Nature Transformation (性質変化, Seishitsu Henka, English TV: Change in Chakra Nature) is an advanced form of chakra control that entails the moulding and defining of the nature of one's chakra, altering its properties and characteristics for use in techniques. Nature transformation is one of two necessary components for creating or modifying a technique, the second component being shape transformation. While nature transformation changes the properties of the chakra, shape transformation changes the actual form and movement, altering its abilities. The release of elemental chakra is typically suffixed with "Release" (遁, Ton, English TV: Style).
Basic Nature Transformations
The Five Basic Natures (五大基本性質, Godai Kihon Seishitsu) are the five elemental chakra natures, which are the foundation of all elemental ninjutsu. They are so vital to the shinobi lifestyle that each of the Five Great Shinobi Countries is named after one of the five. Each element is naturally weaker than and stronger than another:
- Fire (火, Hi) is strong against Wind but weak against Water.
- Wind (風, Kaze) is strong against Lightning but weak against Fire.
- Lightning (雷, Kaminari) is strong against Earth but weak against Wind.
- Earth (土, Tsuchi) is strong against Water but weak against Lightning.
- Water (水, Mizu) is strong against Fire but weak against Earth.
Basically, if an elemental technique is put against another elemental technique of the same level, but of a stronger nature, then the technique with the superior nature will prevail. However, a technique with a weaker nature can overpower a technique with a stronger nature if the former is of a higher level. For example, fire can overpower a water technique if it is first strengthened by a wind technique.
A similar principle applies in how technique of the same element interact, what is called counterbalancing. If two techniques of the same nature and the same level are used against each other, they will cancel each other out, as when Lightning Release: False Darkness is deflected with Lightning Cutter. However, if the two techniques have different levels, the higher-level technique will not only prevail but will grow stronger from interaction with the weaker, as when Amaterasu, the highest level Fire Release technique, grew stronger by absorbing an opposing Fire Release: Great Fireball Technique.
In general, every person's chakra has an affinity towards one of the five basic nature transformations. Affinity can at times be genetic, or at least common to a particular family; most members of the Uchiha clan have an affinity towards the Fire nature. One's affinity can be determined using pieces of paper made from a special type of tree that is grown and fed with chakra. When this so-called "Chakra Induction Paper" (チャクラ感応紙, Chakura Kannōshi, English TV: Litmus Paper) is exposed to even the slightest hint of chakra, it reacts according to the chakra's latent element:
- Fire: the paper will ignite and turn to ash.
- Wind: the paper will split in two.
- Lightning: the paper will wrinkle.
- Earth: the paper will turn to dirt and crumble away.
- Water: the paper will become wet/damp.
Shinobi have an easier time learning to create and control a chakra nature that matches their affinity, although even then it may take a number of years. Shinobi are not limited to the nature they have an affinity for, and it is in fact common for jōnin to have mastered two natures. Although it is technically possible to master all five natures, it is very rare because of how all individuals are naturally less inclined to certain elements, requiring much more training. Konohamaru Sarutobi further reiterates its rarity by noting he's only witnessed two shinobi use all five chakra natures. Shinobi capable of using all five natures include Hashirama Senju, Tobirama Senju, Hiruzen Sarutobi, Orochimaru, Mū, Kakashi Hatake, and Victor (in the anime) are the only shinobi known to have done so via normal means. Other methods of acquiring all five natures include:
- Possession of the Rinnegan to shorten the learning process.
- Acquiring the Six Paths Senjutsu and Truth-Seeking Balls.
- Possession of the Bashōsen allows any shinobi the usage of all five natures.
- Using Earth Grudge Fear to gather hearts with other chakra natures.
- Tobi using Yamato to bolster its power in its usage of the Wood Release.
- In the anime, Fūka got them by stealing others' chakra, though due to the accumulated amounts surpassing one body's limits, she had to divide them in various combinations in multiple bodies.
- In Naruto Shippūden the Movie: The Will of Fire, it was stated one who absorbs five kekkei genkai with the Chimera Technique would gain a mastery over all five natures.
- In Naruto Shippūden: Dragon Blade Chronicles, Naruto gets the Dragon Blade, which allows him to use all five natures.
Yin and Yang
Aside from the five elemental nature transformations, there are two nature transformations that are the source of all non-elemental techniques, such as the Shadow Imitation Technique, Multi-Size Technique, medical ninjutsu, genjutsu, etc. There is Yin Release (陰遁, Inton), based on the imagination and spiritual energy of a shinobi, and Yang Release (陽遁, Yōton), based on the vitality and physical energy of a shinobi. Together, they are used to perform Yin–Yang Release (陰陽遁, In'yōton, Onmyōton).
The transformation of Yin and Yang has to do with altering the balance between spiritual and physical energy in chakra. As explained by Shikamaru Nara, Tayuya's spirit worms were forms of chakra that mostly consist of spiritual energy, thus they require stability and feed upon the physical energy they lack.
Combined Nature Transformations
By using two or three basic nature transformations simultaneously, one can create a completely new elemental nature with unique properties that wouldn't exist on its own. However, doing this requires a kekkei genkai or, if three elements are used, a kekkei tōta. In the anime, it is further stated that those with the ability to combine the elemental nature transformations possess an affinity for the chakra natures they must simultaneously use.
In the manga, nine combined nature transformations have been shown:
- Ice Release (氷遁, Hyōton) is created by simultaneously combining the Water and Wind natures. Infamously used by the Yuki clan, their kekkei genkai.
