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Akatsuki (暁, literally meaning: “Dawn” or “Daybreak”) was a group of shinobi that existed outside the usual system of hidden villages. Over the course of several decades, Akatsuki took different forms and was led by different individuals. Though each iteration is viewed as either subversives or criminals, all seek to make the world a better place through their own means. Each Akatsuki tended to have multiple lairs across the world, inaccessible either due to their remoteness or the various security measures that protected them.
The initial concept of Akatsuki was devised by Black Zetsu as part of its plan to revive its mother, though it pretended the idea came from Madara Uchiha, whom Black Zetsu tricked into thinking that it was a manifestation of his will. Akatsuki was originally founded by Yahiko during the Third Shinobi World War alongside his childhood friends, Nagato and Konan. As citizens of Amegakure who had been orphaned by the Second Shinobi World War, the three created Akatsuki as a way to bring peace to their home country, which too often got caught in the crossfire of the Five Great Shinobi Countries‘ many conflicts. In time, the three were approached by Tobi, who introduced himself as Madara Uchiha. Tobi claimed Nagato was the reincarnation of the Sage of Six Paths and offered to teach him to control the power of his Rinnegan, though Yahiko distrusted him and prompted Nagato to turn down his offer. Nevertheless, Tobi would later claim that it was he who encouraged Yahiko to form Akatsuki, unbeknownst to Konan.