Minato as 4th Hokage: Why Not Jiraiya or Tsunade?

Here’s why Minato was chosen as the 4th Hokage instead of Jiraiya or Tsunade:

Minato was chosen partly because Jiraiya and Tsunade were both uninterested in taking the post of Hokage.

He was also chosen because Jiraiya lobbied hard on his behalf.

Most importantly, he was probably the objective best choice to be the fourth Hokage considering his skills and temperament.

So if you want to learn all about why Minato became the 4th Hokage instead of Jiraiya or Tsunade, then this article is for you.

Let’s get right into it!

Minato as 4th Hokage: Why Not Jiraiya or Tsunade? (All Info)

Who Is Minato?

This question is a bit bigger than you might have anticipated.

There are a lot of characters and plot points involved in the explanation.

I’ll take you through every last bit of it, but to do that, I have to spoil some things in the original Naruto series.

I’ll be basing all of this on the manga.

The anime adaptation is pretty faithful, so on this particular question, the anime answers will largely be the same.

But for consistency, I’ll be sticking specifically with the events and characters as described in the manga.

All of this is to say that I can’t answer your question without going through a bunch of spoilers.

This content is years old at this point, but if you’re thinking of reading or watching Naruto for the first time, then you might want to stop now and come back when you’re caught up.

Consider this your formal spoiler warning.

With that covered, let’s talk about Minato.

As you probably already know, he was the Fourth Hokage of Konoha.

Since this is a Japanese story, there are a lot of Japanese names that pop up.

I’ll translate a few that are important, starting with Konoha.

It roughly means “leaf village,” and it’s the home of the protagonist, Naruto.

When Naruto’s story begins, he is a young teenager, and he is deeply familiar with the story of the nine-tailed fox.

When Naruto was just a baby, the legendary beast attacked Konoha.

Minato, who was the Fourth Hokage at the time, defeated the fox at the cost of his own life.

He saved the village and cemented his name in legend.

There’s a lot more to Minato than just this, and I’ll get through it in many sections, but this is how the story begins.

The Fourth Hokage is a legend among legends.

A Quick Explanation of Manga and Anime

I want to pause for a moment and explain something to those of you who aren’t inundated in modern Japanese culture.

I mentioned manga and anime in the previous section, and here’s a quick breakdown of what that means.

In Japan, manga is a term that refers to comic book series that are included in a number of different publications.

The most famous is Shonen Jump Magazine, but there are plenty of other publications.

These stories are usually rendered in black and white and come out weekly, monthly, or on a similar regular schedule.

The stories are quite similar to American comic books in that they often follow fantastic stories, but being rooted in Japan, many of the tropes and ideas are unique to the region and its culture.

Anime is a word that is a bit better known, but I’ll explain this too.

Anime typically refers to cartoons that are produced and released in Japan.

Many of them are translated for international audiences, but the production itself is Japanese.

More often than not, anime shows are adapted from mangas, so the manga serve as the source material.

This is the case for Naruto.

The Naruto manga is the source material for both Naruto and Naruto: Shippuden.

Those are two anime series that cover the events in the original manga.

Now that you’re caught up on anime and manga, let’s get back to the characters.

What Is a Hokage?

You’re getting through some of the essential information now, but I still haven’t explained what a Hokage is.

It’s the term for the leader of the leaf village (Hokage literally means “fire shadow”).

The Hokage is the head of all of the ninjas in the village.

He is the formal and military leader of the village, and he decides just about everything.

He has mostly unilateral power.

The Hokage is not a dictator, though.

He is appointed by a council that is chosen by the fire nation.

At the risk of getting a little complicated, Konoha is a village within the fire nation.

As the country’s hidden ninja village, Konoha is the seat of power for the whole country.

So, the country pretty much gets to select the Hokage, but the appointment is usually for life.

Despite the fact that the country gets a political say in the selection process, elders within Konoha exert heavy influence on the process.

For the most part, the fire nation wants a strong and reliable Hokage, so the country’s leaders listen very closely to the selection advice of elders in the ninja village.

