Akatsuki is a small organization, at any given point, the group has at most ten members and a unknown number of agents. Though they seem to have a decent network of agents in the villages, these individuals are usually under some form of mind-control. A notable exception is Tobi, who only orders to Zetsu before being promoted. The members of Akatsuki are all S-class criminals, the most dangerous men in the Naruto universe.
Little is known about how to join the infamous Akatsuki, but extraordinary fighting ability and ruthlessness seem to be compolsure. Unique traits (genetic or otherwise) also seem to be a common factor among its members. Two of the more prominent members so far, Itachi and Sasori, both undertook some sort of challenging task at the time of their entering the group. Sasori mentions during his fight with Chiyo and Sakura Haruno that "he hadn't had this much difficulty since joining Akatsuki." Itachi was responsible for murdering his whole clan exept for hes little brother sasuke uchiha. Around the time he is believed to have entered, but it can't be said for sure that the two events were linked.
Akatsuki's overall goal is to control all the 5 shinobi villages. To achieve that goal, the leader has set up a three-step process to work their way to it. First, they plan to obtain a large amount of money to support their organization. Second, they plan to set up a mercenary group loyal to no village. To build their reputation, they plan to accept any mission below the usual cost, which is covered by the excess amount of funds earned in the first part of their plan. Because there haven't been any wars in some time, the established shinobi villages can't afford to charge such low prices, leading the smaller countries to hire Akatsuki over the more expensive shinobi villages. By using the tailed beasts, Akatsuki can start wars and then immediately quell them, solidifying their reputation and convincing every country to depend on them, thus cornering the market in shinobi labor. Without any business, the other shinobi villages will collapse due to a lack of funds. Finally, after Akatsuki is the only major group of shinobi in existence, they can easily conquer the other countries.
As a large part of their plan, they actively hunt the tailed beasts and their hosts. Once a tailed beast or its host is captured, they seal them in a large statue for use at a later time. Akatsuki possesses six tailed beasts: the one-tailed Shukaku, the two-tailed demon cat, the three-tailed demon, and three other unknown demons.
Akatsuki members usually work in teams of two. Teams are built to complement each other's abilities and talents to create a formidable duo. For example, Kakuzu uses Hidan's immortality to their advantage by using large-scale attacks on those Hidan has pinned down; being immortal, Hidan survives what is normally fatal to his opponent. Due to Orochimaru's defection, their numbers are now uneven, so one or more members appear to be working alone. Currently, Zetsu, the leader, and the unnamed member are not known to be on any team. Each member thus far has shown at least a working loyalty to each other and their mysterious leader, and they have excellent working relationships. On a personal level, however, many of the team members exhibit outright animosity towards one another, though they do not let it get in the way of their missions.
Tailed beast extraction
Whenever an Akatsuki member captures a tailed beast or its host, it is taken to their hidout. Once there, the Akatsuki leader summons a giant statue of a humanoid monster. The leader doesn't need to be there to summon the statue, nether do Akatsuki members need to be physically present for the statue to activate. Any Akatsuki members unable to reach the statue can use astral projection to appear at the statue. The statue itself seems to symbolize restriction or sealing. The creature's hands are bound, its eyes are blindfolded, and a bit is in its mouth, which falls out when the Akatsuki members are sealing a tailed beast. On the creature's blindfold are nine closed eyes (eight eyes in two rows of four with the larger ninth eye in the center), each corresponding to one of the nine tailed beasts. The eyes don't appear to be in any specific order, as the eye representing the one-tailed Shukaku is the second on the upper row while the eye representing the three-tailed beast is the third on the lower row.
After the summoning, the host or tailed beast (depending on if it is sealed in a person or not) is placed in front of the statue while each Akatsuki member stands on the finger that corresponds to their specific ring. The members then perform Sealing Technique: Illusionary Dragon Nine Consuming Seals to draw the spirit of the beast (or the beast itself) into the statue. Once the beast is sealed, all the eyes open, and the pupil of the eye that corresponds to the beast appears, indicating that it has been successfully sealed. It's unknown if the statue serves any other purpose than to contain the captured tailed beasts.
