Saturday, January 10, 2009
Gaara (我愛羅) is the youngest child of the Fourth Kazekage, and the youngest brother of Temari and Kankuro. Being raised as a tool of Sunagakure, Gaara gained the nickname Gaara of the Desert (砂瀑の我愛羅, Sabaku no Gaara).
Gaara is the son of the Fourth Kazekage and the younger brother of Temari and Kankuro. During Gaara's birth, his father ordered Chiyo to seal the One-Tailed Shukaku within him in hopes that Gaara would become the ultimate weapon for the village. Because a sacrifice was needed, Gaara's mother, Karura, was used. Before she died, Karura cursed Sunagakure, hoping Gaara would avenge her death. Gaara was trained by his father, but raised mainly by his uncle, Yashamaru. Because of the power of Shukaku, the villagers of Sunagakure hated and feared Gaara, seeing him only for the monster sealed within him. For a time, Yashamaru seemed to be the only person who cared about Gaara. When Gaara would mistakenly harm others due to the subconscious abilities granted to him by Shukaku, Yashamaru would be the only one who understood that Gaara hadn't intended to harm anyone. Gaara's father, however, did not see Gaara in the same light, and viewed Gaara's frequent attacks upon villagers as a result of a failed experiment that was a threat to the village. Because of the danger Gaara imposed, his father began sending assassins to kill him, though when all attempts met with failure, the Kazekage asked Yashamaru to kill Gaara. As a result, Yashamaru tried to assassinate Gaara, though Gaara's abilities defeated Yashamaru with ease. Although Gaara tried to dismiss Yashamaru's attack as an order of the Kazekage, Yashamaru corrected him by saying that he had willingly accepted the mission. Having never truly loved Gaara, Yashamaru hoped that killing Gaara would avenge the death of his sister, who had named Gaara after the phrase "a self-loving carnage" (我を愛する修羅, Ware wo ai suru shura), a sign of her hate for Gaara. In a last ditch effort to kill Gaara, Yashamaru detonated a number of explosive tags covering his body, asking Gaara to, "Please die." Gaara survives the blast and loses the only person he thought had cared for him.
While Gaara had initially tried to be friendly towards others despite their fear of him, Yashamaru's actions and words changed Gaara. Realizing that nobody loved him, Gaara used his sand to create the kanji on his forehead "love" (愛) as a symbol of a "demon loving only himself". Gaara became emotionally withdrawn, all but silent, and consumed with a bitter loathing for everyone but himself and "mother", the voice of Shukaku in his head. He learned to find pleasure and eventually a reason to live in annihilating the numerous assassins sent to kill him – and by extension, anyone who threatened his existence. This was only worsened by the occasional demand by Shukaku for blood to sate its blood lust. Gaara's insomnia, forced upon him by the fear that the demon inside him would eat away at his personality if he were to fall into a deep sleep, only furthered his instability and desire to kill. In time, Gaara's father would come to appreciate Gaara and the uses he could serve, and cancelled all assassination orders in the hopes that Gaara would become an effective tool.
Gaara's childhood was somewhat similar to Naruto Uzumaki's, albeit more unfortunate due to his lack of anyone to call a friend. Both were lonely and desired to be liked, loved, and acknowledged as an individual, free of others' prejudices — they are themselves, not the demons they were forced to "contain" — and both were driven into a desperate state. While Naruto consequently developed the misconception that pranks and mischief would bring him the attention he sought, Gaara came to the conclusion that he could preserve and confirm his own existence by killing any and all who challenged it, securing an extreme form of existentialism as his key personality trait. In the absence of others' acknowledgement, he could compensate by valuing only himself to the exclusion of everyone else. Furthermore, while Naruto eventually had Iruka Umino and Team 7 to acknowledge him, Gaara never had anyone to bond with and did not understand the concept of fighting for anything other than himself until his confrontation with Naruto.
After being surprisingly defeated by Naruto, Gaara was shocked to find that Naruto knew very well the pain that Gaara had endured all his life. He was even more surprised that Naruto never gave up hope on being acknowledged as a person and ultimately found friends who truly cared for him. Seeing the determination that Naruto had to protect his friends made Gaara question his own path in life. Realizing that he gave up too easily, Gaara decided to follow Naruto's path, wishing to become Kazekage of his village so he could be connected to his people and hopefully have them finally acknowledge his existence as a person. Over the next few years, Gaara's determination to find happiness became apparent from his decision to rely on his own power rather than his inner demon's.
Through in both the original Naruto and Naruto: Shippūden anime and manga series, Gaara forms close friendships with Rock Lee and Naruto Uzumaki.
