The mysterious organization known as Akatsuki has long operated in the shadows, but their distinctive black cloaks and red cloud markings make their members’ identities clear. Yet one member has never been seen without an iconic mask – Tobi. While Tobi’s true identity was eventually revealed, his motivations for hiding behind the swirly orange mask remain complex.
Who is Tobi?
Tobi first appeared claiming to be Madara Uchiha, the legendary founder of the Uchiha clan. However, this was soon revealed to be a ruse. Tobi’s actual identity was Obito Uchiha, Kakashi’s former teammate who was thought to have died in the Third Great Ninja War.
As a boy, Obito aspired to become Hokage and was in love with his teammate Rin. But his dreams were shattered when half his body was crushed during the war. Obito was saved and rehabilitated by Madara Uchiha, who indoctrinated Obito into following his plan to place the world under an “infinite illusion.”
After witnessing Rin’s death at Kakashi’s hands, Obito lost all faith in the current reality. He adopted Madara’s views and aimed to create a perfect reality under the Infinite Tsukuyomi – the Eye of the Moon Plan. Obito then took on Madara’s name and hid behind a mask to conceal his true identity.
Why did Tobi wear a mask?
Tobi had several key reasons for donning his iconic mask:
- To conceal his Sharingan and identity as Obito Uchiha
- To hide the horrific scars on the right side of his face from being crushed
- To shield his emotions and maintain secrecy about his true plans
- To emobody his new persona as “Madara Uchiha”
- To strike fear into his opponents with its sinister appearance
By never removing his mask in front of other Akatsuki members, Tobi was able to maintain an air of mystery and authority. Only a select few knew Tobi’s true name and face behind the mask.
Concealing His Sharingan
A key purpose of Tobi’s mask was to hide his Sharingan eye from view. As Obito Uchiha, Tobi possessed powerful Uchiha abilities including the Sharingan and its evolved forms.
If Tobi had revealed his Sharingan openly as “Madara Uchiha,” it may have exposed his identity as Obito earlier. The mask enabled him to keep his Sharingan concealed but quickly accessible in battle.
Hiding His Scars
Half of Obito’s body was heavily scarred and damaged when he was crushed under boulders during the Third Great Ninja War. Keeping his face masked at all times prevented anyone from seeing these scars.
Exposing such old wounds could have raised questions about Tobi’s claimed identity as Madara Uchiha, who would have had no such scars. The mask kept Obito’s true past safely hidden away.
Shielding His Emotions
By never revealing his full face, Tobi was able to perfectly hide any emotion or vulnerability. The swirling orange mask showed only one eye hole, keeping the rest of his expressions concealed.
This enabled Tobi to always present himself as an enigmatic, stoic villain – ideal for keeping his plans veiled and intimidating Akatsuki’s enemies and members alike.
Becoming “Madara Uchiha”
Obito’s mask represented his new identity as Madara Uchiha. By mimicking Madara’s appearance and voice, Tobi could fully adopt this powerful persona.
The mask distanced Obito from his former, idealistic self. Behind it, he became the cynical, ruthless villain needed to enact Madara’s schemes. The mask was key to Tobi convincingly presenting himself as the resurrected Madara.
Tobi’s mask had a distinctly sinister and creepy appearance, with a swirly orange design centered around one eye hole. This ominous aesthetic made the mask eerie and disconcerting.
By never removing it, Tobi created an air of perpetual mystery and unease. The mask’s frightening appearance was a constant source of intimidation, striking fear into both enemies and allies.
When did Tobi finally unmask?
Tobi kept his mask on continuously for many years following the Nine-Tails’ Attack on the Hidden Leaf Village, which he orchestrated under the guise of Madara Uchiha. But it eventually came off during the Fourth Great Ninja War:
- His mask cracked when he battled Konan of the Akatsuki
- He removed his hood and damaged mask when facing Kakashi
- His full identity as Obito was revealed when Naruto broke his mask completely
By the end, Tobi’s lies and secrecy had failed. But his iconic masked persona left a lasting impact as one of the most mysterious villains to threaten the ninja world.
Tobi’s distinctive mask played an integral role in hiding his true identity, motives, and vulnerabilities as he manipulated events towards his ultimate goal – the Eye of the Moon Plan. Its creepy design struck fear while allowing Tobi to pose convincingly as Madara Uchiha, until he was finally unmasked as Obito Uchiha.