Akatsuki 暁 – Dawn – is a criminal organization made up of S-Class rouge ninjas who have defected from their villages, except for Pain and Konan who were from and run their own village, Amekagure. Even though the major players of the organizations have differing goals, the group’s goal is to collect all the bijuu, tailed beasts, to enable them to dominate the world.
The members always work in teams of two, except for Zetsu, to take advantage of each member’s unique skills and ability. Even though most team members have problems with their assigned partners, they do function well enough to accomplish tasks set out for them. The organization is never truly assembled whole, as they are always sent on different missions at different times. Even after capturing a tailed beast and all members are needed to seal the beast, they use holograms of themselves to do the job of the three-day long process.
To enable their ambition of world domination, they have to amass large amounts of money by accepting missions below the cost that other nations charge more for. They are mercenaries for hire on the cheap. They also use the tailed beasts to start wars, but come in later as the “savior” of the day, thereby building a loyal following to their organization. When there are no longer other shinobi nations that can match Akatsuki, they can then step in, overthrow and conquer the remaining countries, thereby creating a monopoly of the market. Thus, the bijuu or their jinchuuriki are the main draw of much of Akatsuki’s efforts. Before the start of the Fourth Great Shinobi World War, the organization sealed seven of the nine beasts, but lost all but 2 of its members (manga edition. In the anime, there are still three remaining: Madara, Zetsu and Kisame). All bijuu are captured, except for hachibi, eight-tails, in Killer Bee and kyuubi, nine tails in Naruto.
At least that was the plan that Uchiha Madara sold to the group. However, Madara’s plan is to destroy Konoha Village (and the Uchiha clan) for their betrayal of choosing Senju Hashirama instead of him as the First Hokage. By stockpiling all the tailed beasts, he hopes to fuse them together to create the Ten-Tailed Beast, and become the jinchuuriki for the beast. He will then cast an infinite Tsukuyomi to control the world by declaring world war against it.
Akatsuki members are all cloaked in ebony capes adorned with red clouds and chin-high collars. They all wear dark-colored nail polish on their fingers and toes. Some choose to wear their former village headband with a slash across the middle signifying their defection. Sometimes they also don a traditional bamboo hat to hide their appearance when traveling, as seen when Itachi and Kisame first made their first appearance. More importantly, each Akatsuki member wears a ring with inscription on it on differing fingers, representing his or her standing in the group. Each ring is inscribed with a kanji representing Gods of past to aid in concentration before battle and protection from evil.
Team Pain & Konan
Pain, aka Nagato, saw the horrors of war as a child. Twistedly, he thought by creating another world war and putting fear into people, humans would be too afraid to ever create wars again. Using the bijuu, he would create a deadly Kinjutsu, a technique that would wipe out one of the five great nations in an instant. Through their mutual horror, war would cease to exist and peace will follow with the remaining nations, until people forget this fear and use this weapon again and again. Thus, repeating the vicious cycle. Only Pain and Konan knew of this plan.
Pain’s ring is worn on the right thumb, with the kanji 零 (rei, “zero”) inscribed on it. Pain is the acting leader of Akatsuki, although he really reports to Madara. He reigns over Amegakure, Rain Village. His true form is a frail and emaciated Nagato, who uses a mechanical walker to transmit chakra signals to manipulate his six Paths – Animal, Naraka, Asura, Deva, Human and Preta. Pain has the power of the Rinnegan, much more fatal than the Sharingan that the Uchihas have and the Byakugans that the Hyuugas possess.
The Animal Path (Chikushoudou) is able to summon an array of creatures, while the Preta Path (Gakidou) absorbs chakra from attacks as defense. His Deva Path (Tendou) attracts and repels object using himself as the center of the gravity and the Human Path (Ningendou) reads minds of his opponents and rips out their souls. The Asura Path (Shuradou) uses various weapons from his robotic and altered body and the Naraka Path (Jigokudou) is able to revive the other five bodies. The Deva Path has Yahiko’s face, good friend to Nagato and Konan, and is the most often seen Pain and a representative of Akatsuki. Deva Path is also the most cherished of the six Pains and the most powerful.
