Bleach and Naruto are classic shounen titles that showcase much of what makes the genre so appealing, including the fact that the main characters learn new skills and powers from their mentor. Both Naruto Uzumaki and Ichigo Kurosaki learned important lessons from their best teachers, Kakashi Hatake and Kisuke Urahara.
Chronologically, Naruto and Ichigo had other mentors before that, with Iruka Umino being Naruto’s academy teacher and Rukia Kuchiki showing Ichigo the ropes in Bleach before Kisuke took over. However, Kakashi and Kisuke are both incredibly powerful warriors in their own universe and know exactly how to unleash Naruto and Ichigo’s potential – but who is the superior mentor?
How Kakashi taught the team 7 lessons about the true Shonen in Naruto
Kakashi Hatake is a kuudere anime character known for his air of mystery, including his masked face and unclear background when he was first introduced in Naruto. Kakashi is seasoned and uses many ninjutsu, including the Sharingan eye and lightning blade, but he retains Team 7’s benefits and teaches them an important lesson in friendship. He did the bell test, challenging the genins of Team 7 to sacrifice one of them in order to complete the mission, but the real test was more personal than that.
As a talented young man, Kakashi coldly placed duty above all friendships and personal matters in order to avoid the fate of his sentimental father Sakumo. His teammate, Uchiha Obito, feels differently, saying that those who abandon their friends are even inferior to the trash ninjas who defy orders. Kakashi absorbed this when Obito was apparently dead and Rin Nohara was actually dead, and he wanted to teach Team 7 the same lesson. When Sakura and Sasuke defied orders to not let Naruto eat lunch during the brief break, Kakashi was impressed and gave him a passing grade.
That makes Kakashi a great shinobi mentor to the Genin of Team 7. He was impressed rather than angry when Naruto and Sasuke defied his orders and saved him from Zabuza’s underwater prison. Much later, Kakashi tried to use similar empathy and personal experience to convince Sasuke not to leave the village to get revenge on Itachi for slaughtering the Uchiha clan. Besides all of that, Kakashi also taught Sasuke how to perform the Chidori technique and was an exemplary jonin leader during the Team 7 missions in both Naruto and Naruto Shippuden.
How Kisuke Urahara forged Ichigo Kurosaki in Bleach
Ichigo learned the basics of Hollow hunting from Rukia, but Rukia lacks the skill and knowledge to truly awaken Ichigo’s powers, hence his weak, faceless zanpakuto in the series. Bleach’s first. After losing heavily to Captain Byakuya Kuchiki, Ichigo agrees to train with Kisuke Urahara to become stronger, obtain a new zanpakuto, and storm the Soul Society to save Rukia. Kisuke obliges, pushing Ichigo to the limit with his life-and-death training. He first challenged Ichigo with Ururu’s powers, and even let the protagonist almost transform into a Hollow during that training.
Kisuke clashed with Ichigo incessantly, all so that Ichigo could awaken Zangetsu and get used to the use of that zanpakuto. A former Captain, child expert and scientist, Kisuke knows exactly what he’s doing – and the kind of danger Ichigo will face in Soul Society as an intruder. However, he respects his students’ wishes and even opens a portal to Soul Society so that Ichigo’s group can enter. Kisuke knows it’s better not to pamper Ichigo or worry about him — he just shows Ichigo the path of a warrior and gives him a fair chance to achieve his goals.
Naruto’s Kakashi vs Bleach’s Kisuke – Who’s the better Shonen mentor?
Naruto’s Kakashi and Bleach’s Kisuke are both excellent and very attractive shounen mentors in the “big trio” era of anime, but in the end, it’s Kakashi who’s the better mentor. Like Kisuke, Kakashi is much stronger and smarter than his goofy outgoing personality, but the latter also has more emotional depth. Kisuke had his share of drama and difficulty, often involving Yoruichi and Aizen, but Kakashi’s emotional state and personal arc had a heavier impact. It’s interesting to see young, talented Kakashi try to be a cold and efficient shinobi to stay away from his disgraced father, only to learn important lessons too late and become a “strength” believer strength of friendship” in memory of his comrades. Kisuke has no such arc.
Kakashi also made more meaningful connections with the members of Team 7 than Kisuke did with Ichigo. While Kisuke is merely Ichigo’s trainer and ally, Kakashi is fiercely protective of his vulnerable genin teammates and inspires them with his strength, confidence, and wisdom. He transformed Naruto, Sakura, and Sasuke from stubborn, insecure children into true shinobi who can fight together as a team and believe in themselves.
Like Sasuke, Kakashi lost nearly all of his close friends, such as his teammates, father, and mentor Minato Namikaze, but never lost himself to hatred or grief. A truly great mentor connects with their students not only in skill and strength, but also in the emotion and meaning of being an outstanding shounen hero with a kind heart.
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