This is something that's been bothering me for some time. Back when we get into the flashbacks for Tobi's backstory and how he ended up becoming the masked man, a special Zetsu with a spiral face is introduced, and his face looks pretty much identical to the mask Tobi wears. Additionally, his voice and mannerisms are very similar to what Tobi uses when he's being goofy and doing obfuscating stupidity stuff. Spiral Zetsu (not sure if that's an actual name people use for him, but that's what I'm going to call him) actually ends up attaching himself to Tobi, further blurring the line between the two characters.

This leads me to the question: is the introduction of this character supposed to be an explanation for why Tobi was acting so goofy when he was first introduced? Was it, in fact, Spiral Zetsu talking? I really hate this implication, because as a ninja, obfuscating stupidity should be no problem for Tobi to pull off, and this seems to be trying to take his acting skills away from him, just because, "There's no way such a serious character could act that way, and it lessens his character, so we need an explanation that puts the blame elsewhere." Or something like that. But that seems to indeed be where it's going, because evidently Spiral Zetsu is named Tobi in the databook, according to the Fandom Wiki: https://naruto.fandom.com/wiki/Tobi_(Zetsu)

Am I wrong here? Or is Spiral Zetsu really supposed to be Tobi? Is this the intention of the author?

  • Definitely related: anime.stackexchange.com/questions/859/… Mar 15, 2022 at 19:48
  • Since Obito has the strongest Mangekyo Sharingan in the story, he was just fooling around to show the weakness of the rest of the characters who behaved pathetically. For example, he trolls Deidara mercilessly. This is my opinion.
    – Gleb
    Mar 17, 2022 at 20:34

2 Answers 2


Yes. But he was Tobi way before meeting Obito. Zetsu's story is quite complex, but trying to keep it simple, Tobi is a body retrieved from the demonic statue, that was previously absorbed into it when Kaguya first used the Infinite Tsukuyomi. Madara put Hashirama's cells into the statue, and he believed he was cloning Black Zetsu with it, but they're just the victims of Kaguya. One of these bodies was Tobi.

PS: Technically, Tobi is a White Zetsu, because that's the origin of every White Zetsu. He is the only one with a "special" name (Guruguru, or Spiral) because he is noticed by Obito, who gives him this name.


I cannot speak to the author's intent, (and if anyone can, via author interviews or databooks, I would encourage them to write an answer.) however, there are in-universe reasons to believe Spiral Zetsu is not Tobi (the Akatsuki member).

Herein, to avoid confusion, I will use the name Tobi only to refer to the Akatsuki member with the orange mask. I will use the name Spiral Zetsu and Tobi's real name (spoilers ahead) to refer to those characters.

First off, let's examine Tobi's mask. Though it looks like Spiral Zetsu's face, it is orange. Did he paint it? But when we see Spiral Zetsu show up again, his face is still white. It's shape also does not conform to what we see in Episode 345: I'm in Hell, when we see Obito wear Spiral Zetsu on his body. Spiral Zetsu, being hollow, wraps his whole face around Obito's head. But Tobi's hair is always sticking out when we see him. In the episode, there are three forms:

  1. A form where Spiral Zetsu's whole face wraps around Obito. We see the spiral mask in this form, and he looks quite like when Obito is pretending to be Tobi, but with a white mask.
  2. A hood form where Obito's face is exposed. The top of Obito's head is still covered.
  3. A form where Spiral Zetsu comes off of Obito's head entirely while still wrapping around his body. In this form, Spiral Zetsu's swirly tendril-like head and upper body become shoulder spikes for Obito.

While he's in his Tobi persona, Tobi's hair always sticks out. We don't see this in either forms 1 or 2, and he's missing the shoulder spikes in form 3. Additionally, in Episode 99: The Rampaging Tailed Beast, Toby takes his mask off (yeah, I know it's filler, and y'all think filler isn't canonical, but he takes it off to talk with Kisame too, though I don't feel like looking for that scene). The mask is orange and it is removable. Spiral Zetsu's face does not work like that. Thus, the mask is not Spiral Zetsu's face. Tobi does cover a large portion of his head with cloth, so could it be he's hiding Spiral Zetsu in form 2, just with his head uncovered somehow? I would contend the volume under the cloth doesn't match. Spiral Zetsu looks kind of bulky in form 2. Additionally, when we see Yamato come out of Spiral Zetsu, we again see the shoulder spikes, so it really seems that Spiral Zetsu has not changed. Thus, it is highly probable Obito is not wearing Spiral Zetsu during the series.

Personality wise, I think there are actually some differences between Spiral Zetsu and Obito's Tobi persona. While Tobi's humor comes off as a goofy human, Spiral Zetsu, though also goofy, can't really pass as a human with his humor. He's obsessed with asking about poop since he doesn't need to, and doesn't seem to understand what being a normal human is like.

I also noticed while looking through these episodes that an echo filter is used for Spiral Zetsu's voice, but not for Tobi's.

This answer is not definitive. But if all of this is actually true, and we're going to say that Tobi really is Obito, I think it is also important to acknowledge that in this case, Obito definitely based his Tobi persona on Spiral Zetsu. They were close for years, after all, so the similarity is not a coincidence.

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