Lonely Like Naruto Jan27

Lonely Like Naruto

Feeling alone in a crowd is the worst. At events, parties, or even just walking through a mall, I’ve watched people laughing with their friends and wished mine were there with me (my two best friends live hundreds of miles away and I only see them twice a year). I’ve watched a daughter holding hands with her father, and wished my father had behaved that way with me. I’ve seen families play together at the park and wished I was the daughter with the grin on her face, looking up at two parents who are still together. Many people believe that loneliness means you don’t get out of the house much or you’re craving a romantic relationship, but the sort of cure for loneliness I’ve wanted in my heart is simple, innocent companionship. This is a desire that Naruto understands. Naruto grew up surrounded by people, but not by friends. He became an orphan within the first hour of his birth. He longingly watched families happy together. He wished for friends, but the kids around him neglected him. He was shunned for a past he had no knowledge of. They treated him as a parasite. In retaliation, Naruto began acting out to make people stop ignoring him. He played juvenile pranks and became the outspoken class clown. This gained him attention, but it didn’t gain him what he truly wanted: friendship. “The pain of being alone is completely out of this world, isn’t it? I don’t know why, but I understand your feelings so much, it actually hurts.”  —Naruto Uzumaki I didn’t act out for attention as a child, but I wanted friends. I had a few in middle school and high school, but after we moved I lost most of them. When distance...

Aborting Naruto Jan15

Aborting Naruto

Shave away its year-long filler arcs and Naruto is an anime about seeing value in every life. The namesake protagonist makes it his seemingly unattainable mission to achieve world peace, not by preaching his message from a lofty throne and waiting for others to adopt it, but by personally touching one life at a time. From psychopathic Gaara to traitorous Obito, no life is ever so lost that it becomes worthless; one-by-one Naruto redeems them all, transforming them into allies for his cause. Since he holds such a pious goal, I’d think it would be easy for Naruto to become superficial in his methods of outreach, but instead, each encounter is treated with personal freshness. I think that’s because Naruto doesn’t see the conversion of individual lives as a means to an end, but rather as the ultimate end. Unlike Light Yagami of Death Note fame, who tries to force the populace into an ideal world it can’t possible conform to, Naruto is the wiser for realizing that true change can only come to the world by first changing its people. More importantly, Naruto knows that it only takes one person to change the life of another. It’s a phenomenon he’s witnessed first-hand, when a single teacher, Iruka, chose to reach out to him—the classroom failure, the troublemaker, the rebel, the outcast—and recognized him as a human being. Having gone through the anger and depression of social loneliness, Naruto is equipped to minister to others who have suffered his fate and offer them genuine hope. Most difficult of all, I must choose to see those people who most incite my fear and anger as “human.” Going deeper into Naruto’s backstory reveals that his birth posed great risk to both his parents and his village. Before...