The Summoning: Impure World Reincarnation is a forbidden technique where, using a living person as a vessel, a deceased person's soul can be called back to the world of the living and bound to it. The vessel will then take on the form that person had in life, thereby reincarnating them to do their summoner's bidding.
Created by Tobirama Senju, this technique was intended for the dead to be reincarnated into soldiers able to clear a battlefield with devastating and under any other circumstance suicidal attacks. Some time after its creation, however, Tobirama labelled it a kinjutsu and sealed it away. The Sannin Orochimaru would later acquire the knowledge of how to use this technique to achieve his own objectives. Orochimaru's aide Kabuto Yakushi claims this technique to be the greatest technique in the shinobi universe due to it posing no risk at all to the user, and by his own admission, has improved it to an even greater degree than its previous use. This was affirmed by Chiyo — who had lived through the era of its initial use — to comment that its usage had become even more refined to be able to control such a large number of souls at one time. Later, even Tobirama himself admitted to this, noting that the technique's new nature was essentially perfected and able to restore an individual to practically their full power.
To perform this technique, the user must first acquire some of the DNA of the person they intend to reincarnate. Kabuto remarks that this basically amounts to grave-robbing, although blood stains or organs salvaged after the target's death also work. The soul of the intended reincarnated must also reside in the pure world (浄土, jōdo); for example, those whose souls have been consumed by the Death God cannot be reincarnated. However, if it is a case where the souls are freed from inside the Shinigami, then a user of this technique is free to reincarnate them once again.
Next, a living sacrifice is required for the soul of the reincarnated to use as a vessel. Once all prerequisites for the technique have been met, the acquired DNA of the person is smeared on a special scroll and once the scroll is activated, the remains spread out in the form of a special seal with the living sacrifice in the centre. Then dust and ash encase the sacrifice's body, giving them the same appearance that the reincarnated had at the time of their death. The process is apparently somewhat painful as seen when Fū was used to reincarnate Torune. The person is then reincarnated and the end product is usually stored in a casket until summoned by the user. The user can theoretically reincarnate a limitless number of people in this way, so long as they have enough sacrifices, chakra and DNA to perform the technique. Despite this, this technique also has limitations, such as the individual having limitations that inhibited them in life such as Nagato's lack of mobility and depending on the summoner's mastery of the technique, the reincarnated individuals might not be brought back with the full power they had in life. However, reincarnating an individual with full power provides a potential risk to the user as the reincarnated can resist the restraining properties before they can have a talisman implanted into their brains. Although, this has only happened twice.
When first summoned, the body of the reincarnated is stored in a coffin; their body will appear grey and in a state of minor "decay": marred by cracks and other imperfections, and the individual will also appear to be "disengaged". Upon being inserted a talisman, their bodies become "rejuvenated", regaining their original complexion and their eyes lose their glassy state; however, their sclerae take on a grey colouring, however this has no affect on the ability of the reincarnated and they can be left in this "decay" state if the summoner chooses to give them free reign. They retain their personality, memories, and all abilities they had in life, including kekkei genkai, kekkei tōta and summoning contracts, though in one case, the reincarnated used an ability he gained posthumously. When the reincarnated is conscious and their personality is suppressed, their sclerae becomes black and gain white irides.
Although clothing is also retained by the reincarnated shinobi, weaponry on the other hand is not and must be procured by the user when necessary, as seen when two members of the Seven Ninja Swordsmen of the Mist were unable to retrieve their weapons from a scroll upon reincarnation, as they were currently in the possession of others. However, once obtained, shinobi that have stored their weapons in or about their person are still able to re-summon their tools, regardless of the number of times they are stored within their respective coffin. As a downside, the reincarnated seem to retain any permanent body damage and physical limitations they received during their lifetime. The summoned can be recalled at will by the user, causing an empty coffin to emerge and reclaim the individual, and the summoner can also use reincarnated individuals to remotely summon coffins containing additional reinforcements. In the anime the summoner was somehow able to summon an individual a great distance away without using one of the reincarnated as a proxy, but by simply placing a piece on the grid.
Along with this, the summoned individual can feel the person's chakra flowing through them. Shinobi with sensory ability are also able to go one step further and decipher the actual source of the chakra that is manipulating them, even if the summoner is within the confines of a barrier. This poses a potential disadvantage to the summoner, as a renegade summon that is no longer under their direct control may be able to locate them.
