RED is a Naruto fanfiction which began as a collaboration between authors Sherbet Mayhem and Oil Pastel but was later continued singularly by Sherbet Mayhem, which crosses over with/is based on/is inspired by Markus Zusak's The Book Thief. Set in an alternate setting to BOTH stories, it features the cast of Naruto and mimics the writing style and follows the rough plot outline of The Book Thief. Konoha, no longer a village of ninja, replaces Germany, "Leaves" replace the Germans, the titular "Reds" replace the Jews and Orochimaru replaces Adolf Hitler. The story follows Sakura (who loosely takes the place of Liesel Meminger, the protagonist of The Book Thief), as she grows up in Konoha under the looming shadow of war, trying to come to terms with the increasing oppression of the Reds- most especially one Red who takes shelter in her family home, a boy named Uchiha Sasuke.
While the story initially seems like nothing more than a Transplanted Character Fic, retelling the plot of The Book Thief with the names of Naruto characters and places plastered over the original story, it takes on a life of its own and deviates wildly from the original source material into unpredictable territory. Sakura, Naruto and Sasuke may have taken the roles of Liesel, Rudy and Max, but they make these roles their own and fill them out with their own personalities. The resulting story is gripping and emotional, not to mention a fascinating read as Sherbert Mayhem replicates the unique writing style of Markus Zusak, with the story narrated by a nihilistic, fourth wall-observing and somewhat Lemony Narrator who occasionally gives a guest spot to Death/Time in the form of a vulture.
Now complete at 25 chapters.
This fanfic provides examples of:
- All Just a Dream: Subverted. This is my reality.
- All-Loving Hero: Hinata is an infinite well of compassion; chapter 10 revolves around her and is called 'The Dark-Haired Angel'.Naruto knew that Hinata, with a soul so desperate to give, would forgive him every iniquity if she was given the chance to save a single person.
- Anyone Can Die: By the time it ends, Yahiko, Itachi, Kakashi, Anko, Shikaku and Nagato have all been claimed by the vulture.
- Black Market: One of these is being run in Camp 002 by Nagato, Yahiko and Konan; they bring Sasuke in on it too after he saves Nagato from a summary execution by a sadistic guard, later revealed to be Yakushi Kabuto.
- The Blacksmith: Itachi and Sasuke run their parents' blacksmiths together. In 002, Sasuke is able to use his skills to leverage better working conditions for himself, Nagato and Yahiko.
- Blatant Lies: When Sakura comes in contact with anti-Red propaganda being circulated by the government, describing how Reds are subhuman, immoral, malevolent, ratlike creatures, she can only roll her eyes at how blatantly ridiculous and obviously false it is, "designed to dupe only the stupidest of citizens into believing that Reds really were inferior."
- Character Death:
- Yahiko, possibly intentionally mirroring his fate in Naruto canon.
- Eventually, even after everything he's been through, Itachi.
- Chapter 22 sees the deaths of Kakashi and Anko when their house is bombed, the same way Hans and Rosa died in The Book Thief.
- Nagato dies in chapter 23.
- Childhood Friends: Surprisingly, Hinata and Shikamaru. Naruto and Sakura have also been friends since they were 10 or 11 years old.
- Children Forced to Kill: When Naruto is bringing Sasuke to hide in Shikamaru's house on Crystal Night, they get caught by a Fang guard. What happens is vague, but it is clear that Naruto stabbed him to protect Sasuke, possibly fatally.
- Conscription: First Kakashi is called up, then later Naruto, Shikamaru and several members of FOX, leading Naruto to suspect they've been compromised.
- Continuity Nod: Despite being a completely separate story from Naruto there are a number of these to these original manga:
- Where Rudy in the original book was one of a large and poor family, Naruto is an orphaned only child whose father was apparently someone of significance in the previous government (reflecting how in the manga he is the son of the 4th Hokage).
- The Cut Apart scene in chapter 3 is a direct homage to a similar sequence in chapter 144 of the manga/episode 83 of the anime.
- The girls all train as nurses in the fanfic, reflecting how Sakura and Ino trained as medic-nin in the manga (although Hinata never did, even though she also trains as a nurse here).
- The resistance group Naruto, Hinata and Shikamaru join is called FOX.
- Kakashi has Obito's red left eye under his eyepatch, a memento from when Obito died saving him in the last war.
- When they're finally reunited in chapter 20 Itachi calls Sasuke "foolish little brother"- although unlike in canon, he's using it as a term of affection.