Each Akatsuki member wears a single, unique ring, and no two members wear a ring on the same finger. Each member wears their ring on the same finger as the spot they occupy on the giant statue. In total, there are ten rings, but Akatsuki only possesses eight; Orochimaru kept his after defecting and Kakuzu's body (and ring) is in Konoha's possession. Orochimaru's ring still rests on the little finger of the severed left hand from his original body. The rings seem to have some special significance; Tobi believed that he could become a member after finding Sasori's ring, and although Zetsu claims it's not as easy as that, Tobi does indeed become a member. Deidara reinforces the significance of the rings after losing both his arms by expressing more concern for finding the arm with his ring, rather than finding the arm itself. Each ring bears a unique symbol, the first kanji of its name.
The members of Akatsuki continue to wear forehead protectors from their former home villages, but scratch a line across the symbol of their village. This is done to indicate that their ties to the village have been severed and they no longer give any allegiance to their former homes. Currently, the Akatsuki leader, Tobi, and the one unnamed Akatsuki member have not been shown wearing forehead protectors, so it is unknown where they are originally from. Additionally, Hidan's forehead protector, while clearly visible, features a symbol not correspondingwith any known village, so his place of origin is a mystery, as well.
Itachi Uchiha (うちは イタチ, Uchiha Itachi?) is a missing-nin from Konohagakure and is partnered with Kisame Hoshigaki. During his time in Konoha, Itachi's prodigious talents and rapid development into a skilled ninja earned great attention from his family, the Uchiha clan.His skills were such that his family focused all of its attention on him and the prospect that he would be the clan's future, ignoring Itachi's younger brother, Sasuke Uchiha, in the process. Over time Itachi began to distance himself from the village and his family, eventually becoming a prime suspect in his best friend, Shisui Uchiha's, death. Before the death could be properly investigated, Itachi killed all the members of the Uchiha clan in a single night so that he could "test [his] ability". Itachi decided to spare Sasuke, however, feeling he was not worth killing; instead, prior to leaving, Itachi told Sasuke to live hating him and get strong enough to avenge the clan. At some point in time Itachi joined Akatsuki. While it stands to reason that he joined after massacring the Uchiha clan, the timeline that has been given throughout the series coupled with his age suggests that he joined the organization prior to killing his clan.
Although he is a member of Akatsuki, Itachi does not find great interest in fighting. He instead prefers to avoid battle or, if that is not possible, end it as quickly as possible while exerting as little effort as he can. When he does fight Itachi remains stationary, attacking only in defense and to otherwise avoid damage. He also studies an opponent's movements with his Sharingan eyes, using them to properly assess an opponent's actions and respond accordingly. His Sharingan is further enhanced when he activates his Mangekyo Sharingan, the strongest ability a member of the Uchiha clan can gain, which he acquired after he killed Shisui Uchiha.With the Mangekyo Sharingan, Itachi is able to utilize attacks that can defeat even the strongest opponent, though it has been suggested that he is losing his eyesight as a result of repeated use. In addition to his Sharingan-based abilities, Itachi is very skilled with genjutsu. Itachi's skill with genjutsu is such that he can trap others with illusion by merely pointing or looking at them, as well as turning their own genjutsu against them. Itachi is also noted to be very fast with his techniques and movements, extending to his hand signs and weaponry as well.