Gaara first appeared hanging upside down on a tree, telling Kankuro to stop picking on Konohamaru, which instantly silenced Kankuro. Sasuke Uchiha was amazed by Gaara's ability to appear out of nowhere, comparing Gaara's speed and stealth to that of Kakashi Hatake.
During the second phase of the Chunin Exams, Gaara demonstrated his thirst for blood by killing the Rain Genin, Shigure, who Gaara claimed had looked at him the wrong way. Shigure was followed quickly by his teammates, despite their pleas for mercy. Gaara and his team finished this phase in roughly an hour, beating the previous record by over four hours, with Gaara not getting so much as a speck of dust on his clothes, a feat that would be very difficult even for an experienced ninja.
In the preliminary matches, Gaara was matched against Rock Lee. Lee's formidable speed and strength are enough to bypass Gaara's Shield of Sand completely, forcing him to rely on his secondary Armor of Sand. Despite Lee's best efforts, Gaara's sand protected him from even Lee's Reverse Lotus, which left Lee in no condition to fight after its use. Though Lee's Reverse Lotus did immobilize Gaara, it was not enough to keep Gaara from using his sand to crush Lee's arm and leg, critically injuring him. Gaara tried to kill Lee, but Might Guy intervened before he could harm Lee any further. During the course of the match he was even more bloodthirsty then he was before. Before the finals he killed Dosu Kinuta when Dosu tried to kill him so he could fight Sasuke instead. Then on the day before the finals Gaara attempted to assassinate Rock Lee at the hospital, but was stopped by Naruto and Shikamaru Nara, where during that moment, Gaara revealed his past to them which Naruto understands as similar to his, as Naruto is the host of the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox.
In the final round matches of the Chunin Exams, Gaara was to play a major role in Orochimaru's invasion upon Konohagakure by releasing Shukaku within the center of the village. During his match with Sasuke, however, Gaara was wounded by Sasuke's Chidori, disabling him from serving his role in the invasion. With Gaara no longer in a condition to join the battle, Gaara and his siblings fled the village while the invasion proceeded without them.
Gaara was pursued by the members of Team 7, which forced Gaara to begin calling upon Shukaku. Sasuke used too much of his chakra and the cursed seal made him unable to fight. Then, Naruto and Sakura (and Pakkun) arrived. When Gaara tried to kill Sasuke, Sakura stood infront of Sasuke. Gaara managed to pin Sakura Haruno to a tree with sand and slowly began to crush her while he fought Sasuke. During his battle with Naruto, Naruto felt sympathy for him. When Gaara wasn't able to defeat Naruto, Gaara releases the full force of Shukaku and even put himself to sleep to give it full power. Naruto, after being trapped in sand, used his remaining chakra to summon Gamabunta. However, even in this demon form Gaara failed to defeat Naruto and Gamabunta and was finally beaten by them after Naruto calls upon some chakra from the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox. Gaara was puzzled by the fighting spirit Naruto had for those he cares about, which he couldn't understand. Naruto's undying devotion to his friends also surprised Gaara, causing Gaara to realize that Naruto's strength came from the desire to protect his friends. As Gaara and his siblings fled the scene, Gaara openly apologized to Kankuro and Temari, which surprised and confused them. Thanks to Naruto's influence, the defeat proves to be a major turning point for Gaara
Sasuke Retrieval arc
Team Baki was called by the Fifth Hokage to assist Team Shikamaru in retrieving Sasuke when he defected from Konoha. Gaara arrived to help Rock Lee in his battle with Kimimaro. Here Gaara showed his change in personality as he worried about Lee's injuries, the same ones he gave him in the Chunin Exams, while fighting Kimimaro. In the fight, Gaara showed off several new abilities, though he couldn't defeat Orochimaru's disciple, and both he and Lee were almost killed by the Second State of Kimimaro's Cursed Seal, though they were saved only by Kimimaro dying from his own terminal disease. The two formed a friendly bond and returned to the village.
Gaara and Kankuro came to the aid of a band of Sand villagers who came under attack in Naruto the Movie 2: Great Clash! The Illusionary Ruins at the Depths of the Earth. A group of seemingly invulnerable armored warriors attacked the shinobi, and it was only Gaara's sand manipulation abilities that saved the group from certain defeat. The sand ninja then destroyed the warship that brought the warriors, only to come under attack from knights wielding the power of the Stone of Gelel. Gaara engaged one of these warriors called Ranke, who wielded lightning powers, and was able to thwart her using his sand. When Ranke transformed into a monstrous form of greater power, she seemingly outmatched Gaara until he crushed her using Sand Waterfall Imperial Funeral.
