Tsunade Senju is the granddaughter of the First Hokage, Hashirama Senju, and therefore a member of the Senju clan. Being a descendant of Hashirama, she also holds the title ‘Princess.’ However, she’s also the granddaughter of Mito Uzumaki, which is just as important, but in a different way which will be explored later on.
Needless to say, she was going to be someone important simply due to her birthright. Later in life, this comes to fruition as she was a student of the Third Hokage, given the title of Legendary Sannin for her part in the Third Shinobi War, and finally made into the Fifth Hokage.
But, for someone of such high pedigree and accomplishment, Tsunade has some unusual quirks. She’s a heavy drinker, loves to gamble to the point of always being in debt, and she uses a jutsu 24/7 which makes her appear much younger than she actually is.
Despite all of these things, Tsunade is definitely one of the strongest shinobi around and deserving of all her accolades. As one of the Sannin, she fought alongside her teammates, Jiraiya and Orochimaru as their equal. And as a kage, she was only outclassed by the Fourth Raikage during the Fourth Shinobi War.
While she doesn’t have much of a relationship with Orochimaru, it’s clear through her involvement with Jiraiya that she has some feelings for him. However, she never acts upon these feelings due to a strange mix of self-pride and an inferiority complex.
As for her relationships with the younger generation, like so many others, she was drawn to Naruto Uzumaki’s strong will. But, the more significant relationship she develops is with Sakura Haruno, as her mentor.
Because Tsunade teaches Sakura almost everything she knows, they’re practically the same exact character when it comes to skills. The one crucial ability which is specific to Tsunade is her Body Pathway Derangement jutsu, which uses lightning style to cause the brain to send false signals to the nerves in her opponent’s body.
This is a reasonably unique jutsu, and it’s a shame that the one time it’s actually used, the intended target can recover from it easily just by being smart. Even so, it’s a lethal jutsu Tsunade has at her disposal.
Her other signature jutsu is the Ninja Art Creation Rebirth – Strength of a Hundred Technique, which is the culmination of just about every other one of her abilities. This technique has three main parts:
- Chakra storage
- Chakra release
- Healing jutsu
First, Tsunade stores up a large amount of chakra in a seal on her forehead. Then, when she needs it, she can release the seal and use the stored chakra. Finally, she uses this stored chakra to automatically heal any wounds she receives instantly, no matter how severe.
Tsunade is also the premier medical ninja in the world thanks to her expert chakra control. Her healing capabilities are also furthered thanks to her summoning pact with Shikkotsu forest and the giant slug Katsuyu.
And, lastly, she can use her chakra control to grant herself superhuman strength, which she uses in combat. This, combined with her Strength of a Hundred technique, means she’s one of the most formidable opponents one can face in close quarters combat.
So, if Tsunade is just the same character as Sakura from a combat perspective, then it’s fair to assume they would fair similarly in their match-ups. However, this isn’t quite the case because Tsunade has a more varied arsenal than Sakura does.
In fact, she’s capable of using Earth, Water, Fire, Lightning, Yin, and Yang releases alongside her monstrous strength and near-invincible healing. And, the fact that she has Uzumaki blood in her veins actually means she heals even faster than other people do regularly.
Due to these facts, Tsunade is nearly impossible to defeat in close quarters combat even when some of the most potent jutsu is used against her. Sure, she probably can’t tank a direct hit from the Particle style, but she could still tank the damage from Amaterasu long enough to take down the user.
She also has at least one way to attack opponents at a range, which is a type of binding genjutsu. With this, she can render her opponent immobile, giving her the chance to close the gap between them and deliver a finishing blow.
Basically, the only way to defeat Tsunade is by outlasting her Seal of a Hundred technique, having the Rinnegan, or by being Madara. So, it’s much easier said than done.
Oddly enough, although she’s a member of the Sannin, her best pairings aren’t Jiraiya and Orochimaru. Neither of them really benefit all that much from her ability to heal her allies, and she doesn’t need to rely on any of their signature abilities to be effective in a fight.
Instead, a much better partner for her would be someone like Shikamaru, who incidentally is excellent when paired with almost anyone. His Shadow Paralysis jutsu makes it easier for Tsunade to land devastating blows to her opponents, which is really her central role rather than being a medic.
A more unusual pairing could be Kankuro from the Sand Village. While his puppets themselves don’t really help Tsunade in any way, their poison does. An opponent won’t be able to stall out Tsunade’s Strength of a Hundred technique if they’ve been poisoned.
Alternatively, Kankuro’s poison could be useful in capturing enemies rather than killing them, considering Tsunade is one of the few people who would be able to keep them alive after being poisoned. Remember, killing the opponent isn’t always the goal.
And, while this might not be the most exciting partner for Tsunade, Sakura is pretty useful. Adding Sakura Haruno to Tsunade’s team is basically like adding a second Tsunade which is slightly less offensive, but can keep the original lasting longer.
Since Tsunade’s whole gimmick is dealing as much damage on the front lines as possible while tanking damage herself, there’s no one better. Karin could serve a similar job, but Sakura can keep Tsunade going from a distance.