Itachi and Sasuke’s dynamic, was by far, one of the most exciting aspects of Naruto, which segued to Naruto Shippuden.
Not only did it involve themes of family, brotherhood, betrayal, hatred, power, and mystery, but it handled these with delicacy to deliver one of best plot twists ever.
Itachi’s death did not fail to evoke an emotional breakdown in the most stoic of people, and a part of the reason can be attributed to his final words to Sasuke.
1. Short Answer
Itachi’s last words after their battle were “Forgive me, Sasuke. There won’t be a next time”. This is a reference to their childhood days. Sasuke, as a child, would urge Itachi to help him train, but a busy Itachi would dismiss him with, “Maybe next time.”
2. What did Itachi say to Sasuke?
Itachi’s final words to Sasuke brimmed with love and emotion – contrary to the image the anime had portrayed of him so far. He makes a reference to the past only known to the brothers and well beyond the fourth wall, to us.
Itachi vs. Sasuke – Itachi’s Final Words
Itachi wears a kind smile as he tells his brother – “Forgive me, Sasuke. There won’t be a next time,” or according to the manga translation, “Forgive me, Sasuke, this is the last time.”
Along with this, Itachi pokes his forehead just like he used to in the past, after which he passes away. This is an ode to the countless times a young Sasuke would approach Itachi to spend time with him through training. But a busy Itachi would poke his forehead and say, “Forgive me, Sasuke, maybe next time.”
This reaffirms the love Itachi has for his brother Sasuke over the complexity of their relationship that was highlighted throughout the show. It also implies that the questionable actions taken by Itachi were due to the compulsion of duty and not born out of hate.
Worst of all, it alludes to the immense regret Itachi must have held for not spending time with his brother whom he loved. Even so, Itachi passes away with a smile.
This evokes confusion within Sasuke and the audience until Itachi’s true circumstances are revealed subsequently. The symbolism of Itachi poking Sasuke’s forehead signified keeping Sasuke at a distance and away from the truth as well as a sign of affection and apology. Yet, this is not their final goodbye.
3. During the Third Great Ninja War – The Final Farewell
Sasuke may have been ignorant regarding his brother’s reality when he passed away as a human. Still, thanks to the Reanimation Jutsu – they’re able to say goodbye for the final time and with better clarity.
Itachi appeared to be more open regarding his failings and can explicitly tell his brother that he loves him before the Reanimation Jutsu was stopped.
In the quote, he says,
“If I had been open to you from the start, and looked you in the eye and told you the truth, I wouldn’t have to stand before you now, as a failure, telling you all this. So this time I want to impart this truth with you, you don’t even have to forgive me, and no matter what you do from here on out, I will love you always”.
Itachi insinuates that he loves Sasuke more than anything – even Konoha. This aligns with Sasuke’s intention to destroy Konoha for what it did to his brother.
For the word love, in Japanese, Itachi uses ‘aishiteru’ which is considered the peak of selfless and intense love. To this, Itachi adds ‘always,’ which is a nod to his current form and the fact that he would love him beyond life and death.
Finally, Itachi touches his forehead against Sasuke’s instead of poking it – thereby closing the distance between the brothers that was cultivated over the years.
4. About Naruto: Shippuden
Naruto is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Masashi Kishimoto. Its publication began on September 21, 1999, and continued till November 10, 2014, in Shueisha’s Weekly Shounen Jump. The manga has collected 72 volumes in tankōbon format.
Naruto Shippuden is Part II of the anime series, which follows an older Naruto as he attempts to save his friend Sasuke while at the same time – addressing the looming threat of the criminal organization – Akatsuki – who are targeting him for their grander scheme.