Sasuke Uchiha by Masashi Kishimoto
|First appearance||Naruto manga chapter 3|
|Relatives||Itachi Uchiha (brother)|
|Ninja rank||Genin in Part I
Rogue ninja in Part II
|Ninja team||Team 7 in Part I
Taka in Part II
Sasuke Uchiha (うちは サスケ Uchiha Sasuke?) is a character of the Naruto manga and anime series created by Masashi Kishimoto. In the story, Sasuke is a member of the Uchiha clan, a highly skilled clan of ninjas allied to the village of Konohagakure. His primary motivation throughout the series is to avenge the destruction of his entire clan by killing his brother, Itachi Uchiha, a task he pursues at all costs. While he was initially cold and singularly driven by his revenge, he becomes more empathetic through his relationships with other characters, notably Naruto Uzumaki, whom he comes to consider as a rival. Sasuke has additionally appeared in several of the featured movies in the series, as well as several other media relating to the series, including several video games and OVAs.
He was created as a rival and foil to the series' titular character, Naruto Uzumaki. Sasuke's design caused difficulties for Kishimoto as he drew the manga scenes, but he has grown to enjoy drawing him. In the animated adaptations from the manga Sasuke has been voiced by Noriaki Sugiyama in Japanese and Yuri Lowenthal in the English dub.
Several anime and manga publications have provided acclaim and criticism of Sasuke's character. While many reviewers have noted his cold and detached attitude and abilities, he has been viewed as a stereotypical "rival" in the mold of several similar characters in other shōnen manga. The character's development has been praised with reviewers praising his rivalry with other appearing characters and the impact he makes in the plot overall. Moreover, Sasuke has been highly popular with the Naruto reader base, placing high in several popularity polls. Merchandise based on Sasuke has also been released, including action figures and plush dolls.
Sasuke is a member of the Uchiha clan from the village of Konohagakure. His whole clan was eliminated by his older brother, Itachi Uchiha, who spared his life, deeming him as unworthy to kill. Since then, Sasuke resolve to become powerful enough to avenge his family and kill Itachi. When first introduced during his assignment to Team 7 in order to complete several missions, Sasuke displays a great brooding skepticism to his teammates. Feeling that his outstanding abilities, that caused others to call him a "genius", are more special than theirs, he is initially unwilling to cooperate with Sakura Haruno and Naruto Uzumaki, but later starts seeing them as useful. During his training, Sasuke starts controlling the Sharingan, an ability inherited from his clan manifested through the eyes and allows the user to see through most jutsu and imitate them. Although Sasuke becomes content with a life of happiness in Konohagakure, he never allows his ambition to gain power to leave his thoughts, always keeping them as a dark muttering. During his Part I battles, Sasuke arrogantly tests his abilities against those of progressively stronger ninja, in the process discovering the weakpoints he needs to overcome.
When going through a ninja exam that would have him reach a Chunin status, Sasuke encounters the criminal Orochimaru, who begins to manipulate Sasuke into his custody by branding him a curse mark, which boost his abilities while driving him insane with use. Sasuke is taught Kakashi's Chidori, a collection of lightning-based chakra in his hand that serves as a rapid thrusting attack to avoid relying on the Curse Mark. However, almost getting killed by Gaara when his Jinchuriki powers manifest, Sasuke finds himself being saved by Naruto as he is able to defeat the Hidden Sand ninja. That event, followed by his defeat by Itachi during brief return to Konohagakure, made Sasuke dissatisfied with what he has learned as a member of Team 7. Believing Orochimaru will be able to give him the strength needed to kill Itachi, Sasuke goes to him, severing his ties with the village in the process. Naruto follows him in an effort to stop him, and the two do battle. Though he tries to kill Naruto, Sasuke ultimately cannot bring himself to do so, and instead continues on to Orochimaru's hideout.
