As a child, Kurenai met Asuma Sarutobi during the Academy entrance ceremony and graduated at age 9. In the anime, during the Chūnin Exams, Kurenai was placed in a team with Asuma and Raidō Namiashi.She later was cheering for her classmates during the third round of the Chūnin Exams. Eventually becoming a chūnin at age 13, Kurenai became a jōnin shortly before the start of the series.
During the Nine-Tails' attack on Konoha, Kurenai, Kakashi, Asuma and Guy were amongst the young ninja that wanted to help in repelling the beast, but the group was barred from participating by the older shinobi, one of whom was her own father. Though she protested greatly about this, her father told her that this wasn't war but an internal village issue and as they were shinobi, their lives were brief and that she should live long enough to ensure that the next generation would come about that would inherit the Will of Fire.
In the anime, because of Kurenai's natural talent for genjutsu, the Third Hokage tasked Kurenai with helping to train Yakumo Kurama, another talented genjutsu user who longed to be a ninja. However, because Yakumo couldn't control her illusions and thus endangered those around her, Kurenai had to seal away her ninja abilities, preventing her from ever becoming a shinobi. About twelve years after the Nine-Tails' attack, seeing her classmate fall into deeper self-pity from losing Obito Uchiha and Rin Nohara, Kurenai, along with Might Guy and Asuma decided to speak with the Third Hokage, voicing their disapproval of Kakashi being in Anbu with such bitterness and suggested instead that he be re-assigned as a jōnin sensei in the hopes of restoring Kakashi's kindness.
During the Chūnin Exams, Kurenai watched her pupils from the sidelines. After Shino's battle, she commented on how it suddenly became cold in the room, in reference to his rather merciless defeat of Zaku Abumi. During Kiba's fight with Naruto, she thought to herself that Naruto couldn't possibly beat Kiba, only to be surprised again and again as Naruto took everything Kiba threw at him and finally defeated her student. She bore Naruto no ill will after this and even acknowledged him as a strong opponent. During Hinata's fight with her cousin, Neji Hyūga, she remembered the terrible relationship Hinata had with her father. She also noted the stark contrast between the current Hinata, who refused to give up, and the former Hinata, who would give up easily. When Neji was sent into a blind rage and tried to kill Hinata, Kurenai helped stop him along with Kakashi, Guy and Hayate.
During the one month after the preliminaries, she was seen along with Kiba training Shino in preparation for the final rounds. At the finals she sat next to Asuma and was surprised when Naruto successfully called upon the Nine-Tails' chakra to pull off a victory over Neji. She also doubted thatShikamaru had a strategy to win over Temari, and although the former decided to quit, the skills he had shown during the match made Kurenai think that Shikamaru may have the qualities of a chūnin after all.
After watching the final round matches a month later, Kurenai repelled the genjutsu that fell over the stadium and assisted with the village's defence against invading Suna and Oto ninja during the Konoha Crush. She later attended the Third Hokage's funeral.
Search for Tsunade
Soon after Konoha proved successful in defending the village, Kurenai and Asuma discovered that the Akatsuki members, Itachi Uchiha and Kisame Hoshigaki, had infiltrated the village. The two pairs engaged each other in battle, and Kurenai was able to trap both men in her Demonic Illusion: Tree Binding Death technique. As she was about to land the deadly blow on Itachi from above, however, the Uchiha turned her genjutsu against her. Biting her lip, Kurenai was able to cancel the genjutsu in time to deflect Itachi's physical attack. As the battle takes to the water, Kisame's Water Release: Water Dragon Bullet Technique is countered by one of Kakashi's own. When Kakashi attempted a covert attack on Itachi, Kurenai prepared to ambush him from behind but is stopped by Kakashi who forced Kurenai down to avoid the explosion.
