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Genin (下忍; Literally meaning "low ninja", Meaning (Viz) "junior ninja") are the lowest level of ninja and also the ones that display the most difference in power. When they become genin, ninja start to do their bit for their village's economy – being sent on missions that the village gets paid for. They are typically sent either on D-rank missions, which are almost entirely risk-free jobs of manual labour, or, rarely, on C-rank, which are a cut above that and begin to verge on real "ninja" work that have a very low possibility of risk to the ninja involved.

Genin are put in four-man cells or squad, consisting of three genin and a jōnin-sensei, in order to learn teamwork and experience true ninja life under the supervision and protection of an elite shinobi. The make-up of these teams is based on the individual skills of the genin, so that there will be a balance between the teams. For instance, Naruto Uzumaki, who passed with the lowest grades, was put in a team with Sasuke Uchiha and Sakura Haruno, who passed with the highest grades and highest written exam scores, respectively. Due to the fact that genin are the lowest level ninja, they are normally assigned D-rank or C-rank missions so as to gain experience.