Naruto Anime/Manga (Manga Spoilers Not Tagged) [WSJ]

X-SOLDIER

Harbinger O Great Justice
AKA
X
They really nailed how all of the different layers of conversations fall in place. She's excited and wants to be like her dad, her dad knows that he's gotta eventually explain some hard truths but doesn't want to ruin the moment where she's feeling successful, and her mom is worried that her kid's gonna do the same thing her husband did, and then they have to have a discussion about that while not letting the kid know.

This is what makes generational storytelling so interesting.


X :neo:
 

Makoeyes987

Listen closely, there is meaning in my words.
AKA
Smooth Criminal
Whelp. The hard shonen transition to Boruto as the core main character has ramped up hard. Sucks they had to do it this way. But it's to be expected.

Clearly the writers and editors don't want this series having to ride/share the Naruto clout so they gotta make the previous gen step aside and move the focus on Boruto and the others. It's the reality of making the story sell itself. That was a pretty sad chapter.


Btw who the hell is Code and why should we care, lol?
 

Lulcielid

Eyes of the Lord
AKA
Lulcy
The chapter would have hit harder if it wasn't from the fact that the story has established that a Tailed Beast eventually revives after being killed/dead (chapter 503).
 

X-SOLDIER

Harbinger O Great Justice
AKA
X
The way that Kurama was able to trick Naruto by knowing him so well really hits at the core of their whole relationship throughout Naruto. Like... there isn't a better way to show that Kurama really genuinely truly loved him, 'cause he literally just did the exact same thing for Naruto that Naturo's parents both did for him. The transition from Naruto reaching out to Kurama and then gaining consciousness and seeing his kid looking down at him really hit the note that Naruto's really not that kid anymore.

He grew up, and he had a family. He still held those things that formed who he was close, but man... that transition was really that hit that shows that he's not reaching up to hold onto things anymore for himself, he's reaching out to hold on to his kid and all of the things that allowed him to get this far are what gave him what he needed to do that. That sorrow he felt losing Kurama is exactly what he saw in his own kid's face when he thought his dad was dead. That's some fucking masterful visual storytelling.

Even if the tailed beasts come back as a part of the mystic force of the world itself, that original the seal and the nature of Naruto's bond with Kurama is gone forever. It's not an exaggeration to say that those formative bonds are the core defining story feature in Naruto. For an example from another piece of fiction: the passing of Gandalf the Grey when he falls in Moria isn't any less sad because he comes back as Gandalf the White. There is a comfort to be had in his continued existence, sure – but what his sacrifice and death meant still mattered and the Elves still mourned him. While a Gandalf came back, he wasn't the same as the Gandalf that they lost.


Insofas as Code – They establish some important foundational themes with him. He's idealizing something that he always wanted without really understanding what it was. It's giving him the path to something that he always craved but wasn't every worthy of. Most importantly though, he's put in the position of being a near-blank-slate defining himself by who he's against. He's building a legacy off of that which defines his sense of purpose and the rules he follows, hence the name, "Code"

Essentially when building a good antagonist you have to give them a path to define themselves that is in juxtaposition to the hero. When you're doing it with developing characters, they have to learn about themselves through confrontation. This means that over time, they start to learn what similarities and differences they have from each other in order to determine what's right and wrong outside of just how they were raised.

This is why you have Kawaki (whose name means dry/parched) as someone without Karma who deeply hates it, Boruto (whose name continues the spiraling metaphor from Shippuden) as someone with Karma who feels trapped by it and is between the two forces, and Code (whose name refers to the rigid set of behaviour) who has a replica of Karma who idealizes it. It's an examination of the ideas around Karma as they're the generational product of what came before them, and they're looking at how those things have shaped them, as well as how free they are to define themselves outside of a pre-established destiny that's already been put in place into the world in which they've found themselves.

