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The Sharingan (Literally meaning "Copy Wheel Eye", Meaning (Viz) "Mirror Wheel Eye") is a dojutsu kekkei genkai, which appears in some members of the Uchiha clan. It is one of the Great Three Dojutsu (Daisan Dojutsu; Literally meaning "Great Three Eye Techniques"), along with the Byakugan and the Rinnegan. The Sharingan is also called "Heaven's Eye" (Tengan), because of the many abilities it grants the user.
The Sharingan is not automatically activated in the user by birth. It is only first unlocked under some stressful or emotional condition after which the Sharingan may be used freely. When the Sharingan is first activated by a user, it has a different number of tomoe around the central pupil, varying between users. The wielder of the Sharingan, through continued use and training, changes its form further, which involves gaining more tomoe up to a maximum of three per eye. As the Sharingan develops, the user gains heightened abilities.
The Sharingan's abilities consist of two parts: the "Eye of Insight" (Dosatsugan) and the "Eye of Hypnotism" (Saimingan). The first of the Sharingan's powers is being able to see the flow of chakra. The Sharingan can tell if a person is under a genjutsu because the person's chakra flow would be irregular. The Sharingan's second-most prominent ability grants the user an incredible clarity of perception, allowing them to easily recognize genjutsu and different forms of chakra, though not to the same extent as the Byakugan. This also allows the user to pick up on subtle details, enabling them to read lip movements or mimic something like pencil movements. As the Sharingan evolves, gaining more tomoe seals, this ability extends to being able to track fast-moving objects before finally giving some amount of predictive capabilities to the user, allowing them to see the image of an attacker’s next move from the slightest muscle tension in their body and counter or dodge without any wasted movement. However, even though the user may be able to see an attack or know it is coming, their body may not always have time to react.
The Sharingan's third and most well-known ability is that it grants the user the ability to memorize any technique that he or she witnesses, apart from other kekkei genkai techniques. The user can memorize ninjutsu, genjutsu, and taijutsu with near perfect accuracy, allowing the user to use the techniques as their own, or even modify them to create their own new techniques, much like Sasuke Uchiha's Lion Combo. In order to reproduce a copied technique, however, one must have the necessary skill or ability to perform them. A prime example is Rock Lee's brand of taijutsu. While Sasuke was able to copy some of Lee's moves, they put a much more significant strain on him since he hasn't trained nearly as much as Lee has. In addition to physical skill and kekkei genkai techniques, the Sharingan cannot reproduce techniques dependent on other factors, such as summons that the user has not signed a contract with.
The Sharingan's final commonly-used ability is capable of inducing a unique brand of hypnosis that involves suggesting actions and thoughts to the opponent through genjutsu cast by simple eye contact. More advanced Sharingan users can take the hypnosis ability even further to the point where a powerful summon like Manda or even the Nine-Tailed Fox may be controlled. When this was used against Manda and the Nine-Tailed Fox their eyes took on the tomoe pattern of the users' Sharingan while under hypnotic influence.
The hypnotic ability coupled with the other aspects of the Sharingan, can make the user appear as if they can "see the future". First, the user must perfectly mimic every move their opponent makes and possibly their thoughts and words through careful observation. Then, they suggest an action to the opponent such as hand seals for a technique that the opponent and Sharingan user already know and copy that. With these things done, the user can complete the action even before the opponent does, possibly using the Sharingan's genjutsu to confuse or delay them. As with other genjutsu, genjutsu cast by the Sharingan are capable of putting an opponent to sleep, inducing paralysis, replaying memories to someone else, or creating various illusions to deceive someone. The potency of the Sharingan's illusion is dependent on the user's knowledge and skill with implementing genjutsu.
In addition to these commonly used techniques, the Sharingan allows the user to perform the genjutsu Izanagi. Using Izanagi, the user can warp reality for a short amount of time, changing reality into illusion and illusion into reality. However, this technique has been dubbed kinjutsu, because use of it causes the user to go blind in the eye that performed Izanagi. To make full use of Izanagi, the DNA of both the Uchiha and Senju clans are required.
Although the Sharingan consumes the user's chakra while active, the chakra levels that the user must exert is so insignificant that they can keep it active constantly. In fact, Itachi Uchiha was so masterful of it, he was able to keep it active for most of the time, only once deactivating it after using Tsukuyomi on Sasuke and Amaterasu to escape Jiraiya. However, when a Sharingan is transplanted to a non-Uchiha, the chakra drain is significant, leading them to cover it up when not in use, to stop the drain.