After the individual has been summoned and awakened, the summoner has no control over the reincarnated individuals with the exception of restraining their movements until they implant a special talisman, which is attached to the end of a kunai and implanted in the brain.
Different talismans can be used to enact different degrees of control. Orochimaru's talismans completely eliminated the personalities of the summoned, turning them into mindless killing machines under his command. Kabuto prefers to use a weaker controlling talisman on certain individuals, allowing them to retain some degree of their own personality. The latter method is useful for psychological warfare, and can also allow the summoned individual to tap into their own emotions, memories, or creativity to enhance their effectiveness in combat, but also carries a host of drawbacks; it takes more effort to retain control with the weaker binding which can make it possible for the hearts of the summoned to be swayed by strong emotions, which can result in the soul breaking free and returning to the Pure World, or the reincarnated contradicting orders that they are given. Reincarnated shinobi with their personalities still intact have their movements limited to certain actions, and are basically on "auto-pilot" to react to enemy techniques. Once they recognise an enemy technique their bodies are programmed to counter it with an appropriate method. The control exerted over the reincarnated is crucial. This was witnessed when Hashirama and Tobirama Senju were reincarnated for a second time — this time Orochimaru's perfection of the technique brought back the two near their full power during their lifetime. Tobirama noted that this was to Orochimaru's detriment as a technique he had invented could not contain him. It took the use of Orochimaru's recently acquired Senju cells to strengthen the binding. It was also noted in Hashirama's case that he was actually able to passively resist Orochimaru's commands and was moving of his own volition.
Even so, Kabuto Yakushi displayed the ability to completely remove their personalities if he needed, and may elect to if they resist his command too strongly. After gaining more experience with the technique, and absorbing Orochimaru's chakra from Anko Mitarashi, Kabuto exerts greater control over the summoned and can even overwrite his own talismans remotely, greatly increasing the power of the binding. Once deployed, he can either remotely control or track the summoned individuals using pebbles he manipulates on a simple grid, which acts as a map of sorts. When a reincarnated person is sealed, the pebble turns to dust. This was seen when Haku and Zabuza were immobilised by Kakashi, Maki, and the rest of their division. The pebble for his trump card was black in colour while the others are light-coloured. The summoner can also directly talk through the summoned individual.
Provided the summoner has not eliminated the reincarnated person's personality, by doing certain hand seals they can break the link binding them to the Impure World Reincarnation contract. In doing so, they take full control of their being and if the technique is cancelled and contract is now their own, they will remain under their own power, with the immortal body and unlimited chakra the technique provides.
Unlike while they were still alive, the reincarnated have unlimited chakra and stamina; able to fight continuously as neither Kimimaro, Itachi nor Hayate showed any fatigue from their illnesses as they did in life, and Itachi was even able to use multiple Mangekyō Sharingan techniques without showing exhaustion, while minor uses caused fatigue in life. The reincarnated are impossible to kill by normal means. Any damage they receive will easily regenerate, be it lost limbs or complete disintegration. Not even killing the summoner get rid of them. It is also shown even if part of the head of a reincarnated shinobi is destroyed, is enough of the head remains, they are still capable of performing techniques to counter the enemy.
Tobirama Senju, the creator of the technique, also developed a fighting style around this technique which was generally to be used by the reincarnated shinobi. As mentioned by Madara, the technique was originally created to employ a Kamikaze-like assault on enemy forces, using suicide techniques and large-scale ninjutsu without fear as the reincarnated shinobi will completely regenerate afterwards. One technique developed exclusively to take advantage of this, that was shown so far is the Mutually Multiplying Explosive Tags, a technique which takes advantage of not only the immortal body to withstand the near-infinite chain of explosions but uses the reincarnated shinobi's body as a medium to produce the exploding tags.
