Creation and conception
When creating the antagonists of the Naruto series, creator Masashi Kishimoto's primary goal was to create villains that were directly opposed to the lead characters' moral values. He stated that this focus on illustrating the difference in values is central to his creation of villains to the point that, "I don't really think about them in combat". The villains' physical appearances were embellished in order to differentiate them from other characters. Kishimoto commented that "the difference between the heroes and the villains must be obvious" and that the different appearances should make it easier for a reader to follow the story and "recognize that 'this character is a bad guy'", even in heated battle scenes. In some cases, Kishimoto creates antagonists to fight specific characters, and ensures that the antagonists' unique attributes "make the battles interesting". Kishimoto also noted that making the villains "flamboyant" with a "showy costume" is part of his "guiding principles" in ensuring the villains were clearly visible from the other characters in the story, as well as making them "more memorable".
Otogakure (音隠れの里 Otogakure no Sato?, lit. "Village Hidden in Sound") is a village founded by Orochimaru for the purpose of collecting ninja for his experiments to learn all the jutsu in the world. The village is not contiguous, consisting of multiple assorted lairs located within the Land of Sound and outside it.
Orochimaru (大蛇丸?) is one of the primary antagonists of the Naruto series. To emphasize his role as a villain, Kishimoto worked towards making him appear "pasty and sickly" as part of his theme of distinguishing villains from the protagonists. In the series, Orochimaru is a former ninja of Konohagakure and a student of the Third Hokage. During his time in the village, he distinguished himself as one of the village's most powerful ninja along with his teammates, Jiraiya and Tsunade. His desire to obtain immortality led him to conduct experiments on other Konohagakure ninja, and he eventually fled the village and joined the criminal organization Akatsuki. After trying to take over Itachi Uchiha's body, he left Akatsuki and established his own ninja village, Otogakure, in the hopes of destroying his former home. His immortality technique involves transferring his consciousness between different host bodies, and his desire for a new host, particularly Sasuke Uchiha, is one of his driving motivations throughout the series. Because of his different host bodies and the disguises he assumes, a panoply of voice actors are utilized for Orochimaru; his most common seiyū in the Japanese anime is Kujira, and the corresponding English voice actor is Steven Blum.
Kabuto Yakushi (薬師 カブト Yakushi Kabuto?) is Orochimaru's foremost servant. As a child, he was found on a battlefield by a medical officer from Konohagakure, who took Kabuto and raised him as a son. Kabuto began acting as a spy for numerous countries and organizations, including the criminal organization Akatsuki, which ordered him to enter the service of Orochimaru. Kabuto uses his various former affiliations as a means to gather intelligence on Orochimaru's behalf; for instance, he participates in the bi-annual ninja exams as a villager of Konohagakure so as to gather information on his fellow participants. Although Kabuto has professed his utmost loyalty to Orochimaru, Orochimaru has admitted that he cannot determine where Kabuto's true loyalties lie, and has suggested that Kabuto secretly works against him.
Kabuto is highly proficient with medical techniques, being likened in ability to Tsunade: he can regenerate from wounds by reactivating dead cells in order to grow new ones and can form a scalpel with chakra to deal precise blows to his opponents. Orochimaru uses Kabuto's talents in his human experiments, primarily to keep test subjects alive for longer than is normally feasible. During Part I, he infiltrates Konohagakure to prepare for Orochimaru's invasion, and rejoins Orochimaru in Otogakure following the invasion. While aiding Orochimaru in an attempt to get Tsunade's aid, Kabuto battles Naruto Uzumaki and nearly kills him, but suffers a blow from his Rasengan, which he manages to regenerate from, but is left unable to continue fighting. In Part II Kabuto integrates Orochimaru's remains into his body in order to become powerful enough to not serve anyone again. Orochimaru's remains gradually begin to take over his body, but Kabuto expresses desire to kill Sasuke Uchiha, and afterwards settle things with Naruto once he has learned to control the remains. Once mastering his new-found abilities and Orochimaru's jutsu, Kabuto makes his way to Madara and forms an alliance with him under the promise that he can have Sasuke once they win. In the Japanese anime, Kabuto's seiyū is Nobutoshi Canna, and his English voice actor is Henry Dittman.
The Sound Four (音隠れの忍四人衆 Otogakure no Shinobi Yonin Shū?, lit. "Hidden Sound Shinobi Four People", English TV: "Sound Ninja Four") are Orochimaru's elite bodyguards. They are introduced during Orochimaru's invasion of Konohagakure, but do not become a prominent part of the story until Sasuke Uchiha attempts to leave Konohagakure to join Otogakure. The Sound Four act as his bodyguards, and although they are all defeated by Konohagakure ninja, Sasuke manages to escape. The group was originally known as the "Sound Five", as they were forced to accept Kimimaro as the leader after he defeated the entire group in battle. After Kimimaro became bedridden due to his illness, the group resumed calling themselves the Sound Four. As a group they specialize in barriers, defensive walls, sealing techniques as well as possessing their own individual unique Jutsu. Orochimaru has given each member of the group one of his cursed seals, which allows him to control them and greatly increases the strengths of the users when active.
