Jiraiya (自来也?) is a fictional character in the Naruto universe created by Masashi Kishimoto. Introduced in the first half of the manga, Jiraiya appears as a perverted old man who the lead character, Naruto Uzumaki, refers to as "Ero-Sennin". However, it is established that he was a student of the Hidden Leaf Village's Third Hokage, and one of the Three Legendary Sennin shinobi, along with Orochimaru and Lady Tsunade. Jiraiya starts off as comic relief but develops into a main character and acts as one of several father figures for Naruto. He is voiced by Hōchū Ōtsuka in the original Japanese airing of the anime, and by David Lodge in the English dubbing.
Creation and conception
Jiraiya is named after the character of the same name from Jiraiya Goketsu Monogatari (児雷也豪傑物語, "The Tale of the Gallant Jiraiya"). The Jiraiya in this story excelled in summoning a giant toad (the toad itself was sometimes called "Jiraiya") and toad magic. There, his name is written as "児雷也" meaning "Young Thunder" which in turn comes from the name Garaiya (我来也, "I came") from the Chinese story Kaishi (諧史).
Masashi Kishimoto originally planned to draw Jiraiya with a different design and with a different style of hair. He also intended for Jiraiya to summon Toads that were of a similar size to humans. However, this idea was deemed a failure. During an interview, he comments that, of the student-teacher relationships in Naruto, Jiraiya and Naruto's is the one he likes the most. Many comparisons can be drawn between Jiraiya and Naruto: Failing to stop a team member defection, (Sasuke and Orochimaru) loving the female team member, (Sakura and Tsunade) etc.
Jiraiya grew up in the village of Konohagakure under the tutelage of the Third Hokage. As he grew older Jiraiya and his two teammates, Orochimaru and Tsunade, collectively became known as the "Legendary Three Ninja" (伝説の三忍 Densetsu no Sannin?) owing to their exemplary ninja abilities. The rank of sannin was given to them by the legendary Hanzou the Salamander after only the three of them survived Hanzou's powers out of battling a legion of Konoha Shinobi at Naruto Chapter 369. For most of his adult life, and thus many of his appearances in the series, Jiraiya periodically leaves his hometown to explore the Naruto world. Although he spends comparatively little time in Konoha (the leaf village), Jiraiya maintains deep loyalty to the village; soon after his introduction, he makes clear his intentions to kill Tsunade if she should ever turn against Konoha despite their history together. Throughout the series Jiraiya's talents and dedication to the village lead to him being offered the position of Hokage, Konoha's protector and leader. Because of his perceived weaknesses (his inability to keep Orochimaru from becoming a criminal and his failure to protect his teacher and his student from dying in their own tenure as Hokage) Jiraiya always declines the offer, feeling that he is unworthy of the responsibility.
During many of his appearances he makes at least one attempt to either woo women or spy on them while they bathe in the hot springs. While Jiraiya makes no attempt to hide these habits, going so far as to brag about his talents with voyeurism, he gets irritated whenever series protagonist Naruto Uzumaki affectionately calls him "Pervy Sage" (エロ仙人 Ero-sennin?). His interest in women has on occasion been his downfall; sometime in the past he tried spying on Tsunade, and was nearly fatally wounded when she caught him in the act. However, he has been able to use his peeping jutsu to good use during reconaissance and stealth missions, like his entrance into Pain's village Jiraiya's experiences in love, particularly those with Tsunade, are recorded in his Make Out (イチャイチャ Icha Icha?) series of novels. The books, a favorite of Kakashi Hatake, are runaway best-sellers within the Naruto world and have earned Jiraiya vast wealth. Before penning the Make Out series Jiraiya published an "autobiography" where the main character was named "Naruto." Despite the book's poor sales Minato Namikaze, Jiraiya's student, named his son after the main character in the hopes that he would grow up to be just like the Naruto in the book, subsequently naming Jiraiya Naruto's godfather.
