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Team 8 is a fanfic about a mystery event before Naruto's birth that insidiously alters the narrative of the Narutoverse. That's technically what it's about, but that's not the actual point. The main idea of Team 8 is: What if we took Naruto and Hinata's life struggles, made them much more significant and serious, and set them on a journey together to overcome those trials?
I personally find the story very enjoyable. Overall, Team 8 is a good read.
This review is generally fair and covers a lot of ground.
Regarding Hinata, I understand that the author has his own vision for her character arc, but I\'m not entirely fond of how he handled it. By painting her match against Neji- her first step toward following Naruto\'s example and not giving up- as a borderline suicidal decision that ended up only making her feel worse, the author ended up hampering Hinata\'s progress. Related to that, while I\'m glad that Hinata and Naruto got together, I wish they\'d done so after Hinata became more confident in herself, and that Hinata had been the one to initiate it. At this point, the confession feels a bit like a false start.
Speaking of character arcs, you can really tell when an author doesn\'t like a character by how their development progresses. Disliked characters tend to undergo more hardship and humiliation than most, a process that usually involves having them admit to being a bad person and/or give up something that defined them... and this is when the author bothers to give them a shot at \"redemption.\"
Kurenai\'s a good character, but hampered by how much the narration drives home how she\'s better than the other teachers. She also got killed off too early on, and it felt like the story could have done more with her.
It\'s a good review, even when I don\'t always agree with it.
First off, thank you for your compliments. I do, however, wish to clarify some of your points.
I find your criticism of Hinata a bit confusing. You admit that the author has his own arc for Hinata distinct from canon, but then you bring up how her canon fight against Neji was meant to be a step towards being determined like Naruto. In this fanfic, she's already shown to be determined, capable, and dedicated to improving herself by this point; that isn't her problem.
Her problem is that she sees herself as little more than a failure in a terrible clan, by the standards of a terrible father.
This fic shows again and again that this issue is far, far worse than in canon. Her father is never satisfied with her, and she deprecates virtually everything she achieves. In the first place, a protagonist having flaws and setbacks isn't always a bad thing. In the big picture, the fight has the opposite effect of what you described. When Hinata learns how much her team feared for and cared for her, and she recalls how Naruto admires her, she goes through a paradigm shift. For the first time, she considers the possibility that her father could, in fact, be wrong about her, and that her team's admiration and praise for her is not baseless. She also starts to seek worth and purpose outside her clan more. That isn't just "hampering progress"; that's Hinata working throught a near-lifelong, near-lethal issue. It may be a letdown if Hinata doesn't demonstrate and prove growth further, but that's the thing: this story isn't over. Her arc's not done yet.
Regarding when and how Naruto and Hinata get together, I ask, why? Why does Hinata have to be the one to initiate it? And how confident does she have to be? Sure, she'll hopefully grow more in the story as a whole, but regarding relationships, nobody's perfect. And hey, maybe the author will deconstruct their relationship on some level in the future; who knows? Personally, I find it refreshing that this story isn't putting the focus on the Will They Or Wont They bit. Many works put lots of emphasis on that, and often don't have the couples get together until the very end. Here, the focus isn't on who will confess first, but rather on the two working and growing together. When I look at Naruto and Hinata as a couple, I don't ask whether she has "earned" it, whatever that means. I ask whether they care for each other, and whether they make a good team. What I've seen thus far indicates they do. Or to quote one reviewer:
I don't like how you portray disliked characters. Having a character go through the wringer isn't necessarily a bad thing, nor is having the character admit to being flawed. And a character dropping or downplaying a trait that once defined them could potentially make for an interesting twist, especially if... well... that trait wasn't that great or well liked in the first place. These choices can make a character more compelling... or just look like petty revenge or sadism. What it ultimately comes down to is the application and execution.
You didn't bring up specific examples, but since the only notable instance I know of in my review is Sakura, I'll assume you're including her. While I do agree that her character criticism is sometimes excessive (as I mentioned), I think on the whole the author's approach does work. Personally, I don't hate canon Sakura, but I see why many do. She was The Scrappy for a reason. I think few will dispute that her arc was handled poorly; countless fans have criticized her immoderate condescension towards Naruto, her groundless and unhealthy obsession with Sasuke, and her status as Faux Action Girl and The Load.
This fic addresses all of these.
I don't believe it's always unwarranted for an author to say "Don't worry; this character isn't going in the same direction." In this case, it seems very justified in hindsight. I do think it would be bad for the author to radically and inexplicably change Sakura's character; that's Character Derailment. But I don't see the author doing that. Sakura retains her old traits (battle smarts, fiery side, crush on Sasuke), although some of them are tempered by gradual character growth. And I also don't see this as only a Take That Scrappy; I've actually become sympathetic towards this fic's version of Sakura, and am interested in where the story takes her next. There's potential here.
TL;DR: Hinata's more severely skewed self-image is intentional and she works through it, Naruto and Hinata's relationship is different, not necessarily flawed, and character criticism/change isn't bad if it's justified.
