Gaara我愛羅GaaraGaara of the Sand Waterfall (砂瀑の我愛羅, Sabaku no Gaara)
Fifth Kazekage (五代目風影, Godaime Kazekage)
Naruto Episode 20
Anime and Manga
|Voice actor(s) (English)||
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Gaara (我愛羅) is the Fifth Kazekage (五代目風影, Godaime Kazekage), the youngest child of the Fourth Kazekage, and the youngest brother of Kankuro and Temari and he served for a time as a major antagonist during the Chunin Exams arc. Being raised as a tool of Sunagakure, Gaara gained the nickname Gaara of the Sand (砂瀑の我愛羅, Sabaku no Gaara; English TV "Gaara of the Desert").
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 Suna. 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 Suna 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 Suna.
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, only to fail just as those before him had. Gaara dealt a lethal blow to him. But when Gaara realized that it was Yashamaru, he was horrified and screamed before bursting into tears. 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 survived the blast and lost 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 him. 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 asleep, 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 canceled all assassination orders in the hopes that Gaara would become an effective tool.
Gaara's childhood was somewhat similar to Naruto Uzumaki's, even though 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' acknowledgment, he could compensate by valuing only himself to the exclusion of everyone else. Furthermore, while Naruto eventually had Iruka Umino and Team Kakashi to acknowledge him, Gaara never had anyone to bond with, with the exception of Yashamaru's deceitful friendliness, and did not understand the concept of fighting for anything other than himself until his confrontation with Naruto.
After being 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 Suna 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.
Gaara eventually formed a close friendship with Naruto.
Chunin Exam arc
Gaara participates in the Chunin Exams, where he is quickly identified as a skilled competitor. He is able to pass the first phase without giving any indications that he is cheating (the objective of the test). During the second phase he demonstrated his thirst for blood by killing Team Shigure, who Gaara claimed had looked at him the wrong way. 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. Gaara used his sand to crush the weakened Lee's arm and leg, critically injuring him. Gaara tried to kill Lee, but Might Guy intervened before he could harm Lee any further. For the finals, Gaara was matched against Sasuke Uchiha. In the month before the finals Dosu Kinuta tried to kill Gaara in order to ensure that he could fight Sasuke. Gaara promptly killed him with the power of Shukaku.
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 and Shino Aburame, which forced Gaara to begin transforming into Shukaku. As his transformation progressed Sasuke tried to use Chidori two additional times, but when both proved ineffective at stopping Gaara he was left exhausted. Gaara tried to kill Sasuke, but was stopped by Naruto and Sakura. Intrigued by Naruto's abilities, Gaara pinned Sakura to a tree to force Naruto to fight. When Naruto began gaining the upperhand, Gaara completed his transformation and put himself to sleep to bring out Shukaku's personality. With the help of Gamabunta, Naruto to wake Gaara up and break the transformation. With the last of their energy the two exchanged final blows, Naruto ending up claiming victory. Gaara was puzzled by Naruto's undying devotion to his friends, causing Gaara to realize that Naruto's strength came from the desire to protect those close to him. 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 the Sasuke Retrieval Squad 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 Kimimaro, 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 Konoha.
Pre-Shippūden filler arcs
The Sand Siblings would later appear when they become teachers at a Konoha-style ninja academy at Suna. 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 Shitenshounin kidnap her in order to get to Gaara, Suna calls for aid from the Konoha 11. Gaara first fought Suiko, then he caught and attacked the Shitenshounin leader, Hoki, but was captured. To escape Gaara did a partial Shukaku transformation, reviving the Takumi Village's ultimate weapon, Seimei. Gaara later destroyed Seimei with Ultimate Absolute Attack: Shukaku's Halberd, and killed Jin with a Sand Waterfall Imperial Funeral.
Having become the Fifth Kazekage during the gap in time between Part I and II, Gaara was targeted by 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 threatening the village, leaving Gaara open to attack while he protected it. With Gaara unconscious, Deidara took him to the Akatsuki hideout.
Although Naruto 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 awoke surrounded by his friends from Konoha and the Sunagakure villagers that had gone looking for him, all relieved that he was alright. This was the first time Gaara truly felt loved and not so alone.
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. The Third Databook later states that these powers can never be taken away. 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.
Gaara and Kankuro came to the aid of a band of Suna villagers who came under attack in Naruto the Movie 2: Legend of the Stone of Gelel, also known as Naruto the movie and the stone of Gelel 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. By doing this he made lightning rods to drain her lightning, the jutsu was called Thunder God of Sand.
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. Though he comes up with other means of attack throughout the series, the "catch and crush" tactic remains at the center of his battle style, as he attempted to use it four times on Kimimaro and failing each in Part 1, despite having new jutsu.
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.
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. 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.
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. 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 the 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. In time he begins gaining better control over Shukaku, such that he can suppress its personality 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.
Creation and Concept
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.
- According to the databook, his favorite foods are salted tongue and gizzard, his least favorite food being soft bean jam.
- Gaara was ranked as the 7th most popular character in the sixth and most recent Naruto character popularity poll. He was 10th in the fifth poll and 8th in the fourth. 7th in both the third and second polls. He also finished 7th in the first poll.
- The mark on Gaara's forehead is the kanji for "love" (愛, ai).
- Both Gaara's father and Naruto's father are the Fourth Kage of their respective villages.
- At fifteen, Gaara is the youngest Kage shown so far. However, it is unknown if he was the youngest person ever to be elected Kage.
- "I would fight only for myself and love only myself. If all other people exist to magnify that love, then there is no more a splendid world than this one."
- "Perhaps the companionship of an evil person is preferable to loneliness."
- "The corpse's bitter crimson tears flow and mingle with the endless sand, filling the chaos within me - and making me stronger."
- "I am a relic they want to get rid of, so why do I exist and live?
- "Up until now, my bonds with others have only been ones of hatred and murder. But, seeing him fight so hard made me wonder what a bond really is. I think I understand a little now. Suffering, sadness..., and joy. To be able to share it with another person. Naruto Uzumaki, when I fought him, I feel that is what he taught me."
- ↑ Naruto Episode 128