Across the Naruto world Jiraiya is known as the "Toad Sage" (蝦蟇仙人 Gama Sennin?). Having been trained by toads to utilize their secret arts, Jiraiya can summon them to his side as allies during battle. If need be, he can also summon parts of toads, on one occasion blanketing an area with a toad's esophagus to immobilize and trap an opponent. In the second half of the series, around the time of his death, Jiraiya is shown to possess a number of toad-based abilities not wholly reliant on summoning. Most prominent of these is being able to enter "Sage Mode" (仙人モード Sennin mōdo?), a transformation that drastically increases his physical abilities and the strength of his attacks. Despite the advantages the form allows him, he does not like entering Sage Mode; the transformation gives him a bulbous nose, webbed hands, and a number of warts, all of which make him unappealing to girls. While toads make up the bulk of his ninja abilities, Jiraiya displays a variety of miscellaneous talents throughout the series. He can breathe fire, create swamps to immobilize enemies, and grow and sharpen his hair for both offensive and defensive purposes. He was taught how to use the Rasengan by Minato, which Jiraiya in turn teaches to Minato's son, Naruto Uzumaki, shortly after his introduction. At various times in the series Jiraiya has been shown to be knowledgeable with seals. This expertise most commonly comes to light in relation to the nine-tailed demon fox sealed within Naruto's body, a force Jiraiya constantly tries to help Naruto gain control of.
Jiraiya makes only sporadic appearances for most of the series, returning to Konoha after long absences to report on information he has learned during his travels. Initially this information concerns Orochimaru's continued efforts to destroy Konoha, though as the series progresses he also begins reporting on the criminal organization, Akatsuki. During some of his returns Jiraiya takes the time to train Naruto, teaching him his own signature abilities, and how to control the nine-tailed demon fox sealed within him. His training with Naruto marks the gap between Part I and Part II of the series, wherein Jiraiya takes him away for two-and-a-half years and improves his skill greatly.
In Part II, Jiraiya begins investigating the leader of Akatsuki, Pain (Pein). In the course of his investigation he is drawn into battle with Pain, a fight that spans most of Naruto manga volume forty-one. During this volume parts of Jiraiya's background are explored. While he trained with the toads a prophecy concerning Jiraiya was made: that he would someday have a student with the power to save or destroy the world. Several years later he met Nagato, a boy Jiraiya assumed to be the subject of the prophecy and thus trained him to be the world's savior. Believing Pain to be the very same child he trained and thought to have died, Jiraiya tries to kill his student to prevent the world's destruction before being overwhelmed by the Six Paths. At the battle's conclusion Jiraiya realizes that he was mistaken; Naruto was actually the boy foretold in the prophecy. Due to this, and remembering that it was his first novel that inspired his student Minato to name his son Naruto, making Jiraiya the godfather, that gave Jiraiya the courage to get up and write one last message. Before succumbing to his fatal wounds, Jiraiya sends the secret behind Pain's Paths and identity to Naruto and the rest of Konoha. His hint: The real one is not among them. He then dies without regret; knowing that he did all he could for the future hero of the world.
Appearances in other media
Jiraiya is a playable character in most Naruto video games, including the Clash of Ninja series and the Ultimate Ninja series, as well as Path of the Ninja series. In the first game of the Ultimate Ninja, he only appears as a support to Naruto during his special techniques. In the Path of the Ninja RPG series he is a character who can be spoken to, for information and support. Since Ultimate Ninja 2, he is an available character and has been given variations of the Rasengan, fire techniques, and toads summoning techniques; in Path of the Ninja 2 he is not only a character in the storyline, but a "secret" acquirable character, that can be added to your team as a fully active member. Jiraiya not only has his commonly known jutsus such as Rasengan - Spiral Chakra Sphere and Needle Jizo (protective hair spikes), but the ability to summon any toad to fight in place of the team, thereby gaining the use of all the toads' special attacks and jutsus, like Tongue Whip, and Giant Blade. Naruto Shippūden: Gekitou Ninja Taisen EX marks the first appearance of Jiraiya in a video game set in Part II, with the second one being Naruto Shippūden: Narutimate Accel. Jiraiya only appears in the third original video animation, but he does not take a big role. Jiraiya makes an appearance so far in only two Naruto films, Naruto Shippūden 2: Bonds and Naruto Shippūden 3: Inheritors of the Will of Fire.
Jiraiya has appeared in several of the main Shonen Jump popularity polls. In the second and third he ranked in the top ten. In the fourth poll he ranked at 11th. Merchandise based on Jiraiya has also been released, including key chains, action figures, and his headband.
Several publications for manga, anime, video games, and other related media have provided praise and criticism on Jiraiya's character. DVDTimes praised the character as the greatest character Masashi Kishimoto has ever created in this series. They note that besides the fact he fills the comical pervert archetype he is one of the strongest characters in the series and just about everything about him is rough and unpredictable. Activeanime remarked Jiraiya’s training with Naruto as good comic relief and noted how similar both of these characters are. Animeondvd also praises Jiraiya’s introduction in the series noting him to be a very funny character. IGN commented on his relationships with Naruto Uzumaki that "they share so much in common".
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