Sasuke Uchiha is one of the most popular characters in the hit series, Naruto. His character arc and fights with his fellow Team 7 member Naruto are nothing short of iconic. Fans may be slightly surprised to find out that the creator of Naruto, Masashi Kishimoto, actually drew inspiration for Sasuke from another hit manga and anime series: Yu Yu Hakusho.
An interview was done in 2009 for Naruto’s tenth anniversary, which was published in the Naruto 10th Anniversary Chronicle Book Mini. The book has been translated into English from Japanese by fans, revealing the influence of works by Yoshihiro Togashi on Kishimoto’s iconic manga series. While Kishimoto took some inspiration from Hunter x Hunter, Sasuke was actually inspired by a character from Yu Yu Hakusho.
Sasuke & His Abilities Stem from Yu Yu Hakusho ‘s Hiei
X user and Naruto fan @kishimotomasshi shared a snippet from the 2009 interview. The brief quote reveals that Sasuke was inspired by Yu Yu Hakusho’s Hiei. The hit series was serialized from 1990 to 1994, with its anime adaptation airing from 1992 to 1994. Hiei specifically debuted in Chapter #20 of the manga and episode 6 of the anime. He is a skilled martial artist and swordsman, capable of using his Evil Eye, or Jagan, to gain additional abilities as well as an alternate form. His demeanor is very similar to Sasuke’s, since Hiei is a bit of a loner who doesn’t have much appreciation for anyone weaker than him.
An extended, translated quote from the interview reveals more, with Kishimoto saying:
I was already a big fan of Hiei back when I was only a reader, but I’ve also took him as a source of inspiration when I started creating my characters. At first I wasn’t able to create a ‘cool’ character. I didn’t know where to begin so I studied one of my favorite characters: Hiei, and I succeeded in creating Sasuke, the Sharingan as well as some of his other techniques were inspired by him.
Sasuke is known for being very powerful, but also very distant from his companions early on. He is cold and calculating, though he eventually comes to respect the other members of Team 7 greatly and even enters a long-term relationship – and marriage – with Sakura. Hiei is very similar in that he does respect his friends, though he isn’t very keen on showing it too much. He also has a rather similar look, sharing dark spiky hair, sharp features, and a fair complexion. Sasuke’s Sharingan grants him numerous abilities that he has honed over the years, adding to his powerful skillset.
Hiei’s Evil Eye grants him some psychic abilities, which mirrors Sasuke’s Sharingan in that he has telepathic abilities, while Sasuke can predict his foes’ moves using his enhanced Chakra view. Additionally, both are capable of using flame abilities with Hiei’s taking the shape of dragons. Both Hiei and Sasuke can use a flamethrower technique, expelling fire towards their enemies. Put side-by-side, there’s no question of how similar the two are. Considering how powerful they both are, it seems likely that Yu Yu Hakusho’s Hiei and Naruto’s Sasuke would end up respecting one another a great deal.