Actually while on topic, I would like to know who and how you'd structure a top 10 strongest character list. Honestly you don't seem like the type who'd participate in making them, but interest me nonetheless.
1. Madara - whether it's after achieving Mokuton & Rinne'gan or as Juubi's jinchuriki.
2. Hashirama - there's no need for elaboration here.
3. Minato - I'll explain in full detail, but despite recent chapters, his true potential is what's stood out most. I'm not convinced Naruto has surpassed him, the FTG and fuuinjutsu are given great praise and portrayal by Kishi. Minato having most of what Naruto has is another concern. Even if it is at a lesser level, it's used with greater efficiency. He's been handicapped whether through mental anguish or missing limbs through. It's just a little..odd, wouldn't you say? Very convenient.
4-5 Naruto & Sasuke I'm skeptical about whether they'd rank under all the Hokage in between, but soon they'll eclipse them all.
6. Tobirama - I know of course it seems odd that he and Minato aren't closer, or that Tobirama isn't superior, but despite Tobirama's prowess in battle and his many achievements/creations I see something as far as themes/parallels/portrayal that tell otherwise. Not much concrete here I won't lie, I'm open for a second plausible opinion.
7. Hiruzen - He's finally proven why he earned the monikers - "Professor" and "God of Shinobi" Him using all 5 elements at once was good confirmation for me. It even gave more merit to the battle againt Orochimaru w/ edo Hashirama and edo Tobirama. It's safe to say the edo tensei wasn't as potent then, but they were still at least kage level if not S-rank.
(As you see, I prefer sticking to the theme that the 4 Hokage were the strongest. That's something that was referenced in the manga several times.)
I have to hand it to you sir, your understanding of the manga (Naruto) is impressive. I feel I've evolved since I first joined the site. Grown more perceptive. The heavy emphasis placed upon parallels and themes have become clearer.
I've found our views of the manga to resemble more. Real recognizes itself. I look forward to some discussion before the manga ends.
ARG! This made me so mad. Just going back to even that page reminds me of my rage. I completely understand Sasuke's hatred. That entire arc when he was chasing the man who had all the questions and tried to ditch him. Ugh, . . . it should be obvious how wrong/heartless/stupid it was for Itachi to ditch Sasuke in the first place right there. The only excuse I have is my own head cannon that Itachi is under kotoamatsukami preventing him from protecting/comforting/healing/explaining himself to his brother.
It's almost like Itachi would rather have Sasuke be batshit insane never knowing the truth then actually being healthy for once. Itachi claims to love his brother, but his actions don't really agree with it. Perhaps his love for his brother broke the spell/genjutsu of killing even him (with the idea that Itachi was victim of Koto in the first place).
But Kishi does love shoving the idea down our throats that genocide is good as long as its government approved, so it remains un-cannon headcannon.
Would you really prefer a PM? http://narutobase.net/manga/Naruto/576/10 is showing Itachi's sacrifice. Only Sasuke mentions the sacrifice of the Uchiha (they had to pay taxes to the HokageKing with their lives!) here http://narutobase.net/manga/Naruto/576/10 while at the end of that page, Sasuke is probably thinking (WHAT THE HELL DID YOU EXPECT TAKING EVERYONE AWAY FROM ME, TELLING ME TO KILL MY BEST FRIEND, AND SEEK HATRED?). How on EARTH is that "the better of two evils"? Itachi could simply have sent the message "you are worthless unless you compare to my strength" NOPE! Didn't even stop there. Itachi was basically saying "become a thug you friendly-wimp"
A "sorry Naruto", and insert any character he has wrong and "thanks for not giving up on me" is the best one can hope for.
The only apology he owes anyone is Karin. No one would help him with revenge against Itachi, who was torturing him and everyone was okay with it. Kakashi who lectured Sasuke against revenge didn't hesitate to put a team together to kill Hidan.
Konoha should pay for what they did to their own people. You are right about how Kishimoto is attempting to thin out the guilt. Naruto is right to be angry at the whole lot for not even caring, going into the truth, and just letting it be after forcefully removing the lives of its' own loyal (even with different philosophies on how to run the village) shinobi.