Jirobo (次郎坊 Jirōbō?) is the first member of the Sound Four to be introduced in the series. When Masashi Kishimoto was creating the Sound Four, he was the third member of the group to be created, and was intended to be the largest member of the group. Jirobo is the physically strongest member: he can lift boulder-sized rocks and hurl them across long distances with ease. He can also absorb others' chakra, which he uses as a form of sustenance. His fellow Sound Four member Tayuya frequently calls Jirobo fat due to his size and habit of consuming chakra, something he is quick to scold her for. When Sasuke Uchiha leaves Konohagakure, Jirobo battles Choji Akimichi, and after criticizing Choji for his girth, Choji, after consuming a level three soldier pill, dispatches Jirobo. In the Japanese anime, his seiyū is Kenta Miyake, and his English voice actor is Michael Sorich.
Kidomaru (鬼童丸 Kidōmaru?) is the second member of the Sound Four to be introduced in the series. He was the first member of the Sound Four created by Masashi Kishimoto, with his spider-like traits meant to be main aspects of his character. As such, Kidomaru possesses six arms, a third eye, and the ability to excrete webs from his mouth. This webbing, a mixture of body fluids and chakra, is as strong as steel and can ensnare anything that comes into contact with it. He can also produce a golden webbing that hardens upon contact with oxygen, allowing him to make armor or weapons. Kidomaru treats battles as a game and tries to get as much enjoyment from them as possible; when he battles Neji Hyuga, he calls him a "trash character" and looks for weaknesses in Neji's defenses to take advantage of. Despite being near death, Neji manages to defeat Kidomaru. In the Japanese anime, his seiyū is Susumu Chiba, and his English voice actor is Peter Lurie.
Sakon and Ukon
<span id="Sakon"/><span id="Ukon"/> Sakon (左近?) and Ukon (右近?) are twin brothers who share the same position in the Sound Four. Sakon was the final character in the Sound Four created by Kishimoto, who initially was unable to decide which character for him to fight. After deciding to have him battle Kiba Inuzuka and Akamaru in a two-on-two battle, Kishimoto created Ukon to complete the matchup. In battle, Sakon enjoys toying with his opponents, causing him to waste time in battle by using showy techniques. Conversely, Ukon is impatient and likes to end battles quickly. Due to their genetic ability, the brothers can merge their bodies together. Ukon usually resides in Sakon's body, with only his head protruding on Sakon's back. When Sakon battles an opponent, Ukon can protrude his arms and legs from Sakon's body to increase the strength of his attacks and defend his blindspots. Both brothers can also merge with an opponent's body, where they can destroy the opponent's cells from within. Sakon and Ukon manage to overpower Kiba Inuzuka and Akamaru in their battle, but Kankuro arrives and kills Sakon and Ukon. In the Japanese anime, the seiyū for both brothers is Shunsuke Sakuya, and their English voice actor is Brian Beacock.
Tayuya (多由也?) is the fourth member of the Sound Four introduced in the series. She was the second member of the Sound Four to be created by Masashi Kishimoto, and was intended to be the only girl in a group of boys. She uses a flute in battle to control three demonic beasts named "Doki" that she summons to her side during battle. Though primarily meant to perform the physical attacks she avoids, the beasts can also produce ethereal, snake-like creatures that consume an opponent's chakra. Once her opponents are weakened in this fashion, Tayuya can trap them in illusions she creates with her flute. She attempts to use her many techniques against Shikamaru Nara, but his superior intelligence forces her to rely on brute strength to gain victory. Though she almost succeeds, Temari arrives to help Shikamaru and creates a windstorm that crushes Tayuya under a pile of debris. Her seiyū in the Japanese anime is Akeno Watanabe, and her English voice actor is Kari Wahlgren.
Kimimaro (君麻呂?) is one of Orochimaru's premier servants, and the last surviving member of the Kaguya clan (かぐや一族 Kaguya Ichizoku?). When his war-loving family died in battle, Orochimaru took Kimimaro into his care. Because of this, Kimimaro develops the belief that Orochimaru is the only person who cares for him, and is completely loyal to him. His clan's genetic ability, Shikotsumyaku (屍骨脈?, lit. "Dead Bone Pulse"), allows Kimimaro to manipulate his skeletal structure. He can grow additional bones and sprout them from any part of his body, enabling him to use them as melee weapons. His genetic ability also allows him to strengthen his bones to a steel-like quality, making him virtually immune to most types of damage. Due to his unique abilities, Orochimaru chose Kimimaro as his future host body, but Kimimaro contracted a terminal illness that left him bedridden. To do what he can for his master, he leaves to find the surviving members of the Sound Four and ensure his replacement, Sasuke Uchiha, reaches Orochimaru. As a result, he battles Naruto then Rock Lee and Gaara in the process, nearly killing the latter two were it not for dying of his illness during battle. In the Japanese anime, his seiyū is Toshiyuki Morikawa, and when he is featured as a child, he is voiced by Makoto Tsumura. His English voice actor Keith Silverstein, and Kari Wahlgren provides his child voice.
