Who Is Sai In ‘Naruto’?

And why is he the worst?

And why is he the worst?

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I have had sinus infections that are more likable than this guy. I finished Naruto, sat down to watch Naruto: Shippuden (after finding out what “shippuden” meant), expecting further homoerotic Naruto x Sasuke action, and I get … this guy? Where did he come from? When will he go? Cotten-eyed Joe?

So Who IS This Guy?

Sai is named after the weapon that I want to stab myself with whenever I want to see him on screen. He’s a bad guy! He is a member of an organization called Root, which is a subdivision of the Anbu (the Navy Seals of the Leaf Village) led by Danzo Shimura. Danzo Shimura was not a good dude, and brainwashed Sai from a young age to believe that The Root was a “necessary evil” that was justified in the numerous extrajudicial killings it carried out on behalf of the Leaf Village. This might have been the case, if the Leaf Village had KNOWN ABOUT IT. But they DIDN’T, so Danzo Shimura was basically MURDERING everyone that he didn’t like on grounds that they were enemies of his village. Not a good move.

Sai however, falls for Danzo’s rhetoric hook, line, and sinker. As an elite warrior, he was given the task to KILL Sasuke Uchiha because the boy was perceived as a threat to the Hidden Leaf Village. He became a member of Team Seven alongside Naruto and Sakura, taking Sasuke’s place.

So Why Haven’t Naruto And His Pals Iced This Dude?

Well, it’s complicated. Remember how I said that Sai was an unlikeable antagonist? He doesn’t stay that way. By working with Team Seven, he is eventually able to realize that he was brainwashed by his former commanding officer. He realizes that the world isn’t as black and white as Danzo Shimura would have him believe, and begins to come to his own conclusions about the organization whose tenants he once blindly followed. In short, Naruto and Sakura don’t need to stick a kunai in this kid because they’re better than that. They end up befriending him and convince him that Sasuke is a complex person who, while walking dangerously close to the dark side, is not deserving of death. Eventually, Sai even helped Naruto save Sasuke, as Naruto and Sasuke’s relationship reminded Sai of the only friend he ever had. A boy named Shin.

So Is Sai A Bad Dude?

Not at all. At least, not anymore. He was a troubled kid who fell victim to the ideologies of adults who should have known better. In fact, as the series progresses, he becomes a DOPE character. First impressions matter, but they’re not the only thing that matters. If anything, Sai shows us that people can change. Maybe if he can turn out to be likable, there’s hope for the rest of us too.

(Feautured image: Pierrot)

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Jack Doyle
Jack Doyle (they/them) is actually nine choirs of biblically accurate angels crammed into one pair of $10 overalls. They have been writing articles for nerds on the internet for less than a year now. They really like anime. Like... REALLY like it. Like you know those annoying little kids that will only eat hotdogs and chicken fingers? They're like that... but with anime. It's starting to get sad.