The Sharingan is one of the most syndicated, important, most powerful eyes in the Naruto world, as created by Mashashi Kishimoto. In this guide we will break down everything you need to know to understand the Sharingan – it’s evolution, abilities, and acquisition.
The Sharingan is particularly beloved by fans for it’s cool design and is one of the most memorable images within the anime/manga.
This dōjutsu exclusive to the Uchiha clan and utilised by many interesting characters such as Madara, Itachi and Sasuke Uchiha as well as non Uchia’s such as Kakashi Hatake, has made many fans interested in the lore around it.
While other eyes such as the Rinnegan are more overtly powerful, the Sharingan has a much deeper lore and history that is interesting to dive into and explore. So, let’s explore the eye’s power together in this extensive breakdown of the ‘The eye that reflects the heart – the Sharingan’.
What Is The Sharingan Eye?
The Sharingan eye translates into English as the ‘Copy Wheel Eye’ – this is a good summary of its operation.
The most notable ability of the Sharingan, and where most of its abilities come from, is the concept that, in battle, a user of the Sharingan can ‘copy’ another shinobi’s physical movements, and thus their jutsu, and use it against them.
There are other subsequent abilities such as being able to see chakra, lip reading and others that make up the versatility of the Sharingan which makes it so powerful.
For example, early in the original Naruto anime series, we see a young Sasuke with the base, or incomplete, form of the Sharingan copy the movements and taijutsu of Rock Lee when they have a skirmish.
Later on in the chunin exams, Sasuke uses the exact technique he learned from fighting Rock Lee to defeat Yoroi.
This is a good example of the Sharingan’s basic ability, once a user mimics another shinobi’s technique they have learned that technique forever.
For example, Kakashi Hatake is known as ‘the Copy Ninja’ for the fact that he has learned over 1000 of other shinobi’s jutsu as a result of owning a Sharingan.
Where Does The Sharingan Originate From?
It’s worth mentioning the history of the Sharingan eye and where this eye, and other dōjutsus, are originally from.
Kaguya Otsutsuki, the mother of chakra, gained a form of the Sharingan known as the Rinne Sharingan when she ate the fruit of the God tree and became the first person to have chakra, she also gained the superceded form of the other two major dōjutsus, the Rinnegan and the Byakugyan.
More on the Rinne Sharingan later, but when she gave birth to her two sons Hamura and Hagoromo she split her chakra into them both.
Hagoromo, the Sage of Six Paths, gained the Rinnegan and the Sharingan while Hamura gained the Byakugyan and the Tenseigan.
Later, Hagoromo’s sons had a similar fate – his first born son Indra awakened the Sharingan like his father and is the original ancestor of all of the Uchiha clan, hence their exclusive access to the Sharingan thanks to this specific bloodline.
How Does The Sharingan Work?
To break it down even further, as explained in the manga by Kakashi, the Sharingan eye has two ‘parts’ that make up its abilities.
Firstly, the eye of insight. As described in the magna, the eye of insight allows the user to copy the tiny and minute physical movements of another shinobi – namely, hand signs and as a result jutsus.
This can enable smaller techniques such as reading lips, as well as physical movements like when Sasuke uses his Sharingan to cheat in an exam by copying the movements of someone’s hand when writing.
Although, a Sharingan user cannot copy literally every technique. For example the Sharingan cannot copy other kekkei genkai that is exclusive to a bloodline, nor can they copy techniques they physically cannot replicate.
For instance, a Sharingan user cannot copy a technique from a nature transformation they have not yet mastered.
The other side of this duality is the eye of hypnotism. This enables a Sharingan user the ability to use certain genjutsu techniques, or illusionary techniques.
On a basic level, this eye allows the Sharingan user to control another shinobi in certain ways, but on a more advanced level can allow the user to perform seriously powerful genjutsu abilities, so long as they have an affinity for Yin release.
Itachi Uchiha for example is potentially one of the best masters of genjutsu and can perform seriously adept Sharingan genjutsu techniques such as Konoamatsukami and Izanagi or Izanami, although more on that later.
The most adept and also powerful use of the Sharingan’s eye of hypnotism is the ability to completely control a chakra beast.
The Uchiha gained much of its power from the fact that their most wielded users such as Madara Uchiha could control the Nine Tails with their Sharingan, as well as other chakra beasts.
As a result, this ability to control chakra beasts became a big political problem and a serious bargaining chip for the Uchiha in their historical issues with the Senju clan.
The Sharingan’s Evolution
There are multiple ‘evolutions’ of the Sharingan that will rely upon and ultimately decide the power of that user’s eye. A Sharingan is not considered complete until the Mangekyou Sharingan has been obtained, although there are other levels beyond this.
As a general rule, you can visually recognise the evolution of a user’s Sharingan by the amount of ‘tomoe’ present in the eye (a tomoe looks like a comma but has much deeper symbolism within Japanese culture).
The base form of the Sharingan has two tomoe and is the first a user will awaken. The base form of the Sharingan can utilise the basic skills of the eye of hypnotism and insight (hence two tomoe) and allows the user to perform basic imitation of another shinobi as well as basic genjutsu techniques.
