One of the best aspects of anime is how defined the powers are. In most given shōnen battle series, the characters know the hierarchy of power, what kind of power levels are possible for them relative to their foes, and what it will probably take to get them into top form.
Super Saiyan levels, spiritual energy, chakra, aura, mana. Anime use such things like currency, gifting principal characters and fierce villains a wealthy share. The hero is given a progressive path, always with unexpected strengths and brand new powers to be unlocked. Generally, the fantastical power system of any given anime is structured, with names given to every rung on the ladder.
In Naruto, one of the best moments in the series comes when Might Guy opens the “Eighth Gate.” In the struggle against Madara, with the other good guys nearly out of tricks, Guy steps onto the stage once they find out from Minato that the big bad ninja is vulnerable to taijutsu. Or physical attack — the speciality of Might Guy and his apprentice, Rock Lee.
With all eight gates in play for Might Guy, all the limiters to his power become freed. For a transient moment — and a steep cost — he alone can challenge Madara.
~ The Eight Gates exist in order to limit the flow of chakra within an individual’s body. Ordinarily, individuals can use no more than 20% of their body’s full potential, the brain’s way of protecting the individual from harming their body through overexertion. With training, individuals can learn to remove these limiters, referred to as “opening” the gates. With each opened gate, individuals are given access to more and more of their body’s chakra, thus increasing their physical strength and speed.
What proceeds from there is an epic fight. Might Guy showcases himself to be one of the hardest characters in the whole show. And the ninja GOAT, Madara, is met with a serious test to his supremacy.
To my eyes, the Eighth Gate is a symbol for knowing your limits — and then choosing to go beyond them.
“Things that we must do always begin with a wish.” ~ Guy Sensei
The dramatically-named “Eighth Gate of Death” is Guy’s apotheosis, his opus as a lifelong warrior. It is a power level that he can only arrive at after a lifetime of training and fighting in mortal combat. His final act, with a wholehearted acknowledgement from Madara, Guy’s fight against the GOAT only narrowly comes short of ending him and the Fourth Shinobi World War with one epic kick.
The Eighth Gate captures the idea where,
- You know there is a level of power which is yet to be.
- And it is within your grasp to at some point achieve.
- There is only the sacrifice to be made in its name.
The value in the gates — or with any destined challenge for power — is that it draws out a path. It is a visible, perhaps mountainous, goal that one can run towards, lifting their body up to achieve its ranks, step by step.
The gates are like the belts in martial arts. Or the certifications of professionals of all kinds. Physical milestones and spiritual totems establish something for a warrior to look up to.
Food for thought:
What is your final gate?
What is the dream that you are willing to give your life for?
And how do you go about opening it, achieving that dream? ~