Rock Leeロック・リーRokku Rī
Naruto Episode 21
Anime and Manga
|Voice actor(s) (English)||
Rock Lee is a Taijutsu specialist, devoted to his Taijutsu, and is mostly well known for his high-energy, single-minded, over-enthusiastic, over-zealous, and gung-ho personality. During a disscussion between Rock Lee and Might Guy in Part I, it is mentioned that Guy once referred to Lee as "a Genius of Hard Work". During the Anime only 'Three-Tails Arrival' arc in Part II, Lee is described by Tenten as just a "Work-out Addict", though it would be fitting to have called him a 'work-out maniac'.
Although Lee did not start out this way, he was always an overly persistant character; during his time as a student in the Konoha Ninja Academy, during which Lee's stubborn attempts at learning to use--and failure to perform basic Ninjutsu and Genjutsu--were mocked by his fellow students, (and apparently even most of his Chunin-sensei had no kind words to offer to him.) Only in the area of Taijutsu did Rock Lee make any progress, putting much effort into it, and in the end became the only student in his graduating class to graduate using only Taijutsu.
Under the tutelage of his Jonin-Sensei, Might Guy, (whom he always addresses and refers to as "Guy-Sensei", and from whom Lee got his more-extreme personality traits,) Lee now focused only on his Taijutsu, specializing in the Strong Fist Taijutsu Style, and trained ardently to prove that, even without any Ninjutsu or Genjutsu in his repertoire, that he too could become a "splendid ninja".
Lee has a number of other odd personality traits, though whether or not they are results of Guy's mentorship is unknown. One such trait is his apparent lack of common sense, believing at times that he can get what he wants by not wanting it. At other times, he takes copious notes, but forgets that he cannot check them during a fight. He also has a keen sense of honor and respects his opponents, refusing to hold grudges against those who have defeated him and returning favors to those that have helped him. This is shown by his readily befriending Gaara and forgiving him for crushing his arm and leg and putting him in the hospital. Lee feels others should show the same respect towards their opponents, and is disgusted whenever someone is unnecessarily cruel to their enemies.
Lee is known for speaking respectfully to others, being very proper in both English and Japanese language versions, and never using contractions or swearing. He also uses formal Japanese, applying proper titles ("-san", "-kun", etc.) to anyone he meets. His relationship with Guy has also caused him to acquire many of Guy's traits; in addition to his personality, his dedication to his promises as well as his belief that one cannot dislike food are characteristics of Guy.
Lee's attempts to prove and better himself are recurring themes for his actions throughout the series. He is generally optimistic and believes that with hard work and passion, he can surpass a natural genius, but can be prone to depression when faced with setbacks. His drive to succeed is initially most evident with his rivalry with Neji Hyuga, having learned from Guy that having a rival will provide incentive to succeed. Neji, a "genius" ninja, finds Lee's efforts of bettering himself to be in vain, believing Lee to be stuck as a "failure" for the rest of his life. As such, Lee resolves to prove Neji wrong, and confronts another "genius", Sasuke Uchiha, in an attempt to test his worth. While Lee maintains the desire to defeat Neji in a fight throughout the Chunin Exam arc, after Neji's eventual defeat by Naruto Uzumaki, another "failure", he seems less interested in this goal. Neji's rejection of his previous belief in fate may also have contributed to this, as he now respects Lee, believing that he will surpass the gifted with enough work.
Shortly after his introduction, Lee reveals that he likes Sakura Haruno, asking her to be his girlfriend and vowing to protect her immediately after they meet. While she does not seem to share these feelings for him and considers him weird, Lee maintains these feelings and goes out of his way to help her throughout the Chunin Exams. Sakura becomes more appreciative after this and punches Naruto whenever he insults Lee. Despite this, she does not seem to have any feelings for him, as she refers to him by the more formal "Lee-san", as opposed to "Lee-kun". After the Exams' conclusion, Lee's interest in Sakura goes largely unaddressed. Despite this, when Naruto fights Lee in the Lee's Dojo arc, he transforms into Sakura, causing Lee to forget about the fight long enough for Naruto to attack him. In Part II of the anime, he is especially pleased that Sakura is doing well against Sasori.