The base form of the eye has to be awakened with a certain level of emotion, while this was originally thought to be trauma, newer examples have demonstrated this can be any sort of emotion as long as it is felt strongly.
For instance, Sasuke awakens his eyes by realising his clan has been wiped out by his brother Itachi, while Sarada Uchiha awakens her eye, in the sequel Boruto: Next Generations, with the happiness she experiences when she realises she will finally meet her father, Sasuke.
The Mangekyou Sharingan is the next evolution of the Sharingan and is considered to be the ‘complete’ form of the Sharingan. The Mangekyou’s evolution is visually and uniquely evident in a character as their eye gains a third tomoe.
Each character’s Mangekyou Sharingan eye is unique to that character; each character who awakens the Mangekyou Sharingan each has their own unique evolution of their eye’s design.
Similarly, the awakening of the Mangekyou Sharingan endows the user with a unique Sharingan ability in their eye, this changes with each shinobi. For instance, Shisui Uchiha had Konoamatsukami within both eyes,
Obito Uchiha has Kamui in both his eyes (although they operate differently), Itachi Uchiha has Tsukoyomi in one eye and Amaterasu in the other, and so on.
Once the Mangekyou Sharingan has been enabled the user has access to more adept abilities such as the Susanoo: a huge and unique avatar that fights for the user, similar to Tailed Beast Mode, this is accessible to all Uchiha who have obtained the Mangekyou Sharingan.
It’s worth mentioning that with the effort and practice it takes to develop the Mangekyou Sharingan, the eye will suffer as a result of the exertion.
This is one huge advantage of the Sharingan generally, that over use will lead to blindness, although this can be treated with eye transplants however with the Mangekyou the user will lose their unique ability also and gain the ability within the new eye.
One rare evolution of the Mangekyou Sharingan is the Eternal Mangekyou Sharingan. The Eternal Mangekyou Sharingan, while hard to obtain, allows its user to use the Sharingan permanently without fear that they will lose their eyesight.
However, in order to gain this eye you must transplant the eye of another Uchiha, ideally from someone with a strong blood-tie, ideally a sibling. Once the Eternal Mangekyou Sharingan has been obtained, the user’s powers will inevitably become much stronger than they were previously.
Namely, the Eternal Mangekyou Sharingan user will gain a ‘perfect’ Susanoo as a result, apparently the power of the perfect Susanoo is equal to the power of Tailed Beast, making it a seriously powerful ability within the Naruto universe.
Only two people have ever gained the Eternal Mangekyou Sharingan: both Sasuke and Madara Uchiha.
Both these characters gained the Eternal Mangekyou Sharingan by killing their brother in order to take their eye and gain this powerful ability: Sasuke with his brother Itachi, and Madara with his brother Izuna.
This is the only form of Sharingan transplant whereby the user will not lose their original, unique ability born from their own Mangekyou Sharingan, rather they will gain the ability of the eye that has been transplanted, as well as the eye’s design combined with their own.
The last evolution of the Sharingan, that isn’t really an evolution at all but is worth mentioning, is the Rinne Sharingan. This isn’t to be confused with the Rinnegan, which is a necessary part of the evolution, but isn’t the same as the Rinne Sharingan.
Katsuya Otsutsuki, Hagoromo Otsutsuki, and Madara Uchiha are the only characters who have ever gained the Rinne Sharingan. It is identifiable from its eight or nine tomoe.
The Rinne Sharingan is the most powerful form of the Sharingan and is the only way to cast Infinite Tsukuyomi which is able to place the whole world under a genjutsu and enclose everyone but the caster within a dream.
The Rinne Sharingan is essentially a combination of the Rinnegan and the Sharingan, it appears as a third eye on the forehead of its user.
It’s said that the user of the Rinne Sharingan can reflect the image of their eye onto the moon and thus be able to place the whole world under the genjutsu of Infinite Tsukuyomi.
To get really technical there was only ever one Rinne Sharingan and that was Kaguya’s.
Hagoromo’s Rinne Sharingan was basically his mothers, the Ten Tails has a Rinne Sharingan but the Ten Tails is partly Kaguya Otsutsuki, and when Madara awakens the Rinne Sharingan he has technically become Kaguya Otsutsuki.
It gets really complicated when talking about the Rinne Sharingan but in summary it’s the only way a shinobi would ever be able to cast Infinite Tsukuyomi which is one of the most powerful justus known in the Naruto universe.
How To Obtain The Sharingan
How a shinobi gains the Sharingan is quite obvious at face value, it’s a dōjutsu kekkei genkai exclusive to the Uchiha clan, but when you delve into its multiple hosts, some who aren’t Uchiha born, it becomes more complicated.
Moreover, while all of the Uchiha can awaken the Sharingan that doesn’t mean they all do.
In the simplest terms, the Sharingan eye is a dōjutsu kekkei genkai. Kekkei genkai means ‘bloodline limit’ in Japanese, and basically means that it is a technique that can only be gained from a shinobis bloodline.
