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In the vast world of anime, Naruto Shippuden stands as a beloved and enduring series, captivating audiences with its compelling characters and intricate storyline. One such character that has left a lasting impression on fans is Sai. In this article, we will delve deep into Sai’s role in Naruto Shippuden, exploring his character development, abilities, and impact on the story.

All about Sai

  • Birthdate: November 25
  • Sex: Male
  • Age: Part II: 17
  • Height: Part II: 172.1 cm
  • Blank Period: 176 cm
  • Weight: Part II: 53.3 kg
  • Blood type: A
  • Occupation: Chūnin Exams Proctor/Anbu Chief
  • Affiliation: Konohagakure/Root/Allied Shinobi Forces
  • Team: Team Kakashi

Sai’s Background

Sai was orphaned as a child and recruited into Root, a secret branch of the Anbu under the leadership of Danzō Shimura. There, he was raised and conditioned to have no personality, personal connections, or a name “Sai” being given to him for the purposes of joining Team Kakashi.

Though largely successful in this regard, Sai retained an interest in art. When Shin, an older Root member, discovered Sai’s drawing ability, he encouraged Sai’s talent and they became very close.

Over time, Sai came to think of Shin as an older brother and looked up to him. Unfortunately, the final step in Root training called for the two to fight to the death to eradicate all remaining emotions.

Before that happened, however, Shin died of an unnamed illness and Sai’s Root training suppressed most of the memories he had of him. In the anime, Sai and Shin were forced to fight by Danzo but Shin, knowing that he was dying anyway, told Sai to report to Danzo that he had killed him in battle. Before dying, Shin told his brother that he had to suppress his feelings, and to live for the both of them.

Before Shin’s death, Sai created a picture book that would depict all the opponents they faced and illustrate the feelings that they shared for each other. Sai organised the book so that his and Shin’s portraits would be located at opposite ends of the book, and in the centre pages would be a picture of them holding hands.

Some time after the loss of Shin, Sai forgot that this was his intention, and the picture book was left unfinished, though he could never bring it upon himself to discard the book.

During his time in Root, Sai was ordered to eliminate a large number of individuals that posed a threat against Konoha. At the time he was assigned to Team Kakashi, the last assassination he performed was of Unmo Samidare.

In the anime, an attempt to gain a powerful fūinjutsu after seeing the Third Hokage sacrifice his life in an attempt to defeat Orochimaru, led Danzo to supervise Sai while he learned how to use the Sealing Technique: Tiger Vision Staring Bullet, noting that it would be dangerous as he would have to use “emotional energy” in order to make the technique stronger.

Sai struggled greatly with this endeavour as it conflicted with his training and, consumed by negative emotions, his training was seemingly left incomplete.

Sai’s Personality

Sai’s personality in “Naruto Shippuden” is initially depicted as emotionally distant and socially awkward. This is due to his upbringing as a member of the Anbu Black Ops and his time in Danzo Shimura’s organization, Root, where he was taught to suppress his emotions and act solely as a tool for missions. As a result, he often comes across as blunt and tactless, and he struggles to understand and express emotions.

However, as the series progresses, Sai undergoes significant character development. He begins to learn about friendship and emotions through his interactions with his teammates, Naruto, Sakura, and Sasuke. Sai’s personality starts to soften, and he gradually becomes more empathetic and considerate of others’ feelings.

Despite his initial shortcomings in social skills, Sai is a loyal and dedicated teammate who is willing to put himself in danger to protect his friends. He also develops a sense of camaraderie with his fellow Team Kakashi members and starts to form genuine bonds with them.

In summary, Sai’s personality evolves from being emotionally distant and socially awkward to becoming more empathetic, understanding, and emotionally connected with his friends and teammates as the series progresses.

Sai’s Appearance

Sai has short, straight black hair, and dark eyes which contrast with his translucent-looking pale skin. He is usually seen carrying a small backpack with his brush, scrolls, and ninja ink in it.

He wears a short black and grey jacket with red straps  as customary of all Root members, to most likely show his allegiance to the organisation. He also carries a tip less tanto on his back.

The rest of his outfit consisted of a high collared midriff shirt, black pants, shinobi sandals and gloves with his index and thumb fingers exposed, most likely to facilitate the use of his drawing based techniques.

