The world of Naruto is home to many dōjutsu or eye techniques, the Rinnegan being a seminal ability used by many users, ranging from Madara to Sasuke Uchiha. Deemed the most powerful among the “Three Great Dōjutsu” — apart from the Sharingan and the Byakugan — the Rinnegan can be used either for creation or destruction, depending on the intentions of the user.
Aesthetically, the Rinnegan appears in the form of concentric circles in the eye, although the manifestation of this ability differs greatly with every user. However, what does this ocular ability entail?
What exactly is the Rinnegan?
Fans of the Naruto franchise will be aware of the fact that almost all ocular abilities, including the Sharingan, are acquired by undergoing some sort of intense trauma, alongside chakra manipulation. The first Rinnegan can be traced back to Hagoromo Ōtsutsuki, also known as the Sage of the Six Paths, whose ability was activated alongside his Mangekyō Sharingan (an advanced Sharingan wielded by few belonging to the Uchiha clan, such as Itachi).
The process of acquiring the Rinnegan is not uniform, as it can be awakened in a number of ways — by working on Hagomoro’s chakra and manipulating the reincarnations of his son’s chakras. Needless to say, these eye activation processes are not natural by any means and usually come at an enormous personal cost, as evidenced by Madara’s trajectory of acquiring (and eventually losing) his power.
Level-ups to the Rinnegan can also be done by combining Uchiha and Senju DNA, although this was an experiment carried out by Orochimaru and Kabuto. As this was an artificially induced process, the Rinnegan recreation yielded weaker powers compared to the original.
Even in the case of naturally acquiring the Rinnegan, overuse can render the user unable to utilize the ability again (albeit temporarily). For instance, Sasuke’s Rinnegan allowed him to cast ocular genjutsu and Amaterasu, but overuse could run the risk of temporarily losing the ability to use his right eye’s Mangekyō Sharingan or evoke Susanoo.
The many abilities granted by the Rinnegan
Possessing the Rinnegan can both be a blessing and a curse, depending on the user’s ability to employ the power without annihilating their chakra reserve or being consumed by the extent of its potency. While possessing a naturally-induced Rinnegan is overwhelmingly powerful, an artificial transplant on a single eye can also work out in favor of the user.
In terms of the powers it grants, the Rinnegan can see through chakra flow and invisible barriers, allowing the user to master any Jutsu, alongside the five nature transformations. In fact, this dōjutsu is the only one that can help decipher the Sage of Six Paths stone tablet.
Apart from this, the user can also wield six abilities known as the Six Paths of Technique — which include the Deva Path, Asura Path, Human Path, and Animal Path, among others. A seventh offshoot, known as the Outer Path, also grants the user control over life and death, most importantly, necromancy, and the creation of the Six Paths of Pain, which was famously used by Nagato in a weakened state during battle. Other uses include creating a jinchūriki by sealing off the Ten-Tails inside one’s body and creating the Infinite Tsukuyomi.
Interestingly, some Rinnegan powers are specific to its wielders: Madara can navigate the world of Limbo and control the spirits that reside there, while Urashiki can travel back to the past in order to alter the sands of time. Meanwhile, Sasuke’s Rinnegan has several facets to it, including pattern recognition which helps him derive a considerable amount of information from small patterns.
In order to better understand user-specific Rinnegan abilities, here are some of the prominent users of this coveted dōjutsu:
As Nagato hailed from the Uzumaki clan, his bloodline allowed him to accept the Rinnegan from Madara Uchiha, who intended to take the ability back after reanimation at some point. While the details of the transplant are scant, this occurred when Nagato was a child, whose innate power remained unnoticed as he grew up in the secluded Rain Village.
As mentioned above, Nagato went on to use the Sage of the Six Paths and was able to use the five elements to create offensive and defensive techniques in battle. Interestingly, Nagato is the only user (so far) to be able to harness all six powers of the Six Paths of Pain, acting out through the alias, Pain, regarding it as a separate identity.
Sasuke is a foundational character in Naruto, having undergone an intense arc in which he has both gained and lost a lot along the way. After awakening the Eternal Mangekyo Sharingan during the Fourth Great Ninja War, he underwent a near-death experience which led him to receive half of the Sage of the Six Path’s powers. This led his left Sharingan to evolve into a Rinnegan with six tomoe, granting him great power, including short-distance teleportation. Sasuke can also perform Amenotejikara with this ability.
Madara’s Rinnegan was awakened by him via his own efforts, which includes fusing Ashura’s powers with those of Indra, while also being a vessel for the Ten-Tails. Apart from enjoying the telltale abilities that the Rinnegan grants to a user, Madara was able to use Limbo: Hengoku, which allowed him to summon clones of himself from another dimension. These clones were swift, powerful, and deadly, as they could even take down the Tailed Beasts with a few hits.
Obito was the successor to Madara’s Infinite Tsukuyomi plan, and he had taken it upon himself to wield the Rinnegan in order to materialize the grand plan, especially after Nagato’s death. Obito’s use of the Rinnegan was considerably effective, given how he created his own Six Paths, summoned the Demonic Statue of the Outer Path, and used the Samsara of Heavenly Life Technique to revive the dead in exchange for his own life.
Kaguya, of course, is a god, as she belongs to a celestial clan and is the progenitor of chakra herself. While she did not officially possess the Rinnegan per se, she wielded the Rinne-Sharingan, which contained the powers of both dōjutsu, allowing her to open portals to six different dimensions. The Infinite Tsukuyomi is an integral part of her Rinne-Sharingan abilities, and she can also teleport herself at the drop of a hat.
Momoshiki and Urashiki Otsutsuki
The Otsutsuki clan is an incredibly powerful one, wherein both Momoshiki and Urashiki emerged as formidable threats — the former had three different Rinnegan at his disposal, while the latter possessed the tomoe-Rinnegan in both eyes. Momoshiki had the ability to absorb all chakra with one Rinnegan and amplify its intensity exponentially with the other; he also had a third one on his forehead. On the other hand, Urashiki can steal people’s chakra and use it to his advantage.
Officially known as the Sage of Six Paths, Hagoromo can certainly be deemed one of the most formidable Rinnegan users in Naruto. Apart from harnessing the powers of all Six Paths, he could also create the moon with Six Paths: Chibaku Tensei, which combines yin and tang powers. While the Rinnegan is mostly referred to as kekkei genkai, Hagoromo’s Rinnegan is considered to be kekkei mora, which is infinitely more powerful.