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Naruto Character Review: Sai
Sai is probably one of my favorite secondary characters, which says a lot because he was introduced very late in the Naruto series. It's hard not to love Sai, though. Honestly, how do you dislike a character who upon meeting Naruto for the first time tells him he probably has a small penis? That's hilarious! (Those of you who watch the English version of the show are really missing out on some of the funnier jokes in the show.) Sai has a great childhood backstory, an even better back story as one of the Root ANBU Black ops, and a lovable "growing emotions" coming of age story. Plus his Ink Art Ninjutsu is pretty bad*ss.
When Sai is introduced to the Naruto world, he is brought in as a replacement on Team 7, or Team Kakashi, filling Sasuke's now empty spot. He was assigned to the team by Danzo in order to fill a secret assignment for the Root ANBU Black Ops. Originally, Sai doesn't fit in to Team Kakashi, nor does he attempt to. He is emotionless and even tells the team later on that his laughter and smiles are fake in attempt to make people more comfortable, but he makes it clear they are fake.
His mission, with Team Kakashi, which ironically had no Kakashi, went on a mission to collect intel from a "source" Sasori had in Orochimaru's organization. On the way, we learn bits and pieces about Sai's background. Sai was orphaned as a young child and was recruited into the ANBU Black Ops secret branch called Root. Root trained him, as a young boy, to feel no emotions, form no bonds, and even have no name. The name Sai was given to him sole for his mission with Team Kakashi. Though he was successful in Root, and seemed to be just another member of the organization, he managed to hold on to his love of art throughout his life. As he was growing up, Shin, another member of the Root Division who was older than Sai, discovered his love of drawing. Instead of discouraging him from his love of art which most members would done, he encouraged Sai's passion. Over time Sai and Shin because very close, Sai considered Shin to be an older brother whom he admired, respected, and loved. Unfortunately for both, in a final step to eradicate emotions from their members, Sai and Shin were to be forced into a fight to the death. However, before the two could fight Shin died of an illness. Sai's root training then erased most of his memories of Shin, making him more of a "blank slate" so to speak. Before this happens, though, Sai creates a picture book that would show drawings of all the enemies that Shin and Sai faced together, and the emotions and bonds that they shared. Sai drew out the book so that the illustrations of Sai and Shin would be on opposite sides of the book, and in the pages in the center, would be a picture of them holding hands. After Shin's death, Sai began to forget what his purpose for drawing the book was. He could never bring himself to throw the book away, but he forgets that the book was to remind him of Shin, and the bonds they shared together. That is, until he meets Naruto, and forms a bond with him. When he does he is reminded of the bonds he shared with Shin, and is able to finish the book. When it's finished Sai shows his first real emotion since joining Root Division; he smiles.
When Team 7 finally is able to start their mission they find that Kabuto is actually the spy that Sasori had in Orochimaru's mitts. Yamato, disguised as Sasori thanks to his Wood style abilities, goes to meet with Kabuto. Meanwhile, Naruto, Sai, and Sakura wait in hiding as backup in case anything goes wrong. Yamato, dressed as Sasori, approaches Kabuto and begins to talk to him. Kabuto tells Yamato/Sasori that he was sent to be a spy in Orochimaruo's organization, but he found himself truly understanding him. Kabuto turns on Sasori/Yamato and attacks him. This is when Yamato pops out of the Sasori suit he made. Team 7 rushes in for the save, but then so does Orochimaru, and the battle begins.
Naruto, who goes full blown bad*ss in blood-tailed beast form, starts to fight Orochimaru. The battle, if you couldn't guess, is LEGEND...wait for it....ARY. While the two are fighting, though, Sai sneaks off; not caring what happens to Yamato and Sakura. (Which, I mean, can you really blame him? I've watched the show for years and I still not only don't care about Sakura, I kind of hope she dies. Yamato is cool though.) After Orochimaru manages to keep Naruto at bay, Sai approaches Orochimaru for his Root Division mission. He delivers a proposition from Danzo to Orochimaru, who accepts Danzo's proposition. Sai, Kabuto and Orochimaruo leave together and head to one of Orochimaru's hideouts. When they enter, Sai is introduced to Sasuke, another Hidden Leaf Ninja. Sai tells Sasuke he'll probably get along better with him as a teammate than Naruto. This strikes a cord with Sasuke, who glares at Sai. Sai, an emotionless person, is frightened by how much fear he felt from that stare from Sasuke. Sai is then lead to his own room, and locked in by Kabuto.
