31 Days of Post (2) Day Three: The Naruto Rant, Reprise
I think I have a love/ hate relationship with Naruto. On the one hand, it is an extremely entertaining series. But on the other hand, almost every arc frustrates the heck out of me. Though, to be honest, I haven’t had the chance to read the entire series, yet. I really should rectify that. Once I actually buy the volumes. I really don’t want to damage library books. Cause I know I’ll throw them at the wall at some point.
But before I rant, I must admit two things. One, I haven’t read the whole series. I’ve read the first volume and from Sai and Sasuke to the present. Two, I’m not Japanese. I’m not an expert or scholar of Japanese culture. I’m interested in Japan, yes, but my knowledge is barely a pinprick. So, I’m going to miss a bunch. There are cultural cues that are going to fly so far over my head that I’ll never see it, let alone understand what the hell I’m looking at.
This is a rant, however, so I’m going to unleash, regardless.
As I’ve said on multiple occasions, my biggest issue with Naruto is Uzumaki Naruto himself. I get it, he is the hero. He has to be the messiah, the shining beacon of hope and inspiration not only for his (fictional) world but for his readers in this (real) world as well.
But damn it all, it still bugs the shit out of me how Naruto responds to his treatment. I just hate how it’s handled. Take the fight with Pain where Naruto nearly gives into his hate and anger before he is conveniently stopped by his father, the Fourth Hokage. I’m left bitterly disappointed by that. Yes, Naruto punches the bastard, but all is made right again because Minato has “faith” in his son. Seriously?
Or how about the confrontation between Naruto and his dark side? So fucking disappointing! I mean, seriously, could Dark Naruto not have been less of a threat?
To be honest, I’m okay that Naruto is who he is as a character. But I’d prefer some more anger and resentment in him.
When I last wrote about Naruto, I focused on Uchiha Sasuke’s character. I still feel the same about him. I get why a lot of American fans hate him. But I do at points prefer him to Naruto.
Though I can’t say that with total conviction. You see, I think Kishimoto killed Itachi off too soon. Why? Well, that is Sasuke’s story. Sasuke’s life goal is to “kill a certain man.” And when he finally accomplishes it, what then? What’s Sasuke’s epilogue? Shifting the hate onto Konoha and (largely) absolving Itachi of his villainy might not have been the best decision. Especially given that all of the antagonist cred Sasuke has managed to rack up since Itachi Pursuit has been negated with Sasuke’s latest heel face turn (which bugs the shit out of me).
But what could Kishimoto have done instead? I don’t know. Having Sasuke try to restore the Uchiha Clan? Killing him off to give Naruto something rage about? I don’t know. Maybe having him go off the deep end was the best choice at the time, but in hindsight, not really.
And maybe that is where another problem I have with Naruto comes from. The plotting and world building has become too unstable. I don’t know how Kishimoto plots the series, though I suspect he writes by the seat of his pants.
I could point out all of the ways that Naruto’s initial background is hampered by recent revelations. As practical Konoha royalty (he’s the son of the Fourth Hokage, related to the Senju Clan, and is one of the last Uzumaki), why the hell is he so behind? Who raised him? Where were Jiraiya and Kakashi when he was growing up?
Yes, as the main protagonist, Naruto has to be the underdog. He has to be in a weaker position compared to his comrades and enemies (especially regarding his rivalry with the initially superior Sasuke). But why would Konoha neglect Naruto’s potential, given his background?
Part of the problem is that Naruto is a discovered prince when he really works better as an orphan with a similar background to Kabuto or the Ame Orphans. But being Konoha royalty buttresses the messianic resume.
Besides the whole thing with Naruto’s background, the timeline itself doesn’t make sense. How old was Itachi when he slaughtered the Uchiha? Was he really old enough to have a lover? Shouldn’t Anko be older than Yamato? Shouldn’t Juugo be older than Anko? Shouldn’t Naruto be older than his classmates? He did fail the exam twice. (I really actually don’t get the Ninja Academy to be honest).
And you know something, why are Naruto’s initial skills rejected in favor of him being a pure brawler? Don’t traps and tricks have a place in the ninja life? Plus, while I’m at it, why didn’t Kumo go after Neji? Or a live Hyuuga rather than a dead one? Okay, okay, now I’m just nitpicking.
You know what, though? This ranting, this nitpicking, is actually a good thing. Because I’m inspired. And that leads me to ask, how would I have done it. And that’s a joy.
PS, For those of you who read my Bond film list from yesterday, I forgot a film. Guess which one for a no prize! I’ll reveal the answer and its position in Saturday’s post. Unless someone answers first.