Team 8 is an Altered Universe fanfic written by Matthew Viridian, AKA [S'TarKan]. On a purely technical standpoint, it remains one of the best-written pieces of work on that site. It is the most Favorited and Followed, and second-most Reviewed Naruto Fanfic on the site.
It asks one question. Well, three questions, actually:
Well, let's find out together, shall we?
Actually, that's a lie. I've read it already, at least five times. I know what happens. And I genuinely like it.
This fanfic is what really got me into Naruto in the first place. Yeah, I know what happens in canon in a general sense through Osmosis, it wasn't until I read this that I actually wanted to know what happens in canon. I wanted to see how different the Canon Naruto really is.
Canon most certainly did not live up to this. At least, Canon up to the point that the fic is currently at. I'm currently stuck at around episode 160, in that metric ton of filler arcs.
Anyway, I like this fic. I think it is an amazing work of storytelling.
But can I find problems with it?
Well, I'm going to try.
Ad, well, there's the question of whether I'll still like it after I find problems.
So now... we begin!
We start off with Yuuhi Kurenai... observing. From what I'm told in the author's note at the bottom, "Kurenai's past is such a blank page that it leaves [the author] some room to work with." That also means he can use her as his mouthpiece. No, that's not even a criticism; he admits this several times over.
Kurenai is busy scouting out the genin that are set to graduate from the Ninja academy this year; The Hokage wants her to start head up a reconnaissance team. She was the last member of such a team, and... well... her teammates and sensei died. Anyway, she sets out to see which genin she wants, rather than have the academy instructors choose for her, because she wants to make sure what happened with her team when she was a genin (which, 21 chapters later, we still have vaguely an inkling, other than "they died") doesn't repeat itself.
While surveying the students, she makes passing references to the rest of the Konoha 9 (or is it 12?). She figures that Ino, Shikamaru, and Choji are all going to be teamed together, noting for some reason that Ino "looked to be an incredible shrew." Nice that the author took precious time out of his narration to point them out. Especially since Ino gets about three lines throughout the whole fic.
Now she starts doing the actual job she set out for, marking off Shino- who uses bugs- and Kiba- who is basically a dog in human form- for her recon team, and finally laying eyes on Hinata, flashing back to when she first met the girl. Basically, in this fic, virtually every Hyuuga except Hinata (and Mattai, who was a genin with Kurenai) is a bag of dicks. Yes, even that one. And Hiashi, Hinata's father, despises her so much that he talks about how useless she is when she's still in the room.
Yeah... He was never like that in canon. He was a bit hard on her, from what I remember, but there was never a point where he literally said she was hopelessly weak. The most was I picked up from him was "train harder."
Kurenai notices Hinata perking up when Naruto runs by, and that leads to a flashback to the day the Kyuubi attacked.
Okay, hold the phone. I'm 18 paragraphs in- and three of them involved flashbacks, one of which was a Flashback within a flashback. Really?
So back in the current time, Kurenai notices Hinata watching Naruto as well, realizing the signs of an obvious crush, and glad that it would be such a scandal in the Hyuuga family for her to like the village pariah.
Her scouting out done, she heads to the Hokage tower, where the tests are being evaluated to see who passes and who fails. This part is supposed to be what's going on while Naruto/Mizuki scroll incident is going on. Basic rundown of said incident
They discuss what they're going to do since they have 8 Genin instead of 9, and rather than have two teams of 4, The Hokage decides that he'll make two teams of three and one team of 2. Kakashi, lazy as he is, wants to take the two-man crew of Sasuke and Sakura, with Kurenai implying that he's also doing it out of some kind of favoritism (which, with the hindsight I've gained from the roughly half of the canon I am familiar with, I can't deny). There's some interesting points brought up though: the fact that a kid can have an easier time of breaching the Hokage's security than passing the Genin exam. (Seriously, what gives?) And then there's the pointing out that the two more skilled Jounin regulars- Gai and Kakashi- are fucking insane.
Anyway, Iruka barges in, announcing that Naruto had passed, and Kurenai snatches Naruto up when she hears about his skill with the Kage Bunshin. Overspecialization is apparently what cost her her first team... though I'll get to that in a minute. She also indicates that she believes the Hokage had something to do with the deaths, or at least knows about some kind of conspiracy. She also notes naruto's mad running away skills. There's also this:
Kakashi was reading his book and Asuma was fiddling with his cigarette. Evidently, she was.
Speaking of favoritism...
Another point she brings up is that Sasuke and Sakura openly despise Naruto, while Hinata is only too shy to approach and Shino, at absolute least, was neutral toward him. Then she brings up the law that nobody should talk about the fact that the Kyuubi is sealed into Naruto, and how many orphans that would make if it was actually enforced. Yeah, whatever.
Next scene is from Hinata's POV. She's sad because she probably won't see Naruto again for a while, and she's sad for him.
She heads to the classroom to get her team assignment, and lo and behold, Naruto passed after all! Then we see [,hottip:various canon happenings:NaruSaku Accidental Kiss, Naruto getting wailed on by girls for it]] from her perspective. She absolutely hates it.
And then, cue Title Drop:
Hinata's happy that Naruto is on her team, but then she feels bad because he's sad that he's not on Sakura's team and in a way she's happy because of his sadness.
... Didja get that?
Anyway, while Naruto goes off to do what he did in canon, Hinata finds Shino studying an anthill.
That was kind of funny.
