Naruto is a story about the title character and his friends struggling to find peace in a world ravaged by war and corruption. The main story takes place in the Hidden Leaf Village, a fascist city ruled by its military, with leadership decided mainly by skill in combat. The military is not above using children in its military, and many children, including Naruto, are drafted. To keep its soldiers in check, the government uses methods such as brainwashing all of the soldiers with jingoistic pride and hunting down any soldiers who attempt to leave the village. Despite this, many of the children in Naruto still manage to find happiness in the little things, whether it's making friends, or competing with each other. Naruto's own goal is to become the strongest soldier in the village so he can become Hokage (The leader of the village) and improve the overall quality of life in the village. Advancing in rank is very difficult and competitive, involving a competition where candidates for promotion fight each other, often to the death, to earn the right to compete in a public gladiator match, and get promoted if they do well in it. The other main character is Sasuke, Naruto's best friend and fellow child soldier. Unlike Naruto, he is obsessed with destroying the facist government as revenge for ordering the political assassination of almost his entire family, through whatever means necessary. The main conflict of the story is between the idealistic Naruto, who wants to reform the government from the inside, and the cynical Sasuke, who wants to destroy it as retribution. Whether it's with the large number of orphans, the devaluation of human life, or the showcasing of what happens to areas without a military to protect them, Kishimoto does a splendid job in showing the effects of war and violence. There is plenty of Grey and Black morality here. Many of the government authorities try to make the lives of the soldiers better if they can, and many of the antagonists have Freudian Excuses. Unsurprisingly, all of the soldiers suffer from some sort of psychological damage. At best, they turn out to be Stepford Smilers who do their best to survive and find happiness. At worst, they become mentally unstable or cold and selfish. If you're looking for a deep world and complicated plot, then Naruto should be more than enough.
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