Tobirama Senju: A Naruto Character Analysis
Hahaha… Well, Tobirama isn’t the most popular Hokage, but I gotta say, I do like him quite a bit, and he’s one of my favorite Naruto characters (besides his looks, of course xD). I hear and read a lot of negative comments about Tobirama (e.g., he was too harsh, he hated the Uchihas, etc.), so I want to share my thoughts on his character.
Here’s a little about me and what you can expect to read from this post: I know there’s a lot of heat around Tobirama, but I personally found his character amusing and noble in many ways. For me, though, I like to look past the surface and see if I can read deeper into someone’s personality and motives, even if he is a fictional character. So I prefer to not hate on characters without really understanding them. Plus, hate is such a negative emotion, so I’d like to leave it out of my system. What I’ll talk about in this post is Tobirama’s overall character, why I like him, and his flaws.
Tobirama’s Character Analysis
Before I get into why I like Tobirama, I want to talk about his character and my thoughts on him. Ever since Tobirama was a child, he’s been the more “realistic” and composed one of the two Senju brothers. He tells it like it is, and he balances Hashirama’s overly optimistic personality. Tobirama shared the same dream as his brother and the Will of Fire (the will to protect the village, the children, and the people).
Though he was composed most of the time, Tobirama had quite a short temper. If he believed you posed a thread to the village, he would automatically go into battle mode, which was shown when Sasuke was deciding if he wanted to protect the village or go on with his revenge. Tobirama didn’t leave any wiggle room, and he didn’t think “Oh, well, let’s see if I can change this guy’s mind and resolve this without violence” like Hashirama would. Tobirama acted on instinct, and I think that was honed when he had to fight in wars most of his life.
Can you imagine being five or seven years old and being forced to fight elite adult shinobi? It was all about survival during the Warring States Period, and you had to fight or you’ll die. The world was much different from back when Hashirama was a child, and I can understand why Tobirama would go into fight mode when he sensed a threat. Also, he’s a sensory type, and they tend to be more sensitive, so he could be acting on impulse. Hashirama kept him in line, though, when Tobirama was being too rash or harsh. That was one of Tobirama’s flaws: he was overly cautious and thought of everything objectively, perhaps even based on paranoia (e.g., like him pushing the Uchiha on the outskirts of the village).
Tobirama developed his rather objective, detached personality from a young age. He always believed that, in order to stop unnecessary fighting, official agreements needed to be made and shinobi needed to suppress their feelings (e.g., hate, revenge).
Have you ever noticed that Tobirama is almost always crossing his arms? One of the most common meanings behind this cross-armed body language is to keep a distance from people. It shows that the person doesn’t want you to get too close to them. Crossing your arms gives the signal that you need to stay away. Just like how glasses-wearing characters push their glasses up, body language is used quite a bit in anime/manga series.
I think, from when Tobirama was very young, he closed himself off to people. At least, emotionally. He only let certain people in like his brother. Whether Tobirama experienced such great pains when he was a kid or not, knowing that he closes himself off emotionally from others sorta makes me feel compassion for him. He’s led a tough life ever since he was a kid, so I can’t help but feel empathetic.
I also think this is why Tobirama is seen as harsh and strict to others. But the truth? He’s harsher and stricter with himself.
Despite closing himself off, though, he did show emotion when it came to doing things for others. For example, in the image above, he’s seen smiling and patting a young Hiruzen’s head. He also smiles genuinely when he witnesses Shikamaru’s will to live on the battlefield during the Fourth Great Shinobi War.
Tobirama cared deeply about the village his brother established, and he did what he believed was right to protect it. He believed that there needed to be a balance between Madara and Hashirama’s personalities. I guess this quote by the man himself sums up his personality right here:
My brother believed that the village was something that demolish the boundaries between clans. Well in the end it wasn’t that simple… My brother was too soft… and Madara too dangerous… My role as Second Hokage was to mediate between them while protecting and reinforcing the village.
Why I Like Tobirama
Let’s get down to business (to defeat… the Huns!)! Okay, now I can start my list on why I like Tobirama 😀
1. Tobirama has an amusing personality, despite him being seen as composed all the time.
For someone composed as Tobirama, it’s funny seeing him lose his cool. For example, when his brother, Hashirama, would get too carried away, he’d tell his brother to shut up, and it’d work, too. Tobirama discouraging Hashirama, the man known as the God of Shinobi, is too hilarious, and I think that also shows you the bond these two brothers have. They balanced each other out well xD
Another amusing thing about Tobirama is his sarcasm and his way of joking with others. He’s quite sassy, really, and I love sassy people! For instance, when he heard Minato’s name for a jutsu, Tobirama wanted to make fun of it, but he didn’t since they were in a serious situation. I thought this was interesting to see because Tobirama acts quite familiar with the Fourth Hokage, even though they only just met.