Kisame Hoshigaki (干柿鬼鮫, Hoshigaki Kisame?) is a missing-nin from Kirigakure and is partnered with Itachi Uchiha. He gets along considerably better with Itachi than most Akatsuki members do with their own partners, immediately doing as Itachi asks of him and always looking out for Itachi's well-being. His former country, the Land of Water, now seeks him out for plotting to overthrow its government and being involved in numerous assassinations.When he was still loyal to Kirigakure, he was one of the Seven Swordsmen of the Mist (霧の忍刀七人衆, Kiri no Shinobigatana Shichinin Shū?), a group of ninja that wield particularly large weapons in battle. Kisame's weapon is called Samehada (鮫肌, "shark skin"), a scale-covered sword that shaves off skin instead of cutting. Samehada is also capable of absorbing untold amounts of chakra. Samehada only allows Kisame to wield it; if anyone else tries to pick it up, spikes protrude from its handle and it returns to Kisame's side. Like other characters who have trained to be one of the Seven Swordsmen, Kisame enjoys mutilating his opponents, as seen when he suggests cutting off Naruto Uzumaki's legs to make him easier to carry.
Kisame has a distinctive shark-like appearance, complete with pale blue skin, small white eyes, gill-like facial structures, and sharp triangular teeth. Even his name, Kisame (鬼鮫), means "demon shark". His shark-like qualities carry over to the type of techniques he uses in battle, as he often shapes bodies of water into the forms of sharks that proceed to attack opponents. If there is no water source where he happens to be fighting, Kisame can use Water Release: Exploding Water Shockwave (水遁・爆水衝波, Suiton: Bakusui Shōha?) to create a lake's worth of water to be used for attacks. Kisame is also noted to have a particularly large amounts of chakra in his reserves; even when he fights at 30% power in one instance his chakra supply is compared to that of a Nine-Tailed Demon Fox-enhanced Naruto Uzumaki.
Konan (小南, Konan?) is the only female ninja in Akatsuki and the only member to call her partner, Pein, by his name. When she was younger, Konan, Pein, and Yahiko were left orphaned by one of Amegakure's many wars, forcing them to fend for themselves. The three eventually encountered Jiraiya, who looked after them and taught them basic ninjutsu. Jiraiya believed Konan to have died with Nagato and Yahiko some time later, and upon seeing her again years later he comments on how beautiful she has become.
Konan has a natural talent for origami, as seen with the paper flower she keeps in her hair. This talent extends to her type of jutsu, as she can divide her body into countless numbers of paper sheets. These sheets can be controlled individually and formed into various shapes for a number of purposes, such as butterflies for scouting or generic weapons for attack. Konan can even form wings from that allow her to fly. This has led to her title as "God's Angel" amongst the villagers of Amegakure, as she often carries out Pein's will. Her abilities are constrained while wet, as paper clings to itself and loses its stiffness.
Pein (ペイン, Pein?) is the leader of Akatsuki. When he was younger, Pein, then known as Nagato (長門), Konan, and Yahiko were left orphaned by one of Amegakure's many wars, forcing them to fend for themselves. The three eventually encountered Jiraiya, who looked after them for three years and taught them basic ninjutsu. During this time Pein awakened his Rinnegan eyes so he could save Yahiko from an enemy ninja, though the ninja's resulting death traumatized him. Jiraiya gave him words of advice to get over the event. Sometime after Jiraiya left the three to pursue their own goals, Pein began to believe that his childhood traumas had enlightened him and started to view himself as a god. Believing that it was his obligation as a god to usher the world into an age of peace, he began plans to create a weapon of mass destruction that has the power to force the world to realize the meaninglessness of fighting.
Pein eventually began a civil war within Amegakure, which he subsequently ended by singlehandedly killing the village's leader, Hanzo. To make sure there were no sympathizers of Hanzo remaining in the village, Pein killed all of Hanzo's family, friends, and affiliates, elevating him to god-like status amongst the townspeople. He now uses the village as his base of operations for Akatsuki, where he is partnered with Konan. Although he directs the actions of the other members and maintains authority over them, Pein takes orders from Tobi.
Pein is shown to have six bodies in total that he can switch between via a machine. Of the two bodies he has been seen in, the only consistent physical characteristics are a large number of piercings and his Rinnegan eyes. He implies that each of the bodies have a specific purpose, as he switches to one body solely to kill an intruder.