Further into the battle, Itachi activated his Mangekyō Sharingan, leading Kurenai and Asuma to shut their eyes on Kakashi's directives but the latter is affected by Itachi's Tsukuyomi. When Itachi instructed Kisame to kill them because they knew too much about their organisation, Might Guyarrived and intercepted Kisame's attack. Afterwards, she is tasked with taking Kakashi to the hospitalwhile their opponents, not wanting to start a war, fled.
Later, Kurenai is seen attending Tsunade's inauguration ceremony as the new Hokage, alongside several other villagers.
Mizuki Tracking Mission
In the anime, Kurenai and Asuma were dispatched by the Fifth Hokage to bring the chūnin criminalMizuki in for questioning, regarding his suspected involvement with Orochimaru. The pair arrived at the Leaf Village Maximum Security Prison, only to be greeted by a swarm of released inmates, including the Legendary Stupid Brothers Fūjin and Raijin. Outnumbered, the two were beaten into unconsciousness, and were quickly rushed to the Leaf Village hospital for medical treatment.
Yakumo Kurama Rescue Mission
In the anime, Yakumo resurfaced after Kurenai had sealed her kekkei genkai away several years ago which ultimately proved unsuccessful. After Yakumo created the illusion of the Academy being struck by lightning (something everyone believed to have actually happened), Kurenai took a temporary leave from Team 8 so that she could deal with the problem. Naruto confronted her about her involvement with Yakumo, but she simply used a genjutsu on him to keep him occupied.
As she approached Yakumo's cabin, Kurenai appeared to be trapped in a rebel's genjutsu. In actuality, she had attacked her attacker in a genjutsu. She discovered that these attackers were in fact Kurama clan members, who were intent on kidnapping Yakumo. From this point, she and the opposing ninja basically fought with nothing but pure genjutsu technique, such as the Demonic Illusion: Tree Binding Death and the String Bean Binding Illusion. Kurenai ended up successful until the final encounter, where she was caught and couldn't escape from his genjutsu, and so she took a kunai and stabbed herself in the shoulder to break out and used Genjutsu: Flower Petal Escape to trap him in her own genjutsu. But he saw the blood from her wound and managed to hit her with a shuriken.
Kurenai was saved by the arrival of her team, along with Naruto, Sakura, and Might Guy. Later, when explaining to Team 8 the reasons for her departure, she claimed that the village "doesn't need any genjutsu masters other than herself". This was her supposed reason for sealing Yakumo's abilities, but Shino recognised that she was lying. Yakumo, on the other hand, believed Kurenai did so in order to eventually wipe out the Kurama clan. She trapped her former sensei, Naruto, Sakura, and Team 8 in a genjutsu-created replica of the village which appeared to have been ravaged by war. Unkai was also in the illusion. Unkai, concerned by the powers Yakumo had, and her continually degrading mental state as a result of being unable to control them, freed Naruto from the illusion so that he could kill Yakumo. Everyone else was freed as well, except for Kurenai. Yakumo kept her trapped in the illusion in the hopes of getting revenge and answers about her past.
Naruto and the others headed back to the mountain villa and Naruto re-entered Yakumo's genjutsu world to help Kurenai. Yakumo learned that a monster named Ido that lived within her subconscious mind was the one who killed her parents. With Kurenai's help, she overcame the monster in her heart and freed Kurenai from her genjutsu. With her final mission from the Third Hokage completed, Kurenai reassigned herself as the jōnin leader of Team 8.
In Naruto's Footsteps: The Friends' Paths
About two years after Naruto departed from the village with Jiraiya for training, Konohagakure decided to host the Chūnin Exams early alongside Sunagakure. After the first part of the exams finished — held in Konoha — Kurenai and Asuma acted as the second exam's supervisors, informing the genin teams who were not part of the first 30 teams to arrive at the checkpoint, that they already lost and could not participate in the second round. The duo was later present to oversee the second exam begin with the other examiners. Later, Kurenai and the other Konoha proctors received word from Tsunade to be on guard for potential assassins towards Gaara as many still rejected him as Kazekage.
