- History and Timeline
- Ninja Abilities
- Jutsu Types
- Weapons and Equipment
- Ninja Ranks and Specialties
- Medical Ninja
- Mission Types
- Kanji, Suffixes, and Pronunciation
Although ANBU Legacy is fanfiction, you don’t need to be familiar with its inspiration, Naruto, to read and enjoy it. Legacy takes place eight years before the events in Naruto begin, and diverges heavily from it in world building, major events, and character histories. Legacy also introduces many original characters to complement the cast of canon characters.
Here are a few basics that it may be helpful to know
The world in which ANBU Legacy takes place is a largely feudal society, based culturally on historical Japan, with a geography similar to east and southeast Asia. There are five great nations ruled by daimyou (feudal lords), supported by five independent ninja militaries based in “hidden villages” who are powers in their own right. Ninja in this world can be thought of as mercenary standing armies of their respective countries. There are also many smaller nations, some with their own small ninja forces, and some who rely on the protection of their larger neighbors.
Ninja forces are headed by Kage (Shadows), who are considered to be the strongest ninja in their villages.
The five great nations and their allied ninja armies
- Earth Country (Tsuchi no Kuni), protected by the ninja of Iwagakure (Village of the Hidden Rock). Their leader is the Tsuchikage (Earth Shadow) A sprawling country in the north-west of the continent. The border lands feature forests of giant mushrooms, swamps, and extensive cave systems.
- Fire Country (Hi no Kuni), protected by the ninja of Konohagakure (Village of the Hidden Leaf), home to the characters of ANBU Legacy. Their leader is the Hokage (Fire Shadow) — A large, hilly-to-mountainous country at the center of the continent, with a temperate, seasonal climate and a large population. Much of the north-central region of Fire Country is covered by massive forests of old-growth trees, some of which were magically cultivated by the second leader of Konohagakure. Fire Country is ruled by a daimyo (feudal lord) who holds power equal to the leader of Konoha, the Hokage, and is subdivided into provinces ruled by lesser feudal lords.
- Lightning Country (Rai no Kuni), protected by the ninja of Kumogakure (Village of the Hidden Cloud). Their leader is the Raikage (Lightning Shadow) — An extremely mountainous country to the northeast, much of which has never been mapped by foreigners. Its citizens tend to be dark-skinned with extremely light hair. Fishing is an important industry along its long and rocky coastline.
- Water Country (Mizu no Kuni), protected by the ninja of Kirigakure (Village of the Hidden Mist). Their leader is the Mizukage (Water Shadow) — A nation composed of several scattered islands some ways off the eastern coast of Fire Country. The nasty reputation of its ninja guarantee that few tourists go there, and Konoha shinobi have even fewer missions there.
- Wind Country (Kaze no Kuni), protected by the ninja of Sunagakure (Village of the Hidden Sand). Their leader is the Kazekage (Wind Shadow) — A desert country in the southwest, with large cities built around oases. Wind is generally considered ‘exotic’, and Konoha nin who don’t mind the sand and heat may appreciate missions there for the chance to pick up gourmet food and drink, souvenirs, and dalliances with some of those gorgeous Wind Country residents.
- Frost Country (Shimo no Kuni) — A small, mountainous country occupying the land bridge between Hotsprings Country and Lightning Country. Usually protected by Kumo ninja, but occasionally by Konoha.
- Grass Country (Kusa no Kuni), protected by the ninja of Kusagakure (Village of the Hidden Grass) — A small country located directly between Earth and Fire Countries. Its fertile plains have often served as a battleground in wars between the greater ninja countries.
- Hotsprings Country (Yu no Kuni) — a long, thin country to the northeast of Fire Country, famous for its many hot springs, its stepped rice paddies, and the sake brewed from its icy mountain streams. It has no ninja village, and generally hires from Konoha and Kirigakure.
- Iron Country (Tetsu no Kuni) — A modestly sized mountainous peninsular country to the north of Fire Country. Rich in mineral deposits but largely inhospitable in terrain. Protected by a military force of samurai rather than ninja, and generally isolated.
- Mangrove Country (Koujuu no Kuni) (called Noodles Country in the anime) — a small, peninsular country to the southeast of Fire Country, known for its swampy terrain and its extremely spicy curry. It has no ninja village and generally hires from Konoha.