Pein abilties vary, as noted by Jiraiya, he learned all of the jutsus he taught him and even posesses all 6 different elemental chakra which no single person has. He mastered all the essential jutsus and at 10 years of age proficiently used them all. One of the jutsus Pein uses is Shapeshifting Technique (象転の術, Shōten no Jutsu?), in which he uses human sacrifices to create a perfect copy of another person, controlled remotely by the original, a jutsu which he uses to maintain the safety of his subordinates. The clones formed possess any unique genetic traits or weapons the original has, but its abilities are proportionate to the amount of chakra given to the clone. Pein has displayed the ability to control rain, and can detect the movements and chakra levels of people traveling within it. He also has multiple different summons each with a large number of piercings and Rinnegan eyes.
Tobi (トビ, Tobi?) is a former subordinate of Zetsu. After Sasori's death, Tobi takes his ring, position, and partner (Deidara) in Akatsuki, thereby becoming a full member. After Deidara's death, which is also assumed to be his own death, Tobi is shown giving Pein, the leader of Akatsuki, orders, and he refers to himself as Madara Uchiha.
Tobi's personality is at odds with the standard amongst Akatsuki members; while most are dedicated and serious, Tobi is more carefree and goofy. These personality traits tend to irritate Deidara, who often attacks Tobi in some way when Tobi unintentionally annoys him. Kisame Hoshigaki, on the other hand, appreciates Tobi's ability to brighten up their gloomy organization. Prior to revealing himself as Madara Uchiha, Tobi uses a very formal and correct manner of speech. Since then, his personality and speech have become completely different, as he speaks much less formally and is more serious and arrogant.
Tobi's actual appearance remains a complete mystery. He wears an odd mask that covers his entire face save for his right eye, which like other Uchiha has the Sharingan. He also has several bolts or pins present on the arms of his uniform, now obscured by his Akatsuki cloak. Furthermore, Tobi does not wear a visible headband, though Madara Uchiha is known to originate from Konohagakure. His fighting style is equally shrouded in mystery, as his only notable trait is the ability to recover from what are presumably debilitating or fatal blows without injury and in a matter of seconds.
Zetsu (ゼツ, Zetsu?) functions as a spy for Akatsuki. To serve this purpose he uses his Leech All Creation: Attack Prevention Technique (蛭万象・防火の術, Hiru Banshō: Bōka no Jutsu?) to merge with anything and instantly travel to a new location. He has been shown able to move his body and take part in the tailed beast sealing ritual simultaneously which, in addition to being unique to him, allows him to act as a lookout while the sealing takes place. Because of the role he plays, Zetsu is the only member of Akatsuki to act without a partner on a regular basis. Despite this, Zetsu serves as a sort of superior to other members, as they often report directly to him instead of the actual leader, Pein.
Zetsu's head appears to be enveloped in a large venus flytrap, which can also envelop the rest of his body. To further enhance his venus flytrap characteristics, Zetsu is cannibalistic, and as such he is sent to dispose of bodies Akatsuki does not want found by devouring them. This, in addition to his other roles, gives him the function as Akatsuki's hunter-nin, something that is further exercised when he is sent to retrieve the rings of dead Akatsuki members. The right side of Zetsu's body and face is black in color while his left side is white. To go with this, Zetsu seems to have a split personality, as the black half of his face speaks only in Katakana while the white side uses Kanji and Kana. The two halves also seem to converse with each other, and occasionally differ in opinion.
Deidara (デイダラ, Deidara?) is a missing-nin from Iwagakure. Before joining Akatsuki, Deidara acted as a terrorist bomber for hire, where his work attracted the attention of Pein. Pein sent other Akatsuki members to recruit Deidara, though he refused. After being defeated by Itachi Uchiha, however, Deidara was forced to join the organization. Deidara maintains a deep loathing for Itachi from that point further and becomes determined to defeat him, even training one of his eyes to overcome Itachi's signature ability: genjutsu. Deidara was partnered with Sasori upon joining the organization, whose artistic ability and insight Deidara admired. After Sasori's death Deidara is paired with Tobi whom he treats as a disciple. Despite Tobi's habit of accidentally angering Deidara, Deidara takes great care to keep Tobi out of harm's way and even dedicates his final moments to apologizing to him.