Thematically, if you're curious on a little bit of related insight into a small part of the research that I've been doing for the article that I've been working on for the last... lots of months now:

The Otsutsuki Clan's name is "大筒木" is a reference to Princess Kaguya from The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, one of the consorts of Emperor Suinin, and the literal translation of the name means the "great tube-tree." That's selected specifically so that it works as a reference to how their clan is focused on using the Ten Tails as a God Tree for sucking out all of the chakra out of worlds, where it blooms into a Lotus – which is meant to represent something that is a form of transcendent purity beyond desire & attachment which bears the Chakra fruit ...which they consume for their own personal power at the expense of everyone on those worlds.

When you're looking at this being intentionally constructed as a commentary about Japan & real-world moral examinations of the positions that we should be considering as people and how we look at the world and others in it – this is literally the exact same metaphor that Final Fantasy VII establishes with Shinra & the Mako Reactors sucking the life out of the Planet. There's actually a shitton more overlapping thematic context and more specifically there are several points of naming wordplay that they use throughout the series that Final Fantasy VII actually established to help iterate on how those themes are looked at. That thematic evolution is the same reason that Devil May Cry V used the demon tree Qliphoth, which is a more direct reference to the other primary origin: the Tree of Life – Sefirot from End of Evangelion. One of the biggest underlying drives for that as such a specific storytelling choice in modern pop-culture from Japan is because it's also building off of a history of other media that built the framework for that by looking at the strained relationship that Japan has with the West & late-stage capitalism post-WWII.

Essentially, Boruto is examining the concepts of Karma for the same reasons that Final Fantasy VII Remake has to address the framework around the concepts of fate – because they're important underlying questions about how that struggle is understood.

If everything that you do has already been predetermined by what happened before – is it right to accept that as reality and ensure that those who come after you have a better life in this reality, or is it right to reject the binding framework itself and build a future where those who come after you aren't trapped by those same forces of guiding predestination? Which one of those paths is evil and why?

The answer is always that the path that's evil is the one that's walked by someone who's truly just doing it for themselves at the expense of the needs of others, rather than actually having a primary focus on the greater good. This is because it makes them believe that their pain more egregious than the pain of anyone else and they're allowed to ignore the ends to justify their means. The path that is good is the one that leads towards understand that the pain that they feel is exactly like the pain that everyone else suffers from, and that the only way to achieve a better future is to operate with that understanding.



X:neo:
 

X-SOLDIER

Harbinger O Great Justice
AKA
X
Also, as I was thinking about this more today, the fact that the Biju re-emerge actually presents its own wrinkle in the state of things – If Naruto remains in his position, Kurama's reemergence will be a MASSIVE signal to all of the other lands that the Hokage is significantly weakened. It's not an exaggeration to say that Naruto being one of the most powerful shinobi is something that also helped to ensure a general state of peace. It's like the equivalent of the power vacuum that came into place that's been fueling the story in My Hero Academia. You can't cover that up, so there has to be a specific plan in place. Luckily with Shikamaru as his advisor, he's in the perfect hands to figure out what they need to do.

This might end up being something like where the 3rd Hokage passed on the title to Minato, but in the reverse where Naruto passes it over to someone like Konohamaru who had been following that same path it would be the disruption that their former 3-man team would need to respond to. Essentially there's an advantage to giving the external appearance that this was an act related to Naruto abdicating the position. It'll be interesting to see how this all plays out, since Kishimoto has been fully back on it again for the last 2 chapters, you can really tell that he's wanting to continue examining a different perspective that he was working with on Samurai 8 about how those things play out for a father & son, and that adjusting the focus and perspective of those characters is critically important.

Lastly: I don't think that it's a coincidence that Code's body is was unsuitable for Karma, he's has been the one assigned to be hanging out with the Ten Tails, and he's got the same brilliantly red hair that's a trademark feature of the Uzumaki clan who were known for proficiency in sealing ninjutsu. Since Team Konohamaru's third member is Mitsuki, Orochimaru's prodigy, that gives some ways for the story to look into what happened with the remnants of the Uzumaki clan after their village was destroyed that also share some links to things that parallel to Orochimaru's own original goals of using host bodies.

All-in-all, the dynamic that's set up is extremely interesting.