Anyway, Shino deduces that with his bugs and her Eyes, they're supposed to be the makings of a scouting team. Of course, unresolved variable in the equation is Naruto. When he suggests that Naruto was put here to "keep him out of the way," Hinata falls into a well of self-pity until she can logic her way out— if Team 8 was the Useless Team
whay wasn't Sakura on it Shino wouldn't be on it, would he?
They start to speculate as to exactly why Naruto became a pariah, and... well...
Anyway, Hinata, apparently for the first time in her life, is angry. This is, officially, the start of her growth as a character.
Note that I'm using those X's up there because that's what the author uses between scene breaks.
So we see Naruto after his attempted Kissrape by fraud, which was interrupted by a Potty Emergency brought on by drinking rotten milk. During this time, he gets simultaneously heartbroken by and fed up with Sakura, and officially decides to stop pursuing her
So using her mad Jounin Detective Skillz, Kurenai successfully guesses that Naruto is down because he's not on a team with Sakura, and they do the "Name, likes/dislikes, dream" intro. It's kind of boring, honestly.
And there's one thing I don't like, and I keep seenig. It's one of my pet peeves with writing in general: when the author refuses to say people's names, and instead just refers to them as "the [noun]." Just in that introduction scene alone, we have:
- the blond boy
- the Aburame boy.
- the blond
- the bug-user
- the taller boy
And those last four were all within the same paragraph. Yeah, I dislike it a lot.
So now, for their first test, it's a race to Training Area 19.
Naruto gets there first (well, second, but Kurenai oly won because of her head start), and Kurenai notes his stamina.
And... here we have the Orange Bashing.
Okay, some history.
The one thing everyone goes after when they want to bash the show is that it features ninja that wears bright orange. Because, really, between the use of magic, the overly flashy moves, and the samurai-like code of honor, it's the fact that one ninja wears orange that makes the show a disgrace to ninjakind.
Traditionally, Ninja dressed up as civilian farmers, who would then attack samurai with their farming tools. The "swathed in black" suit is what Japanese theatre stagehands wore.
Furthermore, Orange is an important color to Naruto because his father was the yellow flash, and his mother was the red... something. Of course, I'm not entirely sure that information was readily available.
But that's not all; I'll get back to this later.
After everyone recovers from their run, they start discussing ninja teams, both in their makeups and specialties. Kurenai explains that Team 8 will mainly focus on Recon, but since Naruto doesn't really have the skills in that department... I'll get back to this later.
Kurenai starts them off sparring, and finds that Naruto's being ignored by the other kids villagers has been detrimental to his taijutsu, as he had nobody with whom to spar.
Except that's bullshit.
While the adults, except Iruka, paid Naruto no mind, and he had nobody to take care of him, he did have cmpaions among the academy students. Naruto cut class all the damn time, with Shikamaru, Choji, and Kiba in tow. I have no doubt that, provided they were in class, any of those three would have minded sparring with him if he asked, even if they didn't technically consider him a 'friend.'
But maybe this chapter was written before that part came up in the anime. See, that information came to us around the time of the Sasuke Retrieval Arc, which ran from late 2004 to Early 2005.
This chapter was written on January 1, 2006
That brings us to Stupid Naruto Fanfic Cliche #1: Nobody Ever Liked Naruto At All, Ever.
After making a note to talk to Gai about training Naruto in taijutsu, she has them demonstrate their ninjutsu.
Hinata does a henge into Kurenai's form which is picture-perfect, except for her posture. Shino has his bugs eat something. Naruto makes two sickly clones, then when Shino makes fun of him, he gets angry and summons The Horde
With that, she dismisses them, after a bit of a lecture about her plans for the team, during which Naruto's clones perform all manner obscene gestures behind Shino's back.
Kurenai calls Naruto off to dinner to discuss some things, and there's an interesting bit about nutrition and such. As they head off, Kurenai notices the villagers giving Naruto the stink-eye, so she makes her eyes glow with a Genjutsu to scare them. This is not the last time she'll do something like this, and certainly not the worst misuse of her ninja skills (if you could even call this a misuse. She is only retaliating).
At Moritake's— Kurenai's favorite restaurant— they discuss his role on the team again. Well, actually, it starts with the Kyuubi, then eventually segues into what it means to be the hokage, and why Naruto wants to be the Hokage in the first place.
Naruto took a deep breath. "I'm already doing that, aren't I? The fourth Hokage picked me for some reason to hold back that bastard fox. I spend every day keeping it from destroying Konoha. If he picked me for that duty, I'd like to think he considered me worthy of that responsibility."
They come to the conclusion that before he can become Hokage, he needs to become a good genin. Which brings us to this...
That makes sense... I mean it's not like there's some kind of magic spell that could alter people's appearance...
Oh yeah, there is. And knowing it is a prerequisite for graduating from the academy.
But I suppose if the color can really affect his role on the team, it would be better for him in the long run...
So basically his main role, the role for which you picked him, requires that he be seen. And it's not like he can't just henge his clothes when he needs to be stealthy, so there's ABSOULTELY NO REASON to make him change his clothes.
My thoughts on the Author's notes:
Wouldn't that be the divergence point, then? The incident you made up that caused Kurenai to perform that action? And, well, does that explain
- Why Hiashi is an abusive asshole now?
- How Naruto had absolutely no friends his age?
Now, I have no problems with either of these changes to canon; it makes for better stories for the side characters, who I've always found more interesting than Kakashi's team, anyway. Making more backstory for Hinata in particular, I can't fault him for, whether or not the now-abusive relationship Hiashi has with Hinata is explained.
So yeah. That's it for chapter 1. If you want my opinion on something, hop up and ask me, and I'll answer it in the next update.