Akatsuki Suppression Mission
At the hospital, before Asuma could speak with Kakashi, Kurenai arrived and the two had to leave, telling Kakashi that they would have to talk later. Later, as Asuma and his team from the Nijū Shōtaimobilised, he lingered staring at an apartment window before mobilising. Inside, it's revealed that it was Kurenai's apartment. She senses something, but when she turned to look out the window, Asuma and his team were already gone. Returning to watering the flowers that were given to her by Asuma, one of the petals falls off its stem, and she has a feeling of foreboding.
When Shikamaru returned from the mission, he was the one to break the grim news of Asuma. Kurenai stared on in shock and then collapsed to her knees devastated. During Asuma's funeral, Kurenai laid flowers on his grave. After Team Asuma avenged their sensei's death, Shikamaru found her at Asuma's grave in the cemetery. Kurenai asked him if he'd be lonely now that his shōgi partner was gone. Shikamaru stated Asuma taught him both important and stupid stuff, and that he had always brushed off responsibility and whined when he was young, because Asuma was there to protect him. Shikamaru noted that Asuma was the coolest adult he knew, and he told Kurenai, when she had her baby, it would be his turn to become a cool adult too, and protect that child.
To help Naruto cope with Jiraiya's death, Shikamaru took him to the hospital where Kurenai was just leaving and explained her pregnancy to Naruto (because Naruto believed she had gotten fat). Kurenai insisted to Shikamaru that he did not need to check on her every time she went to the hospital but Shikamaru said he couldn't help it as Asuma told him to watch over her and the child.
In the anime, during Pain's assault on Konoha, as Kurenai wondered what was happening, Shikamaru then came to ensure her safety. One of Pain's summon, a Giant Centipede, appeared. Shikamaru told her to move back while he took care of the summon, killing it with his shadow. He then told her of how he couldn't face Asuma if something happened to her and the baby and advised her to go to the evacuation centre through the underground passage. She was then seen going to the evacuation centre falling in line with many other people.
Fourth Shinobi World War: Confrontation
As Shikamaru remembers the "king" Asuma entrusted him with, he thought of Kurenai and his sensei's newborn daughter, Mirai.
Shikamaru Hiden: A Cloud Drifting in Silent Darkness
Kurenai makes an appearance in this novel.
The Last: Naruto the Movie
Kurenai would first appear in Naruto's flashbacks involving Hinata giving him ointment, where Kurenai would encourage him to accept it. Not involving flashbacks, she was seen with the villagers heading to an underground safety shelter away from the meteor's with her daughter. After Toneri Ōtsutsuki's defeat, Kurenai is later amongst the villagers with her daughter, hearing the worldwide announcement about the meteor crisis being averted.
Konoha Hiden: The Perfect Day for a Wedding
Kurenai is later visted by her former students, Shino and Kiba, who need help finding a present for Hinata's wedding. Kurenai is happy to help them pick a wedding present for Hinata, but suggests that Hinata's sister, Hanabi, would be a better person to ask. They use the excuse that they don't know Hanabi well enough so Kurenai then suggests honey wine, a drink with various nutritional and restorative qualities once given by the Senju clan as a wedding present. Shino and Kiba like the idea and leave to find some. Before they go, Kurenai — a heavy drinker before Mirai was born — quietly asks Shino to buy some honey wine for her, too. Kurenai and Mirai is last seen attending Naruto and Hinata's wedding, where she was proud of her for achieving her dream of being with Naruto. Kiba would also ask Kurenai to give him more information about honey wine, wanting to appear knowledgeable about his present.
- Use The Gentle Fist Style and Hit Wood.
- Work on Aerial Dynamic Markings with Akamaru.
- Work on Aerial Dynamic Markings with Akamaru while spinning and watch your Aim.
Protective Eight Trigrams Sixty-Four Palms
- Block 24 Kunai Knives
- Have the Waterfall follow the Movements of your Arm.
- If you are going to locate something as small as an Insect you need to focus your Chakra better.
- Take your Superior Flexibility and combine it with fine tuned Chakra Control. To fend off attacks from all directions at once.
