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I sadly haven't been giving Pain enough credit as a Villain

Updated on August 8, 2017
Yahiko Pain. The First Pain we see when introduced to Pain.
Yahiko Pain. The First Pain we see when introduced to Pain. | Source

I think the title speaks for itself, but I'll elaborate further for greater context. Pain for those of you who don't know(assuming you don't watch Naruto) is one of the villains in the Naruto series. Formally known as "Nagato Uzamaki," Pain began his crusade to bring about peace in the world through inflicting emotional trauma or "pain." Sounds dumb I know, but that's what caused me to underestimate Pain as a villain, as his motivations were tremendously flawed. I'll get into why in the next segment, so let's get to it.

What a painful looking bunch.
What a painful looking bunch. | Source
Well if your face is gonna stretch like that, then yes your pain is quite great.
Well if your face is gonna stretch like that, then yes your pain is quite great. | Source
This... Is the face of Evil...
This... Is the face of Evil... | Source

How Nagato became Pain...

Let's begin with Pain's origin, as he was a young child by the name of Nagato of the Uzumaki Clan. He witnessed the death of his parents during the "Great Ninja War" as the hands of the Konoha Village. In the midst of this attack, his technique "The rennigan," a ninja based technique in the eyes that allows the user to control other people, more anyone who can be used to utilize one of the six paths. The six paths being: Deva(The Heavenly realm/Godly realm), Human, Animal, Asura(a realm of wrathful souls), Hunger(a realm of of famished souls) and Naraka(basically Hell). The individuals who serve as one of the six paths can be either alive or dead. Other abilities include utilizing the eight chakra gates, and immunity to illusion based techniques. Regardless this was granted to Nagato by Madara Uchiha, and it activated when he lashed out at the ninja who killed his parents. From there, DESPITE Jiriya's optimistic viewpoint during his training of Nagato, Nagato's constant exposure to conflict and deaths during combat twisted his mind. As a result, he devised a means to bring about "world peace." And what was his method? "Bring about peace, through war." That was strike one for my critical mind, but I'll get into that in the next part, as I'm not done with explaining Nagato becoming "Pain." Regardless, Nagato founded The rogue ninja group "The Akatsuki." Now originally the Akatsuki as founded by Nagato and his friends, Yahiko and Konan were protectors of their home, Amegakure from invading threats. Things were going well until Obito masquerading as Madara Uchiha came and screwed it all up. Or rather Tobi's arrival was the prelude to things to go straight to Hell for the Akatsuki. Thing is after their reputation grew, it caught Tobi's attention Amegakure's leader, Hanzo saw the Akatsuki as a threat to his rule. Thus Hanzo lured them into a trap, and killed Yahiko during the conflict. This angered Nagato as he started to think that the world wouldn't willingly embrace peace, hence why he opted to use force. Thus began the Akatsuki's run as a rogue ninja organization. And this leads to my problems with Pain as a villain, so let's get into that.

Huh, where have we seen this face before?
Huh, where have we seen this face before? | Source

The faults I see in Pain's character

Let's start with Pain's character motivation. His motivation stemmed from the death of Yahiko, but it blossomed due to continuous exposure to conflict. Now, I need to back up a bit. Yes anger can screw with your head, and ruins your sense of logic and reason. This is how Nagato became what he was, but my problem is his plan. Pain's plan is to take the chakra of the tailed beasts, weaponize them, and sell said weapons to each of the five nations. The nations were to use these weapons, and the destructive power was to instill fear, and this fear would bring about peace.

Now villains tend to be misguided, this is a given. The Joker for example believes that the average person is one step away from being as crazy as he is. He's wrong of course, but his belief is based in some grain of truth, as office or school shootings have began through "that one bad day." This form of misguidedness can also lead to arrogance like with Pain's Messiah Complex, which he shares with Hive from Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D, or the shared arrogance of Megatron, Frieza, and Lex Luthor. However Megatron, Frieza, Hive, and Lex Luthor's arrogance is grounded in a sense of entitlement. Frieza was born with a great degree of power born physically and socially, as a result he feels entitled to everything he has. Megatron was born in a rough part of his homeworld, Cybertron. A part bought with violence and chaos, and underprivileged masses. As a result he's used to getting what he wants through brute force and violence. Thus anything he wants, he takes. By force if necessary. Hive was isolated on a distant world was discovered by Hydra. With his origins unknown to them, his parasitic abilities made him like unto a God to them. Their worship and reverence fed his ego and granted him his messiah complex. And lastly you have Lex Luthor who's origins vary through out his interpretations in DC's history. But the common interpretation is that Lex is a self-made man who worked to build himself a technological empire, "Lex Corp." He's deemed a genius, but his accomplishments and how people have benefited from his accomplishments have granted him an ego. And ego that caused him to acquire more wealth and power. This culminates in him tasting "GodHood," which is about as high as one can get in terms of acquiring power. (Well this occurred in the Justice League animated series at least.)

My point is the foundation for Pain's arrogance of a "messiah complex" is an understandable one. The implication is the consistent strife and conflict in the "ninja world" he grew up in caused him to think ill of humanity. It's a sentiment I understand as the continued degradation of humanity has me awaiting the apocalypse. And he obviously acquired power by defeating Hanzo and taking over Amegakure. The mystique generated by his reclusion from Amegakure's citizens caused them to believe him to be a God. Especially since one of his six paths or Konan are the ones who handle the threats and intruders of Amegakure.

