Genjutsu (幻術, literally meaning: Illusionary Techniques) is one of the main jutsu categories which uses chakra. Unlike ninjutsu, 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.
A genjutsu is created when a ninja controls the chakra flow of a target's cerebral nervous system, thereby affecting their five senses. This is frequently used to create false images and/or trick the body into believing its has experienced physical pain. Genjutsu can also be used to 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 in order to manipulate the target's senses and advanced intelligence to make the illusion convincing, prerequisites that even someone as skilled as Jiraiya lacks. Some, however, are able to specialise in genjutsu, with Kurenai Yūhi being regarded 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 will either appear to be unconscious or continue to move around under the pretence of the genjutsu. The latter is very effective in battle as a genjutsu user can make themselves appear to be somewhere else and attack the victim from behind or change the environment to make the victim see a flat plain where there is a steep cliff.
There are several options to combat genjutsu:
- A victim's chakra flow, if disrupted enough, can break the caster's influence. This "genjutsu dissipation" (幻術解, Genjutsu Kai) can be done by the victim themselves, (assuming they realise they're under a genjutsu's influence) or an ally who emits chakra into them; jinchūriki who have formed a good relationship with their tailed beast enjoy the latter method whenever they need it.
- Pain that is not caused by the genjutsu can bring victims back to their senses.
- If a caster's vision is obstructed, such as by the Hiding in Mist Technique, that at least prevents the use of ocular genjutsu.
- Possessing a Sharingan renders one largely invulnerable to genjutsu 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.
- Deidara is somehow able to condition his left eye to break genjutsu.
- In the anime, kikaichū are impervious to genjutsu because their brain structures aren't sophisticated enough, allowing members of the Aburame clan a method to identify and counter genjutsu.
- In the anime, strong smells, such as those from Chilli Pepper Bombs, can counteract genjutsu.
- Izanagi has the opposite effects to normal genjutsu, changing reality to illusion and vice versa.
- In the anime, genjutsu even works on Mecha-Naruto, corrupting its internal system.
- Because genjutsu are not real, they are not supposed to be able to kill victims. However, Izumi Uchiha is killed with Tsukuyomi in Itachi Shinden: Book of Dark Night.
- Naruto chapter 548, page 18
- Naruto: Shippūden episode 318
- Naruto chapter 214, pages 13-14
- Second Databook, page 163
- Naruto chapter 378, page 6
- Naruto chapter 259, pages 8-10
- Naruto chapter 413, page 15
- Naruto chapter 345, pages 8-9
- Naruto chapter 26, page 13
- Naruto chapter 585, page 13
- Naruto chapter 360, page 17
- Naruto episode 206
- Naruto: Shippūden episode 187
- Naruto: Shippūden episode 377