Kakashi Hatake took over from Lady Tsunade and was the sixth Hokage to pass on the baton to Naruto, choosing to impact the village differently.
As one of the biggest globally acclaimed anime and manga series, the Naruto franchise has been part of the culture for close to two decades after premiering in 2002. However, when considering the print publishing of the manga, the franchise has been part of the anime and manga culture for over two decades, since the first copy was printed in 1999. Naruto, as the anime series, focussed on the coming-of-age story of Naruto.
Initially, the first leg of the series, Naruto stretched five years between 2002 and 2007. The premise thereof as shared by IMDb reads, “Naruto Uzumaki, a mischievous adolescent ninja, struggles as he searches for recognition and dreams of becoming the Hokage, the village’s leader and strongest ninja.” Naruto: Shippuden would continue the narrative between 2007 and 2017, with the premise thereof detailed as, “Naruto Uzumaki, is a loud, hyperactive, adolescent ninja who constantly searches for approval and recognition, as well as to become Hokage, who is acknowledged as the leader and strongest of all ninja in the village.”
In light of this narrative, this Naruto phase of the franchise featured Lady Tsunade as the fifth Hokage. While Boruto: Naruto Next Generations, which started airing in 2017, focussed on Naruto as the seventh Hokage, little attention is given to Kakashi Hatake as the sixth Hokage. This could be due to the fact that his time as Hokage is not highlighted in both series. However, in the comics, it is given more depth and is more nuanced.
How did Kakashi Hatake become the sixth Hokage?
Kakashi Hatake became the sixth Hokage after taking over from the fifth Hokage, Lady Tsunade. His promotion to the sixth Hokage followed the conclusion of the Fourth Shinobi War. The promotion was unexpected by many, especially viewers of the anime, due to the focus being Naruto’s rise and ambition. However, in light of the knowledge and impact Kakashi had on Naruto, in hindsight, the transition makes sense.
His tenure as the sixth Hokage takes place in the 10 years between the transition in the world of the story between the Naruto-focussed narrative and the Boruto-focussed narrative of the Naruto franchise. Therefore, his tenure as the Hokage is mostly documented by the books rather than either series. Like in the light novel, Kakashi Hiden: Lightning in the Icy Sky.
During his time as Hokage, despite them being more peaceful times, Kakashi did make some remarkable moves. This would include putting an end to the Dark Cloud Group, his contribution to the Shinobi Union and he stopped the Hidden Village from being invaded. This all the while going from the quiet and reserved mentor, to the more confident but bashful elder of the Hidden Village. Kakashi, in his duration as Hokage, went through an entire character arc that saw him find and showcase his self-confidence more.
Why did Kakashi stop being Hokage?
Kakashi, in his role as the sixth Hokage, had one of the short stints in the position. Similarly to his predecessor, he did not occupy the Hokage position for long. Kakashi occupied the position for less than a decade, which might sound like a long time, however, when compared to other Hokages who had occupied the position for a few decades, his stint was comparatively short.
His decision to step aside could be understood as a writing device. Considering that Kakashi was the mentor and leader of Team 7, which consisted of the three main characters of the Naruto franchise, Sasuke Uchiha, Naruto and Sakura Haruno, the idea of succession and legacy is attributed as why he took over ahead of Naruto resuming the position.
Moreover, following stepping down from the position and taking more of a passive role in the village when he was not travelling with friend, Mighty Guy, his tenure as Hokage made it plausible for Naruto to be able to seek his advice when seeking clarity or a sounding board on a decision he has to make as the seventh Hokage. Therefore, the prelude of Kakashi as the sixth Hokage allowed for this transition and continued presence as a mentor and guide to Naruto to make sense, considering the lack of coherency in the narrative there would have been should Kakashi had not been Hokage at all.