Originally, Gaara was a major villain in the manga and anime franchise Naruto during the Chunin Exam Arc. But he reformed following his defeat at the hand of the primary protagonist Naruto Uzumaki and since then serves as a major secondary character. Before his redemption, he served as the secondary antagonist in the Chunin Exams arc and in the Konoha Crush arc.
In Japanese, he was voiced by Akira Ishida. In the English dub, he was voiced by Liam O'Brien.
When Gaara was still in the womb of Karura, his father the Fourth Kazekage, the leader of the Hidden Sand Village, had the Tailed Beast known as Shukaku the One Tail sealed inside him, in the hopes of making him a powerful protector of the Sand Village. With Karura dead from the premature birth, Gaara was trained and nurtured by his father as he had a very miserable childhood due to the isolation Shukaku seemingly caused by Gaara subconsciously harming others with his sand and becoming feared by his older siblings Kankuro and Temari.
The only one who appeared to care for Gaara was his maternal uncle Yashamaru, who became the boy's legal guardian and tried to keep hope alive in the boy. However, Gaara was unaware that his father arranged Yashamaru to test Gaara's ability to control Shukaku by making an attempt on the boy's life. Near death, Yashamaru continued his mission by creating the lie that both he and Karura never loved Gaara, with the latter's final words being Gaara as an instrument of her revenge on the village that allowed her to die. This broke Gaara's heart as he unleashed Shukaku in full fury on the village before the Fourth Kazekage stopped the Tailed Beast. Since that night, with many of his father's assassins killed by him, Gaara became secluded and psychotic killing machine bent on killing everyone in his way to prove his own existence.
When Orochimaru convinced the Kazekage on a partnership to destroy the Hidden Leaf Village, their mutual enemy, Gaara and his siblings enrolled in the Chunin exam to have Gaara unleash Shukaku near the end with ninja from both the Hidden Sand and Hidden Sound Villages invading during the chaos. During the third phase of the Exam, Gaara faces off against Rock Lee and cripples him severely before he is stopped by Lee's teacher Might Guy. Though he made it to the finals as planned, Gaara was a bit confused by Guy's loyalty to his student. Later, Gaara murders a Sound Ninja named Dosu who attempted to kill him as Gaara's opponent is Sasuke Uchiha.
One month later, murdering two ninja who were threatening him to throw the fight as they are betting on his opponent, Gaara faces off against Sasuke for the finals. During the fight Sasuke breaks through his Sand Barrier and punctures his chest, injuring him for the very first time. The sight of his blood cause him to freak out, forcing Temari and Kankuro to drag him away from Konoha as the attack begins. As Sasuke catch up with him, a hate-filled Gaara accesses his Jinchuriki powers to beat Sasuke to an inch of his life when his team mates Naruto and Sakura come to his aid. However, pinning Sakura to a tree, Gaara threatens to crush the life out of her if neither Sasuke nor Naruto can defeat him.
Naruto, seeing Gaara to be like him and understanding his pain, accepts the challenge and battles Gaara with Sasuke and Sakura looking on. But the beatings Naruto inflicts on Gaara only makes him more angry as he completely transforms into Shukaku and places himself to sleep to give the Tailed Beast free reign before Naruto summons Gamabunta to hold the monster off so Naruto can headbutt Gaara into waking up. With neither youth having any more chakra left, Gaara and Naruto's fight ends with them punch each other with Gaara knocked unconscious. When he regained consciousness, Gaara learns that Naruto is a Jinchuriki like him and suffered the same ostracizing yet resolved to protect others.
This in turn causes Gaara to change his ways, surprising his siblings when he apologized for the trouble he caused them, and take the path as Naruto to be accepted by his people. Gaara later aids the Sasuke Retrieval team by helping Rock Lee battle Kimimaro, one of Orochimaru's followers, fighting evenly with him until Kimimaro's disease claimed his life. After the battle, Gaara realized even those who are evil have someone precious to them. In turn, taking a Hidden Sand kunoichi named Matsuri as his student, Gaara gains the Konoha 11's help in dealing with an organization called the Four Celestial Symbols who needed his power to revive the Seimei.