- Rain Country (Ame no Kuni), protected by the ninja of Amegakure (Village of the Hidden Rain) — A small, insular country with terrible weather and an extremely paranoid population. Because it shares borders with Fire Country, Earth Country, and Wind Country, it has often served as a battleground in wars between the greater ninja forces. As a consequence its borders are highly defended, and visitors are subject to near-constant surveillance.
- River Country (Kawa no Kuni) — a forested country between Fire and Wind Countries, with many canyons carved by its namesake rivers. It has no ninja village, and its citizens generally hire shinobi from Konoha or Suna.
- Tea Country (Cha no Kuni) — a mountainous peninsular country to the southwest of Fire Country. Famous for the tea grown there, it has no ninja village and generally hires ninja from Konoha.
- The Land of Waves (Nami no Kuni) — a very small island country off the coast of Fire Country, without a ninja village. Its citizens generally hire ninja from Konoha or Kirigakure.
- Waterfall Country (Taki no Kuni), protected by the ninja of Takigakure (Village of the Hidden Waterfall) — a small country to the north-west, between Fire Country and Earth Country.
Ninja villages are founded on the strength of their clans. Throughout the ninja world, unique jutsu abilities are passed down from generation to generation within families. Some abilities are passed down through genetics (i.e. bloodline limits), while others are skills and abilities only known to those within the clan. Ninja clans are vastly powerful and very influential of the political decisions their villages take—the Hyuuga and Uchiha are particularly noteworthy.
Bloodline Limits (Kekkai Genkai) — A special ability passed down genetically within families. It cannot be used by anybody without the genetic trait, except in very special cases (see Kakashi’s Sharingan eye). Often manifests as an unusual physical trait, such as eye color. Key examples are the Uchiha’s Sharingan, the Hyuuga’s Byakugan, and the Inuzuka’s ability to communicate and bond with dogs.
Hiden Techniques — Special techniques that are closely held secrets of their clans. While some are jutsu that could be taught to any ninja of sufficient skill, others tread the line with bloodline limits, requiring specific genetic or physical traits for mastery. They cannot be copied through simple observation, and generally require extensive training to master.
Clans of Konoha
- Aburame — The Aburame clan is known for its ties to chakra-using insects. At birth, clan members form an agreement with kikai bugs, allowing them to inhabit and feed on the Aburame host’s chakra. In return the kikai bugs will serve and protect that clan member.
- Akimichi — The Akimichi use a series of jutsu known only to their clan that enables the members to hugely expand the size of their bodies, thus making themselves nearly indestructible for short periods of time. They also are masters of nutrition, and developed special pills which fuel the user with calories, caffeine and chakra. (See Chakra/Soldier Pills)
- Hyuuga — The Hyuuga clan possess a bloodline limit called the Byakugan that manifests as nearly white eyes with no clearly visible irises. When activated, the irises become visible, the veins in the clan member’s temples swell, and they gain penetrating sight and telescopic vision. This allows them to see the internal chakra circulation system in other beings. This vision also grants the member a near 360° view of their surroundings. The higher the skill of the clan member, the further the distance from which they can sense incoming attacks. Unfortunately the vision does have a weakness, a small blindspot that extends outwards from their upper back (leafninja.com).
- Inuzuka — The Inuzuka clan have a bloodline limit that gives them canine-like traits such as heightened sense of smell and elongated canines. Most clan members have at least one canine familiar—huge wolf-like dogs that can fight at a ninja-level and live much longer than normal dogs. Inuzuka can communicate telepathically with their familiars. They also pass down many clan jutsu that can be used to make themselves more dog-like in battle.
- Nara — The Nara have the ability to manipulate shadows through a series of jutsu passed down from clan member to clan member.
- Uchiha — The Uchiha possess a bloodline limit called the Sharingan, thought to be a mutation of the Hyuuga Byakugan. When activated, the irises become red with swirling, black, comma-shaped marks called tomoe. With activated Sharingan, they can see the flow of chakra, and perfectly memorize whatever they see, which is especially useful for copying the hand seal sequences used for jutsu. They can also use the Sharingan to cast an instant genjutsu on anyone who meets their eyes, and transmit memories of things they have recorded with their sharingan. For a more detailed account, see leafninja.
- Hatake Kakashi is the only non-clan member known to be able to use the Sharingan, which he has as a single transplanted eye. His ability to utilize it is imperfect, as he is unable to inactivate it and it produces a huge chakra strain. As a consequence, he keeps it covered with an eye patch or bandanna unless he is actively using it.