In battle, Deidara uses special mouths in the palm of each hand to create Exploding Clay (起爆粘土, Kibaku Nendo?), chakra-infused clay that explodes on command. He commonly uses the command "detonate" (喝, Katsu?) to trigger it. The blast strength of his creations is determined by how much chakra he adds to them. His clay can take on any size or form, ranging from microscopic in size to copies of himself as tall as a skyscraper. Deidara refers to his creations as art, believing the most beautiful thing about them to be their detonation. His admiration for his art is such that he believes it can't be defeated, leading to overconfidence in battle. Depending on the complexity or potency of one of his works, Deidara applies it a designation from anywhere between "C1" to "C4", the former being the most basic and the latter being his strongest and most complex attack. For his final act, Deidara also has a mouth on his chest that, once unsealed and provided with clay, turns him into a living bomb that destroys everything in a 10 kilometer radius. Deidara uses this as a last resort during his battle with Sasuke Uchiha, Itachi's younger brother, in an effort to prove his art is supreme, though Sasuke is able to survive.
Hidan (飛段, Hidan?) is the foul-mouthed partner of Kakuzu and is the second newest member of Akatsuki at the time of his expulsion. Hidan belongs to the Jashin ("evil god") religion, a religion that worships a deity of the same name and where anything less than utter destruction is considered a sin. Before battles start Hidan prays to Jashin and asks for nothing short of a kill or, when he is not allowed to kill his opponents, for forgiveness. After battles, should he have time, Hidan performs a thirty-minute ritual in accordance with his religion that culminates by stabbing himself in the chest and lying upon the ground. In addition to his religion Hidan has been gifted with immortality, and as such he is able to survive fatal wounds and even retains the ability to speak after being decapitated. Despite this, Hidan needs to be connected to his body in order to control it. Kakuzu assists him in these instances by reattaching his limbs, allowing the wounds to heal with time. Hidan's inability to die is also used to Kakuzu's advantage, as he can attack Hidan all he wants without worrying about finding a new partner afterwards. Although the two dislike working together, this advantage makes them the ideal team.
During battle Hidan makes every attempt to acquire an opponent's blood where, upon consuming it, he draws a symbol on the ground that "links" him with his opponent. Once this link is created Hidan takes on a grim reaper-like appearance and becomes what is essentially a voodoo doll for his opponent; any damage that is done to Hidan is also done to them. Hidan first uses this ability to give himself nonfatal injuries that bring him pleasure due to the pain it causes to him and the opponent. Once he is done toying with opponents in this way he stabs himself in the heart, killing them. Links can be broken prematurely if Hidan is removed from the safety of his symbol, though it can easily be reestablished by simply reentering its borders. After Hidan uses this ability to kill Asuma Sarutobi, Shikamaru Nara faces him in an attempt to gain revenge. Hidan is unable to form a link with Shikamaru and eventually falls into one of Shikamaru's traps. With Hidan captured, Shikamaru blows him up and buries the still-speaking remains under a pile of rubble. While his actual status is currently unknown, Akatsuki no longer considers him a member.
Kakuzu (角都, Kakuzu?) is a missing-nin from Takigakure and Hidan's partner. He is a greedy individual, prioritizing things in terms of how much they are worth and finding money to be the only thing that he can depend on. Kakuzu's favorite source of income is collecting bounties, and he has even memorized the worth and information on some of the more dangerous targets. Due to this view of money, Kakuzu refers to himself as the "Treasurer of Akatsuki", though it is unknown if this is an actual position. Despite finding Akatsuki to be a good source of income, Kakuzu greatly dislikes the fact that he needs a teammate, due in part to his habit of killing anyone near him (partners included) when enraged. Having killed all of his previous partners as a result of this, Kakuzu was partnered with Hidan. Although neither enjoys being paired together Hidan's inability to die makes him the ideal teammate for Kakuzu.