The Sand Siblings would later appear when they become teachers at a Konoha style ninja academy at the Sand. As instructors, Gaara takes on the only student who was willing to train under him, Matsuri. Because of Matsuri's fear of weapons, Gaara trained her to use a jouhyou. When a group of people called the Shiitenshounin kidnap her in order to get Gaara to them so they get Shukaku's chakra in order to take down the major shinobi villages, the Sand calls for aid from Konoha, namely Naruto, Lee, Shikamaru, Ino, Kiba, Choji, Hinata, and Neji. Gaara first fought Suiko, then he caught and attacked the Shiitenshounin leader, Houki, but was captured. To escape Gaara did a partial Shukaku transformation, reviving the Takumi Village's ultimate weapon, Seimei. Gaara later destroyed Seimei with a Shukaku's Spear, and killed Jin with a Sand Waterfall Imperial Funeral.
Gaara in Part II
Having become the Fifth Kazekage during Naruto's two and a half year absence from Konoha, Gaara was targeted by the Akatsuki, who sought to extract Shukaku from within him. Though Gaara was able to fend off one of their agents rather effectively (actually crushing one of Deidara's arms during the battle), Deidara managed to capture Gaara by launching a high-powered clay bomb to destroy the village. Gaara was able to protect his village, but at the expense of much of his chakra, leaving him severely weakened. This allowed Deidara to mix a clay bomb with Gaara's sand without the latter noticing, knocking Gaara unconscious once it went off and allowed Gaara to easily be taken to the Akatsuki hideout.
Although Team Kakashi did their best to save Gaara, they did not arrive in time to stop Akatsuki's extraction of Shukaku, resulting in Gaara's death. However, Chiyo resurrected Gaara with her life-restoring technique in the hopes that it would make up for her sealing of Shukaku into Gaara years earlier, bringing Gaara back to life at the cost of her own.
Gaara was awoken by Naruto, and as he awoke he realized that he was surrounded by people concerned for him. This was the first time Gaara truly felt loved and not so alone. He also showed his first true smile since he was six, rather than the bloodthirsty grin he often gives. On the large group's return to the Hidden Village of Sand, the entire village was out to welcome them back. The village's concern for their Kazekage drove them to greet him, happy to see that their beloved leader has returned safely. The village was large enough to hold thousands of people within the walls, making a huge welcoming committee.
Before Naruto went back home, he tried to say goodbye, but admitted that it's not something he's good at. Gaara used some sand to encourage and guide Naruto's hand, and the two shake hands, symbolizing Gaara and Naruto's friendship and Gaara's new characteristics. Additionally, while the precise effect on Gaara from Shukaku's loss is still unknown, this scene shows that he has retained the ability to manipulate sand. In addition, as Gaara is no longer at risk of being controlled by Shukaku, it is safe to assume his mental stability can recover and the village will no longer view him as a possible danger.
In the current arc, the Raikage announced a meeting of the 5 Kages, which means that Gaara will be making a reappearance in the series because he is still the Kazekage.
As the host of Shukaku, Gaara possessed the ability to manipulate sand, typically moving it through the air to serve various purposes. The amount of sand he can control at one time is, fairly immense, as in Part II he is able to gather enough sand to cover Sunagakure as a shield. If sand is lacking in abundance, Gaara can break down the earth minerals in the ground to create more sand. While he can control any dry sand, ordinary sand requires more chakra to manipulate it, tiring him at a rapid rate. As a result, Gaara keeps his own chakra-enhanced sand with him at all times in a calabash gourd also made out of sand on his back. Because this sand is already infused with his chakra, Gaara has a great deal more control over it, enabling stronger and faster attacks with it.
During battle, Gaara rarely moves, attacking with his sand from a single location and rarely using taijutsu. When first introduced his basic means of attacks is to first use Desert Coffin to capture, immobilize, and potentially suffocate an opponent with sand. Once the opponent is subdued, he uses Desert Funeral to cause the sand to crush the opponent with varying intensities. In time he is able to increase the scale of these attacks; by first using Quicksand Waterfall, Gaara covers a large area in an ocean of sand, and then uses Desert Imperial Funeral to compress the sand and crush all that it covers. If Desert Imperial Funeral fails to kill an opponent, he can use Prison Sand Burial to loosen the ground beneath an opponent and allow them to sink hundreds of feet underground, where the sand compresses to such an extent that the opponent is no longer able to move.
