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Broken Aesop / Naruto

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Naruto just doesn't treat its aesops very kindly, particularly when an Uchiha is involved.

  • According to Kishimoto, the overall theme of the series is that using violence to stop conflicts is wrong. Do Not Do This Cool Thing aside, such message falls flat in a story where every single conflict was resolved directly or indirectly using violence. Even when Naruto did Talk The Monster To Death, he had to beat some sense into said monster before they listened to him.
  • While the story stresses the importance of working hard, Hard Work Hardly Works for anyone. All powerful characters have some form of power such as a bloodline limit, sheer talent, a sealed demonic beast or a cursed seal. Some people get lots of these. On the other hand, the characters notably lacking in talent like Rock Lee are badly outclassed despite working far, far harder than the likes of Naruto or Sasuke. Naruto, to put these points together, was a slacker at the beginning of the series, doesn't work as hard as Rock Lee and has The Gift in at least three forms. In other words, Naruto's sheer talent and plot coupons steamrolled all resistance.
    • Add on to that that many of the geniuses like Sasuke or Neji are shown training quite frequently which muddies the waters. But the biggest strike against this aesop is Shikamaru whose character revolves around "is extremely smart" and "is extremely lazy" to the point that even if he knew answers to a test he'd be too lazy to pick up his pencil. Despite this he keeps up with or out performs his peers all the time being the first to get promoted, fighting to a point just below Chouji and Neji but equal to Kiba against the Sound 4, and defeating an Akatsuki member. Also he ends with with minor scratches and a broken finger.
    • Many fans do argue that just was never a theme to begin with.
  • Kabuto believes that ninja without natural talent are worthless unless they learn and copy talents from others. Thus, he injected blood from Orochimaru and several subordinates as part of his goal to be recognized. Much of his battle with Edo Tensei'd Itachi and Sasuke consists of the former trying to convince him that he should take pride in his own identity instead of trying to add others' to his own. However, copying other characters' abilities occurs everywhere in this series without such criticism. "Copy Ninja" Kakashi is famous for his ability to copy his opponents' jutsus, the goal of the Big Bad is to become identical in power to the Sage of the Six Paths, Generation Xeroxes, Sharingans and Rinnegans passed around right and left... the worst thing about Kabuto doing this is simply the method of blood injections. Even putting all those examples aside, we would be left with the message "If you're not born into a bloodline granting you power naturally, just accept your place as second class". Again, it doesn't help that someone like Itachi, whose bloodline gives him an ocular-based Superpower Lottery and who receives constant praise from everyone around him is telling Kabuto to just be satisfied with his unmemorable self. Not to mention that Kabuto's stated goal with the Bio-Augmentation had been to become a better version of Orochimauru, not just a copy of him, and Kabuto had seemingly succeeded at doing so.
  • The track record of Screw Destiny is also rather poor.
    • The moral of the Chuunin Exam's Naruto vs Neji fight was rather ironic: hard work will trump natural talent and a big heap of Screw Destiny was thrown into the mix. What brought him victory? If you guessed Naruto utilizing The Gift, you're actually right! His own natural gift/curse was simply way stronger than his opponent's! Seeing how his opponent's belief was that, regardless of your efforts, you'd never beat someone who was simply more talented, Naruto inadvertently proved Neji right. The intended aversion of You Can't Fight Fate was also slapped in the face right from the start, considering how prevalent Generation Xerox, family bloodlines and prophecy are in this series. Sakura, Sasuke and Naruto match up with the legendary Sannin, the latter two are members of powerful clans that trace back to the creator of Ninjutsu and taken Up to Eleven when it's revealed that Sasuke and Naruto are the literal reincarnations of the Sage's two sons. So Neji's error wasn't in believing that those with natural talent will always be superior to those without it, was that he wrong assumed Naruto was in the latter group instead of the former since Naruto's own powerful bloodline and status as the host of a tailed beast are closely-guarded secrets.
