The Best Hokage in ‘Naruto’ Isn’t Who You Expect


The big picture

  • Tobirama Senju, a vital figure in Konoha's history, established many key institutions that shaped the village's success and culture.
  • Criticized for some decisions, Tobirama's creations like Summoning: Impure World Reincarnation led to both noble and nefarious results.
  • Despite his flaws, Tobirama deserves to be recognized as the most effective Hokage in contributing to Konoha's long-term prosperity.

Masashi Kishimoto's Naruto is one of the largest and most established anime franchises in the world, with a fan base that spans the globe. With a live adaptation of Destiny Daniel Cretton ready to reintroduce the franchise to a wider audience, now is the perfect time to expand your knowledge of the shinobi world. In Naruto, the title of Hokage is reserved only for the most powerful, influential and capable shinobi of the village hidden among the leaves. So when a young Naruto declares that he will be Hokage, it is one of the loftiest and loftiest ambitions one can aspire to achieve. The Hokage is the protector of the people; the sentinel who serves as both Konoha's political leader and its staunchest defender. Throughout Konoha's history, there have been a number of different ninja who have risen to the position of Hokage, each with their own strengths and unique contributions to the village. which make it difficult to judge who was the best and most effective leader during his tenure.

Recognizable names like Hashirama Senju, who helped found Konoha, and Naruto Uzumaki, who is the strongest shinobi to ever hold the title, are often considered the best Hokage in the village's history. However, the second Hokage, Tobirama Senju, deserves to be recognized as the most effective Hokage in Konoha's history. Tobirama's influence is palpable throughout Konoha as he played an important role in the creation of the town i he established many of the institutions that cemented the foundation of Konoha's culture and security. While other Hokages have flashier resumes and more extravagant exploits, Tobirama's political and systemic contributions to Konoha made him the most effective and influential Hokage it has ever had.


Naruto Uzumaki, a mischievous teenage ninja, struggles as he seeks recognition and dreams of becoming the Hokage, the leader of the village and the strongest ninja.

Publication date
October 3, 2002

Junko Takeuchi, Noriaki Sugiyama, Chie Nakamura, Kazuhiko Inoue, Hidekatsu Shibata, Yoichi Masukawa, Masashi Ebara, Ryôka Yuzuki


Tobirama helped find the village of the hidden blade with his brother Hashirama

When looking at the history of Konoha, the lion's share of the credit goes to Hashirama Senju and Madara Uchiha. The two powerful ninja were the leaders of their respective families, tthe Senju and the Uchiha, who were the two most feared groups during the tumultuous period of the Warring States.. Because of their unique positions of leadership, their shared history of friendship, and their shared yearning for peace, the two shinobi brought security and unity to groups that once caused significant bloodshed. However, despite not being the greatest Senju, Tobirama was an integral figure in the establishment of the village, without whom, Konoha would never have been successfully founded. Throughout his dangerous childhood, Tobirama was one of Hashirama's most important allies, helping to defeat many of his most dangerous opponents, including Madara's younger brother Izuna.

While Hashirama was the idealist capable of inspiring people to come together in unity, Tobirama was the necessary realist who ensured that the transition could be done peacefully and effectively. One of the first major works for peace that Hashirama performed was to give the tailed beasts to other ninja villages, as symbols of goodwill. However, it was Tobirama who urged his brother to make the other towns pay for the tailed beasts, so that the peace gesture would be solidified and fair to both sides. Without Tobirama's support and dissenting opinions, Hashirama probably would have been too idealistic and could have taken advantage of his kindness. It was because of Tobirama's more cynical, yet realistic, outlook on things that the founding of Konoha was as successful as it was.

The world of 'Naruto' as we know it would look very different without Tobirama

After Tobirama assumed the position of Hokage after his older brother's death, he consolidated the political and cultural strength of the Hidden Leaf in a way that ensured the village would prosper for generations to come. Konoha was the first major shinobi village ever founded, setting the precedent for other hidden villages around the world that considered them a model of success. The expectations surrounding Hashirama, being the first Hokage, were incredibly high due to how new and unconventional the ninja village system was at the time. Despite this, Tobirama's tenure as Hokage showed the world that the Hidden Village system was not just a one-off experiment.but it was a successful and constructive way to ensure peace among the ninja.

