight. As if threatening Sasuke, he removed his bundle which Temari calls "Karasu" (meaning "crow"). The situation was diffused, however, when Gaara appears. Kankuro, who at this point had seemed unflinchingly confident, was terrified of his brother. When Gaara demanded that he stop fooling around, he quickly obeyed, leaving the other three ninja confused.
During the written portion of the exam, the Genin were told explicitly not to cheat as cheating would result in a deduction of points to the extent of failure. Most of the would-be Chunin - including Kankuro - realized that the real test was simply to see how well a person could cheat without being caught, and began using their shinobi skills to stealthily copy other papers. Nearing the end of the exam, Kankuro asked permission to use the bathroom. The test proctor, Ibiki Morino, allowed it, provided one of the ninja watching for cheaters accompanied him. While in the bathroom, he refered to the nondescript ninja as Karasu, and asked him for the answers. He chuckled at the fact that no one noticed the extra ninja in the room. On his way back to the exam, Ibiki commented that Kankuro was busy playing with dolls. Kankuro's reaction to this hint was that the proctor knows what the bundle on his back really is.
During the survival portion of the exam, he was seen only briefly by Kiba, Shino, and Hinata while Gaara brutally murdered a shinobi from the Village of the Hidden Rain.
During the preliminary duels, Kankuro fought in the third match against Misumi Tsurugi from the Village of the Hidden Leaf. Kankuro aggressively took off his bundle, but before he could use it, Misumi struck, forcing Kankuro to defend himself. Upon contact, Misumi's arms began contorting impossibly around Kankuro's body until he had completely pinioned all of Kankuro's limbs - causing his bundle to fall on the floor. With his hands poised to break Kankuro's neck, he demanded that Kankuro surrender. Kankuro scoffed at the idea, and Misumi followed through with his threat, apparently killing him. Before the proctor could call the end of the match, Kankuro's head suddenly turned completely backwards to face Misumi, mocking him. It is revealed, finally, that Kankuro's bundle is a battle-puppet: a ninja tool controlled by chakra strings. The puppet, called Karasu, had been disguised early on as Kankuro, while the ninja puppeteer waited in the bundle for Misumi to drop his guard. With the tables turned, Karasu's arms wrapped around Misumi's body and violently constricted. Misumi was now unable to fight, though it was not explicitly stated whether he is dead or alive, and Kankuro was declared the winner.
During the second-to-last bout of the Chunin preliminaries - Gaara vs. Rock Lee - Kankuro talked to Naruto in an attempt to learn about Neji Hyuga. While they talk, Gaara gets heated during the battle and his normally stoic demeanor began to crumble. Kankuro once again shows uncharacteristic fear toward his younger brother, foreshadowing that Gaara's loss of control would ruin "the plan." No further explanation was offered...
 The Invasion of Konoha
Kankuro was chosen to fight Shino Aburame. Oddly, he gave up before the fight starts, thinking that the plan to invade Konoha was more important than the fight. His conversation about "the plan" with Temari was overheard by Shino, who grew suspicious.
During Gaara's fight with Sasuke, Gaara was injured. Kankuro was yet again terrified at the notion of Gaara losing control just as the Sand and Sound shinobi storm the arena. Amongst the ensuing chaos, Kankuro and Temari grab Gaara and tried to flee into the forest. Sasuke followed, along with Shino. Later, Kankuro told Temari to go ahead while he bought them time. Shino appeared and told Sasuke to continue his chase; he would be Kankuro's opponent as the tournament had decided.
