By Rachael Burhouse
This will be a very opinionated and somewhat biased rant about the ending of Naruto. Do not expect facts here, and feel free to disagree!
The Naruto manga has ended. This may seem old news, but now, it has ended again, with the last chapter of Naruto Gaiden, following the next generation. And I am still unhappy with it. I had hoped that Gaiden would explain or expand more on how the new generation came about (not like that – there’ll be plenty of that on AO3!). I was disappointed.
I have a couple of main points of contention, which I shall expand upon here.
Sakura’s character development. For real, what even happened?! I will be the first to say I did not like Sakura originally. To be fair, I started off during my teenage ‘all other girls suck’ stage. She was obsessed with Sasuke to the exclusion of practically everything else, even to the point where she and her best friend declared war on each other.
But then she grew up. She found a teacher who was powerful and strong and perfect for her. She focused on her training, and her crush became secondary. She wanted to find Sasuke, sure, but it was now a case of ‘I must become stronger to not be left behind again’, rather than ‘I’m gonna marry him and have his babies cos he’s hot!’. Her relationship with Naruto developed, she kept him and Kakashi in line, she was badass! So what happened?
Sasuke comes back, and she reverts to a twelve year old girl again. Blushing, ready to set aside everything to be with him again. What happened to her trying to kill him?! To her false smile when Sai asks her if she’s glad he’s back?! Has she forgotten everything he did? The illusion of him running her through, that he used just to get her out of the way to fight Naruto?!?! It feels like Kishimoto wrote this ending with Sakura from the beginning in mind, and stuck to it, rather than changing it with the natural development of his characters.
Then, it gets worse! She becomes a housewife! For a b***** who got her pregnant and then sodded off! What happened to her being Tsunade’s best and brightest pupil? To her excellent medical ninjutsu? Why isn’t she running the hospital? Advising Naruto and keeping his head on straight? What’s with the fainting fits? The concern over money? I feel the whole thing cheapened Sakura. And then, at the very end, she wants a kiss from Sasuke (reasonable enough for a married couple), but when he just turns away, she throws a tantrum. Why is Sakura still with this guy?! The Sakura we got to know cared more for herself than that. I think she deserved more that to be Uchiha breeding stock. And I think she should have demanded more from Sasuke, if you’re determined to have them together. (Sorry, SasuNaru shipper to the bitter end!)
Next: Where the hell did NaruHina come from? I’m sure there’ll be plenty of you who rage at this question, which is fair, but I just didn’t see it. Honestly, I think, if I wasn’t shipping trash, I would say Naruto could very well be asexual. While he maybe got embarrassed on some occasions due to ladies, he actually showed very little attraction to anybody. His only kiss was accidental with Sasuke, he chased after Sakura more like a puppy, or because it was expected, than with any real intention. And I don’t think he ever thought about Hinata like that. Some will argue, justifiably, that him going nine-tails when Hinata was hurt by Pain is proof that he has feelings for her. Cool. But I think it would have been the same if it had been Sakura, or Sasuke (in another life), or Kakashi, Iruka, or almost anyone he valued. Naruto loves all his friends fiercely, and was under severe duress. He didn’t particularly look for her when he got back to the village, and there was no further hints of any extra feelings for her. I don’t think there was the basis for a healthy relationship there at all.
And them as adults: What the hell were they playing at when it came to their kids?!?!
Seriously. Naruto and Sasuke both experienced intensely lonely childhoods, that warped them both to a degree. They were both determined that things would be better in the future, that future generations wouldn’t experience what they did. And what do they do?!
Sasuke abandons his child. Worse than being told ‘later’, he doesn’t tell her anything at all, because he’s not there! Sarada seemed so unhappy. He didn’t even write to her, from what I can see. So good job there, Papa-suke. Congrats on raising a child who is almost as unhappy as you were. Stellar job.
And you, Naruto! What the ever-loving….wordI’mnotallowedtosay?! Your kid is doing EXACTLY what you did to get attention! Shouldn’t this tell you something?! You misbehaved to get anyone to notice you, and now, when your son does the same, you just punish him?! That, sir, is a FAIL. Way to repeat the mistakes of the past. (Also, Bolt? What?)
Sakura. You got angry about your child asking questions about your absent father. You punched the floor right in front of her. What. Even.
The whole next gen thing just stinks. The three main characters are crappy parents. The kids, for some unknown reason, aren’t close. Doesn’t that strike you as weird? Naruto and Sakura were teammates and friends, right? So wouldn’t they have been constantly in each other’s lives? Wouldn’t their kids be at least familiar with each other? Why does it seem like they have had zero interaction so far? Have Naruto and Sakura fallen out? I know, kids develop their own relationships and stuff, but I feel like they should have been more familiar, really.
I haven’t even mentioned how abruptly it ended. When we got the five chapters till it ends warning, I couldn’t believe it. I thought there was no way he could wrap things up so easily. And he didn’t. What did they do about Orochimaru? Apparently, from what we see in Gaiden, he was allowed to live? Kabuto set up an orphanage? What about the elders who agreed to the Uchiha massacre? Do they still have a say in village life? What about grieving for all the innocent people who would have died when Konoha was blown sky high? What repercussions did Sasuke face? Cos yeah, that would have happened. What’s happening with the bijuu now? Are they just wandering around doing whatever? I could go on. I probably have gone on more than I should have.
In conclusion, I feel the whole ending was a let down. It wasn’t given the time it should have been, and the whole thing feels like it was written near the beginning of the series, and not allowed to develop along the lines of the story. I feel like Gaiden was a horrible vision of the future. It all seems like a fanfic of the end written by a SasuSaku and NaruHina shipper who has only read the beginning, heard about the end, and hasn’t learnt any better yet. (No insult intended, I’ve been there, done that. We learn.) For myself, I shall stick to my own headcanons, and pretend the last chapter and Gaiden never happened. Who you ship, and how you ship it is fine, I hope you find many glorious fics of your OTP. But for the canon material, the ending of Naruto shall remain one of my greatest hurts.