Kakashi Wears A Mask In Naruto For A Medical Reason

"Naruto" fans know a few things for a fact: Naruto Uzimaki always comes through for his teammates, Sakura Haruno will forever swoon for Sasuke Uchiha, and ​​Kakashi Hatake is a certified badass. The popular, long-running anime series typically focuses on the lives and antics of Team 7, but occasionally their sensei steals the show. But Kakashi is one of the series' most beloved characters, so a lot of viewers welcome his intrusion and the chance to learn more about the mysterious ninja.

In the beginning, not much is known about Kakashi except that he always keeps half of his face, and his left eye, covered, which adds to the mystery of the character. Throughout "Naruto," Kakashi's backstory is revealed, and we learn more about his past, as well as his Sharingan eye, but his face remains hidden. Reportedly, "Naruto" manga writer Kishimoto Masashi believed perma-masking Kakashi communicated his dedication and accomplishments within the ninja world, but it eventually became a joke for filler episodes.

In episode 101 of "Naruto" and episode 469 of "Naruto: Shippuden," Team 7 becomes obsessed with seeing Kakashi's true face and attempts to demask him several times. Of course, their sensei is too clever for them, and they fail every time. But at the end of the Shippuden episode, the character's face is finally revealed to the audience, and most fans react to it with big ol' heart eyes.

Seeing Kakashi's face only added to the mystery of the mask. Why would someone with such a pristine face keep it covered up 24 hours a day? According to the Naruto spin-off manga, Rock Lee's Springtime of Youth Full Power Ninja Chronicles, Kakashi wears the mask because of his tendencies which cause nosebleeds.

Anime emotions

If you've ever seen a single episode of anime, then you know that the characters react quite dramatically to everything, and the medium has its own unique visual style to highlight these reactions. A big grimace accompanied by a cruciform popping vein is a popular way to show anger, blue lines or a dark gradient over a character's face is meant to symbolize anxiety or sadness, and everyone with a smartphone knows what heart eyes mean, but not all of the medium's visual cues are quite as straightforward.

When an anime character experiences sexual arousal, for example, their noses bleed. Thankfully, this doesn't happen in the real world, but if you had anime characters walking around with erections all the time, the whole art form would get really porny really quickly. Also, such blatantly sexual content would be inappropriate for an anime like "Naruto," which is intended for a younger audience. Hence, the nosebleeds.

In an interview with Vice, anime historian Nobuyuki Tsugata explained the link between horniness and bleeding noses:

"Excitement, like other emotions, are things we experience in our hearts. In order to express a character's inner feelings, anime must use physical symbols. So nosebleeds are an exaggeration of that excitement. It's also comical, and easier for children to understand."

We might think it's funny, but it must be very embarrassing for those poor characters who start bleeding out when they're within a foot of their crush. And I can't think of a single way to smoothly recover from such a social faux pas. According to Rock Lee's Springtime of Youth Full Power Ninja Chronicles, Kakashi has found a way to avoid such awkward encounters.

Pervy bleeder

Aside from his mask and forehead protector, Kakashi never leaves home without his Icha Icha (translated as Make-Out in English) romance novels, which he reads in almost every episode. Not much is known about the plot of the books, but the fact that they are written by Pervy Sage (Jiraiya) led many to believe they were spicy, and this was later confirmed when Kakashi has to read aloud from one of the books to crack a code. As he's reading, Kakashi's face (what you can see of it, anyway) turns crimson, smoke clouds billow out around him, and he stammers through the awkward sentences. No nose bleed though. Well, not that we can see, anyway.

Throughout "Naruto" and its sequels, Kakashi always has his head in one of the erotic novels, which should cause constant nosebleeds, and the mask would be a really easy way to cover that. According to Rock Lee's Springtime of Youth Full Power Ninja Chronicles, As he reads his favorite books, Kakashi wears a mask to conceal the physical signs of his pervy thoughts. This is a humorous hypothesis but it isn't a satisfying one. 

Sure, it's amusing to imagine Kakashi's nose constantly draining blood from reading dirty novels, but it's kind of a lame explanation. As Comic Book Resource points out, Rock Lee's Springtime of Youth Full Power Ninja Chronicles isn't accepted canon for the "Naruto" series, so everyone can choose to accept the explanation or not. Personally, I think Kakashi deserves far better after being orphaned as a young child, losing teammates, copying 1000s of techniques, and becoming Hokage. After all that, the best explanation we can offer for his enigmatic mask is a nosebleed? Don't believe it!