Haku and Zabuza: A Tale Of Toxic Love

Let's dissect the toxic aspects of Haku and Zabuza, the iconic mist village duo.

· 7 min read
Haku and Zabuza's death scene

Haku and Zabuza were the first set of real antagonists Naruto and team 7 came across. During a seemingly simple escort mission, team 7 bit off on more than they could chew.

They were facing an enemy they weren’t prepared for. Team 7 fought with their lives on the line and came out with new convictions and paths moving forward.  Naruto credits Haku and Zabuza as people who helped him find his ninja way.

As we get to know about the duo’s tragic past and their relationship, we get to understand parts of what made them what they were. In particular, we got to see the relationship between Haku and Zabuza.

The tale of Haku and Zabuza was one of the most impactful arcs of the Naruto series, especially considering this arc wasn’t tied to the main story arc. People often discuss the nature of Haku and Zabuza’s relationship.

Was it unrequited love? Mutual respect? Or a toxic unbalanced relationship? Let’s dive in.

Team 7 in the Mist Village

team 7 during a fight

Let’s go over the events of the story. Team 7 traveled to the mist village for what seemed to be an easy escort mission. However, they soon encounter the demon of the hidden mist, Zabuza Momochi, effectively changing the difficulty of the mission. Kakashi’s team 7 decided to stick to the mission.

Zabuza’s partner was the soft-spoken, kind-hearted but incredibly strong and efficient, Haku. While Haku had developed a soft spot for Naruto, he considered himself to be nothing more than a tool for Zabuza.

In a fight to the death, Haku was ready to die at Naruto’s hands while Kakashi fought with Zabuza. In his final moments, however, Haku got between Zabuza and Kakashi’s lightning attack, dying as a shield for his master.

Zabuza, who had been set free thanks to Haku's intervention, tried to kill Kakashi by slicing through Haku's body, but Kakashi was able to evade it and wound Zabuza in the arm, rendering him disabled.

Zabuza put a halt to his conflict with Kakashi because he had no longer any motivation to murder Tazuna, the man team 7 was escorting.

zabuza and kakashi during a fight scene

Moreover, Gato, the man who hired Zabuza called off their agreement. Zabuza couldn’t care less. However, Naruto was unsatisfied.

This was the first time Naruto used his talk-no-Jutsu. Naruto lectured Zabuza about the feelings Haku had for him and the loyalty he felt for Zabuza after becoming enraged that Haku died for Zabuza while Zabuza had exhibited no signs of regret.

Brought to tears, Zabuza finally admitted to caring about Haku and unleashed a vicious attack on Gato’s men, succumbing to his injuries during the action.

Haku and Zabuza: The Meet Cute?

Haku was born into an impoverished village ravaged by a recent war. People here feared anyone with Kekkei Genkai. Haku’s parents were normal, loving farmers. His mother however was hiding the fact that she possessed Kekkei Genkai.

One day, Haku discovered his own Kekkei Genkai which horrified his mother. She urged her son to always keep his powers hidden. Unbeknownst to them, Haku’s father had seen everything.

He secretly assembled a mob of people and killed his own wife. He was about to kill Haku when Haku used his ice release to kill the entire mob.

Now orphaned and wanted by no one, Haku took to the streets. This is when Zabuza found him and essentially asked Haku to become his tool.

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The Toxicity of Haku and Zabuza

haku and zabuza fighting together

In his final moments Zabuza may have admitted to caring for Haku but how should we define their relationship? For the purpose of this discussion, we are going to ignore the events of the great Ninja War where dead people got reanimated.

Anyhow, considering Zabuza only expressed his feelings towards Haku after his death, can we call this a mutually respectful relationship?

Zabuza may have taught Haku how to live and fight like a ninja and brought out the best in him, in terms of fighting. However, he never overtly showed Haku an iota of genuine care.

For all intents and purposes, Zabuza treated Haku like a weapon, means to an end. If it weren’t for the unnatural power of Naruto’s pep talk, Zabuza Momochi may even have died without ever admitting the true nature of his feelings for Haku and it wouldn’t have made a difference to Haku.

naruto, haku and kakashi

You see, Haku lived and died as Zabuza’s tool. He showed complete and absolute submission, even when he was uncomfortable with Zabuza’s ideals and actions.

Haku admitted Zabuza did not treat him kindly but also that it was better to live with someone like him than be alone.

Considering what circumstances Haku came from, his devotion to Zabuza was just a trauma bond. For Haku, the biggest purpose of his very young life was to live and die for Zabuza. You can not, by any reasonable parameters, call it a healthy expression of love.

To be fair, Zabuza comes from pretty messed up origins himself. His past renders it impossible for Zabuza to form any healthy attachments or express any normal human emotion.

That said, Zabuza was the adult in the relationship and Haku was a mere child. The power dynamics of this relationship skew very heavily towards the demon of the hidden mist.

Zabuza was fully aware of the implications of his actions. Yet, he made a decision, for whatever reasons, to take advantage of a vulnerable child showing potential. In the end, Haku’s life was cut short due to Zabuza’s warped consciousness. And while Zabuza honored his memory, he couldn’t protect the kind, loving, living Haku.

The Glorification of Zabuza

zabuza and haku death scene

As Zabuza is dying, he asks to be laid next to Haku and wishes he could go to the same place as Haku. As he takes his last breath, Kakashi says Zabuza will surely go to where Haku is in the afterlife, vindicating Zabuza.

Zabuza is a badass character, no doubt about it. Moreover, his past and present make him a deeply tragic character whom you can easily sympathize with. However, to what extent can you extend that sympathy when it comes to his treatment of Haku?

The tale of Haku and Zabuza was a tragic tale of two deeply hurt people coming together, unable to manifest a healthy form of love. The love was there, and as heartbreaking as it was, it shouldn't be looked at as a positive example of unrequited love or dedication.

It shouldn't even be understood as Zabuza’s mere inability to express his true feelings as if he were some high school tsundere.

Zabuza may have given Haku a chance and means to survive but in the process, he also took away Haku’s chance at a normal, happy, or even a long life.

Last but not the least, let's not ever think about the fanfic versions of Haku and Zabuza as the age difference is simply gross.