The reincarnated can also have their bodies modified and experimented on. While the technique usually reincarnates one as they were upon death, the reincarnated can also have various points from their life combined to get the best possible results as seen with Madara Uchiha, having been brought back "beyond his prime" despite dying a withered old man. In addition to regaining his physical youth with peak health and combat prowess, he also retained the Wood Release and Rinnegan abilities he had in his old age. In the anime Kabuto also experimented on Fukai who had Gyuki's chakra added to his reincarnated body through cells cultivated from the horn that was broken in the tailed beast's last rampage. Tobi also modified the eyes of the reincarnated jinchūriki to match his own, though this was only due to the use of the Six Paths of Pain technique which caused his eyes to be reflected in theirs, as well as resealing the tailed beasts back into their respective hosts. It also appears that despite gaining many enhancements, the reincarnated shinobi cannot gain full power to the new abilities, unless they are brought back to the world of the living; like in the case of Madara Uchiha. Similarly, while the reincarnated shinobi can access any abilities from any points of their life if modified for such, should the target be brought back to life, any lost anatomy from life will return as such; for example, Madara losing his eyes once revived since he had transplanted them to Nagato while alive.
While the reincarnated are immune to traditional attacks such as weapon-based attacks and even the death of the summoner being ineffective, there are four discovered methods to end the technique:
- Seal away the soul of the reincarnated individual.
- Have the summoner end the technique. As they are unlikely to do this voluntarily, using a genjutsu to trick them into cancelling the technique is ideal. The sequence of hand seals for cancelling the technique is Rat → Ox → Monkey → Tiger → Dragon → Boar and saying "release" (解, kai) (when demonstrating the technique to Tobi, Kabuto lied that the seals to release it are Dog → Horse → Tiger). If the summoner dies before the technique is deactivated, however, then this method is no longer a viable option. This also does not work if the summoned managed to sever the contract's link before the summoner undo the technique.
- The reincarnated individual is affected in some emotional way that gives them closure; Kankurō notes that human emotions are not so easily restrained. However, this method cannot work if the summoner eradicates the personality of the reincarnated individual before their soul is freed of its bonds.
- If the reincarnated person is struck in a vital spot with a Yin-Yang Technique that renders the target into nothingness, said person will effectively die, as they cannot regenerate.
Once any of the first four methods are accomplished, the reincarnated individual will briefly regain their personalities before crumbling back into dust, leaving the bodies of the sacrificed individuals lying among the ashes. If the technique is cancelled by the user, the reincarnated's bodies are surrounded by a light before beginning to deconstruct. After this, the reincarnated individual's soul will begin to ascend, leaving behind the corpse of their vessel.
Aside from the four methods of actually defeating the technique outright, there are four discovered methods of countering the effectiveness of this technique:
- The technique can be partially combated by immobilising the bodies in a way that it cannot move, act, or be recalled by the summoner. Although this does not truly defeat the summoning, it is effective at neutralising the immediate threat the reincarnated pose in battle.
- If the reincarnated still retain their personalities, they can speak against the user or themselves by providing hints and advice to the opponents, even in the midst of involuntarily fighting them. With considerable strength of will, the summoner's authority can even be completely overridden, albeit briefly, although in one case the reincarnated was completely able to resist the restraining properties of this technique with relative ease and in another case the reincarnated was able to resist the restraining properties before it was strengthed.
- Itachi Uchiha was able to use Kotoamatsukami to layer another order on top of the one established by this technique overriding the user's control. This can be remedied if the user can place a stronger binding talisman into the said reincarnated person, thus re-establishing control.
- What Madara describes as "the one risk of the technique", if the reincarnated knows the specific seals, one can release the Impure World Reincarnation's summoning contract, severing the bond between themselves and the summoner. This leaves the individual effectively immortal with an unlimited amount of chakra, and the summoner has no control over the individual's mind and movements any longer, nor can the technique be deactivated on the said individual. The seals for severing the contract as depicted in the anime are Snake → Ram → Boar → Dog → Tiger. Using this method, if the individual was given free reign, temporarily removes the cracks on their bodies, restoring them to the appearance they had in life, but for unexplained reasons the cracks reappear later on.
It should be noted that the reincarnated are still vulnerable to any technique that could affect them while they were alive, but they are able to reform as soon as they receive any damage. Furthermore, while the reincarnated can't be destroyed and feel no pain which originates from bodily harm or mutilation, they are still vulnerable to the drawbacks from their own techniques or weaknesses. Such examples include Hanzō's poison acting as a paralysis agent, Mū along with the Second Mizukage being left weakened after using certain techniques, and Itachi's eye bleeding on the activation of his Mangekyō Sharingan. The First to Fourth Hokage were also limited by how many clones they could make while maintaining the Four Red Yang Formation. In some instances, small, self-inflicted harms will produce blood so that the summoned can use summoning techniques, for an example, although greater harms won't make the summoner bleed.