- A New Chapter Begins: The Chunin Exams
- Byakugan Battle: Hinata Grows Bold!
- A Failure Stands Tail!
- A Feeling of Yearning, a Flower Full of Hope
- Ultimate Defense: Zero Blind Spot!
- Tsunade's Warning: Ninja No More!
- The Three Villains from the Maximum Security Prison
- The Search for the Rare Bikochu Beetle
- Blaze Away, Byakugan! This is My Ninja Way!
- Kiba's Long Day
- Kurenai's Decision: Squad 8 Left Behind
- Yakumo's Sealed Power
- Genjutsu: Petal Disperse
- Genjutsu: Sylvan Fetters
- Hair Camouflage
- Reverse Genjutsu
- Substitution Jutsu
- By Concentrating his Chakra in my Nose. I can make my Sense of Smell a Thousand Times more Sensitive than Average.
- Chakra Network
- Chakra Points
- Hand Signs
- Mystical Energy
- Sealing Jutsu
- Spiritual Energy
- Superhuman Jumping
- Superhuman Reflexes
- Walking on Water Technique
- Will of Fire
- Kunai Knife
- Hidden Leaf Village Forehead Protector
- Hyuga's Clan Secret Ointment
- The name "Kurenai" means "crimson" (紅), while her family name "Yūhi" means "evening sun" (夕日).
- Kurenai's red lipstick is, in a way, a pun on her own name. The kanji for "Kurenai" can also be read as "beni", which is a word used for red make-up used traditionally in Japan to colour the lips red.
- In her first appearance her dress is red with white sleeves but every time she is seen after that it's the opposite.
- In later episodes of Part II, she is usually seen with a ring on her left ring finger. It is unclear if this is a wedding ring, an engagement ring, or something else. The ring was first seen while Kurenai was worried about Asuma during his battle with Hidan. After Kurenai is revealed to be pregnant, she is always seen wearing the ring. The ring first appears in the manga after the reveal of her pregnancy.
- During a question and answer session held at Tokyo's Jump Fest '09, Masashi Kishimoto stated that he was thinking of making Kurenai and Asuma's child a girl, which he follows through with.
- Although her eyes are very distinct, they are not a dōjutsu.
- Kurenai is the only one of the four principal sensei (Asuma, Kakashi, Guy, and herself) who doesn't regularly wear a flak jacket; the only two times she is seen wearing one was in a flashback with Hiashi Hyūga and in a scene with her and Asuma. She can also be seen wearing it in Naruto Shippūden: Ultimate Ninja 5 and Naruto Shippūden: Ultimate Ninja Heroes 3.
- Studio Pierrot's Settei sheets of Kurenai show that she was 144.4 cm around the time of the Kannabi Bridge incident.
- According to the databook(s):
- Her hobby is having evening drinks.
- She wants to fight Asuma (first databook) and later she doesn't want to fight anyone (third databook).
- Kurenai's favourite foods are shōchū (strong o-sake), vodka and takowasa (octopus andwasabi), her least favourite food is cake.
- Kurenai's favourite phrase is "Glory like a violet blooming a single day" (菫花一日の栄, Kinka Ichijutsu no Ei).
- Kurenai has completed 697 official missions in total: 152 D-rank, 158 C-rank, 235 B-rank, 138 A-rank, 14 S-rank.
- (To Hiashi) "I will be watching over Hinata from now on… but are you sure it's all right? Hinata is a member of the Hyūga main family… working as genin may cause her to be surrounded by death."
- (About Hinata) "Hinata… You used to be a quitter… But you began to try and change yourself. I know better than anyone, the tough training you put yourself through. But you'd always fail on missions, you were weak when it mattered most and quickly lost confidence. But today you're different… That child… I have never… seen her with eyes like that…"
- (About Hinata) "Hinata, that's enough… You may have lost but you have changed… Good job…"
- (To Shikamaru) "You lost your shōgi partner… you were Asuma's favourite. You must miss him too."