The two poised for battle, and Kankuro mocked Shino for not understanding the Puppet Technique. Shino replied that he never underestimated his opponents. Under Kankuro's guidance, Karasu flew towards Shino, revealing a hidden arsenal of poisoned-tipped darts, blades, and kunai. Shino succeeded in dodging the attacks until two kunai struck him in the head. Kankuro was shocked to realize that Shino had been using a swarm of his chakra insects as a clone. Shino, who had been hiding while watching the fight, attacked Kankuro and missed, albeit barely. He made the comment that Kankuro is weak against close combat. Kankuro scoffed and continued his barrage. Kankuro appeared to have the advantage as Karasu released a smokescreen of poisonous gas from which Shino hastily retreated. Karasu then launched a surprise attack, but struck only another one of Shino's clones. Shino, hiding beneath the tree branch on which Karasu was perched, had his insects cover Karasu, clogging his joints and had the bugs climb the chakra strings towards the puppeteer. Kankuro severed his connection with the puppet, but easily reforged it and revealed that Karasu's limbs, torso, and head could all be controlled separately. With Karasu's body parts flying wildly through the trees - launching poison darts no less - Shino was driven to the defensive. Shino's evasion left him vulnerable, and Karasu's head, still disembodied, flew toward him brandishing a large poisoned needle, boasted enough of the fatal substance to "drop an elephant." Moments before striking, however, Kankuro lost control of the puppet and is seen covered by a swarm of the chakra insects. Baffled as to how Shino could have cornered him with the slow moving bugs, he learned that the first attempt at physical contact was just a ploy to plant a female insect on his clothes. The bugs were able to follow the scent while he was distracted by the battle. He screamed and fell from the tree he was perched on just as the poison gas' effects started kicking in, and Shino keeled over. The battle was a tie.
After Gaara is defeated by Naruto, Kankuro was last seen helping his brother up and leaving as Sasuke watched on. Moved by Naruto's passion, Gaara wearily apologized to both of his siblings. Kankuro, utterly shocked, stammered out words of forgiveness as the three hurried back to the Sand Village.
 Sasuke Retrieval arc
After the Leaf Genin and Chunin separated into their various battles against Orochimaru's Sound Four, the only ones that emerged singularly victorious were Choji and Neji. The rest, Rock Lee, Shikamaru, and Kiba, were barely holding onto their lives. Kiba Inuzuka fought the Sound ninja named Sakon, whose primary ability seemed to be separating into an identical twin named Ukon. By joining together, Sakon/Ukon was able to heal any wounds he might incur. Through shrewd use of this jutsu and disguising his smell, Ukon, alone, cornered Kiba and Akamaru and readied the final blow. Just as the kunai was about to strike, a shrouded figure blocked the way. Kankuro and his siblings had come to the Leaf's aid.
Kankuro (oddly still holding his familiar bundle), scoffed at Kiba's inability to win his battle, having blocked the knife with Karasu. Unaware of Sakon/Ukon's ability, Kankuro readied the final blow only to be attacked by Sakon, who is using the second stage of his cursed seal. Sakon/Ukon's jutsu of separating and conjoining had already proved effective on others - having forced himself into Kiba's body at one point. However, even with Sakon's hand sunk deep into his face, Kankuro smirked. His face and clothing seemed to crumble away as it was revealed that he now controlled two puppets: Karasu and a new one called Kuroari (meaning "black ant"). Emerging from the familiar bundle, Kankuro commented on the auspicious fact that the body-joining jutsu doesn't work on puppets and criticized Sakon for getting so close to his new ally. A set of saw-blades emerged from Kuroari's arms, and Kuroari attacked similarly to Karasu by wrapping his arms around Sakon and constricting.
As Sakon falls to the ground, bleeding heavily, his cursed seal faded away. At the same time, Ukon, who had been fighting Karasu, had his cursed seal rise to Level 2. With enhanced speed, he moved to his counterpart and joined bodies in order to heal himself. Ukon remarked on not controlling the conjoined body as his cursed seal fadeed away as well. Their wounds healed, but they silently commented on having little chakra left over. Kiba, once again daunted by the speed of Sakon/Ukon's recovery, told Kankuro to retreat for now. Kankuro angrily replied by saying he's being underestimated. As if to prove Kiba's doubts wrong, he attacked viciously with Karasu, causing Sakon/Ukon to dodge backwards. However, as they dodge they failed to notice Kuroari behind them, opening up his wide torso to reveal a hollow container. Kankuro revealed that Karasu and Kuroari, while similar in design, are different in function. Kuroari is used primarily as a trapping puppet - this was proven true as Sakon/Ukon dodged directly into Kuroari's body which snapped shut, trapping them inside. Karasu, he explained, is used in tandem with Kuroari for attacking purposes, as all of Karasu's limbs and head separate and extend a fearsome array of blades. Kuroari is equipped with slots about as wide as one of the blades, and as Kankuro bellowed out the name of his attack - Puppet Theater: Black Secret Technique Machine One Shot - all of the blades simultaneously pierced Kuroari's frame. Kiba stared, shocked, as blood pours out of the slots to the sound of Sakon/Ukon's agonizing screams. Kankuro, ever the warrior, claimed victory as if a play had just ended.
