A Comprehensive Guide on Sharingan and What It Can Do

by Laura C. Jones
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In the manga and anime series Naruto, the Sharingan is a special type of dōjutsu. Unlike many other skills in the series, the Sharingan can’t be taught. Instead, it appears only in some members of the Uchiha clan. But what exactly is Sharingan and what can it do? Read on to find out.

What Is Sharingan?

As I said, the Sharingan is an innate ability (kekkei genkai) of the Uchiha clan. This dōjutsu is characterized by red pupils and black tomoe. Tomoe are comma-like marks that indicate how developed the gift of Sharingan is. The basic Sharingan is at its full capacity once the third tomoe appears.

A member of the Uchiha clan can develop the Sharingan after experiencing strong emotions with regard to another person. Namely, seeing a loved one in a life danger or even dead makes the Uchiha release special chakra.

As that chakra affects optic nerves, it transforms the Uchiha’s eyes into a Sharingan. That’s why the Sharingan is sometimes referred to as the eye that reflects the heart.

The Sharingan can be transplanted into a non-Uchiha. However, unlike Uchiha members, they can’t shut it off whenever they don’t need it. Furthermore, they have to spend large amounts of chakra to use this dōjutsu. Therefore, they usually cover their eyes whenever they don’t use the Sharingan.

Generally speaking, the Sharingan allows its user to anticipate the opponent’s movements and copy them. However, this description downplays the true potential of the Sharingan. If mastered, it can be lethal even against the strongest enemies. But before naming all of the abilities of the Sharingan, I will first explore its origins.

Origins of Sharingan

The story behind the first Sharingan is a long and complicated one, so bear with me. Also, there are some major spoilers ahead. Therefore, I advise you to continue reading only if you finished watching all Naruto and Shippuden episodes or if you read all the manga chapters.

The story begins with Kaguya Ōtsutsuki, a former matriarch of the Ōtsutsuki clan, many years before the events in Naruto took place. Kaguya ate an apple from the God Tree and became the first person to wield chakra.

In addition, the enormous amount of chakra she gained made an impact on her physical appearance. One of the most significant changes was the third eye that formed on her forehead.

Kaguya’s third eye, known as Rinne Sharingan,  is a predecessor to both the Rinnegan and Sharingan. Kaguya gave birth to twins, Hagoromo and Hamura. One of the twins, Hogomoro, inherited her Rinnegan, while the other one, Hamura, developed the Tenseigan.

However, Hogomoro’s son, Indira Ōtsutsuki, awakened pure Sharingan when his dog died. Indira is the founder of the famous Uchiha Clan. Furthermore, some Uchiha members are considered his reincarnations, since his chakra and will live within them.

The Abilities of Sharingan

As the Sharingan upgrades, it gains more and more abilities. Still, even a novice Sharingan user can perform some unique techniques. Two abilities that typically appear in Sharingan users are Dōsatsugan and Saimingan. In this part of the article, I will talk about these and many other abilities of the Sharingan.

Dōsatsugan

First of all, Dōsatsugan or the Eye of Insight allows its user to see other shinobi’s chakra. Seen through Dōsatsugan, chakra usually emits a certain color which signifies its structure and source. Furthermore, the Eye of Insight can also see chakra through barriers and detect irregularities in its flow.

Secondly, the user gains incredible perception which enables them to read lips or mimic body movements. This ability is especially useful in combat, as it allows its user to notice fast-moving objects. Furthermore, it might help them predict the opponent’s next move based on muscle tension in their body.

Finally, Dōsatsugan can help the user replicate almost any jutsu they see, be it ninjutsu, genjutsu, or taijutsu. Furthermore, they can modify the jutsu they are copying to better suit their needs. However, Dōsatsugan can’t reproduce innate abilities such as other kekkei genkai.

Saimingan

Saimingan or the Eye of Hypnotism is a second basic characteristic of the Sharingan. It gives its users the ability to perform illusionary techniques called Genjutsu: Sharingan. These genjutsus can manifest in many different forms.

One of the more famous manifestations is controlling the opponent’s body by influencing their thoughts. This technique can sometimes be performed without the target’s awareness. When someone is controlled by the Saimingan, the Sharingan appears in their eyes.

Izanagi & Izanami

Izanagi is an ability that allows the user to take control of the space between reality and illusion. Therefore, the user would be able to rewrite parts of reality by dismissing them as fantasy. This ability could potentially be used to annul lethal attacks or to teleport. However, the Sharingan is lost permanently if Izanagi is used for too long.

