“When an Uchiha experiences the loss of a loved one, extreme despair at what he’s become or something equally horrifying, their brain releases a special chakra that reacts with the optic nerve and their eyes change into a special form. This phenomenon is knows as the Sharingan, eyes that reflect the heart”
– Tobirama Senju, Chapter 619, Naruto
Naruto is a series full of iconic characters and abilities, with the Sharingan and it’s evolved form of the Mangekyo Sharingan being quite possibly the most iconic thing about the series surpassed in popularity only by the hand-signs and the most iconic of them all, the ultimate sexy jutsu of course.
In the world of Naruto, awakening the Sharingan is a tremendous feat and it’s only fair that awakening the Mangekyo is a legendary one. These special eyes are inherent to the Uchiha clan and like the tragic fate of the clan to fall into despair and annihilation, they also carry a darkness in them. The Uchiha clan is a clan fated to destroy and despair which is why their greatest abilities manifest in traumatic experiences as well. Mangekyo translates literally to Kaleidoscope, which is an instrument that makes patterns by reflecting light in various ways and as the name gives, the Mangekyo Sharingan gives its wielder the power as a reflection of their experience.
In this article we’ll look at how the Mangekyo abilities of each wielder reflected their trauma, their experience and their roles in the series.
So let us start with the most prominent Uchiha in the history of both Naruto and our own world.
But by Madara I don’t mean the actual Madara Uchiha but the masked one that so many of us thought to be Madara for most of the early parts of the series. Yes it our intangible, mysterious, invincible and seemingly immortal Masked Madara!
Masked Madara’s Mangekyo abilities seem to be a mystery for most part of the series. It’s like he doesn’t exist when ever he wills it. He phases through, you can’t touch him or sense him and he disappears like he was never even there at all, almost as if hes a phantom…a ghost. That is a brilliant power as that’s what Maksed Madara is to the Naruto world, a mystery and a supposedly dead man lost to history who has come back to haunt the world. Is he truly even alive? Is he immortal? The characters question and wonder a lot about the possibilities and it’s only fitting that’s his role and powers be a reflection of it.
But we all know that later his powers are figured out! Masked Madara is none other than Obito Uchiha! His deepest desire, his fated role is to create a dream world of genjutsu… he wants more than anything to cast the Infinite Tsukuyomi on the world and also wants to escape into that reality. And that’s when his powers are figured out as to what they really are…his powers are to be able to teleport himself and whatever he touches into an entirely other spacetime… basically escaping his physical reality and moving into a different one.
Second on the list is a non Uchiha who has a pretty tragic life himself and is burdened with the Sharingan and the weight it carries, the copy ninja…
Kakashi is the first wielder of the Sharingan introduced to us in the series despite he himself not being from the clan that it belongs to! He has an entrusted Sharingan that he gained as he watched his friend (Obito) die in front of his own eyes. Another event that scarred him forever is the death of his father, who committed suicide and died in front of Kakashi as well. His Mangekyo awakens when his friend Rin, who he swore to protect, jumps in the trajectory of his Chidori and dies, in front of his very own eyes.
Kakashi lives on losing his precious sensei Minato and his wife Kushina, whom he guarded for several months during her pregnancy. He is an individual traumatized but also defined by losing his loved ones and watching them disappear from his life. And it’s only fitting that his Mangekyo ability manifests as Kamui: the version that can make anything and anyone he looks at disappear into oblivion.
Now we shall look at someone who is probably the most loved Uchiha in Naruto who ironically is the most hated in the Naruto world. We are talking about none other than…
The genius who slaughtered his entire clan and was feared and hated by the world as a evil incarnate. But their hate was misguided as it was all a cover up, a conspiracy. Itachi did it all to preserve peace, for the greater good and some might argue it was actually a noble decision.
His Mangekyo abilities are Amaterasu in the left eye and Tsukuyomi in the right.
Amaterasu is an inextinguishable flame that burns till it’s target is completely annihilated which can be seen as a reflection of his experience of being hated by his brother and the world (and also the reader) until he dies, and then only is his truth revealed and it all just fades like a flame extinguished leaving behind a burning smell that is regret and sadness.
Tsukuyomi is one of the most powerful genjutsu and with it Itachi can create an entirely realistic spacetime which cannot be differentiated from reality. It’s almost like how he created an entirely different reality about the Uchiha massacre and his role in the eyes of Sasuke and the world, deceiving everyone so successfully that his lies became the truth.
Let’s move on from Itachi to his younger brother…
Sasuke inherits the Amaterasu from his brother but in his case it represents his hatred that he feels to burn the world down after learning about what the shinobi system did to Itachi and his clan. However he also posseses the Enton: Kagutsuchi in his right eye which lets him control the flames of Amaterasu.
This ability is the reflection of his journey as he learns to direct his hatred to certain people and ideologies instead of wanting to burn the world down entirely. He even has the ability to stop the flames, reflecting that he wields the power of decision to end it all. As he later on chooses reconciliation with Naruto, finally ending the curse of the Uchiha and the cycle of reincarnation.
Finally we come to the Uchiha who had the least screentime but had easily one of the biggest impacts to the world of Naruto…
Known as Shisui the teleporter. He is only shown in a few flashback scenes but is mentioned a lot in the series for his genius that rivalled Itachi and Genjutsu abilities that surpassed even Itachi’s. He has very little physical presence in the story but his eyes play a major role throughout. Being obtained by Danzo during to ensure the clan massacre, again being used by Danzo to manipulate the Kage Summit and eventually even freeing Itachi’l from Kabuto’s control ultimately making it possible to release the reanimation jutsu and reduce the enemy numbers to just Obito and Madara. That also allowed Itachi to reunite with Sasuke and shape his eventual path to reformation.
It’s amazing because again, subtle influence but huge impact is basically what Shisui’s ability is, the Kotoamatsukami. The Kotoamatsukami is an unavoidable genjutsu which subtly influences it’s target from any distance without even the need for eye contact. The influences are small but the target can be manipulated into doing anything without any noticeable influence. Which mirrors his presence and influence is the actual series!
It is a weird feeling to finally realize we the tragic destiny of the cursed clan and their cursed powers which are basically a reflection of their lives and their traumatic experiences. Kishimoto-sensei is a genius at how he incorporated it into the story so well or maybe we can even call him a master of genjutsu to have woven such a brilliant parallel into the story without us being obvious to us at first glance.
It is just one of many hidden wonders we can realize by digging into his masterful writing and structuring of his stories, there are many others but we’ll have to wait for another day and another article to get blown away yet again. Stay tuned!