- Yamanaka — The Yamanaka clan jutsu give them the ability to send their consciousness into others’ bodies in order to control them, and to probe and read the mind of others.
- Yuuhi — The Yuuhi bloodline limit manifests as blood-red irises that allow them exquisite control over genjutsu.
Technologically the world of Legacy is an odd mishmash. There is electricity, refrigeration, indoor plumbing, water treatment and sewage, fairly modern medical technology, and steam engines, but there are no internal combustion engines or firearms. Radio, television, and movies exist, and there are videotapes and closed-circuit TV, but telephones, cell phones, and computers are not part of this world. There are many theories as to why this is. Perhaps this is a broadly post-apocalyptic world where some tech survived and much was lost. Perhaps the ninja actively suppress the development of civilian technology like firearms because it would threaten their superiority.
Ninja rely on their magical ability to sense and utilise a life force known as chakra. They can use it in a raw form or manipulate it through the use of jutsu, which gives them power over civilian populations.
The world is inhabited by folkloric creatures like shapeshifting tanuki and treacherous kappa, and a variety of minor demons. It’s also home to several great demons known as “Tailed Beasts” who are held in bondage as weapons of war by the most powerful ninja nations. They are generally referred to by the number of tails they sport.
The Great Ninja Wars
There have been three wars between the Five Great Shinobi Nations, each time over resources and territory. The First War was devastating to all the nations involved, and was eventually ended by armistice. Combat tactics developed during this war continue to shape how modern ninja warfare is conducted. The Second War is said to have been both started and won by Konoha. Twenty years prior to the beginning of ANBU Legacy, the Third War broke out. Most young ninja then had no idea how it had started, or why they were fighting, but for the next fourteen years, war would be all they knew. A year before the war ended, most of those fighting were too young to remember anything else. This is the world in which the main characters of ANBU Legacy came of age.
The war ended, although skirmishes at the borders dragged on. Slowly, Konoha began to rebuild under the guidance of its new Hokage, Namikaze Minato. For almost a year, ninja who’d known nothing but bloodshed struggled to adjust to a world where a mission’s success was measured not in territory, but in coin—and where their blood brought not peace, but prosperity.
The Kyuubi Attack
A monstrous nine-tailed fox of demonic origin and unspeakable power, the Kyuubi had been held in check and bondage by the Hokage’s wife, Uzumaki Kushina. Four years ago, only a year after the war’s end, she was pregnant with their first child. When she went into labor, the Kyuubi was able to escape her control. It destroyed a quarter of Konoha and much surrounding countryside before she was able to leash it. To save the village, she sacrificed her own life, sealing the demon into herself and binding it with her into death. It’s not known whether the demon beasts can truly die, but there has been no sign of the Kyuubi since Kushina’s death.
Because Naruto doesn’t specify years, the timeline can be confusing. We’ve chosen in Legacy to number years in Konoha in terms of which Hokage was in power, much like Japan numbers years by Emperor’s reign, and have created a detailed timeline from which to work. The year changes on January first, regardless of when the current Hokage took office, leading to some odd-length years. For example Yondaime Year One was actually only six months long.
Chakra — Essential life force, composed of spiritual and physical energy. Every living being has chakra, but only ninja have sufficient innate chakra reserves and capacity to be trained to use it. Chakra flows through a series of intricate pathways within the body, much like electric signals through nerves, and is used to power jutsu and other ninja abilities.
The more chakra reserves a ninja has, the longer they’ll last in battle. Chakra exhaustion is just as dangerous as exsanguination, but is probably more easily treated, provided a comrade can provide a direct chakra transfusion.
There are five elemental types of chakra, for which the great lands are named: Earth, Fire, Lightning, Water, and Wind. All ninja have the ability to manipulate each of these types of chakra, but are naturally inclined towards one or two elements. Children with a high chakra aptitude will manifest chakra of their primary nature in early childhood, often when emotionally excited.
- Earth (doton) — Takes the form of earth and mud-based attacks. Walls made from mud or the ninja maneuvering himself underground to attack his opponent from below are common examples. Earth can also be used to change the density of earthen and metallic objects, making something hard as steel or soft as clay. Outside of combat it can be used to create shelters, dig trenches, bury bodies, and cover tracks.
