Rock Lee (ロック・リー, Rokku Rī) is a shinobi of Konohagakure's Lee clan and former member of Team Guy. Unlike most shinobi, he lacked the skills necessary to use ninjutsu or genjutsu, but, by devoting his attention to taijutsu alone and undergoing special training in that regard from his teacher, Might Guy, he overcomes those shortcomings and becomes a taijutsu master.
During his time in the Academy, Lee proved to have no talent for ninjutsu and genjutsu. When he was mocked by his peers because of this, Lee persevered, focusing on taijutsu. After he succeeded in graduating he was added to Team Guy along with Neji Hyūga and Tenten. During the team's first meeting, Lee vowed to become a powerful ninja without using ninjutsu or genjutsu. Neji laughed at him, but their sensei, Might Guy, took a special interest in Lee. He encouraged Lee to keep at it and, in time, began teaching him powerful forms of taijutsu.
Under Guy's leadership, Lee has acquired a number of his sensei's personality traits: he is energetic, optimistic, and hot-blooded, and shows the epitome of a "nice guy". He believes that one cannot dislike food and shows strong dedication to his promises; when this promise is broken, just barely, he assigns himself arduous training to prevent it from happening again. Lee speaks respectfully to others, never using contractions or swear words and always addressing people with appropriate honourifics (except his teammates, since Lee feels they are close enough to be spoken to informally). He also carries a small book and pencil to recall advice that Guy gives him over some time.
Despite his passionate nature, Lee has also shown strong instincts, staying focused at the task at hand and rarely losing his composure. He has a keen sense of honour and respects his opponents, refusing to hold grudges against those who have defeated him, and returning favours to those that have helped him. This was shown by his befriending of Gaara, forgiving him for crushing his arm and leg — injuries that nearly ended his career as a shinobi. Lee feels others should show the same respect towards their opponents, and is disgusted whenever someone is unnecessarily cruel to their enemies.
One of Lee's recurring themes throughout the series is his drive to succeed, believing with enough hard work and perseverance, he can surpass a natural genius. He can be prone to depression when faced with setbacks. Neji Hyūga, Lee's more talented teammate and rival, found Lee's efforts to be in vain, believing a "failure" could never defeat a "genuis". As such, Lee became determined to defeat Neji in order to prove him wrong, though was met with defeat every time. When Neji himself was defeated by Naruto Uzumaki, another so-called "failure", he rejects his belief in fate and now holds great respect for Lee, believing that he will surpass the gifted with enough work.
During Part I, Lee revealed he had feelings for Sakura Uchiha. Although she did not reciprocate his feelings and even considered him weird, she later become more appreciative and friendly towards him after he helped saved her from the Otogakure genin during the Chūnin Exams. After the exams, Lee's interest in Sakura went largely unaddressed in the manga, though it is sometimes referenced in the anime; while having a match with Lee, Naruto transformed into Sakura, distracting Lee long enough for Naruto to attack him. However, Lee's Infinite Tsukuyomi dream was of winning Sakura's affections, implying he still had romantic feelings for her. These feelings apparently have changed by adulthood, as Lee ended up marrying someone else and had a son named Metal Lee.
Lee has shiny black hair, round eyes with prominent lower eyelashes, and very thick eyebrows; as a result, Naruto calls him "Centipede Brows" (ゲジマユ, Gejimayu, English TV: Bushy Brows). As a child, his hair was quite long and fastened in a braid, though he cuts it short by the time he joins Team Guy, letting it curve out and upward. Lee originally wore a white, short-sleeved kimono-shirt with a martial arts belt and dark pants, giving him a more traditional Chinese appearance. He also sported a forehead protector and shinobi sandals.
Lee later changes his appearance considerably to emulate his idol and sensei, Might Guy: his hair is now in a bowl-cut style; he wears a green jumpsuit, orange leg warmers, and a red forehead protector worn as a belt. He has bandages around his forearms up to his fingers, covering a set of stitches on his hands that were caused by his rigorous training. Like Guy, Lee's appearance remains largely the same over the years, though he adds a standard Konoha flak jacket as a chūnin in Part II, and its redesigned version in The Last: Naruto the Movie. As an adult, Lee grew noticeably muscular with more-defined cheekbones, and now wears a sleeveless jumpsuit with an orange neckwarmer.