Lee has a very unique appearance. Unlike other characters in the series, Lee possesses very large eyebrows (leading to the nickname of "Bushy Brow" by Naruto) and his eyes appear larger and more beady. During his academy days, Lee's hair was much longer and done in a braid and his attire had more of a traditional Chinese appearance. After joining Might Guy's team, his appearance changed considerably to emulate his idol and sensei.
His hair is cut and styled into a bowlcut like Guy, and also begins wearing the same attire, consisting of a green jumpsuit, orange leg warmers, and wearing his forehead protector as a belt. The only attire different Lee has to his sensei is regularly wearing bandages around his hands and wrists, a trait that is due to his regular training.
During Part II, his appearance has changed the least out of his friends. The most noticeable changes are that he has grown considerably and wears a flack jacket to further emulate his sensei.
Chunin Exam arc
Having not been allowed to participate the year before, Team Guy takes part in the Chunin Exams along with the Rookie Nine. They initially try to avoid attention by acting weak, but Lee breaks character by interfering with a fight between Sasuke and Izumo. Soon afterwards he confronts Sasuke, challenging him to a fight to see how he fares against Sharingan. Guy interrupts their fight when he tries to use the Front Lotus, and Lee is forced to do laps around the village before he can proceed on to the first phase of the exams. With Tenten's help, he gains the answers from the written portion and proceeds to the second round.
After spending their first few days in the Forest of Death gathering supplies, Team Guy splits up in search of other teams. Lee comes across Sakura being attack by Team Dosu, and comes to her aid. He uses his Front Lotus on Dosu, but he survives the attack and Lee is left unable to defend himself from a counterattack. Neji and Tenten soon arrive to help, and once he recuperates they move on to the preliminaries.
In the preliminaries, Lee is matched against Gaara. When his standard attacks prove unable to bypass Gaara's defenses, he removes his ankle weights to increase his speed. When this too fails, he attempts the Forward Lotus, but Gaara is able to escape at the last minute. His options running out if he is to win and prove himself, Guy allows him to use the Reverse Lotus. Gaara survives and the techniques take a massive toll on Lee's body. Gaara adds to Lee's injury by crushing his left arm and leg. Though Guy intervened to stop Gaara from killing him, Lee got to his feet to continue the battle, despite being completely unconscious.
Because of his injuries, Medics predicted that even if Lee recovers, his injuries would prevent him from ever being able to be a ninja again. He nevertheless tries to train while he is in the hospital, something that only worsens his condition. To try and cheer Lee up, Guy takes him to watch the final round matches, but they are surprised when they arrive to find out that Neji has been defeated by Naruto. Envious of Naruto, Lee then watches Gaara's fight with Sasuke and marvels at how quickly he has learned to emulate Lee's speed. Before the fight can finish the invasion of Konoha begins, and Lee is knocked out.
Sasuke Retrieval arc
Over the coming weeks Guy tries a number of his own remedies to heal Lee. While Lee eagerly does anything in the hopes that it will allow him to be a ninja again, none of Guy's ideas help him. It is not until news of Tsunade becoming Hokage reaches them that they find hope. But, when she examined Lee, she informs him of the dire situation: his broken bones and torn muscles had, for the most part, healed, but fragments of bone had lodged in his spinal column, and removing them would involve an extensive operation that only she was capable of.
When Tsunade offered him an operation that carries a fifty percent chance of returning him to his former state, and a fifty percent chance of killing him, Lee was hesitant to accept the operation. While he couldn't stand the thought of not living as a ninja, he was scared by the possibility that he would die before he could fully prove himself. Guy deeply wanted Lee to take the surgery, telling him that if Lee died so would he, as he had no reason to live if he couldn't help Lee achieve his dreams. Through Guy's encouragement and words of dedication to him, Lee went through with the operation and survived, causing his determination to strengthen.
Upon hearing Naruto, Choji, Kiba, and Shikamaru talk about the mission to bring Sasuke back to Konoha, Lee suggested that Neji go with them. Lee is disappointed that he can't go with him and soon afterwards has the surgery (in the anime, this takes place before the retrieval team sets out). He survives, and as soon he is able to walk he leaves the hospital to follow them and provide assistance. He catches up to Naruto in midst of a battle with Kimimaro, and tells him to go on to Sasuke while he deals with Kimimaro.
