Naruto: Why was Kakashi not able to use Kamui’s intangibility?

Kakashi using Kamui on Deidara (Image via Pierrot)
Kakashi using Kamui on Deidara (Image via Pierrot)

Despite not being an Uchiha, Kakashi Hatake, one of Naruto's most skilled ninjas renowned for his unrivaled achievements in all facets of ninjutsu, mastered the Sharingan to a formidable level. Kakashi received the Sharingan from his friend/teammate, Obito Uchiha, who, after partially being crushed by a huge boulder, accepted his fate and offered his left eye to his friend as a last resort for surviving the Third Great Ninja War.

Unbeknownst to Kakashi, Obito was saved by Madara Uchiha. Obito trained under the legendary Uchiha’s tutelage and refined his bloodline abilities, eventually mastering his Mangekyo Sharingan’s unique Kamui technique.

Obito managed to temper his space-time ninjutsu to a whole other level and gained the ability to make his body intangible for a brief period, partially as well as completely. Despite having Obito’s left eye in his possession, Kakashi couldn’t use the intangibility, and the reason behind this is the difference between the functioning of both eyes.

Disclaimer: This article contains spoilers from the Naruto anime and manga series.

In Naruto, Kakashi and Obito’s Kamui stands on opposite ends of the operational spectrum

As both eyes initially belonged to Obito in the first place, they performed the same technique in different ranges. In Naruto, Obito’s right eye was capable of performing short-range space-time ninjutsu, sending his entire body or a specific part to the Kamui’s special dimension at will. This unnamed unique technique became Obito’s signature ability.

Instead of resorting to other traditional Uchiha techniques that were far more devastating, Obito relied on his Managekyo Sharingan’s Kamui in combat, allowing opponents and attacks to pass through him. He described his phasing through objects and people technique as “Intangibility.” Obito was capable of maintaining his impalpable state for five minutes straight.

Kakashi having trouble aiming Kamui, as seen in the Naruto's Kazekage Rescue Mission arc (Image via Pierrot)
Kakashi having trouble aiming Kamui, as seen in the Naruto's Kazekage Rescue Mission arc (Image via Pierrot)

Unlike Obito, Kakashi’s left Mangekyo Sharingan was able to perform a long-range variant of Kamui. Kakashi was capable of warping his targets to Kamui’s dimension by forming a thin pinwheel barrier around them remotely.

Initially, Kakashi had trouble aiming Kamui properly. However, over time, he improved this technique to the point where he could efficiently perform it on high-speed projectiles.

Obito absorbed his body, other objects, and targets through his right eye, which acted as a gateway. However, as Kakashi’s Kamui could only perform long-range space-time ninjutsu techniques, he couldn't use intangibility. So, in a nutshell, Kakashi's eye teleports objects, whereas Obito's eye teleports himself and the objects and people he comes into contact with.

During the Fourth Great Ninja War, Obito was at a greater disadvantage as Kakashi was the only Shinobi capable of rivaling him by using his Kamui as a reliable counter.

Using the advantage of teleporting attacks as well as allies to the Kamui’s pocket dimension, Kakashi had the upper hand against Obito. Due to Kakashi’s access to the Kamui’s dimension, using his intangibility was a significant risk.

Using Kamui multiple times takes a drastic toll on users' bodies and eventually deteriorates their eyesight. Despite not possessing the chakra reserve of an Uchiha, being a prodigious and proficient shinobi, Kakashi was capable of using Kamui in a row, which is why he garnered several monikers, such as “Kakashi of the Sharingan” and “Copy Ninja Kakashi,” in Naruto.

Obito didn’t deal with the side effects of overusing his Mangekyo Sharingan because of the Hashirama Cells infused in his body, compensating for the life force he lacked to perform such a feat.