It was under Tobirama's leadership that the culture of the ninja world changed permanently. Before the hidden villages, ninja only looked after their own families. Despite this, Tobirama instilled a unified culture in Konoha, establishing that the entire village was family, not just several isolated clans. Instead, the Senju, the Uchiha, and all the other families were first and foremost citizens of Konoha, creating a culture of unity that, while not perfect, made Hidden Leaf a hospitable and well-protected home.

Tobirama was also responsible for establishing many of the institutions that make Hidden Villages function productively. He was the one who created the ninja academy, the Chūnin exams, and the ANBU black ops, all of which are still present and integral to Konoha's existence. The ninja academy provided an environment to nurture young and aspiring shinobi, giving them a place to learn the skills needed to survive without throwing them onto the battlefield before they were ready. At the academy, young ninja are able to learn their strengths and weaknesses before being matched with a mentor more suited to their needs. The Chūnin Exams, which provided the setting for the best arc Naruto, became the standard for testing rookie shinobi to see if they were ready to step up in responsibility. As an added bonus, they became an event that facilitated peaceful interactions between different peoples, as they would cooperate with each other in times of peace. The ANBU were a clandestine organization capable of handling some of the most dangerous tasks in the village. collectively, all of these became respected and necessary institutions to make a ninja village run successfully.


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Tobirama is the most controversial Hokage in 'Naruto'

Although Tobirama is recognized for his many positive contributions to Konoha, he is also subject to criticism regarding the negative consequences of some of his actions. The first major criticism of Tobirama is related to his choice to delegate the Uchiha family to become the Military Police of Konoha. Despite the power that comes with being the village's security force, the Uchiha ended up feeling separated from the rest of Konoha. Their position and status inadvertently excluded the family from the other ninja clans of Konoha. After years of pent-up tensions and frustration, many of the Uchiha banded together to plan a coup, which was ultimately prevented by Itachi Uchiha, who made an immense sacrifice to keep his village and his brother safe. Although the public perception of Tobirama's decision was to give the Uchiha a productive role in the village, others saw it as a remnant of the Senju's distrust of the clan. Although it may have been a misstep in his political actions, Tobirama's ultimate goal was still to preserve the safety of the village, and he could not have been able to predict how the Uchiha would react decades after his own death..

Another criticism of Tobirama is the result of the misuse of the powerful jutsu he created. Tobirama was one of the most prolific inventors of ninja techniques in the entire series, creating many of the most iconic and memorable jutsu. However, his creation of Summoning: Impure World Reincarnation proved to be the most controversial. This technique it allowed the user to bind the soul of a deceased person to a living vessel, essentially resurrecting a dead ninja to do the summoner's bidding.. Despite being banned and hidden, knowledge of this technique reached Orochimaru and Kabuto, two rogue ninja who would use it for nefarious purposes.

Orochimaru used the technique to retrieve Hashirama and Tobirama in his duel with the Third Hokage, which ultimately resulted in the Third's death. Years later, a Naruto Shippuden, Kabuto used the technique to bring back hordes of deceased shinobi to fight in the Fourth Great Shinobi War, constituting a significant portion of the enemy forces. However, the use of these techniques raises the interesting question of whether Tobirama should be blamed for how his jutsu was used. This criticism is unfair because for every negative use of his creations, there were also positive uses of his techniques. The Fourth Hokage used Tobirama's Flying Raijin technique so effectively that he almost single-handedly ended the Third Great Shinobi War. Naruto became the most prominent user of the Shadow Clone technique, relying on it for years while helping to fight for peace. If Tobirama is blamed for the misuses of his jutsu, he should also be commended for the techniques he invented that were used for noble purposes.

Tobirama receives a disproportionate share of criticism for his tenure as Hokage, overlooking the overwhelming positive results of his leadership in Konoha. The Second Hokage was vital in ensuring that Konoha was the first example of a hidden village, creating systems and a culture that would help the village thrive.

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