After the attack on Konoha, in an attempt to retrieve kyuubi, he lost all his remaining Paths (having lost the Animal Path in his battle with Jiraiya). After speaking to Naruto and realizing they share similar philosophies in life, he revived those he killed during Konoha’s raid at the cost of his life to atone for his past mistakes. Pain parishes in Konoha during the invasion of the Village. … that is until he is revived and summoned by the mannicle Kabuto to convince Madara to accept his alliance in the Fourth Shinobi World War.
Konan’s ring is worn on her middle right finger with the kanji 白 (bya, “white”) inscribed on it. She is the lone female Akatsuki member. She uses her talent with Origami to make it her fighting style. Konan possesses the ability to disperse her body into paper, which then folds into butterflies used for tracking. Together with Pain and another friend, Yahiko, the three were trained by Jiraiya, when they were but children, to become stronger to fend for themselves in the war-torn Amegakure.
After Nagato entrusted his will to Naruto, she too believed in him. With the departure of Pain, Konan eventually left Akatsuki and returned to Amegakure with the body of Nagato and Yahiko.
Team Pain/Konan worked very well together as they both trusted each other completely. Konan was blindly loyal to Pain (and probably very much in love with him). Pain acted as the leader of Akatsuki, using the Illusionary Dragon Nine Consuming Seals to extract the bijuu from their jinchuuriki. Pain was also leader of Amegakure, which was used as a headquarters for Akatsuki, while Konan served as his number two.
After the destruction and subsequent revival of all the Konoha ninjas, Konan returns to Amegakura with Nagato’s and Yahiko’s bodies, but not before promising Naruto her help in achieving peace. Unfortunately for her, her peace doesn’t last long as Madara infiltrates into Amegakure in search of Nagato’s Rinnegan. When she refuses to divulge the location of his body, a fight ensues. She denotes a lake filled with billions of explosives, lasting longer than the 5 minutes Madara can remain intangible. He, however, remains unharmed, as a result of using Izanagi (like Danzou) but costs him his left eye. He then stabs Konan with a pipe, and places her under his genjutsu to reveal Nagato’s location. She supposedly ceases to exist after the end of the illusion, as her body floats in the waters of Amegakure.
Team Itachi & Kisame
Uchiha Itachi had only one goal/plan, and it was pretty obvious from day one. Protect Sasuke, protect Konoha. He even gave Naruto some of his powers for the sake of protecting Konoha and Sasuke. He never was interested in the bijuu or the goals of Akatsuki. He ran his name through the mud, was disowned by his own family and clan, and was hated by the only person whom he love – all for the sake of Konoha and his younger brother. No one’s sacrifice can be more apparent than his.
Itachi’s ring is worn on his right ring finger with the kanji 朱 (shu, “scarlet”) inscribed on it. Itachi is formerly from Konohagakure. After murdering his entire clan in one night, on orders of the village elders, he fled the Leaf Village and infiltrated Akatsuki, as a spy for Konoha Village. Kisame and him were assigned to capture kyuubi’s jinchuuriki Naruto, but fled when Jiraiya appeared. Everything that Itachi did, he did it for his Village and for his younger brother, even going as far as to keep Sasuke out of Madara’s reach. Unfortunately, that is not so. Itachi was eventually killed by his younger brother, Sasuke.
…until Kabuto revives him along with Kakuzu as they head out to the Fourth Shinobi World War. Together with Nagato, they both know that they are summoned for their powerful doujutsu.
Hoshikage Kisame originates from the Mist Village, Kirigakure, and the Seven Swordsmen of the Mist. He committed murder and rebellion there before joining Akatsuki. Kisame wields the sword Samehada, sharkskin, a living weapon covered in scales that absorbs an opponent’s chakra. Suigetsu, Sasuke’s teammate, has his eye on this stately sword.