- Fire (katon) — Takes the form of fire and heat attacks. Fireballs or extensive flame-throwing are common examples. Fire is typically an offensively used element, though a creative and highly-skilled user could come up with fire-based defenses, too. Outside of combat Fire can be used to (unsurprisingly) light fires, and create heat and light.
- Lightning (raiton) — Takes the form of electrical and lightning-based attacks. When used in conjunction with metal based weapons, the power becomes amplified. Lightning is good for middle to long-range attacks. It’s very powerful but has few non-combat uses, and is considered the rarest of the five chakra natures.
- Water (suiton) — Takes the form of water based attacks. Walls of water used as shields or water formed into large striking jets are common examples. Water defenses can also take the form of obscuring mists. Water is generally considered the most malleable type of chakra. Outside of combat it can be used to gather pure drinking water from contaminated sources, or even from the air itself, and to remove water from soaking wet clothing.
- Wind (fuuton) — Takes the form of wind-based attacks. Huge gusts or sustained wind storms are common examples. Wind is a specialised offensive element, good for close to mid-range attacks. It can also be used to clear away smoke or poison gases, at least temporarily.
Jutsu — This world’s version of magical spells. Powered by a ninja’s chakra and shaped by seals, jutsu can be called upon for a multitude of things, from making ice dragons that can rip apart a valley, to conjuring a matchstick sized flame on the end of the fingertips.
Hand seals — A series of shapes formed by the ninja’s hands that help shape chakra in order to create a jutsu. Each seal is named after a specific animal of the Chinese zodiac. There are 12 in total, plus their inverted forms.
Inscribed Seals — Seals can also be inscribed on paper and objects, and temporarily painted or permanently tattooed on living beings, to contain raw chakra or create specific jutsu; in this instance they appear as a form of free-flowing kanji script. They usually glow when they’re activated. Some inscribed seals are permanent, while some deteriorate once the jutsu they contained is activated. Special chakra-containing ink is required for inscribed seals. Paper seal tags can be prepared ahead of time and activated when needed.
Sensing — All ninja can sense each other’s chakra to a limited extent, at close range, but some ninja have an innate ability to detect chakra at a longer range. The best of these are specialized sensors who are often stationed as sentries to detect incoming threats. Those who have a strong but not specialized sensing ability are usually also strong ninjutsu users. Ninja tend to perceive each other’s chakra in a sort of synesthetic manner that is unique to each sensor, so one ninja may perceive chakra as color or light while another feels it as a physical sensation or a scent.
Chakra Suppression is a natural counterpart to sensing. Ninja can actively contain their own chakra signatures to make themselves harder to detect by sensors.
Summons — Some ninja have a contract with a specific species of ninja animal that are summoned from a different dimension. These contracts are sealed on scrolls, usually when the summoner is quite young, and are passed down through generations (often within families). Using their contract scroll and some of their own blood, the summoner can summon any number of animals—depending on the amount of chakra they use in the summoning—in order to do battle, track down enemies, or do any number of other things. Summons can vary in size from very small to supernaturally massive, and are often very intelligent. Some of them are able to speak. They live on a different time scale from humans and can be much older than the ninja who summon them. They are not the same as ordinary animals, as they are, like human ninja, able to manipulate chakra.
Fuuinjutsu — Seals and sealing techniques that can be used to seal objects or chakra within another object. For example a scroll can be inscribed with seals to allow it to contain weapons or equipment for ease of carrying. Food and water degrade quickly when stored in a sealed scroll, and so are usually not carried this way. Very heavy objects, when sealed into a scroll, can cause that scroll to feel “heavy” in a chakra sense, even though it is physically light. Fuuinjutsu can also be used to seal chakra within a living being, or restrict its movement. It is used to contain the tailed beasts within their human hosts, to activate certain chakra pathways that would be otherwise inaccessible, as in curse seals, and to restrict movement or unseal objects either from within something or someone.
Genjutsu — An illusionary technique that manipulates the target(s)’ perceptions. Could also be viewed as a kind of hypnotism. Genjutsu is created with hand seals, and involves a ninja extending their chakra flow through the cerebral nervous system of their opponent(s) to affect any combination of the five senses. The victim of such an attack can be forced to experience physical and mental sensations at the caster’s direction. Any creature with a brain can be subject to a genjutsu.