Apparently, particularly powerful reincarnations, least in Madara and the previous Hokage cases, the reincarnated body created by this technique cannot access the fullest potential of the person's original living body, as Madara only managed to break free of the Sage Art: Gate of the Great God and Sealing Technique: Tiger Vision Staring Bullet when he forced Obito to revive him into a body of living flesh, despite all the enhancements Kabuto gave him beforehand. Also, the corpse vessel created by the Impure World Reincarnation cannot be used as a host for the Shinju, nor become affected by the Infinite Tsukuyomi.
|Name||Village of origin||Reason for reincarnation|
|Osoi (Anime only)||Kumogakure||Failure; intended to reincarnate Toroi|
|Yota (Anime only)||Unknown||Testing the technique|
Other Known Reincarnated Shinobi
In the anime, it was shown that Kabuto has reincarnated a great deal more shinobi than shown in the manga. While most of these have yet to be seen on the battlefield, the ones that have been used are as follow:
- In the Chikara Arc, during the invasion of the Tonika Village and the subsequent skirmish with officers from the Hachō Village and Team Kakashi, Kabuto summoned several shinobi:
- When Kabuto summoned the reincarnated shinobi for war, there were several additional ones who do not appear in the manga.
- Kabuto would later reincarnate an unknown Kumo-nin who wore a bird-motif mask which covered the upper-half of his face and a Suna-nin who wore his flak jacket open and wielded a broad axe. They were assigned to a team with Hayate Gekkō to retrieve the KIA list — a scroll which had been used to seal away the bodies of shinobi with kekkei genkai and other special abilities.
- Kabuto also summoned a large group of "lesser" ninja who had been reincarnated by mistake, deploying them after losing many of his key reincarnations, with the intent of recovering said key fighters. Torune is deployed among this group. A White Zetsu clone noted however they are the "failures" and a majority were no more powerful than simple genin. Instead of stones, these failures were represented by a pile of sand on his playing board.
- "Edo" (穢土, Literally meaning: Dirty Soil) is what Japanese Buddhists call the normal world, unenlightened people live in. The current, living world. The world of the people who have not yet have escaped the polluting thoughts (greed, hatred, delusion, etc.) that result in suffering.
- A possible translation of Tensei is "Resurrection". In terms of this technique, both "Reincarnation" and "Resurrection" can be found; the sacrificed body is reincarnated into the body of the summoned shinobi, while the reincarnated shinobi is resurrected from the dead.
- In chapter 117 of the manga, when Orochimaru first performs the technique, he tries to summon a third coffin. When the coffin is not summoned, he comments on its failure. Years later, in chapter 520, Kabuto explains that Orochimaru's attempt to summon the Fourth Hokage had failed due to his soul not residing in the "Pure World", which Orochimaru was not aware of. In episode 69 of the anime, when Orochimaru used this technique, the coffin briefly appears, with "four" (四, Yon) written on it.
- The video game, Naruto: Ultimate Ninja 2, the (non-canon) storyline contradicts the idea the soul of the reincarnated must reside in the Pure World, as Orochimaru reincarnates the Third Hokage no differently than anyone else he summons in the game.
- Kabuto also mentions his desire to reincarnate certain shinobi, including:
- Jiraiya, though his body lies at the bottom of the ocean where the water pressure is too great to reach. However, he claimed that the bloodstains on the Six Paths of Pain's weapons may provide enough DNA.
- Shisui Uchiha, but Kabuto could not find his body, though he suggested that Shisui's crushed eye, which is in Tobi's possession, may be sufficient. Later, after learning that Shisui's other eye was on the battlefield, he seemed excited at the prospect of obtaining it. However, Itachi incinerated it.
- Chiriku in the anime, but it is unknown if he actually managed to reincarnate him after his first failure.
- Originally in the anime version, a reincarnated target's eyes appeared normal (albeit glazed over). Later in Part II of the anime, the mistake was corrected, returning a reincarnated target's sclera dark grey like it is in the manga.
- In Naruto Shippūden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations, Kabuto Yakushi (Snake Cloak Form) uses this as his ultimate technique. He summons Kakuzu, Itachi and Deidara, who attack the opponent using the Lightning Release: False Darkness, Fire Release: Great Fireball Technique and C1 techniques respectively.
- In the anime, when eradicating the personality of Hanzō, Kabuto used several hand seals instead of just one.