At first they were both evenly matched, but after Lee drinks some sake that he had mistaken for his medicine, he outclassed Kimimaro. After he takes his "medicine", he began using the Drunken Fist, which he was described to be a natural born master at. His moves became unpredictable, and he had become much faster. Kimimaro was forced to use his cursed seal and his Kekkei Genkai, Shikotsumyaku at the same time and he overpowered Lee. When Lee finally awakened from his "daze", Lee didn't stand a chance, as Kimimaro used his bones to absorb the impact of the kicks. When Lee is about to be killed, Gaara showed up to save him. Gaara endured the fight, but then Kimimaro enters the cursed seal's Second State, and was about to kill them both. At the last moment, they're saved by Kimimaro's strange illness, which ended up killing him right before finishing Rock Lee and Gaara off. Both ninja formed a friendly bond and headed back to Konohagakure.
Curry of Life arc
Lee revealed that he once ran a marathon with Guy near the village of Katabame Kinzan shortly after being assigned to his team, and when he collapsed from exhaustion near the Curry of Life shop, the owner Sansho, and her son Karashi, fed him curry and saved his life. Lee's dedication caused Karashi to become enthusiastic, and he later left. A year later, when he came to the village with his teammates and Naruto to defeat the Kurosuki family, he found that Karashi has joined, and was upset that Karashi had sought strength in this way. He allowed Karashi to seek redemption, but Karashi used this opportunity to lure Lee's group into a trap after their first battle with Raiga. The trap failed due to Naruto's use of shadow clones, and while the villagers were willing to seek vengeance on Karashi, Lee stepped in and promises to take responsibility for Karashi's actions. Karashi used the opportunity to take Ranmaru to revive Raiga. Lee went to fight Raiga with Naruto and Neji, and was knocked out but brought back with the Curry of Life. The curry, however, accidentally contained wine, and Lee was intoxicated. He fought Raiga, but was defeated, and Naruto finished Raiga off.
The Imposters arc
In a one-episode filler story, Guy and Lee went on a mission, and two spies tried to imitate them. Tsunade immediately saw through their disguise, and gave them various difficult, disgusting, or humiliating missions in order to keep them busy and prevent them from learning anything. They encountered the real Lee and Guy on the way out of the village and tried to attack, but were sent flying back to Konohagakure.
Lee accompanied Neji and Naruto on the mission to Hoshigakure, playing a lesser role than previous arcs. He attempted to follow two of Akahoshi's men while hiding under a barrel as Tenten suggests, but was discovered almost instantly. While trying to infiltrate Akahoshi's mansion, he pretended to use a jutsu known as "Wall Removing Technique", but in actuality, it involved him moving at high speed to open a door from the other side. He was wounded during the final battle with Akahoshi, leaving Naruto to fight him alone.
Lee's Dojo arc
Lee, seeing that he had little time to train with other people due to the many missions that must be done, sought a new means of training. He saw a man challenging a dojo, ready to take the sign if he wins, and ready to join if he lost, and believed that a dojo would bring many strong opponents. When Naruto stumbled upon the dojo, Lee asked that he fight, but Naruto hastily left, late for reporting back to Tsunade. Guy heard about the dojo from Naruto, and decided to disguise himself to fight Lee, but was given a mission at the last second, and an impostor replaces him. Lee fought the impostor and easily defeated him, but Naruto believed that the impostor was Guy and that he was not fighting at full strength to avoid revealing himself. Naruto fought Lee while the impostor transformed into Lee, but met the real Guy while trying to leave, and was easily defeated by him.
Third Great Beast arc
Lee's condition worsened, and Tsunade became concerned about him injuring himself again. She removed him from missions, but allowed him to keep training after he convinced her to do so. Around this time, Guy arrived with a new student, who easily defeated Lee and injured his ankle. While Lee was recovering, Guy took the new student with him on a mission, causing Lee to believe that he had abandoned him. It was then revealed that the new student was an impostor, and that he planned on seeking vengeance against Guy. Lee headed to Guy's location, but was trapped in a castle made out of sparring posts. He and Lee were tricked into fighting each other by seeing the other as a sparring dummy, but they saw through the technique and opened their chakra gates to destroy the dummies without harming the actual person, freeing themselves and destroying the castle.
Konoha 11 arc
Lee, despite having few special abilities, made some noteworthy contributions to the investigation. While he initially encouraged the academy students to keep practice throwing kunai, once he realized that hitting the bull's eye would cause a chain reaction that would detonate explosives around Konoha, he caught a kunai in midair just before it hit the target despite being far away from it. He defeated Gennou with his Taijutsu during the final confrontation.
