Chakra in TV and Film

Naruto, Chakra the Invincible, and More

a colorful abstract lotus flower

Chakras have been referenced multiple times here on the blog but if you aren’t familiar with the concept there are countless websites across the Internet that provide a good explanation to that. To give a general idea, there are 7 chakras that are represented at different levels of your body. They start at the top of your head and go all the way down to your groin. Each Chakra is tied to a different body part and is representative of different aspects of life.  Wisdom, beauty, ability to speak your truth, and more are attached to these Chakras and having a balance is important to living a healthy lifestyle.

For this article, however, the focus is the many places that the concept of chakras has shown up in tv and film and the different ways it’s interpreted or portrayed. It’s a belief that has been around for years, so there have been a few things it’s shown up in over that time. 

Movie poster of Chakra the Invincible of hero flying upside-down over buildings and clouds.
First interpretation of Chakra in a superhero type film. Image Courtesy of IMDB
Image of two heroes, one an alien, flying away with smiles from a giant red monster.
Second Installment of Chakra the Invincible Film Series. Image Courtesy of IMDB

Direct Versions Of Chakra

Lights, Camera, Chakra

The first example of chakras in pop culture was a movie released in 2013 called Chakra the Invincible. Spoiler alert but the movie is 7 years old so you had your chances. The movie follows a boy named Raju Rai who, while working with a mad scientist, turns on a suit that grants him superpowers by unleashing the mystical chakras in his body. He vows to serve as a protector of Mumbai and ward off any evil that would DARE attempt to hurt his people. As cliche as the plot may seem, the movie has a surprising 8.5 out of 10 on IMDB so it’s worth a watch. The film got a sequel as well called Chakra the Invincible The Rise of Infinitus which featured another villain for Chakra to face in conflict.

image of a boy with yellow hair standing with his arms at his hips wearing an orange and black jumpsuit.
Figurine Version of Naruto Uzumaki the main protagonist of Naruto, and Naruto: Shippuden

Different Interpretations

Chakra as a Force

The second example of chakras on TV is a much more popular example, even though its interpretation of chakras is so varied. Naruto and Naruto Shippuden are Japanese cartoons following a child, Naruto Uzumaki, essentially throughout his entire life and the various adventures and mishaps he gets involved with as he becomes a stronger and older ninja. Pretty much everyone in this universe is a ninja representing a different village or region and that connects to the chakra concept. In that developed fictional universe, the interpretation of chakra is much different from how it is in real life. Putting time into researching both sides there are quite a few similarities and differences in how chakra is portrayed.

Image of blue "vessels" flowing through a human body showing the flow of chakra in their characters.
Naruto Interpretation of Chakra "Veins" in the body. Image Courtesy of Naruto-The Best Website
Circle flow chart showing the different chakra natures and what each nature is stronger than. From the top, fire beating wind, wind beating lightning, lightning beating earth, earth beating water, and finally water beating fire.
Flow chart showing the different Chakra Natures in Naruto. Image Courtesy of Quora

To start, the idea of there being seven chakras associated with different parts of the body was abandoned in Naruto. Instead, chakra was inside everyone and flowed through their bodies essentially almost like blood vessels inside them. The difference, in this case, is that every person’s chakra has its own “nature” associated with one of five different elements. It was either Earth, Thunder, Wind, Fire, Or Water in each person. 

It does get more complicated than that. In Naruto, the ninja all work to channel and harness their chakra in order to perform different abilities called Jutsu. Having the skill to do that is what separates ninja from the rest of the citizens in that universe. They work to develop different moves that all fixate around that idea of manipulating chakra. Two of the most recognizable moves from the show are the Rasengan and Chidori used by the show’s most notable characters: Naruto and Sasuke.

A young boy dressed in an orange and blue jumpsuit holding a blue ball of light in his hand.
Naruto Uzumaki with the Rasengan in his hand. Image Courtesy of Narutopedia
A young boy with black hair sprinting holding his shoulder while a ball of lightning sparks in his arm.
Sasuke Uchiha sprinting foward with the Chidori in his palm. Image Courtesy of Narutopedia

A Whole Stylistic World

East vs West

It becomes clear the more you look at it that chakra is depicted here as this sort of force that is used outwardly towards people in offensive ways to protect yourself or others. In reality, it’s viewed as something that’s internal and should be balanced in order for someone to be at peace. Naruto focuses on more physical interpretations of chakra which is much different from real life. If people balancing their chakras in real life were able to conjure balls of lightning from it, that might be problematic.

It’s notable that with all these adaptations of chakras to the big screen, there is always some form of an eastern style in the depictions. Naruto is a Japanese cartoon, and the Chakra the Invincible takes place in Mumbai so the art styles and settings share the cultures of those respective areas. The question that does arise, is if there would ever be an American style adaptation of chakra what would it look like? What sort of artwork would it follow? What would be the interpretation of chakra itself? 

Connor Tempro

Connor is a junior at Pitt majoring in Marketing with a minor in Journalism and Creative Writing.
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