- Cut Apart:
- In a fairly blatant nod to a similar scene in Naruto, the scene where Naruto is taking Sasuke to safety on Crystal Night and a Red comes to Kakashi's door at the same time seems to be suggesting that Naruto is bringing Sasuke to shelter at Kakashi's house, before revealing he's actually taking Sasuke to shelter at Shikamaru's and the Red at Kakashi's door is Itachi come to ask Kakashi to look after Sasuke for him. The dialogue even matches up to make it seem like a single scene.
- The trope is used again in chapter 23, merging the separate scenes of Hinata finding Sasuke and Konan and Naruto finding the two FANG guards who had killed Nagato a few days ago.
- Demoted to Extra: Tsunade takes the place of Ilsa Hermann, one of the most important characters from The Book Thief, but as the focus of the story has shifted her character has been reduced in importance so much that she never even properly appears in the story.
- Depraved Homosexual: Yakushi Kabuto.
- Sasuke; his strength of will and determination to survive is incredible.
- Konan as well; when pushed she goes into her "Survival Mode".
- Distant Finale: Sasuke and Konan returning to the site of Camp 002 to visit the memorial they made for Itachi, Yahiko and Nagato.
- Earn Your Happy Ending
- Foreshadowing The narrator regularly gives blatant warnings about how things are going to turn tragic for several characters (most notably Naruto and Hinata).They don't care. Their hearts are pure, and their heavy souls vindicated by their desires. They will run into the abyss, together, if only to bring down the fence, the Fang, and the Fourth.The vulture is laughing at them. You can hear him guffawing from where you sit.He will not stop.
- Fourth-Wall Observer: The narrator, an attribute shared with the vulture when it gets a guest spot in the position. It even acknowledges that the reader will be reading this fanfiction on a computer screen, not a printed page.Welcome back, friends! Time here, trying a new approach to reach out to you through the glass screen you're staring at. I figure it's hard for us to connect, considering that I'm just a vulture and all, and the most I can really do is peck at the inside of your monitor until the words fidget through the cracks in the hardware. I can flap my wings but you'll probably just think it's the fan inside your computer.
- Glowing Eyes: While their physical appearances vary from Red to Red, Sasuke and Itachi have such strong racial traits that their red eyes literally glow in the dark. After Itachi is killed in front of him, Sasuke's eyes fade to a dull grey.
- Happily Adopted: Although most of Liesel's story about being adopted by the Hubermanns has been stripped out, it still mentions that Sakura was fostered (and apparently the 4th Hokage was responsible for her losing her "first Mother"). She loves both her parents unconditionally despite that.
- Happily Married: Kakashi and Anko, despite what it may look like.
- Healing Factor: In the story's only real nod to non-metaphorical fantasy, Red's have special "superior" blood- it's compatible with any other blood type and has vaguely-defined regenerative properties- apparently it "heals well" and clots more consistantly than other blood groups. Although this attribute hasn't been displayed in the series yet Sasuke may be about to put it to the test after being shot and badly wounded in chapter 18.
- The Heart: Hinata is described as this to the FOX resistance movement- and to Naruto.The team was the tunnel, and Hinata was the support, holding each of them up with arms that looked weak but were strong and unwavering.
- Hope Spot: Lampshaded, as ever, by the narrator:Too good to last, right?Sorry, you with the eager eyes at the screen, begging for them to drag our dear Sasuke through the tunnel into the bright morning light of freedom.I'm just not that kind.
- In Medias Res: The Prologue chapter describes events from the end of Chapter 7 before cutting back to start the story months earlier in Chapter 1.
- Jerkass: Hidan. Nothing like the monster he is in Naruto canon, just a loud, abrasive, thuggish bully.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Anko (who takes the place of Rosa Hubermann) is just as abrasive and foul-mouthed as her predecessor, regularly addressing Sakura as "Forehead" or "Pig", but is still a loving mother and a magnificently compassionate and caring individual when someone is in need of help.Anko needed no encouragement to do the right thing.
- Karmic Death: Hidan bullies Kakashi into giving him his seat in the front of their truck and Kakashi just can't be bothered fighting him over it so he lets him have it. When the truck has an accident and rolls over, Hidan is the only casualty because of where he was sitting.
- La Résistance: Naruto joins a movement dedicated to helping the Reds and brings Hinata into it too. She eventually brings in Neji.
