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Only the Strongest Members of ROOT Naruto are included in this list.
What is the Foundation in Naruto?
Also known as Ne and the Foundation, ROOT is an ANBU faction created and led by Danzo Shimura. Unlike the traditional ANBU, ROOT shinobis received their orders directly from Danzo, not the Hokage, and went through a special training process to get rid of their emotions. They were sent on missions Danzo believed would benefit Konoha in the long run.
Before we analyze the ROOT operatives in detail, we must establish a couple of rules for this article.
Only Naruto manga and Boruto (anime and manga) characters will be covered.
This means that Naruto filler and novel ROOT operatives (such as Kakashi or the trio that fought Itachi and Shisui in the Itachi Shinden animated adaptation) will not be taken into account.
However, novels, games, and filler feats of the aforementioned manga characters may be taken into account.
The versions of the characters will be their known versions when they were ROOT members.
This means any version of them when they either haven’t joined yet either have left ROOT won’t be taken into account (such as Sage Kabuto, for example).
However, a small note at the end of each character’s analysis will explain where they rank with their current versions.
Edo versions physical feats are an exception to this rule only if the character died as a ROOT member (since the Edo Tensei brings physical nerfs).
Characters who are ROOT affiliates but not members (as in, they either receive orders from Danzo or were trained by ROOT operatives) won’t be taken into account.
This includes Itachi, Inojin, and Sumire, for example.
Their overall abilities, not just in combat but also in other skills, such as spying, will be taken into account. Characters with insufficient overall feats such as Hyō will not be taken into account either.
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With that in mind, we may begin the analysis.
Tanuki, Sumire’s father, stood out more for his abilities as a researcher than his abilities in actual combat. Nonetheless, his skills in that domain were impressive.
Put in charge of researching Hashirama Senju’s cells to create the Gozu Tennō ninjutsu to protect Konoha, Tanuki finished the project after Danzō’s death, putting the seal on Sumire.
The seal’s composition is impressive. Sasuke Uchiha compares it to Kaguya Otsutsuki’s abilities.
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Within that seal, Tanuki created a monster named Nue, whom Sumire could summon in combat to help her, and fed on chakra and negative emotions, the latter which can also be used to control other people (such as Shino), deteriorating their mental state.
Nue becomes larger the more chakra it absorbs. At his peak, Nue could destroy an entire city.
The seal isn’t without a cost, as it reduces Sumire’s lifespan as a result.
Admittedly, Tanuki is an impressive scientist, but there’s nothing to judge him regarding combat, except what he taught Sumire.
- Where does he rank with his current version: his position doesn’t change. Even after ROOT’s disbandment and up to his death, Tanuki does nothing that can put him above any of the following characters.
Much like Tanuki, there’s not much to judge Nonō on regarding combat, though we have slightly more meat there as she fought her estranged adoptive son Kabuto (she has shown above-average shurikenjutsu, and could’ve hit Kabuto had the latter not noticed her), hence why she’s above him (being a far better parent has nothing to do with that).
That being said, Nonō shined far more in medical ninjutsu and spying. Danzō credits her as the absolute best ROOT spy.
Her spying abilities were good enough Danzō blackmailed her into joining ROOT once again when he needed to send a ROOT agent to Iwakagure.
And it shows: by the time of her demise, it’s implied Iwa-in thought « Nanigashi » was still a loyal kunoichi (since Kabuto notes previously that he was « surrounded ») that asked for reinforcements against Kabuto.
An impressive portfolio for someone Danzō thought wasn’t suited for ROOT due to her inability to lose her emotions.
- Where does she rank with her current version: She stays at the same place: she has no feats outside of those mentioned here.
Kabuto is everything his mother is and more.
He defeated her in their fateful fight (he combat blitzed her), is a skilled medic-nin as well, and has more spying feats.
He was able to successfully spy on the major hidden villages (Kiri, Iwa, Kumo, and Suna) without getting caught, even though it’s implied Iwa might have found out (Kabuto states he’s « surrounded » and reinforcements arrived — too late — to assist Nonō, who possibly told them of Kabuto’s status as a spy for Konoha).