Now on to his plan... The purpose is to bring forth peace through fear. Simply put Pain believes that instilling fear will bring about peace. This is a problem because of the world Pain resides in. Ninjas by nature are masters of guise and deception. This was even the case with the remnants of Hanzo's regime trying to reclaim Amegakure, as they'd sneak into the city and try to kill Nagato. He seemed to not take this into account. And that's understandable, as arrogant villains don't take all probabilities into account, hence why they lose. This however does factor into Pain's defeat, but not to a huge degree.

Another problem is that this plan would only perpetuate the chaos he's trying to prevent. If Pain questioning Hinata's actions in saving Naruto after she confessed her love for him is any indication, Pain seems to be oblivious to how passion can be a driving force for revenge. Especially since it was his love of his parents and friendship with Yahiko, and having them taken from him that partially turned him into what he was. Apparently in his messiah complex, Nagato probably forgot what it meant to be human... Or at least you'd think so until Naruto appeals to Nagato's humanity by TALKING TO HIM and Nagato sacrifices himself to resurrect everyone he killed in Konoha. This is confusing because Nagato gives the impression that he forsook his humanity, when in it seems that he actually repressed it. In repressing or disregarding his humanity he overlooks key aspects of how the world works, which is why his plan doesn't seem feasible to me. Because nothing about it is founded in logic based on a grain of truth in the world he lives in. And then for him to be reasoned with so easily, undoes all the sense of dread and threat he has.

I just noticed all six pains are red heads. Did Nagato have an affinity for red heads?
I just noticed all six pains are red heads. Did Nagato have an affinity for red heads? | Source

How I underestimated Pain's character.

Okay, so what was it about Pain's character that I underestimated? Well his actions for starters. While Nagato's motivation is questionable, it does inform his actions quite well. The foundation of his actions are founded in revenge, and he carries it out effectively. He manages to achieve what Orochimaru failed to do, and what Sausuke set out to do. The efficiency of his invasion and destruction of Konoha is something to be hold. And he nearly succeeded in capturing Naruto, if not for the Nine tailed fox's power being too great for him to overcome.

Another thing that I underestimated about Pain is his overall depth of character, as he serves as Naruto's mirrored counterpart. In fiction there are villains that serve as polar opposites to the hero. The Joker is the chaos to Batman's order, Lex Luthor is the egoistical self-made man to Superman's humble and selfless sense of justice, and humility. Electro and Venom(Eddie Brock before he became an anti-hero) served as indications of Spiderman would become if he didn't use his powers to help others. Megatron serves as the war-mongering opposite to Optimus Prime's idealistic views of peace and freedom for "all sentient beings." And in Naruto's case Pain was an example of what Naruto would be if he didn't embrace the kindness he received from Iruka and his team formed under Kakashi's tutelage. Because Naruto like Nagato was an orphan who strived to survive, though Naruto's conditions weren't as harsh as Nagato's. And while Naruto was exposed to one conflict after another due his training as a ninja, but unlike Nagato, Naruto clung to his dream of becoming a hokage, as he was also loud, rash, and overly optimistic all just to garner attention from those who shunned him. Nagano on the other hand just embraced all the world's hatred and decided to throw it all back. Pain and Naruto are like Optimus and Megatron in this regard in the sense that they both want the same thing, but are going about it in different ways.

In the Fall Of Cybertron games and Transformers Prime cartoon, both Optimus and Megatron strive to make their home planet, Cybertron "Great Again," but they go about it in different ways. As I mentioned Megatron was born in a rough underprivileged section of Cybertron, thus he had to fight for what he wanted, and felt he had to overthrow the counsel by force to make Cybertron an egalitarian planet. Meanwhile Optimus Prime(known as a librarian clerk named "Orion Pax" at the time) who befriended and idolized Megatron for his strength and desire for equality, believed there was a peaceful means to achieve equality. This caused them to clash and wage a civil war that ravaged Cybertron.

Nagato and Naruto want to realize their mutual teacher, Jiriya's dream of "a peaceful world." But Nagato like Megatron, wants to utilize force to achieve this peace. While Naruto, like Optimus Prime wants to use a more pacifist means to achieve Jiriya's dream.

In taking note of this, it caused me to reconsider my jaded perception of Pain as a villain.

"Girei" Pain's theme


In conclusion, while Pain may be flawed conceptually and in execution, there is some merit in said execution that makes him a good villain. Had Pain had a character presence in Naruto, he'd be able to achieve the status of an "arch nemesis." Especially since he wants the nine tailed fox in Naruto's body to create his weapon of mass destruction. And honestly on a side note his lack of presence is a fault, especially since I've heard that Kishimoto wanted to end Naruto to end with the Pain arc. but his editors wanted him to keep the series going.

Kishimoto should've given Pain a greater presence if that was gonna be the case, or at least have gotten to do more prior to killing Jiriya and his invasion. But regardless, Pain's better than I gave him credit for. Shame though, he could've been much better.


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