Village Hidden In The Sand
Sadistic and bloodthirsty in his youth, Gaara has mellowed with time. Eventually deciding that he will find his true strength in protecting the people of Sunagakure, he has become a strong and confident leader.
Due to having Shukaku sealed within him, Gaara has control over sand. Gaara always carries sand with him in a calabash-shaped gourd on his back, which is in fact also made of compacted sand. To attack his opponents, Gaara uses sand to engulf them, and he can compress the sand, crushing them in the process. When Gaara is attacked, a shield of sand automatically blocks the attack, a result of Shukaku being sealed within him. Gaara also covers his skin with a layer of sand as a precautionary defensive measure. By the end of Part One, Gaara also demonstrates his ability to use sand to carry himself, effectively allowing him to fly.
Like other hosts of tailed beasts, Gaara can manifest aspects of the tailed beast sealed within him. By covering himself in sand, Gaara can take on the appearance of a miniature Shukaku, increasing his speed and strength in the process. As he does so, he allows Shukaku’s personality to influence him, making him more violent and bloodthirsty. Once he has completed his Shukaku replica, Gaara can fully bring out Shukaku’s personality by forcing himself asleep. Doing so allows Shukaku to control the replica and fight using its full strength so long as Gaara remains asleep. Though he loses Shukaku to the Akatsuki, Gaara maintains his ability to control sand.
Gaara’s background is primarily expanded upon in flashbacks during Naruto manga volume fifteen. Before he was born, Gaara’s father had the tanuki-like One-Tailed Shukaku (一尾の守鶴, Ichibi no Shukaku?, English TV: “Shukaku the Sand Spirit”), a tailed beast, sealed into his body while Gaara was still in his mother’s womb, giving him the power to manipulate sand. The Fourth Kazekage, Gaara’s father and the leader of the village of Sunagakure, intended to use Gaara as the village’s personal weapon. Gaara was trained by his father throughout his childhood to help gain control over the abilities granted to him by Shukaku. Despite this, Gaara was ostracized by the Sunagakure villagers, who viewed him as a monster for being the host of a tailed beast. Shukaku would occasionally manipulate sand against Gaara’s will to harm other villagers, cementing their perception of him. These attacks on the villagers convinced Gaara’s father that he was a failed experiment, and he ordered Gaara’s assassination. All of the attempts on Gaara’s life failed, as Shukaku would always protect Gaara from harm and kill the assassin. After his uncle who was the only person that Gaara thought cared for him tried to assasinate him, Gaara adopted the belief that he could only rely upon himself and Shukaku, and that he had to kill others in order to confirm the value of his own existence.
Gaara adopted a mainly sadistic demeanor and exceptional bloodthirst. His drive to kill is his most fundamental characteristic at the start of the series. After his introduction in the yearly ninja Chunin examinations, Gaara has little interest in the actual examination but rather in seeking to kill or seriously maim anyone who makes the mistake of insulting him. As he battles stronger opponents during the course of the examinations, Gaara begins to believe that he must kill anyone he perceives as stronger than him because they are a threat to his existence.
Gaara’s quest for stronger opponents leads to his crossing paths with Naruto Uzumaki. Recognizing Naruto as a formidable opponent, Gaara threatens the life of one of Naruto’s friends to force him to fight. He treats his battle with Naruto as a contest to determine whose philosophy is correct: his belief in fighting for himself or Naruto’s belief in fighting for his friends and allies. Naruto defeats Gaara, and as a result, Gaara adopts Naruto’s philosophy, realizing that fighting for others yields greater strength than fighting for one’s self. He makes amends with the many characters he had alienated, apologizing to those he hurt and improving his relationship with his family. At the same time, Gaara’s fundamental characteristic becomes the desire to protect as many people as he can, as in doing so he will be able to find true strength. This culminates in his replacing his father as the leader of Sunagakure during Part II of the series, and he states his greatest desire is to give his life for the villagers for Sunagakure regardless of the opinions they hold of him.
With his siblings constantly trying to humanize him in various ways, it is unclear whether Gaara will give in to their desires and maintain more relaxed relationships including close friends and possibly a girl…