He wears his ring on the left ring finger with the kanji 南 (nan, “south”) inscribed on it. After Itachi’s passing, he was assigned to capture the jinchuuriki of yonbi, and succeeded easily. When he was once again sent to capture hachibi Killer Bee, he was forced to merge with Samehada. Unfortunately, Samehada liked the taste of hachibi’s chakra too much, and betrayed Kisame. He was then “killed” by Killer Bee and his brother Raikage. In truth, Kisame hid inside Samehada to infiltrate Kumogakure.
During Naruto’s training and taming of kyuubi in Kumogakure, he sensed Kisame’s hatred within Samehada. Discovered, Kisame escapes with his sword only to be stopped by Mighty Guy. Samehada soon abandoned Kisame for Killer Bee, as Mighty Guy manages to overpower, defeat and capture Kisame. But when the Cloud and Leaf Village ninjas interrogate him, he commits suicide by summoning three sharks to devour him to protect Akatsuki’s secrets. Kisame’s intel on Kumogakure found its way to Zetsu.
The team worked very well together and they seem to respect each other. Even though Itachi worked as a double agent, Kisame did as Itachi asked without questioning the reason or motive behind anything. They completed most assignments set by Pain, with the exception of capturing kyuubi, which Itachi failing this mission on purpose. When not in combat, these two are seen conversing with each other casually.
Team Sasori & Orochimaru
Orochimaru, Tsunade and Jiraiya were once teammates and students to the Third Hokage Sarutobi Hiruzen. Not only was he a skilled ninja, but he was also the favored student of Sarutobi, so much so that when he tried to replicate the First Hokage’s Wood Style Elemental Jutsu through human experiment, Sarutobi turned a blind eye and let him off the hook. Orochimaru left Konoha Village soon after that discovery. He then joined Akatsuki and was partnered with Sasori. It is this time, that Orochimaru began to covert Itachi’s Sharingan and even tried to possess Itachi’s body. Itachi bound him with Genjutsu and cut off his arm. Orochimaru fled the organization and took his ring with him, thus he was not replaceable. His ring is worn on his left little finger with the kanji 空 (kū, “sky”) inscribed on it.
Orochimaru then moved on to the Sound Village and recruited shinobi there, including Sasori’s spy, Yakushi Kabuto. He then had his eye on Itachi’s younger brother, Sasuke and began recruiting him. He trained Sasuke to be his replacement body. Unfortunately for him, the student overcame the master, and suppressed Orochimaru in his Genjutsu. During Sasuke’s final meeting with Itachi, Orochimaru, once again, tried to overtake Sasuke’s body. But Itachi permanently sealed and banished Orochimaru from Sasuke.
Akasuna no Sasori, the puppet master from Sand Village, Sunagakure, wore his ring on his left thumb. It had the kanji 玉 (gyoku, “jewel,” also the black king in shogi) inscribed on it. As a legend in his art, Sasori left the Sand Village with the Third Kazekage’s body, converting him into his puppet using the hitokugutsu method, but retaining the Kazekage’s powerful jutsus. He also converted portions of his body into puppet parts, where only his heart was retained in a container.
Besides that, Sasori had a network of spies who he manipulated to aid in Akatsuki dealings, one of them being Kabuto, who was later recruited by Orochimaru. Sasori was killed by his grandmother, Chiyo, from the Sand Village and Haruno Sakura of the Leaf Village. His body is being used as a puppet by Kankuro, much like the way Sasori used corpses as his puppets before his demise. Tobi/Madara now wears this ring.
It seems that Team Sasori/Orochimaru worked well together, until Orochimaru defected, then Sasori developed a grudge against him. Sasori too is revived by Kabuto, and partnered once again with Deidara. Unfortunately for him, his former subordinate is not his new boss. During a battle, Sasori is matched up against Kankurou, and finally accepts that his puppets were what immortalized him, thus allowing him to let go and crumble away. Before dying, he entrusts his Mother and Father puppets to Kankurou.