To combat the effects of genjutsu, there are four options. A weak genjutsu can be broken with a kai, which is in itself a jutsu and uses the ram hand seal. The second is for the attacked ninja to temporarily stop the flow of chakra in their body, and then apply an even stronger power to disrupt the flow of the caster’s chakra. The third option is to have an outside ninja unaffected by the genjutsu make body contact, and use their chakra to disrupt the caster’s or the subject’s flow. Fourth and finally, a strong-willed ninja can use physical pain to break the hold of a genjutsu.
Kenjutsu — Sword and blade arts. Some sword schools derive from Samurai traditions, while others are purely ninja arts. Most utilize a combination of taijutsu, ninjutsu, and channeling chakra through the blade itself. All ninja are expected to have basic competence with both short and long edged weapons, but only a few are true specialists. Some clans, such as the Gekkou, especially pride themselves on their kenjutsu techniques.
Ninjutsu — Ninja arts. Basically any method of attack or defense (or anything else) that involves elemental manipulation through jutsu, seals, or raw chakra. Some examples of ninjutsu:
- Bunshin — An illusory clone of the caster. Cannot interact with the physical world, and is mainly used to confuse or mislead an opponent.
- Henge — A jutsu the user can call upon to change their physical shape and appearance. This is a physical change, and there is hotly debated theory as to what happens to the excess mass in an unequal henge.
- Kage bunshin — An advanced technique that creates a solid, substantial clone made from chakra that looks exactly like its caster. They’re intelligent and reflect the caster’s personality to a certain degree. Depending on how much chakra is used to make one, they can be strong and long lasting or weak and short-lived. When ‘killed’, they vanish in a cloud of smoke, and return their memories of whatever they experienced while ‘alive’ to their caster. They take considerably more chakra than most jutsu and their use is restricted to high level ninja.
- Kawarimi — A limited space-time technique that lets a ninja swap places with an object or even another person. The classic example is swapping places with a log of wood, leaving your enemy to chop kindling rather than amputate your limbs.
Taijutsu — Martial arts. Essentially any form of hand-to-hand combat utilized by ninja during a fight. Can be anything from drunken boxing to judo. Doesn’t require hand seals, but instead relies on manipulating raw chakra to power muscles, strengthen holds, blocks, and throws, increase speed, etc. Taijutsu also includes other physical techniques, such as:
- Wall-walking/Tree-climbing — Kinobori no Waza, the art of tree climbing, serves a dual purpose. Taking part in Kinobori Shugyou (Tree Climbing Training) helps a student-ninja learn how to focus just the right amount of chakra to a particular part of their body. It also teaches the ninja how to walk on vertical walls and hang upside down, stuck fast to a ceiling or overhanging branch or ledge by their feet. The amount needed to climb is small but it must be precisely controlled. The feet are regarded as the hardest location to master chakra focusing. No ninja can advance without mastering this technique.
- Water-walking — Another technique learned early in a ninja’s training that helps young ninja to develop their chakra control. The art of water-walking is even more difficult than tree-climbing (see above), and involves the ninja focusing chakra to the soles of the feet until they can walk on the surface of the water. Still water is significantly easier to walk on than raging rapids or tossing waves, but the most skilled can manage even those difficult scenarios. Water walking is essential to crossing swamps and other bodies of water, so all ninja are expected to master it.
- Other Techniques — Ninja can use chakra to enhance their ability to see in the dark, cling hand and foot to walls and cliffs as they climb, brace for a blow to prevent physical damage, enhance their own blows and strikes for greater damage, and for some, regulate their own body processes such as temperature and heart rate.
Exploding Tags — Paper tags inscribed with chakra-containing ink that detonate when triggered.
Kunai — A knife, of sorts. Crafted from one piece of metal, they’re usually just shorter than the length of your forearm from elbow to wrist, with a triangular blade that widens out towards the handle, then narrows abruptly where the handle actually is. The handle itself is cylindrical, and usually bound in leather or sturdy cloth tape. Many have a circular hoop at the end. During battle these are often used as a sort of disposable throwing knife, with many ninja carrying several at once in a pouch strapped to the thigh. They can also be kept in the hand and used in a dagger-like fashion.
Poisons — A part of every assassin’s arsenal, poisons are frequently added to the edge of bladed weapons or to specialized senbon, in addition to being used in more traditional ways.
