A God Tree (神樹, Shinju, English TV: Divine Tree) is a type of gigantic tree which grows by absorbing blood soaked into the ground from countless battles over a millennia. God Trees are born from Ten-Tails itself which acts as the Tree’s seedling. In order for it to blossom from its seedling state into the tree, it must be fed the life of an Ōtsutsuki. The healthier and stronger the sacrifice is, the more powerful the Chakra Fruit it produces. A vessel of the Ōtsutsuki is also viable for sacrifice, though the biological data within the Kāma must have extracted to at least a majority percentage for it to work, and if not complete, the tree’s size would be affected negatively. Due to its massive size and the conditions under which it is grown, the God Tree is revered by some cultures; humans used to worship its God Tree as a sacred pillar that extended into the heavens and remained ambivalent to all conflict.
In the anime, a God Tree seed landed on Earth from a meteorite several millennia ago. It was believed that the God Tree nourished the land and helped it thrive, while in truth, the God Tree was slowly killing the land and its people, by draining natural energy from them. It was believed that anyone who approached the tree was consumed by a demon spirit and died like a withered branch.
Every thousand years, a God Tree produces a “chakra fruit” (チャクラの実, Chakura no Mi), which human legend holds are never to be touched. Members of the Ōtsutsuki clan travel through dimensions in search of God Trees so that they can harvest these fruits and gain their powerful chakra for themselves, producing medicine that grants them their godlike power along with extended youth and longevity. Some Ōtsutsuki, such as Momoshiki and Kinshiki, harvest the God Tree’s fruit until it and its respective planet die, at which point they go looking for a new one. Kaguya, after consuming the fruit of Earth’s God Tree, chose to settle on the planet and use the power she gained in order to single-handedly rule over the human populations.
As a measure to keep the peace, Kaguya enslaved parts of the human population with the Infinite Tsukuyomi and bound those affected to the God Tree, assimilating them with its life force and gradually turning them into White Zetsu by draining them of everything that gave them their individuality, even their physical appearance. When Kaguya’s sons, Hagoromo and Hamura, were born with chakra of their own, she merged with the Earth’s God Tree in order to take the chakra back, thus becoming a monster called the Ten-Tails. If all of the chakra in the world is united with the God Tree once more, it would be able to bear a new chakra fruit.
According to Amado, the Ōtsutsuki are the actual sources of the trees, seeding planets with juvenile Ten-Tails, which grow into the trees, sucking up the life of the planets. The resulting chakra fruit contains the energy and biological information of the planet, which the Ōtsutsuki use to update and evolve their species.
In the anime, Victor was able to create an artificial tree using a sample of the remnants of Fourth Shinobi World War’s God Tree, a cell of Hashirama Senju, and those who were implanted with the cell. Because it was not the original tree, Victor’s God Tree was unable to bear a chakra fruit and would only keep consuming nearby chakra. The artificial tree was destroyed by Orochimaru.
- The God Tree bears similarities to certain motifs that are present in religions and mythologies throughout the world:
- Its size is akin to the world tree Yggdrasil in Norse mythology. In addition, the wooden dragon-like entities at the base of the God Tree may be a reference to Nidhogg, a dragon or serpent who eternally chews the roots of the world tree; It is said that should Nidhogg finally be free of its entrapment underneath Yggdrasil, its appearance into the world beyond its roots are said to herald the coming of Ragnarök, the end of the world and ultimate battle of the gods.
- Its appearance on former battlefields and how it grows by feeding on the blood of humans is akin to Jubokko, a yōkai tree in Japanese mythology.
- Its bearing of the fruit that was deemed forbidden to consume is akin to the story of the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil in Abrahamic religions, in which Adam and Eve, the first humans, ate the forbidden fruit despite being told otherwise. Ultimately, while becoming wiser, it lead to their downfall by incurring the wrath of God. For disobeying Him, He forever cursed the two and their descendants. Adam’s eldest son, Cain, would later murder his younger brother, Abel, in anger and jealousy following God’s rejection of his offering while accepting Abel’s, similar to the struggle between the two sons of the Sage of Six Paths.
- A similar motif appears in Journey to the West (one of the inspirations for the Naruto franchise), when the pilgrims cross paths with the Immortal Zhenyuan and his special tree, the Ginsengfruit tree, which produces only 30 pieces of fruit every 9,000 years; the fruit is shaped like an infant less than three days old. A person who smells the fruit can extend his lifespan by 360 years, while a person who eats the fruit can live for another 47,000 years. This served as one of the 81 (9×9) trials that the pilgrims had to endure in their quest to fetch Buddha’s Great Vehicle Scriptures (Mahayana/Mahayana sutras).
- During the Fourth Shinobi World War, Obito Uchiha transforms the Ten-Tails into a giant tree as part of his Eye of the Moon Plan. The fourth databook and the Eight-Tails call this both the Ten-Tails’ final form and the God Tree itself.
- Just before Madara Uchiha absorbed the Ten-Tails into himself, a voice spoke to him, willing him to “Absorb me. The God Tree… the Ten-Tails. Absorb everything.” (「ワレヲトリコメ シンジュヲ… ジュウビヲ スベテヲトリコメ」, “Ware o torikome. Shinju o… Jūbi o. Subete o torikome.”). Interestingly, the voice uses katakana, a unique style of speaking only used by Black Zetsu, while referring to itself using 我 (Ware), an archaic personal pronoun. In Naruto Shippūden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4, the voice is Kaguya’s.
- In the anime, the God Tree is shown to have a will of its own and became the Ten-Tails to fight alongside Kaguya, foreshadowing the fact that the Ten-Tails and God Tree’s are one in the same with the former being the God Tree’s ‘seed’.
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