Sasuke Uchiha. Friend. Rival. Enemy. Antagonist. Cool. Emo. Occasionally the most popular character in Naruto. Sasuke is a difficult character to come to grips with. On one hand, he is very popular in Japan, but in America, he is widely disliked. He is, simply, controversial. He fascinates me. And I what to look at why he does so.
At times, Sasuke is the most compelling character in Naruto. Naruto Uzumaki is an interesting character. But I think Sasuke’s story, his tragic descent into darkness and revenge is truly considerably more interesting than Naruto’s rise from hated nobody to beloved hero.
Part of my issue with Naruto is that Naruto has never satisfactorily had a reckoning with Konoha over his ill treatment. That Naruto can so easily love the village that so despised him for so long is, ultimately for me, troubling. Meanwhile, Sasuke’s pursuit for vengeance is, ultimately, heartbreaking.
Part of my fondness for Sasuke is because he is, essentially, the protagonist of my favorite arc of Naruto. “The Itachi Pursuit” arc, is for me, the best arc I’ve read yet. And Sasuke is the protagonist. It is a fight between him and Itachi. And Naruto plays the role of minor antagonist! That is, to me, awesome. Even as Naruto is, obviously, the overall main protagonist of the entire series, he does not always act as the main protagonist for every arc. (Shikamaru serves as the main protagonist for “Hidan and Kakuzu” and Sasuke again serves as the main protagonist for “The Five Kage Summit”).
All that said, I think that Sasuke Uchiha would make an excellent manga series. I get why Naruto exists. Naruto Uzumaki is the more standard shonen protagonist. Sasuke best serves the role of “friendly” rival. But I think that a manga featuring a hero like Sasuke would be very interesting. Just think about it. . .
That gives me some ideas. Maybe later.
Anyway, I wish that I could do a deeper study of Sasuke Uchiha and Naruto as a whole. But I do not know what the critical literature looks like for manga and Naruto in particular. That, I think, is a shame.
Next up: “Hating What I Want to Love (Though I Wish I Didn’t)”, my epic, tortured, and (hopefully) crazy take on Glee and myself.