Senbon — Needles that come in a variety of gauges from tiny acupuncture needles for medical treatment to large throwing needles as thick as a finger used as weapons. Mid-sized and larger senbon are often used as throwing weapons. They can be coated with poison for added effect.
Shuriken — A throwing star. Basically a flat piece of metal, usually four- or five-pointed star-shaped, that is lobbed at the enemy with the hope of doing damage. A ‘Demon Wind’ shuriken (fuuma shuriken) follows this principle, but is about sixteen times the size of a regular shuriken; the blades fold down into one in order to make carrying a weapon this size possible.
Swords — In Naruto canon, ANBU are seen to carry a long straight sword, likely a chokuto, on their backs. Though most non-taijutsu-specialized ninja will go for jutsu first, and all edged weapons second.
Tanto — A short, curved sword. The most famous example in Naruto canon is Kakashi’s White Light Chakra Sabre, bequeathed to him after the death of his father, Sakumo, Konoha’s White Fang.
Tetsubishi/Caltrops — Small iron spikes that can be scattered on the ground to inhibit pursuit.
Traps — Generally made out of some combination of netting, ninja wire, explosion tags, poisons, strategically dug holes — there’s no such thing as fairness in battle!
ANBU mask — A white mask made of a hard polymer ceramic, with details painted in red, blue, or black. Most masks are stylized representations of animals, though a few, like Raidou’s crescent moon mask are more abstract. ANBU agents, when in mask, are referred to by their mask name.
Armor — ANBU armor consists of a hard-plated, fabric covered vest in bone white, and matching arm guards that cover the forearms. Under this they wear a black, sleeveless, high-necked top, black tactical trousers, and boots.
Hitai-ate — A headband with a metal plate attached. Worn only by ninja, the metal plate carries the insignia of the ninja’s village, and is obtained when they graduate from their respective ninja academies. If the insignia is scratched through with one broad line, it’s an indicator that the wearer has forsworn his or her village.
Scrolls — Another method of working jutsu. Chakra can be channeled through scrolls to create, summon, contain, or seal specific things.
Uniforms — When not in ANBU armor, the regular shinobi uniform consists of a dark blue, long sleeved shirt and tactical pants. Leg wraps cover the shins. Over this they may wear a lightly armored olive-green tactical vest, which is awarded to a ninja on their promotion to the rank of chuunin. Shinobi who are promoted again to special jounin or jounin receive a new vest that are largely identical to their chuunin vests, though there may be subtle differences (insignia perhaps) that denote their rank.
Blood Pills — Blood-replenishing pills that don’t actually increase the volume or amount of blood, but instead increase the efficiency of your existing blood cells. Great for short-term, relatively minimal blood loss; useless if you’re actually bleeding out.
Chakra/Soldier Pills — Little medicine balls that give the user a temporary boost in chakra. Invented and still being refined by the Akimichi, the most recent version of soldier pills has yet to overcome the pesky little problem of the fact that overuse leads to coagulation problems.
Med Kits — These are ostensibly first-aid kits that ninja carry on missions for field use. Practically speaking, however, certain teams carry more… specialized equipment. Case in point, Team Six:
- Raidou: one bandaid, possibly expired.
- Kakashi: stolen morphine. Will return. Eventually.
- Ryouma: previously, ALL the soldier pills! Now, as much as will fit within the physical confines of that medkit without the seams bursting.
- Genma: a carefully curated list of items that changes after each mission because he tries to be prepared but sometimes life throws monsters at you and laughs. As a field medic, he carries a larger, more comprehensive kit than the others.
NINJA RANKS AND SPECIALTIES
Academy students — Children training to be ninja. The typical entrance age into the academy is 5, and the typical graduation age is 12. However, in times of war this can change drastically, with many students being advanced at a much younger age (see Kakashi). Academy students learn the basics of molding and mastering their chakra to perform jutsu, essential weapons use, map-reading and navigation skills, basic survival training, and other ninja fundamentals.
Genin — The very lowest rank. Genin take D and C ranked missions, which in peacetime are typically local chores, such as gardening, crop harvesting, minor house repairs, dog-walking, and so on. Genin are usually put into teams of three, led by a Jounin-sensei ninja, whose duty it is to train them in order to advance up the ranks. Some ninja remain genin their entire careers, typically going on to serve in functionary roles that keep the village running.
