Substitution Jutsu

Posted by Sebastian Ko on

Naruto holds a special place in hearts. We grew up watching the show, caring for the characters (Jiraya’s death still hurts), and posting on fan sites while we eagerly awaited the next week’s chapter/episode. So, when we first started thinking about anime-inspired designs, Naruto was where we started. The Rasenegan, based on Uzumaki’s signature technique, was actually where Katana Sakana started. We traced one of our hands, used a plate and bowl to get the circles going - and before we knew it we had our first design!

When we wanted to do another Naruto-inspired design we knew we had to do something just as iconic. What was something that any fan of the series would instantly recognize? But also, something subtle and minimal - so that it would just look like a cool design to someone who hadn’t seen the show.

So, we dusted off our old VIZ Naruto manga and dug in to the early arcs. It didn’t take too long before we found a technique that was very popular early on, but rarely appeared later as the series progressed. As everyone’s jutsu’s developed and became bigger and flashier, this particular technique seemed to fall to the wayside. But for us, fans from the very beginning, the technique was something that perfectly symbolized the series: substitution jutsu.

It was the ultimate plot twist. Just when we thought the fight was over with a kunai to the chest - POOF! - they’ve only struck a log!

With the substitution jutsu in mind, we set out to design our second Naruto shirt. First, we found pictures of various kunai. What did the ones in the series look like? Were there variations? How could we distill it down into something minimalistic, but also clearly reminiscent of shinobi and the hidden villages?

After deciding what it should look like we drew a rough sketch on paper, scanned it, and cleaned it up. The first part of the design was done.

Next came the log. After spending a good hour looking at pictures of logs (exciting stuff) we found the inspiration on a can of beer. The Woodhouse Brewing Co. logo features a plainly designed log - sometimes you can find your answers at the bottom of a bottle!

The critical thing to the log was its simplicity - too complicated and it looked like a piece of beef jerky. Once the log was sketched and cleaned up, we merged the two images and had our next Naruto-inspired design: Substitution Jutsu.

We had a blast designing the shirt (and drinking a great beer) - and we hope you enjoy wearing it out and about. If you’re ever in need of a body replacement technique - this shirt might just do the trick.