What this means is that the main characters in the storyline did not select Minato as the Hokage.

The country officials did.

Despite that, some main characters in the story exerted so much influence on the decision that they more or less determined how things would go.

Who Is Jiraiya?

If we’re going to cover why Minato was chosen over Jiraiya, then we should spend a minute talking about Jiraiya.

He’s a very important character in the storyline.

Jiraiya is one of the legendary Sannin.

That refers to three particular ninjas who rose to great fame during the Third Great Ninja war.

It turns out that the other two Sannin were childhood friends of Jiraiya, and the three of them essentially grew up and learned to be ninjas together.

The other two Sannin were Tsunade and Orochimaru, and I’ll discuss them a little later.

Jiraiya (and the other Sannin) was trained directly by the Third Hokage.

Under that tutelage, he quickly became an accomplished ninja, and he eventually went off to train with the frog sages.

I can skip most of that part of the story for brevity, but there is one important detail.

When Jiraiya was studying with the sages, a prophecy was made.

That prophecy said that one day, Jiraiya would train a special ninja who would go on to bring peace to the whole world.

So, as a Sannin, Jiraiya was an extremely accomplished ninja and certainly qualified to become the Hokage.

As a trainer of prophecy, he was more interested in the success of his students.

What About Tsunade?

Tsunade is another character that merits a bit of discussion.

Another of the Sannin, she was known as the greatest medical ninja in the world.

In fact, she pioneered many aspects of medical ninjutsu during the course of the Third Great Ninja War.

She was also the daughter of Hashirama.

He was the very first Hokage and one of the founders of Konoha.

On top of all of that, she actually became the Fifth Hokage.

So, clearly she was a qualified candidate, and she served well as the Hokage when her time came.

In the following sections, I’ll explain why she was the Fifth Hokage, rather than the Fourth.

Why Was Minato Chosen as the 4th Hokage? (6 Reasons)

With all of that background information, things might start to make sense, but there’s still a lot of ground to cover.

There were clearly other qualified Hokage candidates, so why was Minato chosen?

There isn’t a single reason.

In fact, it has to do with more than a handful of reasons.

A lot of different moving parts in the plot lined up to make Minato the Hokage.

He was definitely qualified, but events had to unfold in the right way for him to be the clear choice.

So, I’ll take you through all of them.

We’ll discuss the third Sannin and why he wasn’t chosen.

We’ll spend some time on the Third Great Ninja War, and we’ll discuss the other elements and moving parts that conspired to turn Minato into the 4th Hokage.

#1 Orochimaru

I haven’t talked about the third Sannin yet, and that’s because his story fits better here.

Orochimaru was part of the same squad as Tsunade and Jiraiya when they were kids, but he established himself as the genius of the group.

He always learned new things faster than the others, and considering the company he was in, that’s saying something.

Seeing his potential, the Third Hokage decided pretty early that Orochimaru would make a great Hokage.

He more or less groomed Orochimaru for that purpose, and for years, everyone expected Orochimaru to be the Fourth Hokage.

Unfortunately, Orochimaru wasn’t interested in benevolent leadership.

Instead, his genius led him down a dark path to explore more of the possibilities of ninjutsu, and he more or less went crazy and evil.

Eventually, the Third Hokage had to confront his favorite student, and Orochimaru was banished from Konoha.

This all happened right about the end of the Third Great Ninja War, which is when the Third Hokage was hoping to retire.

So, at the last moment, the shoe-in candidate for the next Hokage was lost.

Still, it might have seemed likely for Tsunade or Jiraiya to take the spot instead, but that’s not how it all panned out, and that’s largely because of the events of the Third Great Ninja War.

#2 Tsunade and the Third Great Ninja War

The Third Great Ninja War lasted for many years.

When it started, the Sannin were young and quickly rose to prominence.

By the end of the war, an entirely new, younger generation was cutting its teeth in battle.

Needless to say, a lot happened.

When it comes to the selection of the Fourth Hokage, we need to focus on three characters: Tsunade, Minato, and Jiraiya.