His spying feats are especially impressive when he became a spy shortly after leaving the orphanage, and thus with a very low amount of experience in the domain.
He could already use the chakra scalpels offensively even at this age.
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What makes him impressive is that in the span of 5 years as a ROOT spy in the 5 major Hidden Villages — joining when his sole skill resided in medical techniques —, Kabuto successfully surpassed every feat his mother has shown on-screen.
Recruiting him was one of Orochimaru’s greatest decisions.
- Where does he rank with his current version: First or Second. The plethora of skills he developed since he left ROOT, to the point of keeping up with Edo Itachi and EMS Sasuke — outright blitzing the former at one point — put him ridiculously above several other characters on the list.
Sai’s brother didn’t have a lot of screentime but has shown nonetheless he was a skilled ninja of his own right. While only his swordsmanship was witnessed, he did noticeable things with it. Such as locking blades with his brother, who only grew in strength since the last time they saw each other:
He doesn’t stop there. He was able not only to keep up with the Sasori puppet…
But also to successfully dodge Omoi’s blitz attempt.
Keep in mind that Omoi previously blitzed Sakura and is one of Killer Bee’s students, so he’s a strong shinobi of his own right.
This feat is especially more impressive given that the Sasori puppet was pressuring Shin before Omoi attempted to blitz him.
In the fillers, he has shown superior shuriken Jutsu to Sai.
He could also pressure him in their deathmatch (though admittedly, Sai wasn’t willing to fight).
Shin may look like a one-trick pony, but for what he had, he did well.
- Where does he rank with his current version: he’s still above Nonō, though Kabuto thoroughly outclasses him and is massively above him at this point.
Kinoe (Future Yamato)
While we can only judge his skillset based on the Kakashi ANBU Arc, Kinoe had already shown why Danzō chose him.
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When it comes to swordsmanship, he consistently kept up with Kakashi in long durations of time.
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His Wood Style is also very versatile already, though he hadn’t reached the maneuverability he had with it in his older age: but he could skillfully switch between it and his noticeable swordsmanship.
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He could make spikes, domes, or basic attacks with these.
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Kinoe may not be Tenzō let alone Yamato yet, but he was no joke; he never was.
- Where does he ranks with his current version: You can make a case for him reaching third place if you use his « possessed by Tobi/Guruguru » version. His Boruto version, that being said, could be arguably put above Fu and Torune as well, though they’re no way to decisively scale him above these two since their anti-feats are against the likes of Obito. Kabuto is still above the latter version, though.
As he was a ROOT member from his first appearance up to Danzō’s death (leading to ROOT’s disbandment), Sai’s the ROOT character with the most on-screen feats in the manga.
His elemental ninjutsu is already impressive, with knowledge on Fire Style, Water Style, Yang Style, and Earth Style. For example, he could use the latter to hide within the earth.
But Sai’s skills reside far more in his Ink techniques and his master drawing skills. He can draw noticeably detailed characters or elements in a few instants.
In detail, his Art of Cartoon Beast Mimicry allows him to draw a variety of animals (and even explosive tags) such as several species of birds for transportation, snakes for restrictions, small animals (such as mice) for scouting, tigers, and lions for direct attack, etc. This is a very versatile technique.
Finally, Sai’s taijutsu and swordsmanship are quite good. He could react to the likes of Early Shippuden Naruto and Sasuke, with the latter outright complimenting him.
- Where he ranks with his current version: Hard to say. While one could argue for a Kage Level position (given that his Benevolent Genies blitzed Edo Sasori and Edo Deidara; not to forget that he carpet-bombed Pakura, Gari, Zabuza, and Haku), whether he’s stronger or weaker than Yamato by the time Boruto pops up is up to debate. That being said, if one takes into account the Tobi-possessed Yamato, the latter is stronger than Sai, able to take on the 5 Kage easily and keep up with Edo Hiruzen.
While suffering from a low amount of screentime as well, Fu was no slouch. First off, he and Torune can be scaled above Sai through Danzō’s statement before the 5 Kage Summit:
Moreover, both he and Torune proved exceptionally intelligent, figuring out how Obito’s Kamui works. In fact, Obito acknowledges several times that these two are something else.
