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Kanji 幻術
Rōmaji Genjutsu
Literal English Illusion Techniques
Alternative names Illusory Arts
Appears in Anime, Manga, Game, Movie
Class Offensive, Defensive, Supplementary
Range All ranges

Genjutsu (幻術, Literally meaning: Illusionary Techniques) is one of the main categories of jutsu which use chakra. Genjutsu are employed in the same fashion as ninjutsu, however, the effects of genjutsu are not real, being only illusions experienced by those who fall victim to it. According to the Second Mizukage, genjutsu falls under the broad category of Yin Release.

Genjutsu is created when a ninja extends their chakra flow through the cerebral nervous system of their opponent to control their mind's chakra, causing a disruption in their five senses. This is frequently used to create false images and/or trick the body into believing it has experienced physical pain, however there are plenty of other uses depending on the situation. Genjutsu can also manipulate others — similar to brainwashing — by feeding the victim illusive suggestions. Most genjutsu is performed visually, requiring the target make eye contact with the caster. Other methods include integration with nature transformation, as shown with Water and Lightning Release, and in the anime, ingesting special pills that activate when the target sleeps. Audible genjutsu is deemed the most dangerous because the user can trap victims from long distances.

Despite its usefulness, genjutsu is rarely employed, most shinobi preferring the real, tangible effects of ninjutsu and taijutsu over the imagined effects of genjutsu. The difficulty of performing genjutsu in the first place presents an additional barrier to its use: genjutsu require precise chakra control to manipulate the target's senses and advanced intelligence to make the illusion convincing. Some, however, can specialise in genjutsu, with Kurenai Yūhi as one of Konoha's experts in the field and members of the Uchiha clan being particularly feared because of their Sharingan's generic genjutsu.

Those under the influence of genjutsu either appear unconscious or continue to move around under the pretence of the genjutsu.

Combating Genjutsu

To combat the effects of genjutsu, there are several options:

  • The ninja needs to stop the flow of chakra in their body, and then apply an even stronger power to disrupt the flow of the caster's chakra; this is called Genjutsu Dissipation (幻術解, Genjutsu Kai). This can also be done by an unaffected ninja by applying a sudden surge of chakra into the affected person. In addition, tailed beasts can break their jinchūriki out of genjutsu in a similar fashion if they have a good enough cooperation.
  • Pain not caused by the genjutsu can bring victims back to their senses.
  • Members of the Uchiha clan can break or see through genjutsu using their Sharingan as their acute vision allows them to recognise its flaws and influence. They can also free others from genjutsu by inserting themselves into the opponent's illusion and release it. Breaking Tsukuyomi is possible with an ordinary Sharingan but requires a lot of skill.
  • Sharingan wielders can also use their dōjutsu to liberate each other from genjutsu. Through eye contact, they can literally insert themselves into each other's genjutsu freely allowing them to break whatever genjutsu it is that imprisons their comrade.
  • Deidara can somehow condition his left eye to break genjutsu
  • Because genjutsu affects activity throughout the prosencephalon structure of the brain, humans, dogs and other mammals are all affected by genjutsu; however, the kikaichū, like all insects, lack such a structure to their brains, and so do not even notice it: as Shino Aburame put it, insects are ruled almost solely by five powerful senses alone, which makes them immune to genjutsu and gives the Aburame clan an ability to detect it when nobody else can.
  • Ordinary people can sometimes train their eyes (without Sharingan) to break genjutsu through unknown means.
  • One can prevent a person from casting genjutsu using obstructive techniques like the Hiding in Mist Technique to prevent one from being trapped by an ocular genjutsu as Zabuza demonstrated against Kakashi.
  • In the anime, it was shown that strong smells like that from the Chilli Pepper Bombs, can counteract genjutsu.

In spite of these methods, some forms of genjutsu like Tsukuyomi and the Demonic Illusion: Toad Confrontation Chant may not be broken easily, either due to their near-instant effect like the former, or their ability to render one unconscious and paralysed altogether like the latter. In addition, one must realise that he or she is under the effects of genjutsu before attempting to break out of it. This can be done by observing the changes in one's own chakra with a chakra-sensing ability.