It’s easy to see how someone would take advantage of this kind of ability for their own gain. That’s why members of the Uchiha clan invented the Izanami, a technique that traps the Izanagi user in an infinite time loop. Once the target rejects illusion in favor of reality, the Izanami stops. Like Izanagi, Izanami can take the user’s eyesight. Therefore, both of these techniques are classified as kinjutsu (forbidden techniques).

Amaterasu

Amaterasu is a ninjutsu that only Mangekyō Sharingan users can perform. It produces black flames and throws them at a target. The Amaterasu fire is so strong that once created, it can burn for seven days and seven nights. Furthermore, it can burn through almost any material, even through other flames.

The Amaterasu can be used directly on the opponent. However, the user can also surround themself with flames in order to discourage physical attacks. This technique does have certain consequences on its users — it causes their eyes to bleed.

Although it might be hard, there are ways to stop the Amaterasu. First of all, if a target can move fast enough, they can avoid it. Secondly, the flames burn fairly slowly, allowing the opponent to take off their clothes before the fire reaches their body. Finally, the target could absorb the ninjutsu.

Susanoo

Susanoo is arguably the strongest ability that the Mangekyō Sharingan user has. It’s a ninjutsu that summons a gigantic, human-like being made of the user’s chakra. This being then surrounds them and fights on their behalf.

However, like many other advanced techniques from this list, the Susanoo has major consequences for the user’s eyes. Furthermore, continual use draws a person’s energy and keeps them in a state of burning pain.

It’s hard to harm the user of the Susanoo once he summons the avatar. To do so, the opponent must first destroy Susanoo’s layers of protection. However, strong attacks can penetrate through these layers. Furthermore, the opponent could pull the user out of Susanoo.

Performing the Susanoo is challenging even to the most experienced Sharingan users. At first, the user can only create a skeleton. And although this skeleton can protect them fairly well, it’s fairly easy to penetrate it. Afterward, muscles and skin start to appear, making the Susanoo stronger and more durable.

In the next phase, the Susanoo gains a suit of armor which makes it impossible for enemies to attack the user directly. Finally, if the user manages to stabilize the chakra of Susano, its final form known as Kanseitai appears. In this stage, Susanoo’s power is comparable to that of a tailed beast.

Kagutsuchi

Blaze Release: Kagutsuchi is a technique that applies shape transformation to the Amaterasu flames. This allows the user to manipulate the fire and use it as both an offensive and defensive tool. This ability can only be performed by users with the Sharingan in both eyes, since one is used to cast the Amaterasu and the other to control it.

In defense, the user can cover themselves with flames. This means that the user is protected while anyone that tries attacking them will suffer burn injuries. Furthermore, when used with the Susano, it makes the user almost untouchable.

In attack mode, the Kagutsuchi can be used to make weapons out of the Amaterasu flames. Both Susanoo and the user themself can wield these weapons. Furthermore, the flames can take the shape of swords, projectiles, arrows, or spears. The black flames can also be used along with the Chidori, which makes this technique even more powerful.

Kotoamatsukami

This is another dōjutsu ability of the Mangekyō Sharingan. With the Kotomatsukami, the user can enter a target’s mind and falsify their experiences. Furthermore, this technique can be performed without direct eye contact or the target’s awareness. Therefore, they would perceive the illusion they are under as reality, making them susceptible to mind control.

However, as with any ability, there are certain limitations. First of all, the Kotoamatsukami can’t be performed often. In fact, without a special type of chakra, it takes years to perform the technique again. Furthermore, a third party could notice and potentially subvert the technique.

Tsukuyomi

Tsukuyomi is arguably one of the greatest genjutsu in the series. Unlike Kotoamatsukami, it requires eye contact in order to take effect. However, once it’s activated, Tsukuyomi transports the target’s mind in a black and white illusion world.

The user has the ability to control time, space, and matter in that world. This means seconds might seem like hours to the target. Furthermore, the user can simulate torture or recreate disturbing events.

Note that this technique doesn’t have any physical manifestations. However, the user can inflict mental damage to the opponent by torturing them for what seems like hours. Furthermore, only another Sharingan owner who is related to the user can break this genjutsu.

Since it’s highly advanced, this ability also has harmful effects on the user’s health. Namely, it draws enormous amounts of chakra and damages the user’s eyesight.