- Never Got to Say Goodbye: Tragically played with; when Sasuke is caught by Fang, he plays the role of an intruder who intended to rape and murder Sakura so her family won't be punished for sheltering him; Sakura manages to save his life by taking the deception one step further and insisting that he be sent to suffer in camp 001 rather than being executed. They can't even share a final look for fear of giving the truth away.Sasuke is gone before she can look at him again. There is no desperate, romantic meeting of the eyes, no whispered last words or bitter smiles. She fails, even, to catch his scent, bloody or not, as he is deleted from her days.He is simply gone.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: Averted, the Reds are identified by their red eyes, but are just normal people in all other regards. However, this is what the Konoha leadership would have people believe of them.
- Red Herring: When Neji makes his first appearance the scene just screams that he's going to be either The Mole or a Sixth Ranger Traitor- but not only is he as good as his word at helping FOX rob his father's mansion to help them buy supplies to give to the reds, in chapter 19 he is arrested by Fang for his actions.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni:
- Sakura and Hinata; in chapter 12 Naruto explicitly describes Sakura as a woman of the daylight and Hinata as being one who would flourish in the night.
- Naruto and Sasuke, as in canon. Naruto is hot-blooded, idealistic and looks for a way to fight back for what's right; Sasuke is measured, realistic bordering on cynical, and always focused on how to survive.
- The Reveal: Followers of Naruto may wonder why the Fourth Hokage is ordering such evil things, until chapter 5 when his name is first used by Sakura: "Lord Orochimaru".
- In the chapter 4, 'Howl', the book Sakura finds herself reading and eventually has no choice but to burn at the book burning is Jewish poet Allen Ginsberg's famous poetic work Howl.
- Chapter 22 is called 'Heroes Come Back'. While it's referring to Naruto and Shikamaru returning alive from the Cloud front, it's also a reference to the first opening theme of Naruto: Shippuden (although that was the singular "Hero's Come Back").
- Spared by the Adaptation: Naruto, unlike Rudy from The Book Thief, survives the story.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: Sakura and Sasuke. The do end up finally coming back together at the end.
- Time Skip: Occasionally the story will skip periods of time where no major events happen, most notably at the start of chapter 17.It is all moving so fast now. Eight months have passed in the blink of an eye.You didn't feel it. Did you?
- Unlucky Childhood Friend: Naruto towards Sakura, although he ends up falling in love with Hinata instead anyway.
- Villainous Rescue: After Shiro is killed Itachi is saved from death by Yakushi Kabuto, for personal use.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Naruto and Sasuke. They started out despising each other on principle, getting into a series of brutal fights with each other in the schoolyard (with the score ending up at 12 wins for Sasuke, 10 for Naruto) until Sasuke was forced to drop out, by which time they were basically friends, although there's always a trace of snarkiness to their interactions.
- Wham Episode:
- Chapter 15, 'The Things We Love'. Sasuke is discovered and dragged away to the concentration camp.
- Chapter 18, 'Battle Scars'. Naruto and Hinata finally reunite with Sasuke, only for them to be discovered by guards. Sasuke is shot, Yahiko is killed.
- Chapter 21, 'Brother Gaiden III'. The Holocaust is wrapping up and Fang are trying to cover their tracks; and Itachi is singled out and murdered in front of Sasuke by Kabuto as part of a mass execution of a work detail.
- Yank the Dog's Chain:
- Chapter 18 is basically this and the narrator even lampshades it.
- The opening of Chapter 20 briefly lets you think that Naruto is only dreaming of his hellish experience on the war front before revealing that no, he really is there and everything is as bad as he described. He's not even allowed to finish drawing his picture of Hinata for his letter to her.
- Chapter 21 is the worst of all. Sasuke is just able to be happy because Itachi is alive and with him again- only for Itachi to be killed in front of him. He even counts the order of the killing (only every second man is being shot) and it looks like Itachi will be spared, but then he's killed anyway.
- You Bastard!: The vulture puts the blame for Sasuke's suffering in chapter 21 on the reader, for continuing to read the story knowing that things will only get worse.Leave him here! Stop! He is so happy; how can you, knowing what is coming, continue? If you stay here with him the rest will never happen; you can share in his perpetual joy and even make up your own ending.
But you won't.
Of course you won't.
Who's really the one with the feathers here? Who is really the one driving Time into the scene?
It certainly isn't my eyes you're reading with.