Chuunin — Journeymen ninja. The majority of adult ninja are chuunin. Genin must pass the chuunin exams (or in some wartime cases, receive a field promotion) in order to attain it. To do this, they must demonstrate a knowledge of many forms of jutsu, as well as the ability to lead a team and think on the spot. The average age of promotion is 13-17, but there are many exceptions. Chuunin usually take anything up to a B-rank mission, and can become medics or teachers.
Jounin — Elite ninja. Jounin must demonstrate an ability to work alone as well as to lead a team. They must have an exceptional mastery of ninjutsu, taijutsu, and genjutsu. They can take any level of mission, all the way up to S-rank. Only full jounin can mentor and lead genin teams.
Special Jounin (tokubetsu jounin) — Highly specialized in either ninjutsu, taijutsu, or genjutsu. Special Jounin must meet the same criteria as jounin for leadership and ability to operate independently, but do not need to have equal mastery of all three primary jutsu disciplines in order to be promoted.
Kage — Military commander and village leader, generally one of the the strongest, most skilled ninja in the village. Each village has its own Kage, named for the country in which their village resides. So Konoha has the Hokage (Fire Shadow), Sunagakure in Wind Country has the Kazekage (Wind Shadow), and so on. Each successive Kage is referred to by their position (First, Second, Third, etc) in sequence as village leader. In Japanese these are Shodai (1st), Nidaime (2nd), Sandaime (3rd), Yondaime (4th), Godaime (5th), Rokudaime (6th), etc.
ANBU — Special Forces. Dark Ops. ANBU is not a rank, it is a special forces operation within the ninja military structure, much like US Navy SEALS, or Army Commandos or Rangers. Because of the unsavory nature of the missions ANBU teams carry out, they are both respected and feared, and some of the most skilled ninja within the village. They are selected through trials held twice a year, and overseen by a commander (Sagara) and vice commander (Kuroda), but ultimately report directly to the Hokage, and take a special oath to serve as ANBU. ANBU in Legacy is composed entirely of jounin and special jounin, organized into 3–5 person squads led by a captain and a lieutenant. In addition to carrying out high-level political missions, including assassinations and sabotage, some ANBU serve as the Hokage’s personal guards.
ANBU is an abbreviation for Ansatsu senjutsu tokushu Butai. Special Tactics and Assassination Squad. Ansatsu (暗殺), assassin, is made of the kanji for darkness and murder, while butai (部隊), military unit, is made of two kanji that separately also can mean squad or department. The word anbu (暗部) itself means the dark side of a person, nature, etc. So ANBU has a double meaning, being both an abbreviation and a word on its own.
Medical Ninja — Some ninja specialize in medicine exclusively, becoming the doctors and surgeons of their world, while others function as field medics and first responders. In general there are no field medics who are solely medical ninja. Instead they are rank and file shinobi who have extra medical training, the way many firefighters are also paramedics. Medical ninja on the field medic track focus on injuries and poisoning, while hospital-track medical ninja also study diseases and basic wellness.
There are five levels of classification, with overlap in skills and training at the lower levels. Each level requires classroom and practical training, and there are qualification exams for each level. Practicing medical ninja of all levels have to pass periodic recertification exams and partake of continuing education.
- Grade Five Field and Hospital Medics— Interns who usually operate under close supervision. In addition to basic first aid, they can do medical jutsu for bruise healing and wound closure, and assessment and immediate stabilization for more serious injuries such as fractures and deep lacerations. The training for Grade Five medics is identical regardless of track.
- Grade Four Field Medic— Field medic track ninja start to focus more exclusively on injury management, life support, and stabilization. They can partly set a fracture, manage fairly extensive burns, and treat common poison exposures. They operate without direct supervision at this level.
- Grade Four Hospital Medic — Hospital track medics broaden their scope to include common illnesses as well as injuries. They are still supervised, but begin to take on more independence in managing patients in a clinical setting.
- Grade Three Field Medic— Highest level of field medic, shares some overlap with an emergency room physician in terms of scope. Know and can perform a wide variety of medical jutsu, including concussion management, bone setting, and more intensive life support, and can administer a variety of medications. They may also take on teaching more junior field medics.
- Grade Three Hospital Medic — Hospital-track medics at Grade Three are full time doctors by now, if they weren’t already. They are the primary care and emergency room doctors for both the ninja and civilian populations of their regions.