Akatsuki (暁?, lit. "Dawn" or "Daybreak") is a criminal organization composed of ten high-level ninja that have defected from their village of origin. The group receives little attention during the first part of the series, only becoming main antagonists in Part II. Akatsuki members are characterized by their long, dark cloaks bearing red clouds with a chin-high collar. They also have a line through their headband, showing they have defected from their village. Each also possesses a unique ring, which seems to symbolize one's membership in the organization. Members are partnered together in teams of two, each team sticking together as they traverse the Naruto world. Despite this partnership, members tend to have a strained relationship with their peers, only cooperating enough to complete their assignments and showing little concern when another member is killed. Orochimaru defects from the organization before the start of the series, taking his ring with him, and thus Akatsuki never exceeds nine members during the current storyline.
Akatsuki was founded by Yahiko of Amegakure and by Madara Uchiha, after the latter was expelled from his hometown of Konohagakure. Though initially meant only to mask Madara's movements, Akatsuki eventually began taking part in assassinations and espionage. By the start of the current storyline, Akatsuki's ambitions grow to plans of world domination. To mark this more dynamic goal, Akatsuki increases its activity throughout the series as it attempts to capture the nine powerful tailed beasts. Each member is assigned to capture a specific beast or its current host, at which point Akatsuki convenes to extract the beast and seal it away for their grand plan. As the Akatsuki leader, Pain, explains it, once all nine beasts have been captured Akatsuki will be able to harness their great strength to start world wars at their leisure. With the world governments unable to deal with the beasts' power, Akatsuki will be turned to for salvation, teaching the world the futility of fighting and giving Akatsuki complete control in the process. Madara's goal, however, is to merge all nine of the tailed beasts into the Ten-Tails so he can become its Jinchūriki and create a massive Tsukuyomi on the moon in order to enslave the world. As of Naruto manga chapter 419, Akatsuki has captured seven of the Tailed Beasts with only Naruto and Killer Bee, the Jinchuriki of the last two Tailed Beasts, remaining uncaptured.
Itachi Uchiha (うちは イタチ Uchiha Itachi?) is a former ninja of Konohagakure and the partner of Kisame Hoshigaki. Though having spent his early youth as the child prodigy of the Uchiha clan, Itachi is treated as a villain for much of the series. He is initially portrayed as being solely responsible for the killing of his entire clan and family, sparing only his brother, Sasuke Uchiha, with the explanation that he was testing his abilities. Around the time of his death his villainous role is downplayed; not only is he revealed to have had help from Madara Uchiha in killing the clan, but he performed the massacre under the orders of Konoha's leadership so as to prevent an Uchiha coup d'état. In the Japanese anime, Itachi's seiyū is Hideo Ishikawa. His first voice actor in the English anime was Skip Stellrecht, who voiced Itachi in episodes 29 and 30, but in all following appearances, he has been voiced by Crispin Freeman.
Kisame Hoshigaki (干柿 鬼鮫 Hoshigaki Kisame?) is a former ninja of Kirigakure and partnered to Itachi Uchiha, having a unique appearance with pale blue skin, a gill-like facial structure, and sharp triangular teeth. While most Akatsuki partners are hostile towards each other, Kisame and Itachi get along considerably well; Kisame does as Itachi asks of him unquestioningly and always looks out for Itachi's well-being. While he was still loyal to Kirigakure, Kisame was one of the Seven Swordsmen of the Mist, a group of violent ninja that use particularly large swords in battle. His sword, Samehada (鮫肌 "Sharkskin" in Shippuden?), is a living weapon covered in scales that can absorb untold amounts of an opponent's chakra. Only allowing those it sees as worthy to wield it, Samehada can provide the user with the chakra it holds, ensuring him an infinite amount of stamina. During his battle with Killer Bee, Kisame reveals Samehada's completely unsheathed form, a spiked broadsword with a shark like mouth. Kisame himself has massive amounts of chakra, comparable to a tailed beast, enough so that a clone created by the Akatsuki that held only 30% of his power contained an amount of chakra comparable to Naruto when using the Nine-Tails' chakra. By fusing Samehada into him, Kisame can assume a more shark-like form that increases his abilities. In battle, he frequently shapes water into the forms of sharks to damage opponents, able to quickly produce his own lake to use at his leisure if no water is present. After discarding Samehada when it chose Killer Bee over him, Kisame is decapitated by Bee and the Raikage. It was later revealed that was just a shapeshifting technique performed by Zetsu; the real Kisame having hidden inside Samehada. He attempted to flee from Naruto, Killer Bee, Yamato, and Might Guy, having been discovered by Naruto in his new jinchuriki form, but was defeated by Might Guy and captured. Kisame committed suicide by summoning sharks and allowing them to eat him, but not before using one of them to steal back the information he had compiled and send it to the Akatsuki. Might Guy saw him as a worthy opponent and a true shinobi, promising to honor his name. His seiyū in the Japanese anime is Tomoyuki Dan, and his English voice actor is Kirk Thornton.