Tobirama butt heads with Naruto during the Fourth Great Shinobi War. The interaction between Tobirama and Naruto during the war was so funny! Bwahahahaha Naruto’s idiocy and Tobirama’s sarcasm and sharpness were the perfect contrast, and it was like watching Tobirama have squabbles with his brother. Tobirama acts all proud, too, when Naruto doesn’t give Tobirama the respect he deserves (e.g., not calling him Second Hokage appropriately and not giving him credit for his jutsu that he created) xD Omg, it’s just too good. I loved seeing this side of the serious Tobirama.
2. Tobirama is a sassy man.
I can’t tell you how much I love sassy characters. They’re entertaining, and they have the funniest lines xD Tobirama’s calm and cool nature balances out well with his sarcastic and sassy side, I must say. Tobirama and Madara would have been hilarious together if they were friends xD They’re both full of sass.
3. Tobirama carries the Will of Fire and didn’t hesitate to sacrifice himself to protect his subordinates and the village.
Back in Danzo’s flashback during the First or Second Shinobi World War (when Tobirama was the Second Hokage), Tobirama decided to be the decoy so that his team would be able to escape. He entrusted the village to Hiruzen Sarutobi (Third Hokage), and he didn’t hesitate at all to leave his last words to his subordinates and leave to be the decoy. His last words are important because it showed that he disregarded himself and protected the future generation, like a true Hokage. I guess, in a way, he did do it for himself cos he cared about his people and his village until the very end. He was a true, noble leader, and that’s something that will always touch my heart.
4. Tobirama acknowledged the Uchihas and showed them in a positive light.
When Tobirama talks to Sasuke about the Uchihas, Tobirama admitted that the Uchihas were a clan possessed by evil, but they were a clan who knew love the best (even more so than the Senjus). Would someone who supposedly hated the Uchihas ever say anything positive? Perhaps his politics and actions as the Hokage was based on paranoia because of his own experience fighting the Uchihas. But he also did trust certain Uchihas, like Kagami Uchiha. I honestly don’t see how people say Tobirama hated the Uchihas. The Uchihas have been sort of on the dark side in the Naruto series, so I’m happy that Tobirama, the one people think hated the Uchihas, displayed this clan in a positive light.
5. Tobirama says it like it is.
I like characters (and people in general) who tell it like it is. Tobirama doesn’t sugar-coat anything. He doesn’t say things to be mean, though. He’s a sensitive person, I believe; otherwise, he would sugar-coat things and be superficially nice. Tobirama’s way of showing kindness and compassion is by speaking the truth that’s based on facts and reality. People see this as harsh, but I personally would want someone to be open and honest with me 100 percent; someone who wouldn’t be afraid to say the truth to my face.
6. Tobirama is a passionate shinobi.
Passion is an attractive trait in anyone. If you see passion in people, it’s contagious, right? You want to follow them and see what their life is like or live their life, too, because you see that they love it. Tobirama, even though he did seem standoffish, didn’t lose his passion. The samurai leader, Mifune, has noted that passion is necessary to be a successful shinobi, too, and Tobirama definitely had it. I loved that Tobirama was a passionate man despite his calm and collected persona.
Last but not least… he’s just a badass! Tobirama, in his time, was the strongest in the village. He was also hailed as the fastest shinobi, too, thanks to his Hiraishin jutsu that the Yondaime/Fourth Hokage used. Can’t help but love a badass fighter xD
Stop the Blame Game
This is something I’m quite passionate about, so I want to talk about it here. A lot of people say that it’s Tobirama’s fault for driving Madara to insanity because he fatally wounded Madara’s younger brother, Izuna. Um, hello? Senju and Uchiha clans were battling forever! And Madara was responsible for his own actions and decisions. Tobirama didn’t do it on purpose to drive Madara to insanity.
Why would he want to do that when he knew Madara was a huge threat? Tobirama wasn’t such a petty, hateful person. He didn’t hate the Uchihas, either. He did truly desire peace. His method was to be cautious about any clan that could potentially threaten the safety and vitality of the village. He only did what he believed in, and so did everyone else in the Narutoverse.
People don’t see the bigger picture here. Perhaps all these events unfolded because of fate. Because it wasn’t Tobirama’s fate to stop the cycle of wars and hatred. Because it wasn’t Madara and Hashirama’s responsibility. Because fate decided that it was Naruto who would bring true peace.
There are no true right and wrongs. There are actions and consequences, and it’s not just a single person who brings doom to everyone. For example, Madara was being manipulated by Black Zetsu, who was Kaguya’s will. You can say that Kaguya led to Indra who led to Madara who led to Obito, etc. The Naruto world shows that there are many paths, and not just one person follows it.
I would prefer not to blame people, honestly, because all it does is limit your view on the entire picture. All human actions, thoughts, emotions, etc., lead to various events. If you want to change something, you just need to break the cycle, the loop.
Tobirama continued believing in the true peace that he and his brother dreamed of, and left the world after the Fourth Great Shinobi War believing in the next generation. Now that I’ve written all this out in this blog post, I can’t help but feel even more respect for Tobirama xD
Hope this was an enjoyable read for you! Please let me know what you think of Tobirama, my post, and whatever else!