- In the anime, when reincarnating multiple shinobi, it is shown that Kabuto seems to favour using sacrificial victims from Konohagakure.
- When a reincarnated target breaks free of the contract, as seen in Madara Uchiha's case, any cracks about the individual's being will temporarily disappear.
- If a Rinnegan wielder is reanimated through the use of this technique, they cannot use the Outer Path: Samsara of Heavenly Life Technique to fully revive themselves, and must instead rely on another to do it for them.
- ↑ First Databook, page 181
- ↑ Naruto chapter 561, page 2
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Naruto chapter 520
- ↑ Naruto chapter 521, page 13
- ↑ Naruto chapter 521, page 5
- ↑ Naruto chapter 620, page 10
- ↑ Naruto chapter 520, page 11-13
- ↑ Naruto chapter 520, page 12
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 9.2 Naruto chapter 618, pages 13-17
- ↑ Naruto chapter 620, page 10
- ↑ Naruto chapter 637, page 1
- ↑ Naruto chapter 631, page 6
- ↑ Naruto chapter 521
- ↑ Naruto chapter 523, page 6
- ↑ Naruto chapter 527, pages 1-3
- ↑ Naruto chapter 546, page 3
- ↑ 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 Naruto chapter 522
- ↑ Naruto: Shippūden episode 318
- ↑ Naruto chapter 530, page 14
- ↑ Naruto chapter 577, page 16
- ↑ Naruto chapter 516, page 5
- ↑ Naruto chapter 513, pages 2 and 17
- ↑ Naruto chapter 532, pages 10-11
- ↑ Naruto chapter 547, page 10
- ↑ Naruto chapter 548, page 14
- ↑ Naruto chapter 620, pages 9-11
- ↑ Naruto chapter 620, page 11
- ↑ Naruto chapter 521, page 17
- ↑ Naruto chapter 575, page 14
- ↑ Naruto chapter 560, page 2
- ↑ 31.0 31.1 31.2 31.3 31.4 Naruto chapter 591, page 17
- ↑ 32.0 32.1 Naruto chapter 521, page 3
- ↑ Naruto chapter 518, pages 9, 10, 14
- ↑ Naruto chapter 561, pages 1-2
- ↑ Naruto chapter 639
- ↑ Naruto chapter 560, page 3
- ↑ Naruto chapter 602
- ↑ Naruto chapter 606, page 12
- ↑ Naruto: Shippūden episode 318
- ↑ Naruto chapter 544, pages 14-15
- ↑ Naruto chapter 565, page 1
- ↑ Naruto chapter 589, pages 8-12
- ↑ Naruto chapter 521, page 3
- ↑ Naruto chapter 577, page 17
- ↑ Naruto chapter 518, page 17
- ↑ Naruto chapter 519, page 4
- ↑ Naruto chapter 642, pages 4-5
- ↑ Naruto chapter 589, pages 12-17
- ↑ Naruto chapter 532, page 15
- ↑ Naruto chapter 548, pages 16-18
- ↑ Naruto chapter 532, pages 10-11
- ↑ Naruto chapter 620, page 9-11
- ↑ Naruto chapter 550, page 8
- ↑ Naruto chapter 582, page 3
- ↑ Naruto: Shippūden episode 340
- ↑ Naruto chapter 527, page 14
- ↑ Naruto chapter 532, pages 10-11
- ↑ Naruto chapter 552, page 16
- ↑ Naruto chapter 553, pages 4-5
- ↑ Naruto chapter 561, pages 2, 7
- ↑ Naruto chapter 637, pages 4-5
- ↑ Naruto chapter 548, page 17
- ↑ Naruto chapter 532, pages 10-11
- ↑ Naruto chapter 656, page 17
- ↑ Naruto chapter 614, page 5
- ↑ Naruto chapter 677, pages 10, 14, 16-17
- ↑ Naruto: Shippūden episode 256
- ↑ Naruto: Shippūden episode 307
- ↑ 69.0 69.1 Naruto: Shippūden episode 316
- ↑ 70.0 70.1 Naruto chapter 520, page 13
- ↑ Naruto chapter 550, page 13
- ↑ Naruto chapter 552, page 11
- ↑ Naruto episode 69
- ↑ Naruto: Shippūden episode 272
- ↑ Naruto: Shippūden episode 316
- ↑ Naruto: Shippūden episode 340