Deidara (デイダラ?) is a former ninja of Iwagakure, and was also a terrorist bomber-for-hire before Itachi Uchiha forced him to join the Akatsuki. Though he came to embrace the organization, Deidara holds a grudge against Itachi and all Uchiha throughout the series, as he feels their Sharingan eyes look down on his abilities. Upon joining the Akatsuki, he is partnered with Sasori, whom Deidara treats as his superior due to his artistic expertise. Sasori is replaced by Tobi after his death, and Deidara assumes the master-position as Sasori had before him. Though he abuses Tobi when he annoys him, Deidara becomes more like a teacher to Tobi, and adopts a genuine care for his well-being. Each of Deidara's hands have mouths on them that, by infusing clay or other fine-grained minerals with chakra, create "sculptures" that are actually bombs that explode with varying intensities. Deidara's bombs can take any form he chooses, and from the time of their creation to their detonation, he can animate and control them remotely. He is very confident in the ability of his explosives, and believes them to be unsurpassed. Sasuke Uchiha, Itachi's younger brother, is able to systematically nullify his bombs in combat, and so Deidara transforms himself into a living bomb in an effort to kill Sasuke and to prove the supremacy of his art, but fails in the attempt, literally "going out with a bang" as his fellow Akatsuki members put it. His seiyū in the Japanese anime is Katsuhiko Kawamoto. In his cameo appearance in episode 135 of the English adaptation, he is voiced by Quinton Flynn, and in the anime of Shippuden by Roger C. Smith.
Sasori (サソリ?) is a former ninja of Sunagakure and known as "Sasori of the Red Sand" (赤砂のサソリ Akasuna no Sasori?). His parents died when he was young (killed by Kakashi Hatake's father), leaving him in the care of his grandmother, Chiyo who taught Sasori the art of puppetry, which he refined to fit his needs over the years. Lacking the love of parents, Sasori left Sunagakure when he got older and joined Akatsuki where he is initially partnered with Orochimaru. After Orochimaru's defection Sasori teamed with Deidara, who looks to him and his artistic knowledge with reverence. In due time he devised a way to convert the corpses of humans into puppets, allowing him to use any of the ninja abilities they possessed during their life for himself. In time he even converted his own body into a puppet, which essentially gives him eternal life and allows him to control hundreds of puppets at once. Each weapon in his puppets' extended arsenal is laced with an extremely potent poison of Sasori's own design that causes extreme pain to the inflicted until they die. Sakura Haruno is able to create an antidote for Sasori's poison, allowing her and Chiyo to fight him much less inhibited. They eventually destroy his heart, the only part of his humanity he kept when converting himself to a puppet, resulting in his death, but not before telling Sakura about his rendezvous with one of Orochimaru's henchmen who had been working for him as a spy. His body is now being used by Kankuro as a puppet, possibly in the same way Sasori used corpses as his puppets. In the Japanese anime, Sasori is voiced by Akiko Yajima as a child; and in the English version he is voiced by Kari Wahlgren and as an adult, he is voiced by Takahiro Sakurai and the English version by Johnny Yong Bosch. His scorpion-like puppet body, Hiruko, is voiced by Yutaka Aoyama in the Japanese version and in the English version by J. B. Blanc..
Zetsu (ゼツ?) is the only member of Akatsuki to regularly act without a partner. This is in part a result of his ability to merge with any object and quickly travel to a new location, something that few other ninja are capable of. He usually never fights people because he is too weak to fight in his plant form. Because of this ability Zetsu serves a variety of different positions in Akatsuki, such as a spy that observes and reports on battles of interest or a lookout during Akatsuki's meetings. He is cannibalistic, and is often sent to dispose of bodies Akatsuki does not want found, mirroring the large venus flytrap that envelops his body. Zetsu's body is split into two different colors, his right side being black and his left being white. Similarly, the two sides have their own personalities and knowledge bases, frequently leading to discussions and arguments between the two. It has also been shown that each half of Zetsu has unique abilities, as in, the white half can make perfect clones of whoever he touches. But this proved useful as one personality can help in the Tailed Beast sealing process as a projection while the other remains in the body to act as a guard. If necessary, the two halves can split apart and act independently. As Kishimoto originally planned Akatsuki to be a group of individuals with close to no human characteristics, he decided to make Zetsu half black and half white to better show his double personality. The black half's dialogue is written in katakana in the Japanese manga, and the white half's dialogue is written in kanji and kana. In the Japanese anime, Zetsu's seiyū is Nobuo Tobita,. In his cameo appearance in episode 134 of the English adaptation, Zetsu has two voice actors: the black half is voiced by Michael Sorich and the white half is voiced by Brian Beacock, and in the English Shippuden anime he is voiced by Travis Willingham.