Team Sasori & Deidara
Deidara’s ring is worn on his right index finger with the kanji 青 (Aoi, set, “blue-green”) inscribed on it. Deidara is formerly a Hidden Rock (Iwagakure) shinobi, who uses mouths on his palms to create exploding art. He left his village to work as a terrorist, but was later invited to join Akatsuki by Itachi. This Earth-based clay explosion master was thought to be annihilated by Kakashi when he threw Deidara in his sharingan, but proved to be otherwise when he reemerged with Tobi later, having lost both his arms and reattached them again. Deidara was offed by Uchiha Sasuke using his sharingan and chidori attacks. In retaliation, Deidara turned himself into an explosion to show the true beauty of his art.
Fortunately for him, his art didn’t die just like the artist himself. He is resurrected by Kabuto, along with Itachi, Nagato, Sasori and Kakuzu through the Summoning: Impure World Resurrection. He is only too happy to be revived, and for the chance to fight Naruto again. Enroute to Kumogakure, they are ambushed by Ounoki and was placed back into the coffin. Lucky for him, Kabuto resummons him again for the Fourth Shinobi World War, where he meets Sai and Kankurou in battle together with Sasori. He was last seen trapped in Kankurou’s Black Ant.
Team Sasori/Deidara worked well together but didn’t agree on what constitute art. Sasori thought art should be permanent, much like his puppet creations. Deidara, however, thought art is fleeting like his explosive clay works. They captured the one-tail Shukaku jinchuuriki Gaara, but failed in capturing kyuubi.
Team Deidara & Tobi
Uchiha Madara formed Akatsuki right after fleeing Kohonagakure after the election of Senju Hashirama, the First Hokage of Konoha. His goal is to reunite the nine tailed beasts as one, to bring devastating war and chaos to the ninja nations. He is the first to acquire the Mangekyo Sharingan, though it later left him blind from overuse. Madara then robbed his brother off his sight in order for him to regain his.
Madara wears his ring on his left thumb, after taking it from the deceased Sasori. His first appearance as Tobi was to make him out as a clumsy and playful but very polite oaf. With Sasori’s death, Tobi was partnered with Deidara, who abhorred his annoying do-gooder persona. After Deidara’s death, it was revealed that Tobi was the one directing Pain as the leader of Akatsuki and possessed the sharingan of Uchiha clan. After Itachi’s death, Tobi revealed his identity to Kisame, who immediately recognized him as Madara and his village’s Mizukage.
After the death/betrayal of Nagato/Pain, Madara appoints Sasuke as the Gedou Demon Statue’s new summoner and discards the persona of Tobi. He reveals himself to the five Kage and threatens them with war (with the collected tailed-beasts) unless they hand over Naruto and Killer Bee to him. After they vehemently refuse, with Gaara standing up for Naruto and protecting him, Madara declares the Fourth Great Shinobi World War and leaves the fighting of Danzou to Sasuke.
Team Deidara/Tobi sealed sanbi the giant turtle. They worked well together despite Deidara’s irritation of Tobi. Deidara, as the “senpai” of the team felt compelled to protect his kohai especially during the showdown with him and Sasuke.
Zetsu’s ring is worn on his right little finger with the kanji 亥 (gai, “boar”) inscribed on it. He mimics the venus-fly trap, disposing off bodies Akatsuki doesn’t want found, with his cannibalistic tendencies. Zetsu is his own one-man team, with his dual personalities; he effectively serves as two people. His main body is split in half, both light and dark, each with its own level of individuality, and ultimately the two sides can split apart. The two individuals are frequently arguing with each other as they watch over their subjects. He is the organization’s spy. After Kabuto’s reappearance and summoning of the dead Akatsuki members, Madara promises the white half of Zetsu to Kabuto in turn for his alliance during the Fourth Shinobi World War.