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    • On the other hand, Neji, after his defeat and finding out the truth about his father's death, concedes in an internal monologue that some things are predetermined, but the ones who pursue their dreams are truly strong. Naruto had the gifts from the beginning, but he wouldn't have succeeded as a ninja if he didn't put so much effort into improving himself... well, if that "effort" didn't so often read as an Informed Ability, anyway, since, as mentioned, Naruto has trained far less than Neji at that point.
    • Eventual revelations show that Naruto and Sasuke's rivalry was destined to take place, as it had previously between Madara and Hashirama, because they are the reincarnations of Asura and Indra, sons of the Sage of Six Paths. Essentially, they are who they are Because Destiny Says So.
  • There's the theme of the new generations surpassing the previous ones - this is, in theory, why Naruto and Sasuke manage to become stronger than Kakashi, Jiraiya, Orochimaru, and the like. However, that idea is utterly negated by the revelation that Madara Uchiha is capable of effortlessly defeating anybody and everybody. Hashirama was, in their first life, even a little stronger than that, and it seems as though only characters who were members of the older generation are allowed to accomplish anything meaningful during the Fourth Great Shinobi War - Itachi is the only one who can negate Edo Tensei, Tobi's plan would have failed a long time ago without Madara, in fact it actually was Madara's plan in the first place. Somehow it actually got worse, it's later revealed that even Madara wasn't the real Big Bad. It turns out that not only was Madara manipulated by a Black Zetsu into summoning his mother, he also was casually discarded despite being virtually untouchable by the heroes. Naruto and Sasuke themselves join this Broken Aesop, as their ultimate powers isn't something new that they innovated or made for themselves, but old powers that the Sage gave them or that their past lives used. Older Is Better is in full effect in the world of Naruto.
  • In the beginning, teamwork was considered very important, but nearly every time someone tries to apply this, someone end up grievously injured or worse. Particularly the Chunnin Exams, where you use teamwork to pass but the finals stage completely turns this around, turning everything into a one-on-one tournament. Though still broken anyway during the early Chunnin Exams where Team 7 is fully aware that Naruto has no means to pass the written test but make no attempt to support him. Compare them to the Sand, Gai, or Ino's teams who arrange intricate methods to pass answers to their teammates that need it. Naruto passes only due to the final question which he would have failed had it actually required an input (or even tallied his score since he lost points for being caught so even if the 10th question counted he was still at -1).
    • Again with the written test, the point of the 10th question is that if you accept it and fail you're forever banned from being a ninja. It's supposed to represent being willing to accept a highly dangerous mission under the risk that failure means death, and a ninja needs that kind of bravery to operate in the higher ranks. However Naruto has absolutely no chance to pass (like the above, even if by some miracle he answered it, he'd still have a failing grade). So the Aesop about being brave enough to risk your life for the mission is broken as Naruto is an example of someone foolishly jumping for any mission regardless of how prepared he actually is. Especially since he has to opt into taking the 10th question, the whole thing is less about being prepared to accept a dangerous mission as it mirrors his well acknowledged flaw of begging to take harder missions despite performing poorly on even very simple tasks (He was unable to collect litter without falling off a waterfall but still wants to accept missions that might involve direct combat.)
  • One of the main morals of Naruto, as stated by Kakashi, is that while those who break the rules are scum, those who forsake their fellows are even lower than that. We found out that Kakashi inherited this philosophy from Obito, who would have been killed if Kakashi had just followed through with the mission. Instead we have Kakashi rescue Obito, who through a series of events was able to become Tobi. So if Kakashi had abandoned his comrades and completed the mission, Obito would have died instead of becoming Tobi. Then Nagato probably wouldn't have gone as insane, Naruto's parents would have survived and Naruto wouldn't have been an outcast, the elders wouldn't have ostracized the Uchiha which led to the Uchiha Massacre (making Sasuke nowhere near as messed up), the Moon's Eye Plan would have died with Madara, the Fourth Great Shinobi World War would have been avoided, and Akatsuki wouldn't be hunting down and killing Jinchuriki. But in both the Sasuke Retrieval Arc and the Jiraiya Shinobi Handbook Arc, the squad members peel off one by one to fight vastly more experienced enemies so the rest of the group can go on. In the Jiraiya Shinobi Handbook Arc, Tenten actually calls Shikamaru out for ordering Lee to stay behind as a distraction. In spite of the strategy nearly killing everyone in both arcs, everyone considers Shikamaru a smart leader and a good friend.