Hidan (飛段?) is the immortal, foul-mouthed, and masochistic partner of Kakuzu and a former ninja of Yugakure, the Village Hidden in Boiling Water. He is a member of the Jashin (ジャシン?, lit. "evil god") religion, a religion that worships a deity of the same name and where wreaking anything less than death and utter destruction in battle is considered a sin. His religion's experimentations have led to the creation of his unique abilities; by consuming an opponent's blood and then drawing Jashin's triangular-design on the ground, Hidan can create a voodoo doll-like link with his opponent. Once this link is created, any damage done to Hidan's body is reflected on his opponent, allowing him to kill them by giving himself fatal injuries. Because he is immortal, Hidan is not impaired while doing this, instead finding pleasure in the pain it causes him. After Hidan uses this ability to kill Asuma Sarutobi, Shikamaru Nara fights him to avenge his teacher. Their battle culminates in Hidan being blown up, and Shikamaru burying his still-speaking remains in a place Akatsuki will never be able to reach. As such, Hidan is no longer considered a member by the rest of Akatsuki. In the Japanese anime, Hidan's seiyū is Masaki Terasoma. In the English anime he is voiced by Chris Edgerly and in Naruto Shippūden: Clash of Ninja Revolution 3 by Wally Wingert.
Kakuzu (角都?) is the partner of Hidan and a former ninja of Takigakure, the Village Hidden in a Waterfall. Kakuzu is motivated by greed and joins the Akatsuki to seek out valuable bounties. However, his extreme temperament led Kakuzu to dislike having a partner and eventually killing whoever he is partnered with in a fit of rage, being paired up with the immortal Hidan as a result. Kakuzu's body is composed of large amounts of black threads, allowing him to reattach any bodypart, his or another, back onto its owner. The threads are also capable of piercing flesh, which Kakuzu uses to remove the still-beating hearts of his opponents for his personal use while executing a forbidden Jutsu called Jiongu (地怨虞?) to integrate their hearts into his body to cheat death and extend his life indefinitely. Claiming to have lived since the time of Hashirama Senju, Kakuzu can store up to four spare hearts in animal masks that are sewn to his back. The masks can be detached during combat situations to shoot elemental blasts at his opponents, and can quickly be recalled to his body if he needs a replacement heart. Kakuzu's hearts are systematically destroyed soon after his introduction by a group of Konohagakure ninja. After Naruto Uzumaki leaves his final heart on the brink of failure, Kakuzu is easily finished off by Kakashi. In the Japanese anime, Kakuzu's seiyū is Takaya Hashi and in the English version he is voiced by Fred Tatasciore.
<span id="Nagato"/> Pain (ペイン Pein?) is the leader of Akatsuki, partnered to Konan and the principal figure in the Tailed Beast sealing ceremony as he can summon the Gedō Demon Statue (外道魔像 Gedō Mazō?). When first introduced Pain is shown as nothing more than a shadowy outline. As Part II of the series progresses, parts of his face are shown; culminating in the revelation that the Pain that is seen is actually Deva Pain, one of six different bodies collectively known as The Six Paths of Pain (ペイン六道 Pein Rikudō?). Controlled by a single conscious mind, each of the six bodies are individually named after one of the six Buddhist paths of reincarnation. All but one of the bodies have orange hair and a number of body piercings that, from a design standpoint, give Pain a "more dangerous" appearance and relate the pain of their installation to the character's name. Each also has the Rinnegan (輪廻眼?, lit. "Saṃsāra Eye"), a unique eye technique characterized by a ripple-like pattern around the pupil that enables the six Paths to share visual information and coordinate attacks. Discovering the secret behind Pain forms a major component of the plot in Part II, and through the efforts of ninja from Konohagakure the identity of Pain's base mind is revealed.
The Paths of Pain are controlled by Nagato (長門?) who, like Konan, was an Amegakure orphan that was trained by Jiraiya alongside Yahiko (弥彦?) before he became Deva Pain. During his time with Jiraiya, he awakened his Rinnegan and came to desire peace for the world. After Yahiko dies as a result of the three falling into a trap by Hanzo years later, Nagato came to the realization that peace could only be attained by teaching the world the pain caused by war. To that end he adopted the name "Pain" to conquer Amegakure before killing Hanzo and his loved ones, becoming a "god" in the eyes of Amegakure's citizens.
