Updated: Jun 10, 2022
So, this character has impacted my life more than just about every other character in any medium. As a matter of fact, I have cosplayed as Jiraiya twice. My son, who just happens to look a very lot like Naruto, cosplayed with me on both occasions. My daughter decided to go as Sailor Moon, but I love her anyway. lol
Jiraiya is one of the three Legendary Sanin of the Naruto universe and is a reluctant leader who turns down the offer to be the Hokage of the Village Hidden in the Leaves. He is a mentor, a father figure to the fatherless, a writer and the man who is tasked with finding the person who would change the ninja world and bring peace to it. He sacrifices his life, not just literally, but figuratively for the people in his world.
Unlike those characters who are immediately good at everything they try or are the cool heartbreaker types, he has to work hard and sacrifice for everything he has. He is last in his class in almost every way, and no matter how hard he tries, he doesn't get the girl he loves. Just like his last apprentice Naruto, who is the world changer he was looking for, instead of wallowing in self pity, he allows his lack of natural talent to drive him to train harder then everyone else. In the end, he makes a pact with the Toads of Mount Myoboku and becomes the first human Toad Sage.
While on Mount Myoboku he receives a prophesy from the Great Toad Sage that foretold:
That the Child of the Prophecy would be a student of Jiraiya that would bring a great revolution to the world of the ninja. Jiraiya's actions would determine if this revolution would be for the world's salvation or the world's destruction.
During and after the Second Great Ninja war where he and his companions the Three Legendary Sanin won great renown for their deeds, he searched for the child of prophesy. One of his first students is Nagato a war orphan who manifests the Rinnegan, which is a power originally held by the Sage of the Six Paths. He took Nagato and two other war orphans under his wing and taught them how to defend themselves and how to live right. In the end, however, Nagato became bitter at the pain he saw in the world and joined the Akatsuki becoming the member known as Pain. He eventually killed Jiraiya and destroyed the Leaf Village before being stopped by Naruto, who helped him see the error of his ways leading to his redemption.
Another one of his pupils is Minato, the man who would become the Fourth Hokage and one of the most feared ninja during the Third Great Ninja War. So great was Jiraiya's impact on Minato's life that he names his son after the main character of Jiraiya's first novel. Minato, however, eventually sacrifices himself for the people of the Leaf Village by giving his life to seal the Nine Tailed Fox Demon into the body of his new born son Naruto. Even though he was a great leader and a good man, he died not being the child of prophesy, leaving Jiraiya lost again.
Unsure of what to do next, he wanders the world as a traveling sage, writing romance novels and trying to fill the void he feels inside. He becomes a womanizer and a bit of a drunk, never quite able to get over not being able to win the love of his life Tsunade and that he failed to find the child of prophesy. It is during this time that Naruto starts referring to him as The Purvey Sage. Eventually, he is led back to the Leaf Village by Tsunade who wants him to train the outcast son of his former student Minato.
Naruto has grown up very much like Jiraiya having to work hard and fight for every thing he has ever had. The people of the Leaf despise and shun him because he has the hated Nine Tailed Fox demon sealed inside him. Seeing the same determination in Naruto that he once had and the uncanny ability to overcome bitterness to see the good in others, Jiraiya decides to take Naruto under his wing. Naruto, thanks to the love and support of Jiraiya, will grow to become the child he so desperately searched for all those years. Naruto eventually saves the entire world at the end of the Fourth Great Ninja War by sealing Kaguya and undoing the Infinite Tsukuyomi.
Sadly, however, Jiraiya would not live to see his student fulfill the prophesy, since he is murdered by one of his other students Nagato. Information had come to him of a threat to the Village Hidden in the Leaves and he fears that it is his former pupil Nagato that is the cause. Realizing he may not return, he lets Tsunade know one last time how he feels about her. She finally sees him for the hero he is, but it is too late for them. Jiraiya never returns from his mission, but is killed when he confronts Nagato who now goes by the name Pain. He sacrifices himself in a battle that no one even knows he is fighting, dying alone in the shadows as a true hero.
The impact Jiraiya had on the world of Naruto is immeasurable, that is why I love him. Most of all, it is his willingness to be the mentor of the chosen one and not elevate himself, that makes me love him the most. Not a perfect man or a perfect mentor, but a relatable one who genuinely cares. A person who is willing to sacrifice and put aside his own ambitions and desires to do what is needed for others. A man who kept going even when his hearts desires were denied to him. A man who never became bitter, or was consumed by hopelessness, but a hero who continued to believe right up to the very end. A true hero, who gave his life in the background not caring if anyone was watching. This is why he will always be one of my favorite fictional characters and a character I am proud to have my children say that I am like.
I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed writing it. I can not stress enough how much this story and this character mean to me. I encourage everyone to go and watch Naruto and Naruto Shippuden and see for yourself. I can assure you, you will not be disappointed.