- Grade Two Hospital Medic— Senior doctors. At grade two hospital medics tend to branch into specialties like hematology, orthopedic surgery, internal medicine, chakra injury management etc. They may also take on teaching duties.
- Grade One Hospital Medic— Highest level hospital medics. Surgeons and specialists with the greatest skill and expertise.
S — Highest level mission. These missions involve vital matters of national or village security and are assigned only to Jounin-level ninja or ANBU.
A — A-rank missions involve a high risk of death or serious injury, and are usually assigned only to ANBU or jounin-level ninja. They can involve combat with foreign ninja, sabotage and infiltration.
B — B-rank missions are difficult, but open battle with offensive ninja forces is not usually involved. Jounin, special jounin, chuunin, and occasionally ANBU will perform these missions, which may include retrieving important documents, protective escorts, gathering foreign intelligence, and potential combat with lower-ranked ninja or civilian guards. Missions to combat natural disasters, such as evacuating a flooding village or putting out a forest fire could also be considered C- or B-rank.
C — C-rank missions include protective escorts and missions with some chance of bodily harm. Can also include capturing wild animals and trap clearing.
D — D-rank missions are the lowest level, usually assigned to genin for the purpose of building skills. Some D-ranks are purely skill-builders, such as tracking lost pets, but others are bread-and butter activities that keep the village functioning: repairing roads, replacing sewer pipes, harvesting crops, etc.
Kanji — Ideographic form of writing, where a single character stands for a whole word or concept. Japanese is written with kanji, which derive from and are often identical to Chinese characters, and kana (hirigana and katakana), which are simplified letter forms that represent syllables rather than whole words or concepts. While a document could be written entirely in kana, it would generally be written with a mix of kanji and kana, with kanji used for nouns, verbs and the bases of adjectives, and kana used for conjunctions, inflections, conjugations, and loanwords from other languages.
Japanese follows very different rules from English when it comes to pronouncing words. This is a simple guide so you can ‘hear’ the words in your head as we heard them when we wrote them.
Brief Guide to Names and Suffixes
In Japanese it is customary to address people by their family name and a suffix, sometimes called an honorific. Family name precedes given name (last first). In a traditional Japanese environment, Hatake Kakashi would be called Hatake-san, or Mr. Hatake. However in Naruto we usually see characters, even adults, addressed by their given name, often without suffix. Kakashi, if he were a Japanese Middle School biology teacher, would be Hatake-sensei. However he is addressed as Kakashi-sensei only by his students, and simply Kakashi by his peers.
Being permitted to address someone by their given name is usually a mark of a certain degree of intimacy, such as between close friends, lovers, or family members. Similarly using no honorific is a mark of high intimacy (or intense insult.)
In Legacy we tend to a slightly more formal usage, with characters often addressing each other by surname, with or without honorific.
-san — a mark of basic courtesy. Essentially the equivalent of saying ‘Mr’ or ‘Ms’.
-kun — same thing, but usually used in context of a boy under 16 or a junior-level male subordinate. Also used by adult men who were boyhood friends.
-chan — likewise, but used for a baby, young child, or girl under 12. Can also be said romantically to a girlfriend, if you’re trying to be cute, and between close adult female friends.
-sama — like ‘-san’ but a mark of higher respect. Used for customers in a store by polite merchants, and for leaders. Hokage-sama, for example.
-dono — much higher respect; on a noble level.
-senpai — A senpai is a person who is above you in rank or experience. -senpai can be affixed to a name to acknowledge that the person you are addressing is your respected senior. (The converse term, kohai, is not often used as a suffix. A kohai is your junior in rank or experience.)
-sensei — Teacher or master (of a craft), used in place of ‘-san’. Teachers, doctors, martial-arts masters, artists, writers and others who are masters of their craft are called -sensei. It can also be used as a stand alone word.
-taichou — Captain
-fukuchou — Lieutenant
-[blank] — In traditional Japanese, using no suffix either suggests that the person you are speaking to is very familiar (e.g. close friend, family, lover), or you’re trying to be rude as hell. In Naruto’s world, however, it is commonplace to use given name without suffix.
NB: It’s also worth bearing in mind that while Legacy is set in an Eastern culture, it’s not actually in modern Japan. We tend to play a bit fast and loose with honorifics in any case, but you will see them crop up now and again.