In Part II, Jiraiya tries to eliminate Pain to stop him from bringing chaos to the world, but is only able to figure out how Pain works before he is killed. By fitting corpses with a unique type of body piercing, Nagato can channel his chakra into the bodies to animate and control them remotely. He can also give them unique abilities - the Animal Path can summon a wide array of creatures, the Preta Path can absorb chakra related attacks as a form of defense, the Deva Path can attract and repel objects, the Human Path can read people's minds and remove their souls, the Asura Path can use various high-tech weapons from his own body, and the Naraka Path can revive the other bodies and summon a spirit creature that can devour the souls of humans he is in contact with. Controlling six bodies puts a great strain on Nagato, who is frail, emaciated, and confined to a six-legged mobility device. All six bodies were eventually defeated by Naruto, with Deva Pain the last to fight him. It is ultimately revealed that Nagato is Naruto's de facto namesake, having been the inspiration for the hero of Jiraiya's first book, after whom Naruto was named. Naruto is able to renew Nagato's faith in his late master and in the possibility of peace, prompting Nagato to sacrifice his life in order to revive the people he killed in Konoha. Konan takes the bodies of Nagato and Yahiko with her back to Amegakure. In the Japanese anime Pain's seiyū is Ken'yū Horiuchi, while Nagato's seiyū is Junpei Morita. In his cameo appearance in episode 135 of the English adaptation, he is voiced by Dave Wittenberg, and in the Shippuden anime he is voiced by Troy Baker.
Konan (小南?) is the only female ninja in Akatsuki. As such, Kishimoto originally wanted her to have an obscene appearance showing more of her bust. Being a partner of Nagato, Konan was also a pupil under Jiraiya after she was orphaned as a child by one of Amegakure's many wars and forced to fend for herself. Because she serves under Pain, she is referred to by villagers of Amegakure as "God's angel". Though she worries for Nagato as he was straining himself from having his Pains battle Naruto, she respects his wishes to stand aside so that he and Naruto might meet face to face. While under Jiraiya, Konan learned to take advantage of her natural talent with origami, using it as a key component in her battle style. Konan can divide her body into countless sheets of paper, which she controls and reshapes remotely to scout out an area, form weapons for attack, or create wings that mirror her title. Whilst Konan's abilities are restricted when the paper is wet; since paper will cling to itself and lose its stiffness, she is able to use this weakness to her advantage as she implements explosive tags into her paper clones. The wetness of her main body is hold together from the force, as well as protect her from the heat coming from the explosions. After Nagato's death, Konan withdraws her position in Akatsuki and leaves the organization, pledging the support of Amegakure to Naruto and Konoha. She then takes her leave with the bodies of her two friends, Nagato and Yahiko. Later, she is confronted by Madara over the location of Nagato's Rinnegan eyes, and swears to destroy him. In the Japanese anime, Konan's seiyū is Atsuko Tanaka and in the English anime, her voice actor is Dorothy Elias-Fahn.
<span id="Tobi"/> Madara Uchiha (うちは マダラ Uchiha Madara?) is one of the founders of Akatsuki and its current leader, a descendant of the Sage of the Six Paths. Long ago, Madara became the first possessor of the Mangekyo Sharingan, a rare form of the eye condition unique to the Uchiha which gave him the strength to take control of the Uchiha clan, though it rendered him blind from overuse until he took his own brother's eyes in order to regain his sight. Madara eventually banded together with Hashirama Senju to create Konohagakure. The two founders disagreed on who should lead their new village, and after a momentous battle between the two it was believed that Madara had died. In later years, Madara resurfaced, unsealing the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox from within Kushina Uzumaki and using it to attack Konoha, though he denies it. Once the fox was sealed by Minato, Madara was contacted by Itachi Uchiha and subsequently assisted him in assassinating the Uchiha clan. According to Kisame Hoshigaki, Madara was powerful enough to hypnotize and control the fourth Mizukage, the jinchuriki of the Three-Tailed Beast, with his Sharingan.
Much of Madara's role in the series has been under the guise of Tobi (トビ?), who replaces Sasori in Akatsuki after Sasori's death. While acting as Tobi he is carefree and goofy as opposed to Madara's usual serious self. Tobi's tendency to take credit for others' work and undermine his superiors annoys his partner, Deidara, who either blows up or strangles him in comical fashion as punishment. After Deidara dies during a battle with Sasuke, Madara takes a special interest in Sasuke's development and takes him under his wing. After Nagato's betrayal, he reveals himself to the five Kage, revealing his intent to become the Jinchuriki of the Ten-Tailed Beast and threatening them with war unless they give him Naruto and Killer Bee to complete his goal. When they refuse him, Madara declares the Fourth Great Shinobi World War and takes his leave. After transplanting Itachi's eyes into Sasuke, Madara is confronted by Kabuto and agrees to an alliance after being blackmailed into it. He later confronts Konan over the location of Nagato's Rinnegan eyes, revealing that he was the one who gave them to him in the first place.
Though Madara's face as it appeared during Konoha's founding has been shown in full at various points in the series, he always wears a mask in the current Naruto storyline with a swirl pattern focused around his right eye, allowing him to suck people into a subspace. Kishimoto found Madara to be his favorite Akatsuki member at the time to draw, noting his mask to be easy to make. His black hair is the only constantly visible part of his face. When asked how Madara could have survived since Konoha's founding generations ago, Itachi states that Madara is immortal. The specifics of his immortality have yet to be touched upon, though Madara implies the potency of his chakra has something to do with it. In battle he has been shown capable of making his body intangible, leaving him visible but otherwise impervious to most forms of damage unless while executing a counterattack. He can also teleport over great distances at will and can use his Sharingan to suck opponents into a world inside him. In the Japanese anime, Madara's seiyū is Naoya Uchida and the seiyū for the Tobi persona is Wataru Takagi. In the English version, his Tobi persona is voiced by Michael Yurchak.