Regarding Hinata, the problem I have with the fic\'s start to their relationship is that Hinata doesn\'t seem entirely ready for it. The fact that she\'s still worrying about Naruto possibly getting tired of her may be in character for her, but it does not bode well for her relationship. Having her confess first would be one step, since it would show that she\'s confident in herself and trusts Naruto to tell him how she feels, even if she doesn\'t know for certain what his answer will be.
I agree that putting off the start of a relationship too long can be a bit tired when it\'s done for the sake of dragging things out, but at the same time, relationships do take time to develop. Perhaps taking a bit more time and having Hinata be a bit more confident in itself might result in an overall healthier relationship. The fic seems to be far from over, so the author could possibly have waited until after the team\'s second attempt at the Chunin Exams, while leaving plenty of time for romance.
It\'s true that hardship is necessary for Character Development, and you do mention some legitimate criticisms toward Sakura. That said, when the author\'s dislike toward a character comes into play, you can see some things happen.
1)Characters judge the disliked character less favorably than in canon, even under similar circumstances, blurring the line between the characters\' opinion and the author\'s. As you can see, Naruto not only gets over his crush on Sakura, but also warns Lee about her, and he takes that to heart.
2)When the disliked characters do develop, they tend to give up the traits the author dislikes, even those that define them, which may happen if Sakura gives up on pursuing Sasuke. Like it or not, Sakura\'s love for Sasuke is a large part of who she is, as shown when she couldn\'t kill him even when given an opportunity. Skillful writers can do this gradually and believably enough that it doesn\'t come off as Character Derailment, but you can tell the author has a hand in it.
3)When disliked characters\' relationships develop, the onus is generally on them to clean up their act, while the other characters need only be magnanimous enough to forgive them. In canon, while Sakura was quite mean toward Naruto, it\'s hard to deny that early series Naruto could be fairly immature and obnoxious. Here, however, it\'s entirely up to Sakura to change as a person. Perhaps there are some conflicts in which only one side is at fault, but in cases like this, it\'s clear when the author favors a side.
To sum it up, characters fanfic authors dislike generally tend to be judged more harshly and expected to change more than other characters, something that I saw applied to Sakura here.
You have interesting points, and they are more clear, but much of them also look like speculation.
I'd say Naruto and Hinata have a well developed bond. No one will ever be "entirely ready" for a relationship. No one's perfect. Hinata's insecurities might be a fair concern, but it is still speculative at this point, and as I said, maybe the author will deconstruct this in the future. I mean, if they had no problems at all while in a relationship... that might be a bit boring. The two working through their issues while in a relationship actually sounds interesting to me.
I don't think calling it just "similar circumstances" is completely fair. Naruto starts out more cynical, at a lower point, and heard Sakura flat out lambast him and express joy at not having to see him again. Moreover, they're not on the same team, so it makes sense they'd be less friendly. Naruto gets over Sakura over the course of months. Naruto's warning to Lee might have been harsh, but it's not unfounded, and it also serves the purpose of getting her to turn her attitude around, in place of Sasuke's canonical criticism of her. This is actually a logical difference; Sasuke criticizing her for her orphan insult wouldn't have happened in this story. Also, the author and the characters sharing opinions isn't necessarily a bad thing (although they can become heavy-handed mouthpieces at times, like occasionally Kurenai).
No, Sakura shouldn't necessarily give up her love for Sasuke completely if it doesn't make sense. But at this point, Sakura inexplicably doing so altogether is only speculation. I find your phrase "the author has a hand in it" confusing and vague. What do you mean? Of course the author had a hand in this; he's writing the story. But I don't see Character Derailment happening with her; she didn't just randomly and suddenly transform into a brand new person. I say wait and see how Sakura plays out in this regard, and then make a judgment.
Yes, Naruto could be obnoxious and immature, but the fic does call him out on this. Multiple characters note how annoying he was, Kurenai works to teach him to be more mature, he cuts down on the pranking, and he regrets his perverted jutsu. But both canonically and in this fic (and this is key), he was also far more sympathetic and understandable because of the harsh, lonely life he grew up with. Regarding Sakura, could you remind me what he did wrong? I don't recall him doing much to her aside from asking her out. I don't see how that's offensive. Yeah he pulled pranks, but not mean-spirited ones, and not on her. Sure he could be loud and annoying, but that's a very flimsy excuse for verbal and physical bullying.
I don't think it's good to focus on whether or not "the author dislikes this character." Of course an author is going to have personal biases. Disliking Sakura is especially understandable. But we're not mind-readers, so we can't know what exactly is going through his head, and the complaint is a bit of a vague one. So an author can't dislike a character to begin with? Is he allowed to let personal preference influence him at all? If so, how? What should he do about disliked characters? In this case, it's better to focus primarily on the actual work, rather than on what personal dispositions the author may or may not have. Instead of declaring "the author dislikes this character," you should focus more on "the author is pointlessly critical of this character," or "the author misportrays this character," or "the author isn't fair to this character's circumstances." Those criticisms are more tangible, relevant, and addressable.
I'm not saying the author handled this perfectly, but I think we should be charitable to his take on the story, and withhold hasty, speculative judgment calls for now.
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