I’ll cover Jiraiya last in a followup section.

Let’s talk about Tsunade first.

By the end of the war, she was certainly capable of taking the role of Hokage, but she had absolutely no interest, and that’s because she suffered a pair of terrible tragedies during the war. 

First, her younger brother was killed in battle.

He was still very young for a ninja, and it troubled Tsunade greatly that she couldn’t be there to save his life.

Had she been present, she very likely could have saved the day.

Despite the tragedy, she found comfort in the arms of a man named Dan.

He encouraged her to continue to pursue and advance medical ninjutsu, and Tsunade found purpose after tragedy.

Then, Dan was also killed in the war, and Tsunade was barely too late to save his life.

After that, Tsunade worked to bring an end to the war, and when it was over, she left the village, completely discouraged and with no desire to return.

There’s no way she would have agreed to take the post of Hokage.

#3 Minato and the Third Great Ninja War

The next character who lived through significant events in the war is Minato.

He was actually trained by Jiraiya, so he was a fairly young adult when the war began.

By the time the war ended, he was training a squad of his own, demonstrating that this war lasted a long time.

Over the course of the war, Minato went from being a child prodigy (who had the highest-ever scores on all of the ninja exams) to an absolute monster in combat.

As he refined his skills, he earned the moniker “the Yellow Flash.”

Enemy nations in the war issued flee-on-sight orders in regards to Minato.

If he showed up, the ninjas were supposed to abandon whatever they were doing and just run away.

As Minato really grew into his ninja abilities, he basically became a one-man army.

His presence on the battlefield was so overwhelming that he was said to have pretty much ended the war all on his own.

These are not small statements, and it’s fair to say that by the end of the war, Minato was the most powerful known ninja in the world.

His feats and exploits in the war more than qualified him for the post.

The fact that Tsunade was uninterested was a non-factor.

Minato might have been the better choice even if she did want the post.

#4 Jiraiya

We still have to talk about Jiraiya.

As I said, there was a prophecy that Jiraiya would train a ninja who would bring peace to the world.

And, Jiraiya trained Minato.

Minato ended the Third Great Ninja War.

All of this is to say that Jiraiya became convinced that Minato was the student of prophecy.

Based on that conviction, he lobbied hard for Minato to become the next Hokage.

With the loss of Orochimaru and the fact that Tsuande and Jiraiya weren’t interested in the job, it was an easy sell.

Jiraiya convinced the Third Hokage to recommend Minato, and the fire nation fell in line.

It’s worth pointing out that Minato actually was not the child of prophecy.

That ended up being Naruto, who Jiraiya later trained as a ninja.

#5 Character

That covers most of the plot points that led to Minato becoming the Fourth Hokage, but it’s also worth discussing Minato’s character.

The Hokage is supposed to be the leader of the ninja village, but he is also personally responsible for everyone in the village.

It is often said that the Hokage sees the whole village as an extension of his family, and no one lived up to that ideal better than Minato.

He was capable of doing the job, and he had the perfect temperament and disposition for it.

It’s possible that he was the perfect Hokage, for as long as it lasted.

#6 Plot

Lastly, we can discuss the ultimate reason why Minato was chosen as the Fourth Hokage, and that is because it served the plot.

This is a fictional story, after all, and Minato’s place as Hokage was chosen for poetic symmetry.

First off, Minato was a student successor of the Third Hokage.

The Third trained Jiraiya who trained Minato, creating a sense of inheritance for the post.

Second, Minato sacrificed himself to save the village and his family, all in the same night.

It turns out that Minato could have saved the village from the nine-tailed fox without sacrificing his life.

But, he would have lost his wife and son in the process.

So, he sacrificed his life to seal away the fox, and he was able to save his son as a result.

This created the ultimate symmetry, since Naruto was in fact Minato’s son.

Minato, being the perfect Hokage and dying a hero, set the stage for Naruto to take his journey and make the story that we now know. 

It was always Naruto’s dream to become the Hokage and live up to all that the title means, and he came to that dream without knowing that his father had done it before him.