X :neo:
 

Lulcielid

Eyes of the Lord
AKA
Lulcy
Boruto manga #57

First though that came was Eida as Amado's modified daughter. Amado's lines like "I used to have a daughter" and "She died though. It's been 12 years already" suggest that this is may be more than a passing comment. Moreover, half of Eida's hatred of Amado comes from the fact that he remodeled her body (if Amado's gonna give OP powers to anyone, wouldn't it be his daughter?); the other half (inability to feel ordinary love) also feels like it could become relevant given that Eida's hinting at a blood relative who can resist her ability (imagine her disappointment that for all the people who love her, her father cannot love her after some potential disappointment/disillusionment?). All very hand-wavey/conjecture, but an entertaining thought while we wait for the next chapter.

Another though I had was, where does this put Delta? The exact dynamic between her and Amado is not clear, complete strangers or distant relatives :geek:? Interesting stuff.

I've seen strong reactions towards her "stealling heart" ability, how overpower it makes her and render the likes of Naruto/Sasuke tier power level useless but I don't see it that way, they would be useless if they faced her with brute force alone but in spite having that power Boro sealed her in the capsule, so there're ways to neutralize her. So far she only showed stopping Code from piercing her but what about more indirect attacks, ike genjutsu?

Overall an interesting chapter, manganed to convey Eida's motivation and making them look sincere.

Other stuff:

Not quite a fan of the anti-Byakugan pills, unless they cause the situation to get worse, their role at the moment is to deflate tension of the doomsday clock in Boruto's fate.

With the stuff has been doing for Kara and the recent stuff about his daughter, when are we getting backstory about him? He's becoming the more interesting non-Otsutsuki member of KARA.

Hinata or Himawari accidently take the pills?
 
I won't call it a retcon, because to me it doesn't really matter -- I just don't think the whole Itachi as a secret agent for good works well. Even without getting into what he did to the Uchiha, this is the same one who psychologically tortured Kakashi, then did the same thing to Sasuke after beating him up, which really should have completely destroyed his already traumatised mind. Those aren't actions I buy from a secret hero. If Itachi had stayed as originally presented, it would make much more sense. It's like someone writing in a reason for Sephiroth to do what he did at Nibelheim that excuses him....it just feels silly.
 

Makoeyes987

Listen closely, there is meaning in my words.
AKA
Smooth Criminal
Do you know who Itachi was working for?

And considering what the Uchiha were planning, Itachi was caught between a rock and a hard place. Bloodshed and the clan's annihilation were a given. Itachi had the choice of deciding how it went down and when.

The entire nature of espionage and conspiracy is making the cover story believable and in line with the presented story. So of course Itachi "makes sense" as a villain; that was the entire lie he lived out thanks to Konoha forcing him to shoulder the entire burden of village protector while carrying the sin of clan annihilator. Itachi is literally the greatest and truest example of what it means to live and die as a ninja. It is ignoble and without fame or fortune. That's the truth represented by his whole story. His entire arc is the purest example of the curse of the Shinobi world and what Naruto wanted to keep from ever happening again. And it was one of the most well done parts of the Naruto Shippuden saga. That is definitely not what's talked about as making no sense in Naruto's later chapters. That's one of its highest points.

The fact that the story subverts and turns upside down Sasuke's (and the reader's) entire understanding of history, reason for vengeance while challenging the reader's whole understanding of who the "good guys" of the Shinobi World are, is why Itachi's arc is considered top tier. It's reflective of the nuanced nature of reality. The truth isn't always what it seems, in fact it's sometimes even manufactured by the victors in power. Simply to keep the status quo in place while some poor person(s) shoulders the truth alone.
 
I don't know how many consider it 'top tier', to be honest...

(If you want a top tier arc, see Zuko in A:TLA, which is justifiably celebrated everywhere.)

None of what you said also justifies what he does with Kakashi and Sasuke either. You can make yourself look like a villain without using something like Tsukiyomi.
 

