Useful Notes: Sarutobi Sasuke

Perhaps the figure whose very name is affiliated with the word "ninja", Sarutobi Sasuke was a character featured in children's tales beginning in the early 1900s. The name Sasuke has become a stock name for ninjas in the same way that Jeeves is a stock name for butlers.

He is generally believed to be a fictional creation of the Meiji Restoration based on the historical ninja Kozuki Sasuke, though some argue for his actual existence. He is commonly listed as one of the Sanada Ten Braves, a legendary group of ten ninja that supposedly assisted Sanada Nobushige (more widely known as Sanada Yukimura) at the battles of Osaka Castle during the Sengoku Period, and he is one of the best known amongst the Ten Braves. Since then, he has been featured in many anime and manga series, and various fictional ninja have been named after him.

Sarutobi means "jumping monkey" — Sasuke is frequently portrayed as being very quick and agile, especially in the trees, and in some versions of his story is described as having been raised by wild monkeys.

Compare Yagyu Jubei, Hattori Hanzō, Fuuma Kotaro, Oda Nobunaga and Miyamoto Musashi.

Examples:

Anime and Manga

Live-Action TV
  • Ninja Red, Sasuke, from Ninja Sentai Kakuranger is a descendant of his. (Sarutobi himself shows up early on, and is noticeably underwhelmed by his descendant.)
  • The stunt show Ninja Warrior is known as Sasuke in Japan.

Tabletop Games
  • He makes an appearance in the Sasuke Samurai series of cards in Yu-Gi-Oh!.

Video Games