The Ship: Uchiha Itachi/Uchiha Sasuke
Author: Maya (email@example.com)
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto. The characters mentioned in this essay belong to Kishimoto Masashi and Shueisha, Inc. I am just borrowing them temporarily to have a little guilty fun with them.
Spoilers: Spoilers for the anime and the manga.
Warnings: Image heavy.
I think I should start with a few words about myself. Let me introduce myself. I am maya_slash and I am a Naruto yaoi fan. This is the first time I've written a essay over an yaoi pairing, so please, bear with me. Thank you.
Now, let's introduce the characters that this essay shall tell you about:
First-born son of the head family in the Uchiha Clan, the future head of the clan, a true heir of the Sharingan Bloodline Limit. For those unfamiliar with the Naruto fandom, the Sharingan (Mirror Wheel Eye) is a special ability to see and predict the moves of your opponent during battle, and also to be able to copy all of his techniques. It manifests itself as those gorgeous red eyes that we can see on the picture. Because of that special ability, the Uchiha Clan is considered to be one of the most powerful and influental clans in the Hidden Village of the Leaf.
To put it mildly, Itachi is a genius. Hee mastered the Sharingan at the age of eight, graduating academy again at the age of eight, became Chuunin at ten and ANBU Captain at thirteen (ANBU is the ninja version of a SWAT team), he's nothing less than a prodigy. But power has its darker side: Itachi's personality is cold, aloof, distant, quiet. He's not above manipulating his own parents, and yet, because of his amazing abilities as a ninja, Itachi is held in extremely high-regard by his family and the entire village of Konoha.
Six months after becoming an ANBU captain, disaster strikes the Uchiha clan: Itachi massacres them all in a single day. The only one he left alive was his little brother, Sasuke, who had come home late from the shinobi academy. Itachi makes Sasuke witness the murder of the entire clan, in a Sharingan-controlled illusion.
Before leaving, Itachi tells him: "You're not even worth killing. Foolish little brother, if you wish to kill me, hate me, detest me, and survive in an unsightly way. Run. Run and cling to life."
Sasuke has always been in his brother's shadow: he's the younger son of the family; he has no extraordinary ninja skills compared to his older brother; he's pretty much ignored and looked down on by everyone. The only person who obviously loves and cares for him is his brother, Itachi. On his part, Sasuke worships Itachi - he dreams of one day being a ninja as powerful. Being an eight year old child, he constantly clings to his older brother and follows him around, begging him to teach him how to be a better ninja. Itachi always refuses with a poke on his forehead and the words "I am sorry, Sasuke, another day".
When we say that Sasuke worships Itachi, we shouldn't miss the fact that he's at least a little bit jealous of him. Being compared to him all the time, and obviously not measuring - and being ingored by his father (whose approval Sasuke desperately seeks), because of that - very much grates on Sasuke and makes him too bitter for an eight year old boy.
When Itachi kills the clan and leaves Sasuke behind, he's devastated. The person whom he loved above all else took everything away from him. Labelling himself an "avenger", Sasuke now lives for killing his brother.
Many people wonder why some fans consider this pair to have yaoi potential. Let's first say the most obvious and clichѓd reason - they are absolutely gorgeous together. Now that we've cleared that part let's look deeper. In fact, let's start from the very beginning. Before the murder of his clan, Itachi was cold and distant and yet, he always paid attention to his brother and spent time with him. To Sasuke, he was warm, affectionate, gentle, even loving. He talked to him, cheered him up when he was sad about being ignored. When Sasuke had to enter the academy, Sasuke's father was supposed to be present at the ceremony, but instead he wanted to accompany his elder son on some very important mission and leave Sasuke alone. Seeing Sasuke's forlorn face, Itachi told his father that he intended to drop the mission to accompany Sasuke to the ceremony, thus manipulating his father to go instead of Itachi.
Later, when Itachi is already in ANBU, Sasuke, who is depressed again about being looked down on and not being able to measure up to Itachi, complains to him that people always talk about Itachi. Itachi tells him the following - obviously aiming to cheer him up: "I am the barrier you must overcome, so you and I will continue to exist together. Even if you hate me. That's what a big brother is."
Right after that conversation three other Uchihas appear, accusing Itachi of the murder of Uchiha Shisui, a ninja, Itachi's clansman, and also his best friend. Itachi is infuriated, and with just a few moves beats the hell out of all three, but that's not important. What's important is he's pissed. He's furious. Most of all, he's murderous. Nothing his clansmen or even his father do or say, who shows up at that point, can make him stop. The massacre of the Uchiha clan can begin. And what happens? Sasuke happens. He screams, begging Itachi to stop. I think that the following screencaps will show his reaction better than me telling it,
That's Sasuke screaming for him to stop:
And Itachi's reaction upon realising that Sasuke is watching him:
In the next scene, Itachi is on his knees begging forgiveness and placating his father and clansmen. Sasuke's voice is the only thing that reached him when he was in his murderous state. Even later, when he does kill the clan, Sasuke is not present. Coincidence? I think not. Also, Sasuke is the only one whom he leaves alive, even with the terrible legacy he gave him. I think that all these actions of Itachi's show how much he loves his little brother.