During his time in the Academy, Lee's performance was looked down upon for his inability to use either ninjutsu or genjutsu. Might Guy, who sensed in Lee the same hardships and determination he had as a child, took him on as a student, encouraging and training him to help him achieve his dream of becoming a splendid ninja. Under Guy's tutelage, Lee improves greatly as a late bloomer by Part I; he defeats Sasuke Uchiha (a natural prodigy), poses a challenge to Gaara of Sunagakure in the Chūnin Exams, and holds his own against Kimimaro of Otogakure. In the following years, Lee's skills further improve as he becomes a chūnin by Part II, and a jōnin as an adult, a more than impressive feat for someone once thought to be incapable of being a shinobi.
Although Lee cannot use ninjutsu externally, he can still mould and use chakra to walk on surfaces, and on water. In the anime, he also developed enough skill to dispel genjutsu.
Since discovering he has no talent for ninjutsu and genjutsu, Lee has made it his life's dream to become a famous ninja who uses taijutsu. With gruelling training and unwavering support from Might Guy, Lee developed great proficiency in the art, becoming a taijutsu master as a child, and learning powerful techniques such as the Strong Fist. Lee's arduous training has given him strength great enough to unearth a massive tree root from the ground, and speed fast enough to outpace a two-tomoe Sharingan. As per his training, Lee has worn heavy ankle weights that appear light; upon removing them, his speed increases vastly, enabling him to became the the first person ever to bypass Gaara's Shield of Sand and strike him. In Part II, Lee's improved speed could intercept a charge from Haku, a shinobi known for his high speed.
Through Guy's teachings, Lee learned to open the first five of the Eight Gates at age 12, the sixth age 17, and (in the anime) the seventh at age 20. He is recognised as a genius for this feat by Kakashi Hatake, who notes it is highly difficult for even the most talented ninja to open even one gate. With each gate he opens, Lee's strength, speed, chakra levels, and bodily functions increase tremendously. However, the longer he maintains any of these gates, the more strain and potential physical damage his puts on himself from pushing his performance so far behind his natural limits. For this reason, Lee is only permitted to open any of the gates during the most dire situation or to protect something very dear to him. Through his continued training, Lee has become able to open some of the Eight Gates instantly and shows a faster recovery rate from using them, but he nevertheless succumbs to the pain or exhaustion they cause.
Lee has learned a number of taijutsu that he can perform once certain gates have been opened; with the first gate, he can use the pile-driving Front Lotus; with the third gate, he can use the more destructive Reverse Lotus; with the sixth gate, he can (in conjunction with other Eight Gates users) perform the Crane Wing Formation, powerful enough to destroy half of a giant meteorite.
When Metal was helping his classmate, Denki Kaminarimon, train to prepare for a chakra-climbing test, Lee saved Denki from injuring himself by catching the falling student. Deeply touched by Denki's drive to succeed, Lee decided to supervise Denki's continued training. By the end of the day, he gave Denki a jumpsuit, insisting it would help with his training.
Versus Momoshiki Arc
Main article: Boruto: Naruto the Movie
Rock Lee serves as the proctor for the third and final round of the Chūnin Exams. During the seventh match between Boruto Uzumaki and Shikadai Nara, Boruto seemingly wins but Naruto discovers that Boruto used a Kote to cheat. Lee disqualified Boruto for using this prohibited tool and declares Shikadai as the winner. Soon after, Momoshiki and Kinshiki attack the arena and Lee grabs Shikadai and gets him to safety.
Creation and conception
According to an interview with Masashi Kishimoto in Shōnen Jump's 'Naruto Anime Profiles Episodes 1-37', Lee is his most fun character to draw. He also has stated that Sakura Haruno and Lee were meant to symbolise human weakness, at least in the beginning.
- (To Team Guy) "Sensei! I want to prove that you can become a great ninja even without being able to use Ninjutsu or Genjutsu! That is everything to me!"
- (To Tenten) "A genius, huh? What does that mean? "Genius"? So I was not born with a whole lot of natural talent, not gifted like Neji… but I work hard and I never give up! That is my gift; that is my ninja way!"
- (To Sakura) "Sakura, please go out with me! I'll protect you with my life!"
- (To Sasuke) "Among strong people exists genius types and hard-working types. If your Sharingan is a genius-type from the Uchiha blood, I am simply a hard-working type who has mastered only taijutsu."
- (To Team 7) "See?! Guy-sensei is incredible!"
- (To Sakura) "The lotus of Konoha blooms twice."
- (To Guy) "I want to show I can be a splendid ninja as well even if I don't have ninjutsu or genjutsu… I want to prove it to the whole world!"
- (To Kimimaro) "I am Konoha's Beautiful Green Wild Beast — Rock Lee!"