General & Others Mythbusting: Hiruzen was retconned

When it comes to Naruto myths in the fandom relating to the Hokage the biggest one I can think of is regarding this dude Hiruzen being retconned as the strongest Hokage once Hashirama got introduced. This is the thread to explain why that was simply never the case.

HYPE: Strongest Hokage

For Hiruzen:

Manga panel:

Fans started declaring prime Hiruzen as the strongest Hokage, due to this panel below. In the panel below Iruka talks about how Hiruzen in his prime was said to have possessed super relative strength even compared to the other Hokage.

And of course when Hiruzen makes a jest to Iruka, "Don't use past tense!! Iruka!" He was clearly bragging in front of the kids lol. He wasn't gonna go "no no there were others stronger than me". The man was having fun and has some self-pride. Even though we know in his old state he admit inferior to Minato.

The 2nd databook also states:
"Konohamaru, descended from Sandaime, who was praised as history’s strongest Hokage."
"He is such a genius ninja that he was even called the 'Professor', and he still garners everyone's respect as the strongest Hokage in history."

In both the manga and the databook the mention of him being regarded as the strongest Hokage is referring to his prime state. Now when exactly that was, we don't know. But more than likely this is referring to pre-Minato, since he probably retired because he was starting to decline in his early 50s.

Hashirama (and Tobirama's hype):

What many overlook however is the hype that Hashirama and Tobirama recieved as being the ultimate Shinobi. This hype was simply put off by the fandom in assumption that it's simply referring to them being the ones who created the village. When in reality this was a set up for their greatness.

Just before that we have Hiruzen himself hyping up Hashirama and Tobirama, saying that he summoned "those two of all people". Many fans disregarded this part and only paid attention to him saying "I must stop the third one no matter what" (which many even used to claim that Minato was meant to be the strongest Hokage). But again this is a set up for their greatness.

The hype for Mokuton being legendary was also established. Also the set up for the Warring States Era with "Turbulent times" and of course the famous creation of Konoha that Hashirama did using Mokuton. This was also disregarded earlier as that the small scale Mokuton that Hashirama showcased was all there is to Mokuton.

When Tsunade is recruited, Hashirama and Tobirama get even more highlight in regards to bringing peace upon the world and the mention of "Their dream", Kishimoto then also proceeds to give each of them their own coverpage right after. This initially again was never thought of something big and simply brushed to the side. But for Kishimoto this was building them up for their eventual proper intro:

Then just right at the end of the first Sasuke vs Naruto fight we have this scene of Kakashi talking about the two warriors of the statue. He mentions that the river that flows in the Final Valley was a scar left by the pair of warriors. At this point in the manga we had nothing close to a fight in which the scar of the fight would be the creation of a river. The Edo Tensei Hashirama didn't show a single power close to where the scar of his fight against somebody would be the creation of a whole river. So this set up Edo Tensei's showcasing not being the true showcasing of Hashirama's power.

All of this happened in within 100 chapters of their Edo Tensei introduction and Hiruzen's death.


So why was Hiruzen regarded as the strongest Hokage?? Combination of ignorance, Hiruzen's greatness, and recency bias.

- Majority of the shinobi world had only experienced Hiruzen as the Hokage. The man reigned over the village for over 40+ years.
- He led the village through 3 great ninja wars, getting a W in all of them. (Well 2 and half since he was made Hokage near the end of the 1st one).
- In his prime the dude was insanely powerful.
- Hashirama's prowess (and more than likely Tobirama's as well) simply was not common knowledge anymore for the general public. As Kabuto said, people disregarded it simply thinking it was a fairy tail or a myth.
- Even in his old age he was regarded as stronger than Ay, Onoki, Mei, 4th Kazekage.

That is why even in the 4th ninja war, when you see the Konoha villagers, they're shocked as hell when they see Hashirama and Madara fight:

So it's not that Kishimoto retconned Hiruzen being the strongest Hokage, it's that he never was actually the strongest Hokage. However, he had the reputation of being the strongest Hokage. That reputation would've continued if Hashirama and Tobirama did not showcase their prowess in the 4th great ninja war.

But the fact is Kishimoto always was building up for Hashirama to be the strongest Hokage even in part 1. This is about as realistic of a story writing as you can get, it's what happens to even us when we look at sports. People tend to dismiss the greatness of the past because of their ignorance and recency bias.

This is also seen in other villages as well where for example the 3rd Kazekage and the 3rd Raikage are also regarded as the strongest ninja in their nation's history. But when you look at Kinkaku and Ginkaku talking about the 3rd Raikage's prowess, they aren't hyping it up huge.

HYPE: God of Shinobi

This is also something that many believe was retconned. I however do not believe that is the case, atleast based on the Viz translation of the manga.

When Orochimaru calls Hiruzen "God of Shinobi" he states "Hailed as A God of Shinobi"
When Orochimaru calls Hashirama "God of Shinobi" he states "Praised by A God of Shinobi"

Jiraiya here calls Sage of 6 paths The God of Shinobi. (Viz translated it as "Father of all Shinobi", but the actual translation is Shinobi No Kami aka God of Shinobi)

If Hashirama being called God of Shinobi retcons Hiruzen, then it would also retcon Hagoromo, when we know that's not the case.

Hashirama/Hiruzen/Hagoromo all held the mantle of God of Shinobi during their eras. It's a mantle that's given to the ninja who stands above the rest by a clear cut margin boasting tremendous prowess.

So Kishimoto isn't retconning anything. It's simply storytelling and how reputation works in general. We see it being the case in One Piece as well, where certain characters hold a specific type of reputation, when the reality of the situation is entirely different.

Prime Hiruzen:

I also want to address this. Many believe that Edo Tensei Hiruzen is the same as Prime Hiruzen, thus judge Prime Hiruzen based on the performance of Edo Tensei Hiruzen, that is not the case.

1st. Edo Tensei Hiruzen has much lower chakrapool than prime Hiruzen. Because Edo Tensei Hiruzen's chakra reserves (aka the chakra pool) is limited to the one he had when he died, which is drastically lower than his prime.

2nd. His physicality is also that of a 69 year old man's, not that of prime Hiruzen. Hiruzen's physicality was so bad in his old state that he was having a hard time lifting the Enma staff and feeling it being heavy. When in his prime it's nothing more than just a staff that he uses.

Chakra reserves limit a character's potential to do things. Edo Hashirama and Tobirama had lower chakra reserves than their living selves. Which played a crucial in that it decided whether Madara would succeed or not (Madara believing that had they been at full power they would've stopped him). Edo tensei provides unlimited chakra restoration it does not provide an infinite chakra pool, that is dependent on the ninja's state.

Prime Hiruzen >> Edo Tensei Hiruzen > Hiruzen.
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