Naruto introduced dozens of ninjas during its run, but there are plenty who stood out. Sasuke brooded enough for the entire Leaf Village but Gaara had that schtick covered in the Hidden Sand. The raccoon-eyed fighter was pretty deranged as a genin after all, and he looked every bit of it.
So, you might be interested to know Gaara looked very different in Naruto's first drafts.
In the past, Masashi Kishimoto shared his first drawings of Gaara, and they are not what you might expect. As you can see below, the character traded in his iconic facial tattoo for what appears to be either a scar or birth mark. The look was paired with longer hair, and Gaara's outfit was way more difficult to animate than what he ended up wearing.
Rather than a simple ninja uniform, Gaara wore a big cloak with tattered edges at first. The character donned normal pants underneath the top, so the whole outfit went well with Kishimoto's dark vibe. The artist even sketched his own take on the One-Tailed Beast as if it were a familiar of some sort to Gaara.
The pint-sized animal is shown next to Gaara in this sketch, and he looks very different from how the Bijuu appeared in Naruto. The raccoon looks more like a wolf than anything, but his masked eyes save its looks. The feral creature also has the Buddhist Manji symbol marked on its head, The symbol, which is often confused with the Swastika, has its origins in the Hindu faith. The mark is meant to symbolize universal harmony and the balance between opposites. The manji was ultimately removed from the One-Tailed Beast but it did show up in Naruto down the road. The mark was used for the seal Neji bore on his forehead as a member of his clan's branch family.
For those of you unfamiliar with Naruto, you should know the series was created in 1997 by Masashi Kishimoto. The manga began its serialization in Weekly Shonen Jump starting in 1999 after a successful one-shot was published, and it continued up until 2014.
Naruto tells the story of its titular hero as Naruto Uzumaki strives to become the greatest ninja of his village. Born as the host of a powerful demon, Naruto lives much of his a pariah but dreams of becoming his home's leader. After graduating from the Ninja Academy, the boy begins his quest to become a respected and powerful Hokage, but things get complicated when international coups and radical terrorists make themselves known.
Do you prefer this take on Gaara or the original? Hit me up on Twitter @MeganPetersCB to let me know and talk all things comics, k-pop, and anime!