Naruto, Sakura, and Yamato track Sai, Kabuto and Orochimaru back to the hideout and manage to track down Sai. Sai tells them that his mission was to present Orochimaru an offer from Danzo, team with Root Division to destroy the Hidden Leaf village. Upon finding this out Team 7 is disgusted with Sai and Danzo, and Yamato uses his wood-style to restrain Sai. Sai warns them that Sasuke is not the same person as before, and is beyond rescuing. Naruto does one of his usual, touching, "bonds" speeches that touches Sai. Team 7 sets off to find Sasuke, and Kabuto finds and frees Sai. Sai, however, then captures Kabuto, in order to align himself with Naruto and Team Kakashi again, in order to find out more about bonds. Naruto, Sai, Yamato and Sakura go off to find Sasuke. In the chaos Sai ends up alone for a bit, and Yamato finds, in Sai's things, his real mission from Danzo. His real mission, kill Sasuke Uchiha as a traitor of Konoha. Sai, though, had already found Sasuke, but instead of carrying out his orders and killing Sasuke, he attempts to capture him in order to preserve his bond with Naruto. This ends up leading to a battle with Sasuke, in which, as you could probably imagine, Sasuke kicks all their sorry butts. (Bring your A game next time Team Kakashi). When they return to the Hidden Leaf, Sai requests to stay with Team 7; which Danzo approves.
From there on out Sai starts researching emotions and bonds. Trying his best to become a better friend to people, especially the ninja's of the Hidden Leaf. It doesn't exactly go over to well most of the time. Sai doesn't understand emotions and feelings that well, so more time than not he ends up p*ssing someone off. It is great comic relief for the show, Sai becomes a fan favorite for it. Sai does, however have his moments where he is more than just comic relief. He is still an incredibly skilled ninja, remember. During the Kage Summit Arch we see Sai branch out. He steps in to defend Naruto, who was taking a beating from Hidden Cloud Ninja for trying to save/protect/be friends with Sasuke. He then takes Naruto to Kakashi so they can tend to his wounds. We also learn just how much control Danzo has over the Root Division when Sai shows that he, along with every other member of Root, has a curse mark on the back of his tongue to prevent them from ever leaking information. Sakure says it's cruel, and Sai justifies it by saying Root has done some questionable things it's best people don't know.
Sai is an extremely gifted ninja, as you would expect from someone who was raised by the Root Division ANBU Black Ops. He specializes in Ink Art Jutsu. Sai will carry scrolls, ink, and a brush with him and when he needs to attack he will draw out a creature and bring it to life using his chakra. We see him most frequently use his "Super Beast" attack, which is a drawing of a beast of his own design. (In the photo to the right). That is his most frequently used attack, but we have seen Sai implore many other creatures in order to carry out any goal he is trying to accomplish. We've seen him use birds so that he can fly or carry out long distance travel, we've seen mice for scouting and also snakes for binding. Sai also uses the ink to make Ink clones, like Naruto makes Shadow Clones.
Fourth Shinobi World War
When the Fourth Shinobi World War starts, Sai is assigned to the Surprise Attack division. Sai uses his Art Technique to create birds for the division to ride on. While his division makes camp in enemy territory, Sai rides above in the base camp to provide air support for his team, just in case they are attacked. When he sees explosions in his camp, he rushes back to aid his teammates. On his entrance, he manages to kick one attacking enemy on the way in. Despite having a broken neck, the shinobi he attacked manages to get up, revealing himself to be Shin, Sai's "brother" from Root Division. He had be brought back to life by Kabuto's Impure World Reincarnation Technique. Shin apologizes to Sai for having to fight him, because of the Reanimation Jutsu, and because Sasori was controlling his movements. Shin and Sai exchange a few blows before the rest of the ambush team can get involved. Hoheto reveals there is explosive clay inside Shin. Before he can be detonated by Deidara, they manage to navigate him into one of Kankuro's hidden puppets, which was hidden under the ground. Deidara curses that the bomb didn't work, and Sai tells him that Shin isn't "a bomb." Deidara laughs and promise to use him as a bomb over and over again, because he can regenerate Shin. Sai, for the first time in the series, shows real rage. He quickly makes his way behind Deidara and Sasori, and drew two giant Ink Warriors, who knocked Deidara and Sasori into two more of Kakuro's puppets waiting below. Sai prepared to do battle with Shin, who told him it wasn't necessary. Shin saw Sai's drawing of the two of them in his book, which had fallen out earlier in the explosion, and said he was happy he had gotten to see it. That seeing it had unbound his soul, freeing him from the regrets from his lifetime. Tears streamed down Sai's cheeks as Shin turned to dust and disappeared.