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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.

  • While the story stresses the importance of working hard, Hard Work Hardly Works for anyone. All the most powerful characters have some form of The Gift, be it a bloodline trait, sheer talent, a sealed demonic beast or a cursed seal. Some people even get lots of these. In comparison, characters notably lacking in raw 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 at least three of the above-mentioned "gifts". In other words, Naruto's sheer talent and plot coupons steamrolled all resistance.
    • Immediately, 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 being Brilliant, but Lazy to the point that even if he knew all the answers to a test he wouldn't bother picking up his pencil. Despite this, he keeps up with or outperforms 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 while walking away with nothing but minor scratches and a broken finger.
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    • 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 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, it was that he wrongly 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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    • 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.
  • In the beginning, teamwork was considered very important, but nearly every time someone tries to apply this, someone ends 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.)
  • The story tries to preach revenge as a bad thing, but for some reason it's only when Naruto or Sasuke are involved. Kakashi gives Sasuke a lecture about not seeking revenge on Itachi for his clan, yet is perfectly content with letting Team 10 seek revenge on Hidan after he kills Asuma and even convinces Tsunade to let them go. Shikamaru is clearly satisfied in taking care of Hidan, and there are no negative consequences, with the story and the character treating Shikamaru subjecting Hidan to Fate Worse than Death as a good thing.
  • 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 aren't even given a single chance at redemption, being just killed. On top of that, we have such villains as Madara and Sasuke who do nothing with these chances at redemption but use them to become more evil and attempt to gain more power for themselves. Not to mention Orochimaru who unlike most villains in the series is completely irredeemable, yet at the end of the manga, after deciding to help the Shinobi Alliance for purely selfish reasons, 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 if 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.
    • The story also tries to propose 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, and Hidan really get no excuse at all for anything they do (though, none of them are extremely important villains, and we do not get much information of their lives before the show, if any at all).
  • One of the running themes of the latter half of the series is how each successive generation will surpass the one that came before it, which Kakashi spells out to an embittered and dying Kakuzu, calling him an obsolete old man after Naruto beats him. But then Madara and Hashirama show up and, oh sweet hell, they're invincible god-men who can take on entire armies of the strongest characters in the series single-handedly and who nobody can even lick the boots of. Madara in particular ends up so insanely overpowered that the only way he can actually be defeated at all is by the even older power of Kaguya showing up out of nowhere to hijack him after Zetsu stabs him in the back. While Naruto and Sasuke are eventually able to overcome her, they're only able to do so because they're literally handed new powers by the Sage of the Six Paths because they're the reincarnations of his sons, Kaguya's own grandsons. So much for the power of the new generation.

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