Now, let's take another look at Sasuke. I already mentioned his hero worship for his brother, and that Itachi is the only one who actually pays attention to and seems to love him. When he does what he does, Sasuke is devastated. Based on all of his reactions and thoughts, one cannot help but think that Sasuke's rage and hatred is born not only of his clan's loss, but also because Itachi left him behind. Sometimes it's difficult to tell what he wants to avenge, his clan or himself.
What happens after the massacre, you ask?
Four years later, in a hotel hallway, Sasuke and Itachi meet again. Itachi is there to kidnap Sasuke's teammate Naruto (it's an entirely different story and unrelated to my essay) and Sasuke has followed them there hoping to save Naruto and kill his brother. But as Itachi's focused on Naruto, all he has to say to Sasuke is: "I am not interested in you right now". In the very short duel that follows Sasuke loses miserably and ends up with a broken arm. When he's sure that Sasuke can no longer fight, Itachi goes to him, grabs him by the throat, and lifting him, slams him up against a wall, leaning close to his ear to say: "You are weak. Why are you so weak? I know. Not enough hatred" and proceeds to use his illusionary technique over Sasuke, again making him witness the murder of their clan. I have to say, the scene where Itachi held his little brother and leaned to speak to his ear was one of the most sexually charged I have ever seen in a non-shonen-ai anime. I almost espected Itachi to start licking the blood running down Sasuke's chin.
Itachi seems absolutely determined to make Sasuke hate him, and we cannot help but ask ourselves why. This is usually where fans of that pairing start thinking that Itachi feels more for Sasuke than brotherly love (not that Kishimoto would say that in the manga, but we can always hope) and out of guilt tries to alienate him from himself. Of course, even if it isn't so, they say that hatred is a strong aphrodisiac. Sasuke is obsessed with Itachi. It doesn't take much to take that obsession to a sexual level.
After the episode in the hotel, Sasuke grows increasingly jealous of Naruto. The author tries very hard to convince us that the reason is mainly that Naruto has obviously gained much more power and ninja skills than Sasuke. But then, Sasuke cannot stop thinking about how his brother says that he's not interested in him. Is power the thing sparking his jealousy? Again, I think not. He's full of rage and hatred and bitterness that Itachi wants his friend and not him, that he is once again ignored. The bitterness is so intense that it actually drives him to betray Konoha and seek power from the Leaf's greatest enemy - Orochimaru. This time, Sasuke wants to make his older brother notice him, and see only him. The means through which he'll achieve that are not important to him.
As you can see, ladies and gentlemen, the relationship between these two is...fucked up. There's no better term for it. Itachi is obviously wired wrong in the head, and Sasuke is not far behind. The truth is, that I like pairings exactly like that. Dysfunctional, often violent and aggressive, and yet with a huge sap potential. And of course, an incestuous relationship between two brothers is more than a forbidden fruit - all the more reason for me to 'ship them. Most people like the story of impossible love. Just look how popular Romeo and Juliet is. Is there a more impossible love than the one between Sasuke and Itachi? Personally, I have yet to find one. It charmed me from the very beginning. When I started watching Naruto, I was bored to tears and looking for some exciting new anime. This one proved to be the one I wanted. Much to my chagrin, I couldn't find a suitable villain for me to like and yaoify. I had to wait until episode 81, even 82; until Itachi appeared, and I knew that this was it. It was my yaoi Naruto truth. As the story unfolded and I found out more and more about the relationship between the two brothers, I decided that this really was the most probable Naruto pairing. Kakashi/Iruka did nothing for me. Sasuke/Naruto/Sasuke was so clichѓd. Itachi/Sasuke was new, exciting, forbidden. It was the thing for me.
I have to be honest, Itachi/Sasuke is not for all yaoi fans. The stories based on it are often violent or shota or both. They often contain non-consensual sex, coerced sex, or disturbing imagery, or all of that in one place. The homosexual relationship between the two of them would be the least of the warnings here. You have to be very open-minded, and should be shocked by very few things if you want to enter the fandom. But also, some of the stories possess a surprising amount of sap and fluff. Some deal with true love, instead of violence and aggression. Personally, I read almost all.
A short fandom guide:
churchofuchiha - a community dealing with everything yaoi related and the Uchiha brothers. Everything there is worth reccomendation - fics, pics, icons, banners, everything.
pesha - she has written quite a few Naruto yaoi stories, among them some Uchihacest. They can be found in her memories
narutoyaoi - the title says it all
http://grappe.oops.jp/ - A most gorgeous fanart site. I highly reccommend it to all of you.