Naruto: The Problem I Have With Neji’s Death

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  1. Kangie Yoon says:

    A bit belated, but yes! Neji’s character is about growth, not just about throwing away his hatred for the main household. Because we know only so little about what happened to him in between the 2-3 years between “Naruto” and “Naruto Shippuden”, there isn’t an established line as to how he’s manifested that “growth” and incorporated it into his lifestyle (family, work, social). And it is here that we still see Neji as the genin turned jonin who’s still mature, bearing an undefined amount of hatred against his clan, and who talks a bit more.
    I personally see his situation as unchanging, that nothing he’s done has improved his dilemma. To symbolize the freedom of the caged bird means more than letting go of that hatred. It’s more about leading your life the way that you want, that you don’t need to abide by destiny and feel shackled by it.
    But at the end, Neji not only goes against that “freedom”, he literally cements it to the ground of that juxtaposition between what it means to be free and what he’s become. His death makes all his talk become rubbish. Kishimoto did not think this through. The power of choice in Neji’s case condemns him to the one thing he does not want to do (to be hindered by the main house).
    And for Hinata to say that he freely gave his life for Naruto, it not only misdirects why Neji did it, it shifts the blame onto Naruto himself. Neji died because he’s not a round character. He dies because his father told him to protect Hinata. It is a shame that even he hasn’t gotten over that. Neji did not change. He accepted that he’s a branch member, but instead of trying to break out of it, he goes along with it even after gaining insight from Naruto.
    I’m going to mention one of the most unfitting phrases between Neji and Naruto: “Because you called me a genius.” Here, it isn’t used correctly. it doesn’t fit the narrative at all. Being a genius has nothing to do with how Neji developed as a character. He’s a genius and what has he done up until now? We see nothing. We get nothing from him. Neji is an undeveloped character who is pushed at the forefront of the plot to create a stronger bond with the main character. it in no way establishes the same deed with his cousin and it definitely does not work in bringing the hero and herione together. There is so little influence of Neji’s death but it’s being acted upon and being played as a big magnificent sacrifice that will change Naruto and Hinata forever. We did not even get to see the impact of his death after the war. Actions speak louder than words. Being told that “his death affected Naruto and Hinata a lot” doesn’t cut it.

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