Kamui

To put it simply, Kamui allows its user to teleport different objects and even people through different dimensions. Furthermore, the users can teleport themself and even parts of their body. This ability allows them to perform fast attacks or avoid lethal blows.

Unlike many other abilities from this list, the Kamui can be performed with the Sharingan in one eye. In addition, depending on the eye with which it’s performed, this technique will have totally different effects.

The right eye Sharingan uses a close-up version of the Kamui. First of all, it can transport whatever the user touches to another dimension. Secondly, it allows them to enter a different dimension. Thirdly, it can make them untouchable for a few minutes. Finally, it allows them to defy the laws of life and death.

On the other hand, the left eye uses this technique from a distance. Among other things, it can transfer the user’s long-range attacks, making them much faster. With both eyes, the user is able to perform all of these with higher speed and precision.

Yasaka Magatama

Yasaka Magatama is a shuriken-like object that users can make when they are controlling the Susanoo. The Susanoo then throws a Yasaka Magatama which explodes upon impact. These projectiles can vary in size, depending on the user’s needs. Furthermore, they are extremely fast and the user can cast them in large numbers.

Tensha Fuuin

Tensha Fuuin is ninjutsu which allows the user to seal Amaterasu in another person’s Sharingan. When that Sharingan sees a specific target, the seal is broken and the Amaterasu is activated on them.

The target of the attack is chosen by the user of Tensha Fuuin. Furthermore, a person in which it is sealed can’t deactivate the ability. Finally, once the ability is activated, the Sharingan of the sealer appears in the eye of their subject.

Kyouten Chiten

The final ability of the Sharingan I will talk about is Kyouten Chiten. This genjutsu is unique to Uchiha bloodline Sharingan users. It enables them to stop a genjutsu cast on their body and mirror it back to their opponent. However, the user does have to establish eye contact with the opponent to perform this technique.

Different Sharingan Variants

Single Tomoe Sharingan

After the Sharingan is first acquired, it has only one tomoe. This signifies that the Sharingan is not yet developed. Single tomoe Sharingan grants the user only basic abilities such as precise lip reading and recognition of hand movements.

Dual Tomoe Sharingan

With time and effort, the Sharingan evolves and a second tomoe appears. From then on forward, the Sharingan user is also able to anticipate the opponent’s movements and copy their techniques. However, these techniques would seem a bit sloppy and they would take a lot of chakra.

Base Sharingan

Finally, upon awakening the third and final tomoe, the basic Sharingan would reach its full potential. The user would be able to perform all the basic Sharingan genjutsu without difficulty. Furthermore, the base Sharingan gives the user an almost perfect vision.

Mangekyō Sharingan

The Mangekyō Sharingan is an upgrade of the regular Sharingan. The only way to unlock this type of Sharingan is to witness a loved one die. The pattern of Mangekyō Sharingan can differ from person to person.

Once it’s unlocked, this type of Sharingan grants the user all of the abilities I mentioned and more. However, as you might have noticed, most of them come with a cost. Namely, if the Mangekyō Sharingan is overused, it will lead to vision impairment and eventually blindness.

Eternal Mangekyō Sharingan

Unlike the regular Mangekyō Sharingan, the Eternal Mangekyō Sharingan doesn’t lead to vision loss. However, it can only be achieved by receiving another Mangekyō Sharingan from a member of the Uchiha clan. After the procedure is done, the Sharingan pattern changes into a cross between the two patterns.

Another advantage of the Eternal Mangekyō Sharingan is the increased Susanoo power. Note that this form is very rare. This comes as no surprise, considering how difficult the requirement is.

Rinnegan

Although the Rinnegan is a separate dōjutsu, the Sharingan can become the Rinnegan under some conditions. Namely, when a Sharingan user acquires Hagoromo Ōtsutsuki’s (see: Origins of Sharingan) chakra, the Sharingan turns into Rinnegan. Furthermore, any eye damage that the user suffers from disappears.

The Rinnegan appears as concentric circles covering the eyeballs. The abilities of the Rinnegan are even stronger than those of the Sharingan. In fact, it would take another article just to scratch the surface.

Final Thoughts

The Sharingan is a fascinating and powerful weapon that grants its user many remarkable abilities. However, sometimes it’s hard to remember all of them. Hopefully, this article will serve as a reminder of what types of Sharingan are there and what they can do.


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