Naruto accompanied Sakura and Lee to escort Gantetsu in prison. When the ship was sliced in half by a metal wire, Lee ended up with Sakura, and found the orphans Gantetsu had cared for. During the raid on the hideout, he fought the Shinobazu members outside.
In the final filler arc, Lee and Naruto helped Gaara fight and defeat an opponent who could absorb his enemies' chakra with his armor. He sparred with Tenten, who was upset over being the only member of the Konoha 11 left out of the mission despite having a mission at the time, and noted that in order to be able to face Naruto when he returns, they too must become stronger.
Rescue Gaara arc
Team Kakashi is sent on a mission to rescue Gaara from Akatsuki. When Tsunade begins to worry that they might have problems, she sends Team Guy as back up. On their way to a rendezvous point they were attacked by Kisame Hoshigaki. Kisame was quite angered that Guy didn't remember him from their fight in Part I. Kisame soon captured Lee, Neji, and Tenten, but by opening the sixth gate and using a move called Morning Peacock, Guy ended the fight quickly and they moved on.
Even though they left a few days after Team Kakashi, they arrived a few minutes before Kakashi's Team. The two squads find out that there was a barrier on the Akatsuki headquarters, something Team Guy volunteered to take down. They split up and removed seals spread out across the area, bringing down the barrier but triggering a trap: they were attacked by clones of themselves. When they were about to be defeated, Lee figured out how to beat the clones - by being stronger than when they meet them. With that, they all made up a new technique and defeated their clones. Team Guy meets back up with Team Kakashi and, once Gaara is revived, they head back home. As they left, Guy was carrying a wounded Kakashi piggy-back. Lee, thinking it's training, told Neji to get on his back so that they may race back to Konoha.
Fire Temple arc
Unlike past fillers, Lee's appearance in this one was very small. He first appeared shortly after Sora arrived in the village and began fighting with some of Lee's fell graduates. Thinking it was a spirited sparing match, he joined in. Later during Kazuma's invasion of Konoha, Lee helped defend the village from the zombies.
Three-Tails Arrival arc
Guy teaches Tenten and Lee how to synchronize attacks, something that consists of tying them together. This has little effect. Soon afterwards they are assigned to assist Team Yamato and Team Kurenai with sealing the Three-Tailed Beast. Lee is tasked with preventing any interference with the sealing, so confronts Guren's men when they arrive. Although they try to use a smokescreen to blind him, Lee is able to use his heightened senses to seek them out and defeat them. He then faces Guren herself, but is unable to stop her from interrupting the sealing. Later after learning that Naruto was trapped inside the Three-Tails, Lee was assigned as a guard against interference from saving Naruto and sealing the Three-Tails. Lee expresses his confidence that Naruto is alright and his desire to have an all-out battle with Naruto one day. Later, Lee was surprised to find that Guren's men had returned for a second fight. Despite his passionate desire to fight, he and his team were defeated by the enemies' newfound might.
Invasion of Pain arc
When Pain's invasion of Konoha begins, Team Guy is away on a mission. During a pitstop on their return home they notice a number of birds apparently escaping from the village. They rush to the village and find it to be in ruins. They find Hinata Hyuga badly injured and get her medical attention.
Guy's leadership has influenced Lee's training habits, which, coupled with his hard-working resolve, has allowed Lee to rapidly improve. When making a promise, for example, Lee assigns himself arduous tasks to complete in the event that he doesn't live up to his expectations. When this promise is broken, usually just barely, he ends up training to prevent it from happening again. Since Guy began training him, Lee has worn heavy weights on his ankles, increasing his strength at the cost of inhibiting his speed to levels that his peers still consider quite fast. Upon removing the weights, Lee's speed vastly increases, making it almost impossible to see his movements with the unaided eye. As such, the removal of his weights is a huge trump card for Lee, and in most situations doing so can all but guarantee victory. Lee has trained so extensively he can run and even fight while unconscious, using nothing but pure muscle memory.