<span id="Hebi"/><span id="Snake"/><span id="Hawk"/>
Taka (鷹 Hawk?) is a group formed by Sasuke Uchiha that consists of Orochimaru's former subordinates. When first formed it goes by the name "Hebi" (蛇 Snake?), with its mission being to find and kill Sasuke's brother, Itachi Uchiha, to avenge the latter's slaughter of the Uchiha clan. After Itachi's death and Sasuke's discovery that the Uchiha were wiped out under the orders of Konohagakure, Sasuke renames their group "Taka" and changes its mission to the destruction of Konoha. Prior to carrying out this intent, Sasuke has agreed to work with Akatsuki to help them capture the eight-tailed beast; the members of Taka are later seen wearing Akatsuki cloaks to signify this. After Sasuke's failed infiltration of the Kage Summit in the Land of Iron, Taka breaks up as Jugo and Suigetsu are captured by the samurai of the Land of Iron, and Karin is abandoned by Sasuke during the ensuing fight with Danzō; but by fate, she is rescued by Team 7, specifically, Sakura.
Sasuke Uchiha (うちは サスケ Uchiha Sasuke?) is originally one of the members of Team 7 and is the founder and leader of Taka. He was created to be a rival to Naruto Uzumaki, as well as a "cool genius", which Kishimoto believed was an integral part of an ideal rivalry. He is one of the few remaining members of the Uchiha clan. Sasuke's sole desire is to kill his brother, and he develops a cold and withdrawn personality. His interactions with his fellow teammates, especially Naruto, make him focus less on revenge at the start of the series. During an encounter with his brother in Part I, Sasuke is easily beaten, which leads him to leave the village to seek more power from the criminal Orochimaru. His teammates' attempts to recover him from Orochimaru form a major component of the Part II plot. In the Japanese anime, Sasuke's seiyū is Noriaki Sugiyama, and his English voice actor is Yuri Lowenthal.
Suigetsu Hozuki (鬼灯 水月 Hōzuki Suigetsu?), a former test subject of Orochimaru, is the first character to be recruited for Taka. Not afraid to speak his mind and always doing as he pleases, Suigetsu clashes with Sasuke at first, but eventually comes to accept Sasuke's position and even puts himself in harm's way to protect Sasuke. Suigetsu is able to reduce himself to liquid form and return to bodily form at will. Although this gives him an easy way to avoid physical attacks, it also makes him very susceptible to electricity. In addition, upon reforming himself, Suigetsu can change the size of his limbs, proportionally increasing his strength in the process. Sometime before being introduced, Suigetsu trained to be one of Kirigakure's Seven Swordsmen of the Mist, an organization of particularly violent swordsmen. Having been unable to become a member, Suigetsu has begun collecting all of the swords of the Seven Swordsmen for himself instead. To this end, he takes Zabuza's Kubikiri Bōchō from its burial site, soon after joining the group, and hopes to be able to take Kisame Hoshigaki's Samehada by working with Sasuke. The Kubikiri Bōchō, damaged in a fight by Killer Bee, is destroyed during the attack on the Kage Summit. After being left behind, he and Jugo are captured by samurai of the Land of Iron after a botched assassination attempt on Danzo. He is voiced by Takashi Kondo in the Japanese version and by Grant George in the English version.
Karin (香燐?), a former assistant to Orochimaru during his experimentations, is the second character to be recruited for Taka. Karin has red eyes, matching hair color and an unusual hairstyle; her hair is short and unkempt on one side, and long and combed on the other. She tends to fluctuate between two dynamic personalities, appearing tough and in control when Suigetsu or Jugo are present and highly flirtatious when she is alone with Sasuke. Karin has an unhealthy obsession with Sasuke; she goes so far as to keep one of his battered, sweat-drenched shirts for herself and plans to "ravage" him after the rest of the team has fallen asleep. The origins of her crush go back to the Chunin exams when she was a Genin from Kusagakure and Sasuke saved her from a giant bear. However, after being betrayed by him, Karin relinquishes her love for Sasuke.
Karin can find and track specific individuals through chakra over long distances and can even notice subtle changes in an individual's chakra. Kakashi Hatake surmises that Karin is a particularly skilled chakra-sensing ninja, as she is not only able to tell that his eight-man team is approaching her location, but also that they are traveling with dogs. Additionally, she can heal others by letting them bite into her skin and suck on her chakra, repairing even the most fatal wounds. As a result, some parts of her body are lined with bite scars from individuals she has healed. Kanako Tojo voices her in the Japanese version and Ali Hillis voices her in the English version.