Part IIAfter three years of hard work during which he forms a deep bond with his siblings and gains the trust of the villagers, Gaara is appointed as the Fifth Kazekage. However, Gaara's position as a Jinchuriki marked him to be captured by the Akatsuki's Deidara. Taken to the Akatsuki's lair, Gaara was killed when Shukaku was extracted from his body by the Demonic Statue of the Outer Path. Luckily, he was brought back to life by Chiyo, one of the elders of his village, as an apology for her role in sealing the Tailed Beast inside him.
Eventually, due to the Akatsuki's increasing activity, Gaara was summoned to attend the Five Kage Summit to discuss how to deal with the organization. Having experienced the Akatsuki's deed and lived to tell about it, with the notion brought up, Gaara voiced he suggested a coalition of the villages n the past that only the Hidden Leaf accepted. When Sasuke was revealed to have infiltrated the meeting and the Fourth Raikage A went to fight him, Gaara voiced his concern with the other Kages' lack of ethics before he and his siblings leave to see Sasuke. Using his sand to stop the fight between him and A, both on different spectrums from the last time they met, Gaara attempted to talk Sasuke out of the path of darkness he is taking before forced to protect himself and his siblings from Sasuke's power.
Soon after, Tobi arrives and declares the Fourth Great Ninja War against the Kage when they refuse to hand Naruto and Killer Bee to him. In turn, the Kage finally accept Gaara's proposal and form the Shinobi Alliance yet voiced that the Hidden Leaf will have no part until it is led by one more trustworthy than Danzo Shimura was. Gaara accepted it while voicing to keep Naruto and Killer Bee out of the war for their sake. Gaara later tells Naruto of Sasuke's actions in the Summit and tells him that his friend is now beyond saving.
During the war, Gaara is appointed as Commander of the Fourth Division as he talks his men into embracing each other as brothers. On the second day of the war, Gaara encounters the Fourth Kazekage and battles him while now knowing his father's reasons to make him strong with attempts on his life. Eventually, Gaara learns the truth of his uncle's lie and Karura's final words: a promise to protect her son which came true in the form of the sand was the originally thought to be Shukaku's power. After his father apologized for ruining his early childhood as he was sealed, Gaara faced the battlefield with new determination. Eventually, joining the other Kage, Gaara faces the reanimated Madara Uchiha and is mortally wounded by the time their battle ended.
Rock Lee & His Ninja PalsGaara appeared in the chibi spin-off Rock Lee & His Ninja Pals, which is based from Naruto Shippuden. Since the series is set in Naruto Shippuden, Gaara has no villainous roles throughout the series and appears as a supporting character.
Powers and Abilities
Gaara has immense powers of control over sand, able to use his chakra and control it any way he likes with his mind. He is often shown to carry around a gourd made of sand on his back that contains a set amount of sand infused with a huge amount of his chakra. This sand is easier for Gaara to control than normal sand, and he is able to perform faster and more powerful attacks with it. It is this sand that comprises Gaara's Ultimate Defense; his automatic Sand Shield which, bound by his mother's will to protect him, moves to shield him from harm whether he wants it to or not, and his Sand Armor, a shell of sand that Gaara can mold over his body to protect him should the Sand Shield be broken through.
These defenses have always been very powerful, but have massively improved throughout the series; in part 1, Sasuke's Chidori could penetrate both, whereas in part 2, nothing and no one besides Madara Uchiha has been able to do the same, with many things, such as the supposedly unblockable Amaterasu, failing to even begin to penetrate the Sand Shield or outrun it. If he feels the need, Gaara can completely enclose himself in his Ultimate Defense, which hasn't been known to be broken in part 2 from the outside. He can increase the defensive ability of the sand at will by fusing it, or normal sand with the hardest minerals present in the soil, with his strongest defense being a shield in the shape of Shukaku, his tailed beast. Gaara can lift and perfectly control massive amounts of sand at once, managing to fully transform into Shukaku and create sand tsunamis.
