Naruto: How Sasori of the Akatsuki Became D&D’s Nastiest Undead Villain

Naruto takes place in a fascinating and well-crafted world where chakra, ninjas, tailed beasts and more define its combat system and politics. Some ninjas are content to be fairly ordinary defenders of their respective village, while others join the elite ANBU black ops unit or undergo special training. Other ninjas, such as Orochimaru and Sasori, take it a step further.

Several Naruto villains resorted to criminal acts and forbidden jutsu to seek immortality, and Sasori of the Red Sand in particular found a creative way to cheat death. He turned himself into a living puppet, thus becoming the Naruto world's version of a Dungeons & Dragons lich lord, one of the scariest foes an adventuring party can face. Here's how the lich works in D&D and how Sasori compares to them.

How Liches Work In Dungeons & Dragons

In Dungeons & Dragons lore, liches are undead wizards who seek immortality and ever-greater power by willingly sacrificing their mortal shells. Unlike regular zombies and other undead creatures, liches retain all the knowledge, skills and memories from their mortal lives, and tend to create themselves rather than be unwittingly reanimated by another party.

Typically, an aspiring lich is an ambitious -- and villainous -- magic user who doesn't mind delving into the mysteries of death to gain immense power and a longer life span. These undead wizards are usually cruel and selfish, devising all kinds of wicked schemes of ever-greater ambition. Liches also benefit from the perks of undeath, such as immunity to poison and never aging.

Most of all, a lich must store its own soul inside a phylactery, a solid object that is also one's most important possession. If that phylactery is destroyed and the creature's soul is lost, the lich is destroyed. Should that happen, it may eventually be restored with the phylactery's power, meaning permanently killing a lich is difficult for most D&D heroes. Analogs for liches exist in other works of fiction too, such as Lord Voldemort with his Horcruxes in Harry Potter and Sasori in Naruto with a puppet body -- including his own phylactery.

How Sasori of the Akatsuki Became A Ninja Lich In Naruto

Sasori Vs Sakura & Chiyo

The Akatsuki member Sasori is the Naruto universe's version of a lich -- with only a few minor discrepancies -- which made him a unique challenge for Team 7 to fight early in Naruto Shippuden. Sasori never actually died or used necromancy like Dungeons & Dragons liches, but he did store his remaining organs and chakra inside a marked device, which effectively became his phylactery -- and the sole connection to his humanity.

Sasori then reanimated himself inside a puppet body that resembled his young adult self, with the chakra phylactery stored inside its chest. Liches usually put their phylacteries elsewhere for safekeeping, but Sasori needed his within to keep his body moving, a weakness he doesn't share with traditional liches. Fortunately for him, his Akatsuki robes hid this fact from his enemies.

Like most liches, Naruto's Sasori had a grim fascination with death and saw it as a way to escape the mortality of human flesh. A prime example is when he turned his own mother and father into puppets, and later himself as well, lich-style. Sasori thus became immune to poisons and other effects that would harm a mortal ninja, and even if his body was destroyed, he could theoretically be repaired so long as his chakra phylactery remained intact.

Sasori also loaded his lich-puppet body with weapons to take advantage of his undead body and push himself to the next level. And like most liches, he had plenty of powerful minions to protect him -- in this case, an army of 298 ninja puppets. This private army included not only Sasori's parents, but also the puppet version of the Third Kazekage, complete with the iron sand jutsu.

Sasori's puppet body served him well for many years, but in the end he couldn't overcome the combined might of the elderly Chiyo and the hard-hitting Haruno Sakura. After his body was smashed apart, he gave Sakura vital intel as a prize before his chakra phylactery was destroyed, ending his rampage for good. He was later revived with the Edo Tensei jutsu in the Fourth Great Shinobi War, but that was more akin to necromancy than true D&D-esque lich magic, ensuring that Sasori remained unique in the world of Naruto.

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