Disclaimer: Don't expect a revolution in this essay. This is really something I'm doing because I'm in the middle of a long slump and I want to feel better. The Kage Bunshin is a Jounin technique. This fact has been thrown in our faces for a long time. What does that mean, though? Well, we can't say for completely sure, but we can make some educated guesses. And those guesses can lead to some interesting thoughts. The Kage Bunshin was included in the Forbidden Scroll, but it's clearly not a forbidden jutsu. That should be obvious by the fact that it's known and used by everyone above a certain level. What it is, is a dangerous jutsu to use for the untrained - it's very draining on your stamina and chakra, so it can't safely be used by the untrained. So it's sealed up and only taught to those who can handle it. Now twelve-year-old Naruto could use it without danger. That's because as the vessel of the Kyuubi he has enhanced stamina. But that led to a very interesting situation. You see, as I said, the Kage Bunshin is widely known by Jounins. It's not a jutsu unique to Konoha either, and there are many other versions of solid clones used throughout the world. But Naruto is still unique, and I'll tell you why. If the Kage Bunshin is available to learn to any Jounin, then that means that in order to learn it you first have to become a Jounin. That much is obvious. But think about it, what does that mean? In order to become a Jounin, you must first become extremely strong. In order to become strong, you must have your own way of fighting. A Jounin has years of combat experience. They have a defined style that works for them, otherwise they'd be dead or stuck in lower ranks. If a Chuunin is someone who works well in a team, then a Jounin is someone who stands out from the crowd as individually strong. But this means that when they learn the Kage Bunshin, it can only possibly be an addition to their style. It is a move to be used sparingly, as the side dish to their fighting main course. We can see this in Kakashi, in Zabuza, in Itachi, in Gaara, and so on. They might use a clone to get out of a tight spot, or to trick someone, or to attack from two directions, but it's always used in addition to something else. This is why Naruto is so different. You see, the Kage Bunshin was the first combat jutsu Naruto ever learned. He learned it specifically before he had his own style. And because he is the Kyuubi Jinchuuriki he had the stamina to make use of it years before he should have been able to. What does this mean? Well, two things. Firstly, it means that Naruto's entire combat style has been built up around the Kage Bunshin. He's used it in just about every fight he's ever had. This makes him unique, because in Naruto the system is reversed. This is what makes up a large part of his unpredictability, because his style is unique - he defies the generally accepted beliefs of the ninja world. The second thing it means is more interesting. Essentially, by this point in Naruto's career, I believe he has used the Kage Bunshin more than anyone else ever has. Because it was the first real jutsu he learned, and because he has the superhuman stamina to use it so often, Naruto has been using it constantly for over three years, compared to most people who only use it or its equivalents rarely. So what happens when you use a technique that many times? Well, naturally you improve with it. You master it. It's like if you practice one punch over and over and over again. Eventually you're going to be able to throw it perfectly without even thinking. Your form would become perfect. We've seen that gaps of skill exist in the Narutoverse in the use of jutsus. Kakashi commented that only an Uchiha could perfom the Goukakyuu as well as Itachi did in chapter 260, and clearly that was far better than any one Sasuke ever did before. That's something that comes from time and effort rather than any talent. And because of his circumstances, Naruto has used the Kage Bunshin more than any character we've ever seen. I believe that Naruto's Kage Bunshins have evolved, so to speak. He has advanced in the use of them so much that he can now do things with them that no one else can. We saw a hint of this when Naruto finally lost control after failing to kill Deidara - even though Naruto was going berserk and transforming into KN1 and then 2, his Kage Bunshins first remained, and second reacted. What it means in terms of their combat abilities is unclear. Naruto's Kage Bunshins now have no problem using their own jutsus, creating new clones and Rasengans, which are hardly cheap in terms of chakra, but what else we just can't quite speculate on. Probably it is the case that Naruto's skill has reached such a peak that he can use the absolute perfect amount of chakra/stamina for each clone, and do it without any effort. But what special characteristics they may have, we can't say. What we can say for sure is that Naruto's use of the Kage Bunshin has evolved. Preskip, it was clear that Naruto's use of them was force over finesse. He often used clever tactics, but he did so in conjunction with hordes of clones. But postskip he's never once done that, instead using a couple here and there, and relying on finesse over force. That alone is interesting, because Naruto's chakra can hardly have decreased over the years. If preskip he had enough raw chakra - without using the Kyuubi - to create a thousand clones at once (as he did against Gaara) then postskip he should be able to create far more. And yet he doesn't. And there was nothing wrong with that tactic, indeed it was very effective. Naruto still holds it in reserve, but he has more restraint than to use it without cause. At the moment, Naruto has not had a real fight of his own, postskip. The only true fight was the Bell Test, and that was almost entirely skipped over. So everything we say is prediction rather than fact. But from the scattered fragments we have, we can see the beginning of a new and exciting picture. When Kishimoto stops jerking us around and actually shows Naruto fighting, don't expect him to go over the top with clones and Kyuubi chakra. Expect him to be controlled, careful and clever.