  • The story treats as if revenge is a bad thing, but for some reason it's only when Naruto or Sasuke are involved. Kakashi who gave Sasuke lecture about not seeking revenge on Itachi for his clanmates was perfectly content with letting Team 10 seek revenge on Hidan after he killed Asuma and even convinced Tsunade to let them go. Shikamaru was clearly satisfied on taking care of Hidan, and there were no negative consequences, with the story and the character treating Shikamaru subjecting Hidan to Fate Worse than Death as a good thing.
  • Sasuke is portrayed as potential outcome of Naruto had something gone wrong, and Naruto himself believes that if everything was different he would be the same as Sasuke. However, after the revelation that Uchiha are born more susceptible to evil in certain circumstances than others this becomes controversial. After all, Naruto doesn't work quite so well as Sasuke's counterpart when he is not genetically driven to insanity over emotional trauma; another Uchiha would have worked better.
  • One of the running themes in Naruto is that no one is born evil, everyone is capable of redemption, and it's better to offer friendship to the villain than to kill them (even if you have to beat some sense into them beforehand). This is shown on such villains like: Zabuza, Haku, Gaara, Nagato, Konan, Kurama, Obito and Kabuto. But in the series also there are such villains as: Gato, the Sound Five, Sasori, Deidara, Hidan, Kakuzu, Danzo and Kisame who weren't even given a single chance at redemption, being just killed. On top of that, we have such villains as Madara and Sasuke which do nothing with these chances at redemption than use them to become more evil and attempt to gain more power for themselves. And this, not to mention Orochimaru which unlike most villains in the series is completely irredeemable, however at the end of the manga, he decides to help the Shinobi Alliance for purely selfish reasons, and after that, he´s treated as a friend by Naruto, as seen in the sequel.
    • In addition to this, their final battle has Sasuke explicitly say he's trying to kill Naruto because he considers him his only friend. So at this point it's not so much trying to befriend the villain as much as it is trying to stop them from killing you over it. Surely, people will want to befriend the villain is that's what their friendship means. Even worse, there are implications that Madara held similar attitudes toward Hashirama, so it's not even like Sasuke is an outlier in this or anything.
  • In addition to this, the story makes it clear that because nobody is born evil, anyone who is evil has a Freudian Excuse that makes them the way they are. Well, unfortunately, such villains like Gato, the Sound Four, Deidara, Hidan and Orochimaru really get no excuse at all for anything they do. Once again giving special mention to the entire Uchiha clan, the story seemed to desperately want to redeem them from the very beginning, but just threw out a bunch of explanations for their behavior, seemingly at random. The two official canon explanations the story seemed to settle on about 6/7ths and 13/14ths of the way through the story respectively were that they were "cursed to love too much", meaning they would take extreme action and potentially turn evil if anyone they cared for died, and the second was that they were manipulated by an evil goddess and her underling the entire time. The former completely breaks the aesop, because the "loving too much" is a genetic trait; meaning they are the way they are because how they are born dictates and justifies their actions.
  • After the whole manga of Sakura chasing Sasuke, despite him Sliding Down The Slippery Slope the whole time they finally get together in the end. According to author if she gave up on him it would make her a bad person. This sends a message to never give up on your love. Except the freaking main character did exactly that when after few years of in-universe time and hundreds of chapters of manga he finally stopped pursuing Sakura instead turning his attention to Hinata and in the end they got their Happily Ever After, and his decision is presented in no negative light.

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