Jugo (重吾 Jūgo?) is the final character to be recruited for Taka. He is mentally unstable, sporadically fluctuating between a bloodthirsty and a docile personality. While in the former mindset, Jugo kills anyone around him without remorse until he somehow returns to his senses, at which point he seeks confinement or solitude to protect others from himself. It is only through Sasuke Uchiha's promise to keep him in check and the fact that Sasuke reminds him of Kimimaro that Jugo agrees to join Taka. Sometime in the past, Jugo sought out Orochimaru in the hopes that he could find a cure for his impulses. While examining him, Orochimaru isolated enzymes in Jugo's blood that caused him to radically transform the appearance and capabilities of his body. By extracting these enzymes, Orochimaru was able to reproduce the transformation in his own subordinates, making the cursed seal. Though Orochimaru's refined transformations are more controllable, his subordinates are limited to using only one form. Jugo is able to alter his transformed state to suit the situation, and can even isolate the transformation to a single part of his body. He can also fuse some of his own flesh to someone who has, or has had, the cursed seal in order to heal their injuries, but he regresses to a younger age as a side-effect. He and Suigetsu are captured by samurai of the Land of Iron after a botched attempt to assassinate Danzo during the Kage summit. He is voiced by Shūhei Sakaguchi in the Japanese version and by Travis Willingham in the English version.
Zabuza Momochi (桃地 再不斬 Momochi Zabuza?) is one of the first antagonists to be introduced in Naruto. He was once one of Kirigakure's Seven Swordsmen of the Mist, a group of ninja that use particularly large swords in battle. Zabuza possesses a massive sword called Kubikiri Bōchō (首斬り包丁?, lit. Decapitating Knife), which is later claimed by Suigetsu Hozuki after Zabuza's death. After a failed coup d'état wherein he tried to assassinate the Fourth Mizukage, Zabuza and his followers fled the village and began working as mercenary assassins. Like most Kirigakure ninja, Zabuza is skilled in water-based abilities. His area of expertise, however, is in assassinations; by blanketing an area in mist, Zabuza can blind an opponent, locate them by the sounds they make, and kill them without them ever noticing his presence. His talents lead to him being hired by a criminal mastermind named Gato to kill a man named Tazuna, a job he is never able to finish due to interference by Tazuna's bodyguard, Kakashi Hatake. Because he takes too long to complete the task, his contract is revoked, and his employer tries to have Zabuza killed. Zabuza kills him first, though is mortally wounded and dies soon afterwards. The Kubikiri Bōchō served as Zabuza's gravemarker until it was taken by Suigetsu. In the Japanese anime, his seiyū is Unshō Ishizuka, and his English voice actor is Steven Blum.
Haku (白?) is Zabuza Momochi's right hand man and most faithful follower. He has a heavily androgynous appearance, so much so that when Naruto Uzumaki first meets Haku he ends up mistaking him for a girl, saying that "he's prettier than Sakura!". Before he started working for Zabuza, Haku lived as an orphan. His father killed his mother when it was discovered that she possessed a genetic ability, and his father would have done the same to Haku if Haku had not killed his father first. After wandering from place to place for a time he was found by Zabuza. He recognized Haku's talents and agreed to take him in as a tool. As a result, Haku becomes unquestioningly protective of and loyal to Zabuza, and only by being useful does he find a purpose in life. He ultimately gives his life in his mission to be useful to Zabuza, becoming a human shield to protect his master from Kakashi Hatake's Lightning Blade. Haku's genetic inheritance, Hyōton (氷遁?, lit. "Ice Release"), allows him to mix wind and water elements to create ice. He commonly uses this ability to surround an enemy with ice mirrors that he can freely merge with and instantly move between. He then bombards them with needles, and with his superb accuracy he can hit pressure points to put opponents in a death-like state. This reflects his pacifist nature; despite being a ninja and Zabuza's tool of battle, Haku dislikes fighting and does all that he can to subdue opponents without actually killing them. His seiyū in the Japanese anime is Mayumi Asano, and his English voice actor is Susan Dalian. Mona Marshall voiced Haku as a child.
Use of Template:Ambox is broken, because Module:Message box is broken.
Script error Although a large number of antagonists appear in the series, Mania.com has called Orochimaru the "first real villain", noting that he had no redeeming qualities, versus Zabuza Momochi, the villain of the previous arc. Anime News Network comments that Itachi Uchiha is one of their favorite characters from the series noting his background and his introduction as the best parts of the series.
Active Anime praised the fight between Rock Lee and Kimimaro as "astonishing" and an "absolute favorite of the entire anime series so far". According to IGN, this fight was "a breath of fresh air" and "graphically one of the best fights to watch".
Several of the antagonists have been very popular within Naruto reader base. Itachi Uchiha, since his debut in the manga, has continually ranked high in the official Weekly Shōnen Jump popularity poll of the series, reaching as high as 6th position. Haku and Zabuza Momochi respectively reached 8th and 9th position in the first poll. Deidara ranked 3rd in the latest poll while Sasori ranked 6th. There has not been another poll since 2006.