When first seen with Team Kakashi, his jacket has a long right and short left sleeves. He had Danzō’s cursed seal on the back of his tongue until Danzo’s death, which caused it to disappear.

Despite his different hair style and skin tone, he is noted by many to physically resemble Sasuke. When he’s not on missions, Sai wears a casual outfit consisting of a long sleeve shirt with a high collar, matching pants, and his regular shinobi sandals. This outfit was first depicted as being purple in colour and later, navy blue. He doesn’t wear his forehead protector or gloves with this outfit.

In the anime, when Sai uses the Sealing Technique: Tiger Vision Staring Bullet and his negative emotions surface because of his use of “emotional energy”, his eyes turn a translucent red colour and his sclerae turn black. This is apparently, as when Danzō countered the symptoms, ink splattered from Sai’s body.

Two years after the Fourth Shinobi World War, Sai grew his hair longer with his bangs framing his face. His attire is similar to his old Root outfit but his jacket is now completely black with both sleeves of his shirt long, and less of his midriff exposed. He also has a large scroll strapped horizontally to his back and his shinobi sandals reach above his calves.

A decade after the Fourth Shinobi World War, his jacket now covers his entire upper body, with both sleeves long. His hair is shorter, and he wears an even larger scroll on his back to perform fuinjutsu. Sai keeps his hair in a short ponytail as customary of the Yamanaka Clan.

He has a different styled jacket with the sleeves rolled up and his collar is upturned. The large scroll he carries is attached to his belt and he also wears gloves. He occasionally still uses his forehead protector.

Sai’s Abilities

As a member of Root, Sai is a highly capable shinobi, who is trained in the organisation’s kenjutsu. Being said to be strongest Root member of his generation, Danzō had enough faith in Sai’s abilities to task him with single handedly killing Sasuke.

By adulthood, his talents led him to become one of Konohagakure’s top authorities as the head of Anbu and regular reporting directly to the Seventh Hokage and aiding him in various decisions.


Sai is able to use Earth Release to conceal himself underground without disrupting the surface of the earth. He can also use Fire, Water and Yang Release.

In adulthood, since marrying into the Yamanaka clan, Sai appears to have become well-versed (or at least knowledgeable) in their hidden techniques to aid his son’s training in them. In the anime, he can also use shadow clones.

Ink Techniques

Sai typically creates giant birds to transport himself or others, lion-like monsters for attack, snakes for restraining enemies, and mice to scout an area. Sai can also create ink clones of himself for reconnaissance.

For discreet communiques when he is undercover, Sai is able to turn the words he writes into small animals, allowing them to travel to their intended target unnoticed.

He has also demonstrated the ability to create large humanoids that resemble the Benevolent Kings (仁王, Niō), which possess enough strength to completely destroy Deidara’s clay birds. Sai can also produce explosive tags, as seen when he had multiple birds fly down to bombard his enemies with a chain of explosions.


As noted by Kakashi, Sai is one of Danzo’s prized soldiers and as such, his Root training also included learning fūinjutsu. By animating a large tiger from his scroll, he can use it to grab and seal the target in the painting.

Due to the preparation time it would take to paint the tiger, he would need allies to protect him while in battle. In the anime, it is stated that Sai uses “emotional energy” to bolster the technique. This is a double edged sword as Sai becomes susceptible to his negative emotions.

Physical Prowess

Despite not being his speciality, Sai has shown to be proficient in taijutsu. He was able to react and block Naruto’s attempt to stab him with a kunai very easily with his tanto.

He also was able to subdue Kabuto Yakushi very easily and block Sasuke Uchiha’s attempt to stab Naruto, with Sasuke commenting that he blocked the attack in the most appropriate manner.

During the Fourth Shinobi World War, he was able to break Shin’s neck with a flying knee kick in mid-air. Even without the use of his tantō, he has shown great skill with a bladed weapon and was able to fight equally with an opponent wielding a larger weapon. A distinct advantage he has in battle is to perform techniques with a single hand, leaving the other free for enemy counter-attacks.

Sai’s presence in Naruto Shippuden is a testament to the series’ ability to introduce complex and evolving characters. His character development, artistic talents, and unique abilities make him a memorable addition to the anime’s rich tapestry. Sai’s journey from a mysterious figure to a valued member of Team 7 exemplifies the themes of friendship and personal growth that Naruto Shippuden embodies.

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