Team Kakuzu & Hidan
Kakuzu’s ring is worn on his left middle finger with the kanji 北 (hoku, “north”) inscribed on it. He is a missing-nin from the Hidden Waterfall Village, Takigakure. His body is woven together by tendrils/threads, which allow him to reattach body parts, his or another back onto its owner. The tendrils are also used to tear out the hearts of his opponents to integrate it with his. This gives him the ability to use other elemental affinities (through his victims). His own element is Water; he later acquired Wind, Fire, Earth and Lightning elements.
During Kakuzu and Hidan’s fight with the Konoha ninjas, the team was separated on purpose by Shikamaru. Kakashi took out the Earth Heart. Hidan accidentally destroyed the Water Heart, through Shikarmaru’s clever ruse. When Naruto came as back up, he used his newly acquired Rasenshuriken and destroyed Kakuzu’s Wind and Fire Hearts. Finally, Kakashi finished off Kakuzu.
He too becomes Kabuto’s puppet during the Fourth Shinobi World War. He moves in the same direction as Itachi and carries the immobilized Nagato on his back. During the battle, he is once again confronted by Team Asuma/10: Ino-Shika-Chou. Before he manages to pull more stunts, his arms are severed by Kamizuki Izumo and Hagane Kotetsu. He manages to escape, only to be immobilized by Chouji’s giant fist. He is later sealed by a shinobi.
Hidan’s ring is worn on his left index finger with the kanji 三 (san, “three”) inscribed on it. He hails from the Hot Springs Village, Yugakure, and carries a large roped-scythe with him. He practices a cult religion called Jashin that makes him immortal. Shikamaru returned for Hidan, after Hidan killed his much respected sensei, Sarutobi Asuma. Since Shikamaru knew Hidan couldn’t be killed, he blew Hidan up instead and buried him deep underground in the forest of Nara. Even though Hidan is not dead, his ritual only allows him to live as long as he kills and performs the rites. His deep burial in a forest guarded by Nara family will ensure his eventual death.
Team Kakuzu/Hidan were assigned to capture the two-tailed cat and kyuubi, where they managed to seal one and failed on the other. Even though Kakuzu and Hidan were always bickering because of a conflict of interest, they are very effective as a team. Kakuzu saw Hidan’s ritualistic religion as a waste of time, while Hidan didn’t agree to Kakuzu’s monetary greed and his side occupation as a bounty hunter. Kakuzu had a violent habit of killing his partners and Hidan, with his immortal ability as a result of a successful Jashin experiment is able to withstand Kakuzu’s deadly violence and regenerate even if he is decapitated. They are the “Immortal Combi,” which Kisame refers to as the “Zombie Combie.”
Team Taka, lead by Uchiha Sasuke chose to align themselves with Akatsuki. However, it doesn’t mean that they believe in their philosophies or goals. According to Sasuke, who was trying to convince his teammates on joining the organization, his goal is to restore the Uchiha’s name (and probably Itachi’s), even if it means going against Akatsuki. Taka, however, shares one similar desire – to witness the destruction of Konoha. The team is only an affiliation since they do not possess the rings of the actual members. However, they are assigned the duty of capturing hachibi’s jinchuuriki Killer Bee, while Pain went on the hunt for kyuubi aka Naruto. The team consists of Suigetsu, Juugo and Karin.
After the death of Itachi, Team Taka/Sasuke comes under Madara’s “protection.” Madara even presents Sasuke with the gift of battling Danzou after the Five Kage Summit, in which he loses the use of his eye from heavy usage of Susanoo. After rejecting Naruto’s plea to return to Konohagakure, while trying to kill Sakura and battling Kakashi, he is teleported away by Madara. He soon asks for the implantation of Itachi’s eye into his. Sasuke is last seen recuperating with Zetsu as his guard.
Masashi Kishimoto, the writer, originally planned for Akatsuki to be a group of monsters devoid of human characteristics. Konohagakure has the most missing-nins in Akatsuki, and better yet, they are the last of the Uchihas – Madara, Itachi and Sasuke.