Akatsuki (暁?, lit. "Dawn" or "Daybreak") is an organization of criminal ninja that serves as the primary antagonistic force of the Naruto series. Led by Tobi, though he acts through the group's figurehead leader Pain, the Akatsuki's goal is world domination by using the power of the nine tailed beasts.[ch. 239] The members of Akatsuki are ninja who have abandoned their villages, and are considered by their former homes to be S-class criminals, the most powerful and wanted ninja in the Naruto universe. At any given time, Akatsuki is composed of eight members, who operate in two-man teams. They share similar clothing, most notably a long, dark cloak bearing red clouds and a chin-high collar. Aside from an attempt by two Akatsuki members, Itachi Uchiha and Kisame Hoshigaki, to capture Kurama (the nine-tailed fox sealed within Naruto Uzumaki) Akatsuki is not prominently featured in Part I.[ch. 143] In Part II, they take a more active role, capturing Gaara and extracting the one-tailed tanuki, Shukaku, from his body, as well as working towards capturing the remaining tailed beasts.[ch. 261] Kishimoto called the Akatsuki's members antiheroes as he wished to expand their backgrounds as much as the ones from the series' protagonists, contrasting them with other types of villains.
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