After two-and-a-half years, convinced that he has learned all he can from his new master, Sasuke turns against a weakened Orochimaru before the latter can steal his body. Though Orochimaru attempts to force a body switch, Sasuke is able to reverse the process, absorbing Orochimaru. Sasuke forms his own team, "Hebi", to aid him in finding Itachi. Once they are able to track Itachi down, Sasuke faces his brother alone. During the battle, Itachi dies from an illness he suffered. Sasuke is then collected by Tobi, Itachi's superior, who reveals that Itachi killed the Uchiha under the orders of Konohagakure and spared Sasuke out of love with the intent of being killed by brother's hand. Saddened with the revelation as his eyes evolved into a Mangekyo Sharingan, Sasuke reunites with the members of Hebi, renaming them "Taka" with the intention of getting revenge on Konohagakure. In the meantime, Sasuke agrees to have Taka work with Tobi's group Akatsuki by attempting to capture eight-tailed beast's host, Killer Bee, who manages to escape. Taka then sets out to kill Danzo Shimura, one of the figures behind the Uchiha clan's demise. After battling the other Kage, Sasuke confronts Danzo and kills him in combat. He is then found by his former comrades with Naruto challenging to a future final fight. To that end, Sasuke has Tobi transplant Itachi's eyes to perfect his Mangekyo Sharingan as he begins to suffer the blindness side effect it has.
Following his recovery, Sasuke aids reincarnated Itachi in capturing Kabuto Yakushi who is controlling the reanimated soldiers aiding Tobi. Disillusioned by his brother's resolve to protect the village, Sasuke decides to investigate more about his clan through the first four Hokages revived by Orochimaru. After hearing the First Hokage's story of the past of Madara, himself, the foundation of Konoha and what it means to be a shinobi, Sasuke, not wanting his brother's sacrifice to be for nothing, makes his decision to protect the village and heads to the area of the battlefield. There, Team 7 reunties and fights together against the Ten Tails. Sasuke later manages to defeat Obito Uchiha alongside Naruto and goes to confront Madara, only to be fatally wounded when his attack fails. Fortunately, a reformed Kabuto comes to his aid and saves him with the help of the Second Hokage.
Appearances in other media
Sasuke has made several appearances outside of the Naruto anime and manga. He appears in all four of the original video animations produced for the series, helping Naruto and Konohamaru Sarutobi to find a four leaf clover in the first original video animation, joining his team in escorting a ninja named Shibuki to his village and helping him fight the missing-nin that stole the village's "Hero's Water" in the second, and participating in a tournament in the third and working with Team 7 in the fourth one. Sasuke also makes an appearance in the first two Naruto featured films, although he is only briefly present in a memory segment in the second. He also makes his first Part II appearance in a film in the second Naruto: Shippūden movie.
Sasuke is a common playable character in Naruto video games, including the Clash of Ninja series and the Ultimate Ninja series. In some games, it is possible to unlock and play as a version of him with the cursed seal active. Due to his lack of appearances in early Naruto Shippūden chapters and episodes, he does not appear in any games based on Naruto Shippūden until Gekitou Ninja Taisen EX 2. He is also set to appear in the crossover fighting game J-Stars Victory Vs. although naruto is the toughest in the leaf by far sasuke is a close second
Creation and conception
When developing the original Naruto manga, Masashi Kishimoto had not initially intended to create Sasuke. After speaking with his editor about the future of the series, he was advised to create a rival character for the series' protagonist, Naruto Uzumaki, resulting in Sasuke's creation. To learn more about creating an effective rivalry, Kishimoto read a variety of manga to gather ideas on what constituted such a rivalry, and he coalesced these ideal elements into one relationship. Because Sasuke is intended to be Naruto's opposite, Kishimoto is always careful to make sure Sasuke is never too emotional. With Sasuke's character being that of a "cool genius," Kishimoto feels he has created the ideal rivalry. By the time Sasuke suffered a drastic change in the plot which made him become one of the series' antagonists, Kishimoto compared Sasuke and Naruto to the yin and yang as a result of their notable differences. As a result, he mentions that whenever one of the two progresses, he makes sure the other does it too. In early 2014, he referred to Sasuke as a "very pure person" when asked whether he was good or evil, adding that while some of his actions such as following his clan's ideals are positive, he tends to bring problems to others due to his self-centered nature.
When first introducing Sasuke, Kishimoto had made a chapter which was set before the creation of Team 7, and Naruto had just become a ninja. However, this idea was later cancelled and Sasuke was introduced alongside Team 7, yet keeping the same traits and his rivalry with Naruto. Sasuke's first name comes from the manga Sasuke by Sanpei Shirato, a series which Kishimoto likes, as well as from Sarutobi Sasuke, a fictional ninja featured in Japanese children's stories. Kishimoto remarks that Sasuke's character was influenced by Hiei from YuYu Hakusho, stating that he referenced Hiei when making his character and his Sharingan.
