Saturday, November 8, 2014
Naruto: the ending, the pairing and why people have such differing opinions
As I'm sure the whole world knows by now, the Naruto manga, arguably one of the most popular manga series of all times, has finally come to an end after 700 chapters. In some ways, you could almost claim that with the ending of Naruto, a shift will be taking place in the manga world to fill the void left by a series that has become a world-wide hit. Just who the hell is going to step up and fill that void is unknown.
In some ways, this is almost nostalgic. In others, it's kind of annoying. I'm not exactly sure what I expected to see when Naruto finally ended. I mean, how do you end something that's been going on for over a decade?
Of course, there are a few things that bother me about this ending. Naruto's hair, for example. Why the hell Kishimoto decided to have Naruto cut his hair short I don't know. I can't even fathom it. That hair-cut is just plain ugly. The only person who has worse hair-cut than Naruto is Gaara, who apparently learned how to use a comb sometime between chapters 699 and 700.
The idea to have Naruto and Hinata paired together has brought a lot of conflict to the table. While NaruHina fans have been orgasming on the spot at their hopes and dreams finally being realized, NaruSaku fans have been raging. It's been so bad that some NaruSaku fans have tried creating a petition to ban Naruto in the US unless their demands of an AU ending in which Naruto and Sakura get together have been met. It's not going happen, ever, but you've got to give them points for tenacity if nothing else.
All this being said, I've been having to ask myself: why Hinata? Why not Sakura? Why have a pairing at all? The last question is easy to answer, as the idea of Naruto growing up and starting a family of his own is sort of like the zenith of the manga. Naruto, who was always alone, that orphan everybody hated and no one wanted to be around; having him gain a family is a way of showing how much life has changed for him, how much he has changed. While Naruto becoming Hokage can also signify this, I believe the act of Naruto becoming Hokage has less to do with change and more to do with vindication. Naruto, the deadlast who struggled and clawed his way from the bottom. Naruto, who always had to fight tooth and nail to get ahead. Naruto, who was the underdog for pretty much the entire series. Him becoming Hokage is a way to vindicate his struggles. It's the prize at the end of a long, hard journey, whereas him starting a family is to show the passage of time and change.
Hinata's rack aside, we still have to ask ourselves why Naruto ended up with Hinata and not Sakura.
I think the first reason is simply because of the fanbase. Let's be honest here people, the NaruHina fanbase is bigger. While NaruSaku is popular, NaruHina is the number 1 most popular pairing for Naruto. Period. I don't have statistics, but I can pretty much guarantee that more people were rooting for that quiet girl who always hid behind lamposts and watched Naruto from a distance than that violent girl who bashed him over the head more times than I care to count.
If I were to try and step into the mind of Kishimoto, I'd say that the reason he chose Hinata over Sakura is to signify Naruto's change. In the beginning of the series, Naruto was a loud, obnoxious, idiotic brat. He was dumber than a brick wall and twice as dense. I often likened Naruto to a less powerful and more annoying version of Son Goku from DBZ. However, by going with the quiet girl who always supported him from a distance of at least fifteen feet and one pole or fence between them, Kishimoto is showing how Naruto has changed and matured over the course of the story. He's showing that even a knuckle-head like Naruto can eventually grow up. Of course, there are problems with this pairing. It felt rushed. It feels more like a last minute addition than because it made sense. And don't even get me started on SakuSasu. I'm not going to even mess with that shit storm. I don't want to get torn apart by an even more rabid fanbase than NaruSaku, thank you very much.
In the end, I feel that pairing Naruto with Hinata was the best choice. I will be honest, I have never once liked Hinata's character. Ever. I just don't. Her entire dandere personality bugged the crap out of me. She's thrown in sporadically throughout the series and feels more like eye-candy than a real person at times because we rarely ever see her. The only time we ever see her developing is the Pein invasion and Neji's death. Heck, those are some of the ONLY times we ever really see her at all. Perhaps I'm just more upset by her lack of presence throughout most of the series than because of her personality. We just don't see enough of her, and what we do see always bothered me because she was so damn quiet. However, I still stick with my decision that Kishimoto made the right choice here. While not a perfect pairing, NaruHina did everything that Kishimoto wanted it to.