In Part 1, and instantly block immense explosions the instance they happen and lift enough sand to help catch a meteorite in Part 2. His degree of control over normal sand has also improved throughout the series as, after he started to gain control over Shukaku, Gaara began to be able to create its arms out of desert sand to attack at will. Gaara can use sand to fly around and transport himself anywhere, as well as form a eye of sand he can link to his optic nerve to allow him to spy on others from a huge distance away or guide his attacks while completely sealed inside his defenses. If the need should arise, Gaara can even increase the amount of sand in his gourd by cloning the grains of sand with his chakra, though doing so would normally not be needed with the gourd sand as, given its make, he can use it for techniques without having to expend more chakra normally. Notably, Gaara's sand techniques are, so far, the sole exception to the Rinnegan's ability to absorb ninjutsu and chakra. Although Gaara's sand powers were given to him by Shukaku, he retained them even after he was extracted and has become even more powerful than Shukaku himself at using them, which surprised his father.
Given the nature of his powers, Gaara's fighting style is a stationary, mid-to-long range one, as he can usually fight an opponent without having to move completely and specializes at distance fighting. This was noted by Kimimaro Kaguya, who noted Gaara was not a close-combat type and that he made it very hard to get close to him. He is also largely a locational fighter, whose fighting capability is determinable from the area he is in. For example, when fighting indoors, Gaara is cut off from the soil and can't create more sand to use as a weapon, therefore needing to use the aforementioned ability to do so, thus lowering his chakra levels faster. However, fighting outdoors is different, as only when fighting over water would Gaara not have the advantage, though he could easily reclaim it by retreating to the shoreline. Fighting over plains, in mountains, forests, or most any other kinds of landscape, Gaara can easily get the advantage given enough time, though his opponents would or could get the advantage with the right move in the meantime.
However, when fighting in a desert, Gaara is at his strongest and can be nearly invincible as in a desert there is plenty of pre-existing sand for him to use and control. Even Deidara, an S-class Rogue Ninja and Akatsuki member, who had been able to defeat Gaara, found it utterly useless to try and overcome him with brute force in the desert, and in the end only his intellect allowed him to prevail. Despite how his fighting style is, Gaara is the most powerful member of the current Five Kage, acheiving his rank as Fifth Kazekage as a teenager, and is likely the most powerful Kazekage in the Hidden Sand Village's history(the Third Kazekage was technically the one said to be the strongest, but Gaara likely is stronger given his power of the Land of Wind's terrain).
Even when first introduced as a Gennin, Gaara was easily as powerful as a Jonin, a fact aluded to multiple times throughout the Chunnin Exams. Notable feats for Gaara include defeating Rock Lee, an immensely powerful taijutsu master, despite his use of the five of Eight Inner Gates, nearly killing Sasuke Uchiha and outmatching him at the Konoha Invasion, despite his mastery of the Sharingan , pressing both Naruto Uzumaki and Gamabunta, a giant and very powerful ninja toad, to their limits, despite actually losing the fight in the end, easily overwhelming Kimimaro for most of their fight and nearly killing him multiple times, and single-handedly defeating both his father, the Fourth Kazekage, whose fighting style was similar to his own, and the Second Mizukage, despite his use of his Infinite Explosions Ninjutsu, with the latter praising Gaara as the "golden egg" of the Five Kage.
His defeat of the Second was also impressive for the fact that he was able to figure a way to counter his Infinite Explosions Ninjutsu, which the Second's own rival, also a Kage, couldn't do, thus proving Gaara a highly skilled and intelligent tactician as well.
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