- Wood Release (木遁, Mokuton) is created by simultaneously combining the Earth and Water natures. Famed as the kekkei genkai of Hashirama Senju, and thus reproduced in those using his cells.
- Lava Release (熔遁; 溶遁, Yōton) is created by simultaneously combining the Fire and Earth natures. A characteristic of the Four-Tails and its jinchūriki, and a kekkei genkai used by ninja of Kirigakure, Iwagakure, and Kumogakure. Also used by ninja of Amegakure in the anime and Ishigakure in the novels.
- It is implied that the two ways of writing this nature (熔遁; 溶遁) are pointing out that they are different in some way. Mei Terumī's Lava Release: Melting Apparition Technique and Boro's Lava Release: Planet-Branding Blast, which utilise a strong acidic fluid, are the only Lava Release technique written with 溶. This, along with the fourth databook stating that Mei's Lava Release kekkei genkai can only be used by her, indicates a difference between 溶遁 and 熔遁.
- Storm Release (嵐遁, Ranton) is created by simultaneously combining the Lightning and Water natures. A kekkei genkai used by Darui and many other unnamed Kumogakure ninja.
- Boil Release (沸遁, Futton) is created by simultaneously combining the Water and Fire natures. A characteristic of the Five-Tails and its jinchūriki, and one of the kekkei genkai used by the Fifth Mizukage.
- Dust Release (塵遁, Jinton) is created by simultaneously combining the Fire, Earth, and Wind natures. A kekkei tōta used by the Second and Third Tsuchikage.
- Explosion Release (爆遁, Bakuton) is hinted to be made of the Earth and Lightning natures.[Notes 1] A kekkei genkai common to members of Iwagakure's Explosion Corps.
- Scorch Release (灼遁, Shakuton) is implied to be created by simultaneously combining the Fire and Wind natures. A kekkei genkai only known to be used by Pakura.
- Magnet Release (磁遁, Jiton) is implied to be created by simultaneously combining the Wind and Earth natures. A characteristic of the One-Tail and its jinchūriki, and one of the kekkei genkai used by ninja of Sunagakure and Kumogakure. In the novels, it is also used by ninja of Ishigakure.
In the anime, novels, and movies, additional advanced nature transformations have been shown:
- Used in the anime, Crystal Release (晶遁, Shōton) is suggested to be made of at least the Earth nature. Used by Guren.
- Used in Gaara Hiden and Naruto Shippūden the Movie: The Will of Fire, Steel Release (鋼遁, Kōton) is a kekkei genkai used by Metoro Konjiki and stolen from an unnamed shinobi by Hiruko.
- Used in Akatsuki Hiden: Evil Flowers in Full Bloom, Mud Release (泥遁, Deiton) is a kekkei genkai used by Ameyuki and the only known advanced nature that shares its basic natures (water and earth) with another nature, Wood Release.
- Used in Naruto Shippūden the Movie: The Will of Fire, Dark Release (冥遁, Meiton) is a kekkei genkai stolen by Hiruko.
- Used in Naruto Shippūden the Movie: The Will of Fire, Swift Release (迅遁, Jinton) is a kekkei genkai stolen by Hiruko.
- The concept of nature transformation parallels the real-life art, Onmyōdō (陰陽道, literally meaning: The Way of Yin and Yang), which is a mixture of natural sciences and occultism. It largely features Wu Xing and Yin and Yang.
- In chapter 316, Naruto asks about the nature transformation of Shikamaru's Shadow Imitation Technique and Chōji's Multi-Size Technique, as well as medical ninjutsu and genjutsu. Of those four, only medical ninjutsu have not been specifically connected to either Yin or Yang Release.
- Techniques such as the Toad Oil Bullet and the Poison Mist mention "converting" or "kneading" chakra into materials or substances, but have never been mentioned to use certain chakra natures.
- Certain other techniques involved in manipulating substances are also often confused to be chakra natures, such as silk, bone, and ink. However, these substances cannot be produced from chakra alone, meaning the chakra is not changed in nature, and it is rather used to change already-existing substances.
- In Naruto: Shippūden episode 63, Yamato incorrectly says that no known shinobi has ever mastered all five nature transformations.
- In Naruto episode 174, Kunihisa used "techniques" he called "Money Release Technique" (金遁の術, Kinton no Jutsu, English TV: Money Style Jutsu) which was used to simply buy whatever he wanted.
- In some games, Shizune uses Hog Release (豚遁, Tonton), a technique where she uses Tonton.
- In the novel Sasuke Shinden: Book of Sunrise, Nowaki uses Typhoon Release (颱遁, Taiton), a variant of Wind Release.
- Sasuke Uchiha uses Blaze Release (炎遁, Enton), a variant of Fire Release.
- The Yata Mirror was said to be imbued with all nature transformations to change its own characteristics to deflect any attack.
- Naruto chapter 321, pages 4-5
- Naruto chapter 315, page 13
- Third Databook, page 236
- Naruto chapter 315, page 15
- Third Databook, page 214
- Boruto episode 175
- Naruto chapter 375, page 11
- Fourth Databook, page 249
- Naruto chapter 689, page 5
- Naruto chapter 316, page 9
- Naruto chapter 207, page 8
- Naruto chapter 316, pages 4-7
- Naruto: Shippūden episode 55
- Naruto chapter 361, page 13
- Third Databook, pages 274-275