Makoeyes987

Listen closely, there is meaning in my words.
AKA
Smooth Criminal
Did Kakashi die? Did Sasuke die? No. That's the entire nature of deception and "playing both sides." Of course it hurt and was wrong on the surface, but that's the deception Itachi needed to present to those watching him, in order to fulfill his mission. The entire point of the arc is to show how good people are forced to do bad things by those in power, all to protect those they care about and find prescious to them. That's the nature of being a ninja. Deception.

Itachi purposefully stoked the fires of Sasuke's vengeance so he'd be hailed a hero once he killed him. Itachi always intended to die because he knew there was no future for him. So he wanted to at least set Sasuke up to be a hero and finally put an end to the Uchiha's tragic history. You don't put up a convincing act by pulling punches and appearing to have a weakness for the village you supposedly defected from. That's espionage 101.
 
I see where you're coming from, I just think Itachi went TOO far with the deception. Honestly, what he did should have destroyed Sasuke's mind when you consider it completely -- kills the entire clan and Sasuke's parents, then taunts Sasuke (then a little boy) before vanishing, which is enough in itself to traumatise someone terribly. (Eg, Sephiroth with Cloud's mother.) Then he shows up years later, beats Sasuke up, and casts an incredibly powerful Genjutsu that makes Sasuke relive that village massacre for...what was it, 72 straight hours?? It was only because of Tsunade that Sasuke recovered I think, and even then he was clearly in a bad state afterwards and ended up fighting with his friends and going to Orochimaru. What Itachi did is unbelievably cruel. There is deception and then there is just leaping way, way over the line, and I think he really crossed it.
 

Makoeyes987

Listen closely, there is meaning in my words.
AKA
Smooth Criminal
How do you go too far when your mission is to infiltrate a clandestine supervillain criminal organization bent on world conquest and run by a century old dead founder ninja hellbent on jacking every living person on the planet into the Tree Matrix? Especially when you've already slayed your entire clan and have supervillain criminal cred to live up to?

Itachi is a murderer. A clan annihilator. Obviously with who is running the Akatsuki, Itachi had to be convincing in living up to that image. Seeing as how they weren't gullible and inexperienced losers. They know how Konoha works, and what they are capable of. If Itachi was discovered, everything he'd done up until then would be for nothing. So he had a role to play, and he played it well.

And if Itachi's goal is to eventually be killed by Sasuke, then he needs to make Sasuke hate him enough so much that he'd be willing to kill him with no hesitation and doubt. So yes, that involves making Sasuke suffer in a way that would make anyone watching go, "oh yeah, there's no way he's holding back against his brother, he's one of us." Itachi did everything to ensure he would be Sasuke's enemy and he would be strong enough to kill him. And everything he did, he knew Sasuke would be able to handle. It's no mistake he goes just far enough to be considered a monster, but never leave lasting damage that can't be healed. Of course it's coldblooded and cruel, it's a cruel situation. Itachi's entire circumstance is outside the realm of "normal" and one no one would want to put themselves in. That's why it's tragic, and that's why he did every cruel thing imaginable. If it's not believable and "villainous" then there's no point. Itachi needed to live up to the damnation he put himself in. That's again, the nature of being a ninja.
 

X-SOLDIER

Harbinger O Great Justice
AKA
X
I won't call it a retcon, because to me it doesn't really matter -- I just don't think the whole Itachi as a secret agent for good works well. Even without getting into what he did to the Uchiha, this is the same one who psychologically tortured Kakashi, then did the same thing to Sasuke after beating him up, which really should have completely destroyed his already traumatised mind. Those aren't actions I buy from a secret hero. If Itachi had stayed as originally presented, it would make much more sense. It's like someone writing in a reason for Sephiroth to do what he did at Nibelheim that excuses him....it just feels silly.
What you're missing out on here is a KEY component of Japanese storytelling, which is why this seems odd – but there's a reason that Naruto heavily redefined a lot of these themes during its run.

Ideological motives interlaced with trauma are what not only allows, but FUELS people to be able to become emotionally detached from the means by which it is necessary to achieve their ends. It's NOT about excusing him for what he did. Logical explanation and in-character psychological rationalization of an action is NOT an excuse for them. The entire purpose behind the "rival comrades" in those stories is that it's supposed to show you that both people are motivated by the exact same forces to achieve their ends, but they're utilizing different ways – and only one of those is something that is ultimately considered "just" in the end.