After the battle ended, with Sasuke gone and almost all of the Leaf ninja hospitalized - but alive - Kankuro went to leave with his two siblings. Shikamaru saw them off, flirting with Temari, and the three Sand ninja parted on friendly terms with the Leaf. Kankuro walked away, this time with two familiar bundles on his back.
 Part II
 Rescue the Kazekage
When Gaara was defeated and captured by Deidara and Sasori, two members of Akatsuki, Kankuro followed in hot pursuit, determined to stop them from taking his brother. To defeat the Akatsuki pair, Kankuro summoned his three puppets, one of them a new puppet named Sanshōuo (meaning "salamander), from their carrying scrolls, and prepared to defeat the member that stays behind. The Akatsuki member, revealed to be Sasori, quickly countered one of Karasu's attacks by snatching up the puppet with his large, scorpion-like tail. Kankuro, surprised that Sasori was able to match Karasu's speed, watched as the tail constricted Karasu's frame, shattering it. Karasu reformed, and proceeded to circle Sasori at a shocking speed, along with Kuroari. Karasu launcheed a pair of kunai at the Akatsuki member, but Sasori blocked both of the projectiles with his tail. Kankuro then scoffed at Sasori for not noticing that Kuroari had disappeared. Suddenly, the second puppet emerged from the sand below Sasori, launching him into the air. Kuroari caught Sasori within his torso, and Kankuro then used his Black Secret Technique Machine One Shot. As sand poured from the slots in Kuroari's frame, Kankuro opened it up to reveal a sand clone of Sasori. The true Sasori then launched a surprise attack from behind, emerging from beneath the sands. Sanshōuo then came to Kankuro's aid and attempted to block the attack. In the anime, Sanshōuo extended a frill upwards from its neck to block Sasori's tail, and Kankuro revealed that the puppet can actually protect up to three people within its own frame. Sasori made the remark that he somehow remembered that Sanshōuo had incredible defensive power, but also that a puppet's power is measured by that of its weakest joint. Sasori proceeded to disassemble Sanshōuo by striking one of its neck joints with his tail. Kankuro, horrorstruck, is launched into the air by another one of Sasori's attacks, with the tail piercing his chest. Kankuro, however, managed to hold the tail back as it sent him into the air, from which he fell back to earth. Kankuro, desperate, had Karasu and Kuroari once again circle around Sasori, but this time, Karasu blanketed the area in a smokescreen, and Kuroari proceededs to detach its limbs from the rest of its frame. Kuroari then fired poisoned needles into the smoke from its disembodied arms and legs, as Kankuro revealed the name of this new technique - Poison Fog: Blind Spot Destroyer. However, Kankuro looked on, terrified and dumbfounded, as Sasori emerged from the cloud unscathed, all of the needles having missed him. All three of Kankuro's puppets were then completely shattered by Sasori's ensuing onslaught. Sasori then finally revealed that he was the original creator of the puppets, and as such knew their weaknesses and tactics. Kankuro then realized that he was at a huge disadvantage throughout the entire battle, fell to his knees. Sasori informed him that the tip of his tail was actually coated with a fatal poison. Sasori made an attempt at a finishing blow, but Kuroari's detached head and Karasu's detached arm both deflected Sasori's tail. Surprised at Kankuro's determination to continue living, and not wanting to drag the battle out further, Sasori left, giving Kankuro three days before the poison kills him.
Soon after, Team 7 arrived at Sunagakure to help in rescuing Gaara, and while they were there Sakura Haruno cured Kankuro and created an antidote from the poison still in his system. Kankuro then providd Team 7 with a piece of cloth taken from Sasori's cloth mask during the battle. Pakkun, a talking dog summoned by Kakashi Hatake, Team 7's leader, used the cloth's scent to lead the team further. Once well enough to walk around, Kankuro set out with Temari to catch up with Team 7. When Gaara was found and revived, Kankuro joined Temari in thanking Team 7 for saving their brother.