Sasuke's design gave Kishimoto a number of problems, making him the most difficult character he had to create. Because he lacked a proper idea of what Sasuke's face should look like, initial drafts of Sasuke appeared too old or mature for a character the same age as Naruto. Once settling on a proper face, Kishimoto worked on Sasuke's attire. Original designs of Sasuke had a number of necklaces and ties around his arms and legs, a result of Kishimoto's habit of giving characters as much ornamentation as possible. Realizing he could not draw such a complex character on a weekly basis, Kishimoto simplified the design to a basic contrast of Naruto's costume.
For Kishimoto, Sasuke remains the most difficult character for him to draw. While drawing, errors and mishaps commonly result in Sasuke's youthful appearance being lost, a result of Kishimoto's inexperience in drawing characters mature beyond their years. Sasuke's hair, originally kept short to save Kishimoto time, has slowly gotten longer as the series has progressed, increasing the amount of time needed to draw Sasuke. Midway through Part I of the series Kishimoto drew a new costume for Sasuke that featured a number of belts strapped around his arms and legs. Because of the time needed to draw a costume of this design, Kishimoto returned Sasuke to his original costume. Despite the time and energy Kishimoto spends drawing Sasuke, Sasuke has become his favorite character to draw.
When designing Sasuke in his Part II appearance, Kishimoto's main objective was to make him look cool. For this, he tried giving him several outfits such as Shimenawa around him to preserve Orochimaru's style of clothing as by the moment in the series he was his apprentice. He also tried other clothes such as a turtleneck and a military uniform to show "cleanliness". However, he ended up choosing Japanese-style clothes with a Chokutō-style sword.
In every official Weekly Shōnen Jump popularity poll of the series, Sasuke has ranked within the top five characters. Though Sasuke's rank initially alternated between the third and fourth spot, he has ranked first twice. In an interview, Yuri Lowenthal, who does the voice acting for Sasuke in the English dub, states that he is honored to be playing that role due to the large retinue of voice actors auditioning for the role, and also noted the stress associated with his job due to fans being highly critical of any deviation or mistake made while dubbing. He has also commented that his first impression of the character was that of "a serious guy dedicated to his training", but he later appreciated the pain Sasuke suffered and where it came from. Several pieces of merchandise have been released in Sasuke's likeness, including plush of his Part I and Part II appearance, key chains, and numerous figurines.
Several publications for manga, anime, video games, and other related media have provided praise and criticism on Sasuke's character. IGN characterized Sasuke as "the resident emo-kid" due to his cold and serious personality, and found it difficult to have a degree of empathy for his character. GameSpot's Joe Donson extolled Sasuke's abilities as "badass," although echoing IGN's comments concerning his personality. T.H.E.M. Anime Reviews noted that Sasuke fell into the stereotypical "rival" mold of several other shōnen manga, and found him, along with several of the other characters, to not be likable. On the other hand, Mania Entertainment's Dani Moure praised the fact that Naruto and Sasuke are forced to work together despite their rivalry. The relation between both characters was liked by Moure due to the fact they always compete but the same time it was noted that "the group [Naruto and Sasuke] come together when they need to". Although Carl Kimlinger from Anime News Network found Sasuke's fight in the Chunin Exams were "pure action", he noted that Orochimaru's influence over him kept the tension high. In another review, although Kimlinger commented that Sasuke was in need of development when he was escaping from Konoha, he criticized that it was not necessary to have long flashbacks about his life before his fight against Naruto. The following fight between the two characters has been noted to be one of the most entertaining from the series not only because of the tactics the two used, but also as how it helped to show their rivalry's growth giving sentimental scenes to the fans.
Sasuke's appearances in Part II from the Naruto manga have received major praise. This included Manga Life's Park Cooper with the most remarked scenes from his review being Sasuke's new abilities and his fight against Orochimaru which was noted to "change the nature of things" suddenly. His re-introduction in the second story arc was found so important that the animated adaptation Naruto Shippuden started with a sneak peek to this scene. The character's personality, while found not entirely different from the original series, was found to make his scenes interesting thanks to his calmer and angrier attitude as well as his conversation with the nine-tailed demon fox which foreshadowed future events. Sasuke's final fight against Itachi was commented by Casey Brienza from Anime News Network to be "epic" as how the latter's death and revelations about his life made notable impact in the former's personality and point of view.
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