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The title of fifth Hokage instead went to Tsunade Senju, a legendary Sannin and innovator in the field of medical ninjutsu. More curious than the tale of the fifth, or the rise of the seventh, is the more humble role of the man who would become Hokage in the time between Lady Tsunade"s term and Naruto"s.
As one of the Land of Fire"s strongest and most famous shinobi, Kakashi Hatake took on the role of Hokage between Tsunade"s retirement and Naruto"s inauguration. Much of his time in office is not covered in the series, as it occurs near the end of the original "Naruto" run. However, the story behind his time as the Hokage, as well as the actions he took during that time, are some of Kakashi"s most compelling character moments.
To put it most simply, Kakashi became Hokage because, aside from Naruto (who was both young and still a Genin), he was the best shinobi in the village. Hokages are decided by strength more often than not, and his genius on the battlefield more than qualified him for the position. On top of that, he"s the only non-Sannin to ever complete over 1,000 missions in the history of the Leaf Village. Both statistically speaking and in practice, Kakashi is more than powerful enough to fill the role of Hokage.
The only real hangup to Kakashi"s rise to Hokage is Kakashi himself. As talented as the Copycat Ninja is, climbing up the ranks was never his goal. He considered himself a soldier, first and foremost, and he always saw completing missions as his top priority. The politics, let alone the paperwork, that came with being Hokage seemed out of his comfort zone.
Despite that, other characters looked to Kakashi as a leader throughout the series. Whether it was because his students see him as their teacher, or because his peers valued his strength and intelligence, Kakashi was one of the first people others pointed to when Tsunade fell into a coma and Danzo was dead. Even then, he was reluctant to take the role and felt relieved when Tsunade recovered. He couldn"t escape for long, however, as once the Fourth Shinobi World War ended and Tsunade retired, she appointed him her successor.
Not a lot is known about Kakashi"s time as Hokage. After all, he got the job just as "Naruto: Shippuden" concluded, and the ensuing era of peace and prosperity for the Land of Fire didn"t necessitate a lot of direct action on his part. On top of that, his reluctance to accept the job meant he was slow to fully act as Hokage. The book "Kakashi Hiden: Lightning in the Sky" revealed that Kakashi still had Tsunade handle many Hokage-related tasks even a year after his inauguration.
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Kakashi would eventually rise to the challenge, however. In the years preceding Naruto"s inauguration as the Seventh Hokage, Kakashi would fulfill all the roles required of his position according to the "Hiden" series. One of his earliest acts was pardoning Sasuke of his crimes against the village. From then on, Kakashi is mostly seen in the series" side-novels and movies, assigning missions and handling the bureaucratic side of being Hokage.