Kankuro is a talented puppeteer, futher emphasized from Sasori, a master of the Puppet Technique, complimenting Kankuro's skills. With each of his appearances in the major arcs is seen with a new puppet in his arsenal. His "Cat Hat" is even part of the traditional garb of a Bunraku puppeteer. The three puppets that have been introduced were all originally created by Sasori, and came into Kankuro's possession some time after the former left Sunagakure. Similarly, each puppet is destroyed by Sasori years later, and it is unknown if Kankuro will rebuild them. In Part I, he carries his puppets with him, though in Part II, he starts keeping them in summoning scrolls. Each of these puppets is characterized for the excessive clicking noises they make when moving. Kankuro has also shown to be very skilled in deception tactics. On several occasions, he has disguised one of his puppets to assume the appearance of another person, usually himself to trick his opponent into a falls sense of security letting them catch it, allowing him to finish off his opponent quickly with a sneak attack from the disguised puppet.
Kankuro in Part II with his three puppets
Kankuro in Part II with his three puppets
* Karasu (烏, Crow) - The first of Kankuro's puppets to make an appearance, Karasu resembles a three-eyed, four-armed humanoid with jagged teeth with spiky black hairstyle protruding from the top of its head and framing the sides; as for clothing, Karasu wears minimal attire save for the worn-out black shawl that obscures the rest of its body. In Part I, Kankuro typically keeps Karasu wrapped in bandages on his back, and he is able to switch places with it at will using a technique similar to the Body Replacement Technique. Because of Kankuro's enjoyment in installing mechanisms into his puppets, Karasu is very offensive, having numerous concealed weapons, including poison-tipped darts, kunai, blades and a huge poisoned needle concealed within its head. Karasu has also on occasion released smokescreens in order to blind its opponents. The smokescreens can be made up of poisonous gas to serve a secondary purpose. Karasu is also able to detach any of its body parts for separate attacks. In the videogames, Karasu is shown to be armed with a special flight mechanism that enables it to maneuver high into the air where it could bomb targets from above.
* Kuroari (黒蟻, Black Ant) - The second of Kankuro's puppets to make an appearance, Kuroari has a much longer head than Karasu with a bucket-shaped face sporting two red devil-like horns and six arms; its facial features include three eyes similar to Karasu, a dark disheveled hairstyle and the same obsolete clothing Karasu wears. Kankuro can use the same type of Body Replacement Technique on Kuroari that he does Karasu. While Kuroari does not contain as many hidden weapons as Karasu, each of its arm segments contain a hidden saw-blade which can be used to inflict large slicing wounds to opponents. Kuroari has also been shown to conceal a large number of poisoned needles within its frame. Kuroari's primary function is to trap opponents within itself while weapons enter the slots along its body to puncture the opponent. Like Karasu, Kuroari is able to detatch any of its body parts for separate attacks.
* Sanshōuo (山椒魚, Salamander) - The third of Kankuro's puppets to make an appearance, Sanshōuo, unlike Kankuro's other puppets, stays true to its name and resembles a salamander. Its abilities are unseen in the manga, but in the anime, Sanshōuo is shown to have incredible defensive power. It has a frill that swings up to defend against attacks from the front as well as the tail being able to tuck up to reach the frill and guard the rear followed by an iron cloak immediately covering all sides, and a hollow body Kankuro and up to two other people can take cover in to defend against attacks coming from other directions.
Kankuro's puppets seem to be designed to work together to some degree, as seen with Poison Fog: Blind Spot Destroyer (Dokugiri Zuyoku: Baribari Shikaku Renpatsu) where Karasu blankets the area in a smokescreen while Kuroari fires poisoned needles at the blinded opponent. Black Secret Technique Machine One Shot also displays the puppets' abilities to work together, where Karasu navigates an opponent into Kuroari's torso. Once trapped, Karasu separates its limbs to reveal a number of concealed weapons which enter the slots on Kuroari's body to impale the opponent. Similar in purpose though only needing one puppet, Black Secret Technique Machine Two Shot calls upon four scythe-like blades to run along the sides of Kuroari's body, reaping the victim inside.
Apart from his puppetry skills, Kankuro is also physically strong. Evident by the fact that he could carry Karasu and Kuroari on his back at the same time, and both aren't exactly pieces of lightweight machinery given the amount of on-board weapons they store inside.He also carried around their huge summoning scrolls in Shippūden.