Regarding Fu’s skills as an individual, he’s a member of the Yamanaka clan and has not only the usual Mind Transfer Jutsu — not only common within the clan but with even a few non-Yamanakas that learned it such as Aoba — but more importantly, he developed a particular variant of the technique known as the Mind Transfer Puppet Curse Jutsu.
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This is a technique extremely useful when it comes to ambushes: Fu places a puppet somewhere in advance before controlling it and has it attack an opponent, leading to a Morton’s Fork situation: either the opponent strikes the puppet first, either the puppet attacks the opponent first.
Either way, a curse appears on the puppet, and Fu (whose consciousness is within the puppet for the duration of the technique) and the opponent end up switching bodies: the opponent’s consciousness is stuck inside the puppet while Fu’s consciousness controls the opponents of body.
It does keep some of the Mind Transfer Jutsu’s cons, such as Fu getting damage whenever the opponent’s body — from the moment Fu controls it — is damaged.
However, Fu doesn’t have to worry about his target trying to overpower his mind: the latter is struck inside the puppet.
Furthermore, he’s also — much like most ANBUs — a skilled swordsman. In fillers, he could spar with Torune without being touched by the latter.
Being touched by Torune is quite risky, as we’re going to see soon enough.
- Where does he rank with his current version in mind: Shin, Nonō, and Tanuki are still out of their league in front of Fu. Kabuto, Yamato, and Sai are much stronger by the time Boruto pops up, though.
Again, despite his low amount of screentime, Torune was a tough cookie. Everything mentioned regarding both him and Fu is still something to take into account. However, Torune had more than his teammate in several aspects.
While Obito complimented the two ROOT members, not only he was more impressed by Torune, but the latter was the one who gave him the most trouble, even when Obito changed his fighting style to trick them after they figured out Kamui.
For example, while Obito outright blitzed Fu when he sent the latter into the Kamui dimension, he needed to take Torune by surprise.
Furthermore, even when taken by surprise, Torune successfully touched Obito’s left arm. Had he touched his right arm (which isn’t composed of a Zetsu arm composed of Hashirama cells), Obito could’ve died.
Fu, as an Aburame, controls insects, but not the average Pikachu. He uses instead nano-sized insects known as the rinkaichū: they are extremely venomous and since they’re all over Torune’s body, he can infect anyone with it with but simple touch.
They can destroy their target’s cells, though Torune can remove them from his target with a simple touch, and he also has an antidote.
Unlike the average Aburame who tends to fight at long range, Torune fights at close range as a result, though he has shown he can use these insects at long range in fillers, and more importantly when he fought Shino as an Edo Tensei, with the Poison Cloud Jutsu.
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Speaking of fillers, he gets more feats there: not only he can keep up with a KCM1 Naruto clone, but he nearly blitzes the clone, who’s only saved by Shino’s intervention.
His mere punch’s strength could also briefly keep up with a Rasengan.
Needless to say, Torune has proved he was all-around more impressive than his Yamanaka friend.
- Where does he rank with his current version: Kabuto is the only one who can be clearly scaled above Torune with current versions in mind. Sai and Yamato can most likely be scaled above him with their most recent feats. However, Tanuki, Nonō, Shin, and Fu are still out of their league when compared to Torune.
Getting such a position is easy for him: Orochimaru, around this time, was about to leave Konoha and thus could be scaled low-end relative to his Part 1 self before Hiruzen removed his arms. He was, on top of that, considered for the 4th Hokage position before Minato was ultimately chosen above him.
Orochimaru, around this point, was also a skilled scientist, if an immoral one, experimenting on people and mastering forbidden techniques such as the Edo Tensei and the Body Switch technique.
Ironic how the strongest ROOT member is the one most controlled by his emotions, namely his curiosity.
- Where does he rank with his current version: Second or First, most likely, though one can argue for a first position through Boruto and novel scaling. That Sums up Everything.
Thanks for making it through the end.
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