Naruto's story even explicitly calls out those parallels between Naruto & Sasuke as being an extension of the conflict between Indra & Asura from Hinduism. This is because during the Sengoku period of Japan, the depiction of "Asura" became a shorthand in storytelling for representing the darkness in human hearts that is experienced as a result of war turning humans against one another and making them believe that they're completely different – rather than exactly the same. Then when you start to bring in all of the modern themes around mental health to this around the late 1990s, the inability to readjust your moral perspective to align with the world you exist in is central to the underlying psychological roots of what causes PTSD.

– And to your last sentence... that's why Cloud is literally turned into a Sephiroth Copy during the Nibelheim incident, and has constant visual hallucinations of Sephiroth being in his head. The whole game is giving you context to understand EXACTLY why Sephiroth went completely fucking insane and started murdering humanity, as a path towards attempting to re-create the world based on seeing the disgusting corruption of the system for what it truly was, and becoming emotionally detached from the means by which he achieved his ends, and the philosophical perspective about the Planet as his birthright.

The (likely*) difference with Itachi is that Itachi is self-aware, and he is purposefully constructing the persona that he needs to be in order to motivate his brother to hate him, while also allowing him to uncover (most) of the truth. This is why it was always his goal to prevent Sasuke from knowing he was intentionally doing that to turn his brother into the thing he couldn't become. That's why the task ultimately falls to Naruto, because the inherent issue with this lesson is that you can't teach it to someone if you have a wider agenda – because you end up BEING the system of control that you're teaching them to destroy. That's why Madara tells Sasuke the truth in order to ensure that Sasuke won't follow the path that Itachi set – which is creating his OWN system of control over Sasuke in exactly the same way that Itachi was trying to do.

This is how generational conflict and manipulation happens, and why it's so difficult to break out of it without being turned against the people who are trying to help you. That's why Naruto's biggest strength is ALWAYS his empathy and insistence on always treating Sasuke like an equal. He is constantly defying the position where one of them has power over the other, even after he becomes Hokage. It's about a path to reestablishing trust with someone who you're being pushed by EVERYTHING you're exposed to to see them as an ideological outsider who you feel justified annihilating for the greater good, and the struggle that it takes to constantly reject that impulse, while also not denying the utterly wretched and rage-blinding pain that it brings (which is central to why Naruto's relationship with Kurama is based around the loss of his own parents in a mirror to Sasuke's own parents' death). Both are acts of love by their guardians in an attempt to give the one they care for most everything that they need to survive – and to permanently dismantle the corruption that caused them to have to lose the connection to their most beloved companions.


(*This is one facet of what I've been very exhaustively and meticulously researching over the last year in looking through the last century or so Japanese storytelling, while documenting what shaped FFVII and what shifted portrayals of certain elements in Remake – and Naruto helping to clarify a lot of these shared themes in the cultural awareness of those themes is definitely a big part of that).


X:neo:
 
Your thoughts are interesting, and I'd absolutely read an article you write about this stuff when your research is done!

That being said, I think your point (to me, that is) may have ended up being buried in that explanation -- you're saying that the point in the narrative isn't to excuse Itachi, it's to offer context and an 'ideology and trauma' theme that is common in Japanese storytelling? I can't speak about the latter as I haven't done research into it, but what I will say is that the narrative of the manga portrays Itachi in Mako-esque terms, as a tragic hero, a good man who made the ultimate sacrifice for his brother and village. I find that this sentiment clashes with his overwhelmingly cruel treatment of Sasuke. The whole concept behind his massacre rings oddly, to be honest, like the plot is desperate to find a way to give an excuse for him to do what he did and still be seen as a hero in the shadows.

As for Sephiroth, he actually -doesn't- have this issue at all. We see the context behind why he snaps, but the narrative never treats him as a tragic hero/anti-hero. He's unrepentant and merciless, and a very clear villain, despite having a sad background and history.
 
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