Lee cannot properly manipulate his chakra, leaving him unable to use ninjutsu or genjutsu. Because this would ordinarily mean make life as a ninja impossible, Lee's dream is to become a famous ninja who uses only taijutsu. Guy has specially trained him to reach this goal, teaching him a number of forbidden techniques in the process. The most basic of these is his Strong Fist style of combat, a martial art style focusing on external damage. In doing so, Lee has become a taijutsu master as he has only trained in that form and has almost perfected it. His speed and prowess surpass those of more experienced ninja, and it is only in unique circumstances that his taijutsu is not enough to defeat an opponent. During Lee's fight with Kimimaro in Part I, before Lee accidently drank sake instead of his medicine and slipped into Drunken Fist, Kimimaro commented that Rock Lee's fighting style was "very angular". After Lee slipped into Drunken Fist, Kimimaro noted that Lee's attack form is "too angular".
Eight Inner Gates
Through Guy's teachings, Lee has learned how to open the first five of eight chakra gates, a feat that is difficult for even the most talented ninja. Because of the danger to his body that the gates' power presents, Lee is only permitted to open them in certain circumstances (such as life-or-death situations, protecting someone dear, or defending his way of the ninja). Lee has also learned or developed a number of taijutsu that take advantage of the extreme power and speed he gains from opening chakra gates. In Part II, he seems to be able to recover from using the chakra gates quickly as he was not injured after using it, but was very exhausted.
Lee has manifested a natural predisposition towards the Drunken Fist. When he drinks as little as one drop of alcohol he becomes an unpredictable and unstoppable force of destruction and chaos. His actions while drunk are usually a combination of misguided attempts to impress Guy, regardless of whether or not Guy is around, and he drunkenly attacks any friend or foe that is near him. Guy explains that after Lee accidentally drank a small amount of sake, he proceeded to demolish the bar they were in, and it took the combined efforts of Guy and Neji to hold him down without harming him. To help him take advantage of the Drunken Fist, Guy gives Lee a number of alcoholic chocolates in Naruto: Shippūden the Movie to use in a "dire pinch", telling him that it is for opening the sixth chakra gate.
Rock Lee is a playable character in all of the Naruto games. He appears in Naruto the Movie 3: The Animal Riot of Crescent Moon Island, acting as the third member of Team 7 for the movie's duration. During his battle with Kongou, Lee shows proficiency with nunchaku and a bo, both of which are made from his ankle weights. He also appears in Naruto: Shippūden the Movie as Sasuke's replacement, Neji being Kakashi's replacement. Once initiating the drunken fist he easily defeated Gitai. Later in the movie he was able to kill Setsuna after Neji was able to get rid of the group's chakra source.
Creation and conception
According to an interview with Masashi Kishimoto in Shōnen Jump's Naruto Anime Profiles Episodes 1-37, Lee is his most fun character to draw. He also has stated that Sakura Haruno and Lee were meant to symbolize human weakness, at least in the beginning.
- Like his sensei, Rock Lee's character seems to be inspired by Bruce Lee, as shown from his name and having the same birthday. Additionally, Bruce Lee once received the same type of injury as Rock Lee did in the Chunin Exams against Gaara, and he was also never expected to walk, much less fight again.
- Out of all the members of Team Guy, Lee makes the most appearances in Naruto media.
- Rock Lee placed very high in the first four Naruto character popularity polls. He finished 5th in the first and second polls. 8th in the third poll and 7th in the fourth poll. But his popularity slipped in the last two polls, finishing 13th in the fifth poll and 18th in the sixth and most recent. In the 3rd Databook, a combination of the previous six polls ranked him as the 9th most popular character overall.
- When playing as Lee in a game and using the Body Replacement Technique, Lee simply uses his great speed to dodge the attack since he is unable to perform ninjutsu or genjutsu.
- Lee wishes to fight Naruto for a good challange.
- "Sakura, please go out with me! I'll protect you until I die!"
- "Guy sensei is the coolest! He practically GLOWS with cool!"
- "I am the Handsome Devil of the Hidden Leaf Village! My name is Rock Lee!"
- "If I can't do 400 push-ups I'll hit the dummy 800 times! If I can't hit the dummy 800 times, I'll do 2000 jump ropes!"
- "Neji, I was saving this technique for you! But I'll give you a sneak peek!"
- "A rock thrown at a pole will not hit, but if one does not aim at the pole, it will hit! That is the law I used!"
- "I want to show I can be a splendid ninja as well even if I don't have ninjutsu or genjutsu....I want to prove it to the whole world!"