Another example is Wood Release which can only be obtained by a descendent of the Senju clan. So a non-Uchiha member cannot gain a Sharingan by natural means
In the manga, pre-creation of the anime, the first time we actually see the Sharingan is in Chapter 12, used by Kakashi Hatake as he fights Zabuza of the HIdden Mist – Kakashi Hatake is not an Uchiha. A non-Uchiha can technically gain a Sharingan but this is only ever achievable through a transplant.
The two known characters who have the Sharingan who aren’t Uchiha born, not including the Six Paths of Pain or the Reanimated Shinobi, are Kakashi Hatake and Danzo Shimura. While Kakashi was given the Sharingan, Danzo stole his.
Kakashi Hatake had the eye gifted to him by Obito Uchiha when Obito Uchiha ‘died’. As Obito has the Kamui ability endowed in each eye, Kakashi can perform the Kamui technique. His eye was transplanted by Rin Nohara while Obito was still alive.
Danzo is a different story. Unbeknownst to many, even the elders of the Leaf Village, Danzo had stolen many Sharingan eyes. When the Uchiha Massacre happened, Itachi killed all the members of his clan apart from Sasuke.
Danzo stole multiple eyes from the massacred bodies and transplanted them into his own body. Danzo also stole one of Shisui Uchiha’s eyes which enabled him to use Kotoamatsukami, although this wasn’t the first he had stolen.
Danzo also transplanted Shin Uchiha’s arm onto him. This arm has multiple Sharingan transplanted into it unnaturally by the hand of Orochimaru and under the orders of Danzo, with full intentions to eventually take it for himself.
The eyes in this arm were taken from the bodies at the Uchiha massacre.
It’s worth noting that those who transplant the eye into themselves do not have the correct biological makeup to use the eye as well as an ancestral Uchiha clan member could.
In other words, if you are not an Uchiha and you transplant the eye into your body you will lack the necessary biology and chakra to use the eye properly.
This is evident as Kakashi, especially when using his Mangekyou Sharingan, drains a lot of his chakra very quickly and often has to rest for long periods after using his eye extensively.
The only way that Danzo was able to utilize so many eyes at once was because he had also transplanted Hashirama Senju’s cells into his body to enable him more chakra, as well as the chance of being able to use Wood Release.
Adept Sharingan Abilities
As previously mentioned, the acquisition of the Sharingan enables many abilities exclusive to Sharingan users, many of which are genjutsu based, as well as other types of technique.
We’ve explained a few of the most notable techniques used within the series to give you a general idea of the Sharingan’s power. Most techniques are only accessible to those with a Mangekyou Sharingan.
Amaterasu enables its user to conjure up black flames which are inextinguishable. The power of this technique is often overlooked as the fires can literally never be put out unless the user turns it off so it is very powerful.
This power led to the temporary defeat of Killer B, a jinchuriki, by Sasuke and his team, demonstrating its power.
As explained, this enables the user to create a huge avatar that they can control with their body. The power of this technique can be increased as the user develops their sharingan.
A ‘perfect’ Susanoo can only be created by an Eternal Mangekyou Sharingan. Each Susanoo is unique to each character and each level of evolution.
Kamui is often used by Kakashi Hatake and also by Tobi/Obito Uchiha who has much more mastery over it. Kamui allows a user access to a pocket dimension which only they have access to. Tobi who has the most adept level of skill within this ability, has it endowed in both eyes.
One eye allows him to transport objects and people into and out of the dimension. The other eye allows him to do the same with his own body, this is specifically used by Tobi to allow others attacks to go through his body and not hurt him at all.
Kotoamatsukami is a relatively simple concept, it is a type of genjutsu born from the eye of illusion. This technique allows a shinobi to completely control the mind of another shinobi, enabling them to manipulate them as they see fit.
Shisui had particularly strong mastery of this technique that led him to be a useful shinobi within the Uchiha clan. This is one of the few techniques that doesn’t require eye contact, demonstrated by Danzo controlling Mifune while his eyes were bandaged the whole time.
This is a powerful genjutsu that allows a user to make the targeted shinobi hallucinate whatever the caster wants them to see, it was mastered particularly well by Itachi who was one of the best genjutsu users of all time, he regularly used it on Sasuke to make him re-experience the death of their parents.
This rare technique is very powerful but also extremely costly. Izanagi is essentially another strong genjutsu that allows the caster to essentially become immortal. Without getting into the details too much, Izinagi enables them to manipulate time so that they can avoid fatal blows.
While it seems to the attacker that they are dead, they can manipulate time in a way that means the fatal attack didn’t kill them. This is used greatly by Danzo in his fight with Sasuke. However, after using it once the casters eye will be rendered blind.
Izanami is jutsu placed on another foe rather than yourself like Izanagi is. This essentially places the foe under a constant loop, the event that is looped seems to be chosen by the caster.
This loop carries on until the caster decides to stop it, or the foe changes their ways. This is only used once in the anime by the reanimated Itachi Uchiha against Kabuto Yakushi.
There you have it, the extensive guide to the Sharingan. There are other abilities and topics, of the Sharingan, that could be discussed but we feel we covered the most noteworthy topics that come up within the anime/manga.