Kakuzu's body is composed of a great deal of thick black threads that he can use to detach his limbs for long-range assaults. The threads themselves are also capable of piercing flesh, which Kakuzu uses to remove the still-living organs from his enemies. Once he has done so, Kakuzu can integrate these younger, healthier organs into his body that, in theory, allow him to extend his life indefinitely. Kakuzu most prominently uses hearts in this way, keeping up to four extra hearts with him at any given time. He keeps these spare hearts stored within animal masks sewn to his back, and each of the masks can separate from his body and attack independently. Once removed from his body, the masks can shoot powerful elemental blasts at opponents. If the heart in Kakuzu's body is destroyed, one of the masks can remerge with him so that he can take use of its heart, causing the mask to crumble away. Kakuzu also has an earth-based defensive technique that makes him virtually immune to physical attacks. Kakuzu's masks are slowly destroyed at the hands of a group of Konohagakure ninja; Naruto Uzumaki is able to destroy two of his hearts simultaneously and bring a third to the brink of failure. Although Kakuzu survives Naruto's attack, he is left unable to move, allowing him to easily be finished off by Kakashi Hatake.
Orochimaru is a missing-nin from Konohagakure. After he defects from Konoha he joins Akatsuki and is paired with Sasori. Once Itachi Uchiha does the same, Orochimaru attempts to use one of his abilities to forcefully take control of Itachi's body. Itachi repels his effort and severs his hand as punishment, forcing Orochimaru to flee the organization in defeat. Upon leaving he takes his severed hand and the ring he wore on it with him. Because of this, as well as the fact that he had intimate knowledge of Akatsuki's secrets and plans, the members of Akatsuki began making every effort possible to find and eliminate him.
Sasori (サソリ, Sasori?) is a missing-nin from Sunagakure. After the death of his parents Sasori was left in the care of his grandmother, Chiyo, who taught him all she knew about using puppets in battle. With his newfound knowledge he created puppets in his parents' likeness so that he could feel their love. Since they were only emotionless puppets, his attempt failed, and he left them behind upon leaving the village. Once joining Akatsuki he was paired with Orochimaru, and after Orochimaru's betrayal Sasori took it upon himself to track his movements and plot his destruction. Sasori would come to form a better working relationship with Deidara, as seen by Deidara's admiration of Sasori's abilities. Although the two have differing views of art (Deidara preferring works that depart quickly and Sasori favoring long-lasting pieces), Deidara considers Sasori to be his master until the very end, even though Sasori never appreciated his ideals.
Sasori specializes in creating puppets out of the dead bodies of humans, which is done by removing its entrails and preserving it to prevent decomposition. Sasori is commonly seen with Hiruko, a puppet he wears like a suit so often that many characters can only recognize him while he is wearing it. For battle purposes he favors the puppet of the Third Kazekage, the leader of Sunagakure whom he killed prior to his defection. Because the Third was once a living person, the Third's unique abilities remain intact and Sasori can utilize them at his leisure. His most versatile human puppet, however, is himself, as he has long since converted his body into one. In addition to giving him an unnaturally young appearance, Sasori's puppet body allows him to control hundreds of puppets at once. Since he needs part of his original body to control puppets Sasori has preserved his heart in a cylinder-shaped device that he wears upon his chest. Sasori is able to survive any kind of attack so long as his heart remains undamaged, and he can even use it to switch to new bodies by simply placing the cylinder onto a new puppet. Every weapon that his human puppets wield is also laced with a poison of Sasori's own design; the poison takes instantly numbs the body and kills the target after three days. Despite his large arsenal of weapons, Sasori is defeated after a prolonged battle with his grandmother and Sakura Haruno. In his final moments, however, he is able to feel the love of his parents, their puppet counterparts having been used by Chiyo to stab him through the heart in the form of a hug. Sasori's position would later be filled by Tobi.