As the second element of his stationary combat style, Gaara has a number of sand-based defenses to be used in case an opponent gets too close. His primary defense is his Shield of Sand, an automatic sand shield that surrounds and protects him from damage whether he wants it to or not. Gaara can control the shield to some degree, strengthening it to steel-like quality or calling upon it to completely encase himself. While an effective defense, the shield can be overcome with high speed attacks or simply be broken through with incredibly forceful strikes. Should this happen, Gaara has a layer of sand covering his body called the Armor of Sand. Although it's a useful secondary defense, the armor requires large amounts of chakra to remain active and also has the side-effect of weighing Gaara down. If need be, Gaara can protect himself before being put into danger by using Sand Binding Prison, which dedicates a desert's worth of sand to containing a single opponent.
In addition to these basic methods of offensive and defense, Gaara also has a number of miscellaneous attacks that, while capable of being an attack or a shield, are not limited to such purposes. By making a Sand Clone of himself, Gaara can have an ally to be used in battle or a mere distraction to be used to buy him time. Unlike most other clone-jutsu in the series, the Sand Clone can retain its shape after more than one attack, and can even reform itself or capture an opponent upon being dispersed. Sand Drizzle allows him to collect sand in the air that rains down on the opponent at high speeds in potentially harmful shapes. With Desert Suspension Gaara can use sand as a platform to allow himself and others to float in the air. His Third Eye also allows him to create a floating eyeball of sand in any location that he can see through as a means of spying or to guide his attacks while completely enclosed by his defenses.
At some point in time Gaara begins to be able to form weapons in Shukaku's likeness. The first that is seen is Ultimate Absolute Defense: Shield of Shukaku, which creates a toy-like replica of Shukaku that is roughly twice the size of Gaara. Because the replica is formed under extreme pressure and is built of the strongest minerals it is virtually indestructible, having yet to be penetrated by any force. The anime expands on the idea of having an "ultimate defense" by creating an "ultimate attack": Ultimate Absolute Attack: Shukaku's Halberd. The attack creates a spear under the same conditions as the replica, only the blade resembles one of Shukaku's claws. Like the shield, this attack has yet to meet a defense it can't break.
In desperate situations, Gaara can take on the form of Shukaku by layering sand on his body, making him many times more powerful than he already is. Shukaku's personality grows more dominant during this transformation, increasing Gaara's homicidal tendencies. Once finished, Gaara assumes a human-sized version of Shukaku wherein he relies on his brute strength to destroy everything around him. While in this form Gaara can use Sand Shuriken to hurl sand-based forms of shurikens at an opponent. Shukaku also gives him the ability to utilize wind-based attacks such as Wind Release: Infinite Sand Cloud Great Breakthrough, which spews large amounts of sand from his mouth, devastating both the enemy and a large area around him.
If need be, Gaara can almost instantly create a life-sized version of Shukaku should the human-sized form fail. In this form, he remains deep within Shukaku copy safe from harm though unable to move. Gaara can also unleash the spirit of Shukaku through his Feigning Sleep Technique, which forces him to sleep to allow Shukaku copy to operate at its full potential. To do so, however, Gaara must emerge from within the copy, leaving him open to attack for the duration of the jutsu. While Gaara is initially dependent on waking independently or through someone else's intervention to regain control of his body, he begins to be able to suppress Shukaku by himself towards the end of the anime's filler arcs. By the time Part II begins, Gaara is even capable of using Shukaku's arms to attack numerous times without losing control of himself.
In Part II, Gaara is captured by Deidara of Akatsuki and Shukaku is extracted from his body, causing his death. Chiyo, regretting the life she gave Gaara when she sealed Shukaku in his body years earlier, gives up her life, using her puppet revival technique, to bring him back to life. While he no longer possesses Shukaku, Gaara is still able to manipulate sand, as proven when he uses it to pull Naruto's hand towards his for a handshake. According to an interview with Masashi Kishimoto, Gaara's ability to control sand, as well as the rings around his eyes can never be taken away.
Creation and conception
Kishimoto created Gaara to be a foil to Naruto, giving him a similar background to Naruto, where he was rejected by his peers and fellow villagers for being the host of a Tailed Beast, a situation that Kishimoto refers to as being "very much like Naruto's. He was universally rejected and ignored, living a superfluous existence." Gaara's development from this state into a highly withdrawn, sadistic character was intended to induce sympathy for him from readers, as it was contrasted against Naruto being a cheerful troublemaker.
Gaara's initial attire, along with the costumes of his siblings were difficult for Kishimoto to draw, resulting in a change of costume during the Sasuke Retrieval arc, with Gaara receiving an outfit with an upright collar. As well as being easier to draw, it was used to show the change in relationship between Gaara and Naruto following their previous fight. Kishimoto cites The Matrix, one of his favorite movies, as an inspiration for Gaara's new costume, and he considers it to be his favorite costume of the three siblings.