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In defense of Team 7 + other fan ramblings

Discussion in 'House of Uzumaki Archives' started by Annwyd, Nov 23, 2005.

  1. Annwyd Bored Fan

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    My comments on Team 7 from some months ago. Yes, all of them. No, that doesn't mean I hate Hinata, since apparently Hinata-bashing is a popular pastime here. Also note that while I haven't included defenses of Naruto, this doesn't mean I hate him. It just means that I haven't seen as much bashing of him as of Sakura, Sasuke, or Kakashi.
    ---
    What pisses me off the most is when people ignore obvious themes and character aspects because it violates their personal biases. I see the most of this with team 7, so let's start with them. This part's also going to wind up delving into the sannin, because they're inextricable from team 7, thematically and characterization-wise.

    The big one, of course, is Sasuke. First point: his characterization is consistent. It may not add up to the type of character you find particularly appealing, but this is not a reason to hate him. Neji's characterization adds up to a character I'm not particularly interested in, but he's a well-written character all the same, and you don't see me going around talking about how much he sucks. Now, let's go down the list of Sasuke misconceptions.

    #1: Everything revolves around him.
    --Guys, Sasuke is the antihero. In a series that also has an actual hero, that means that more often than not, he's going to be the hero's foil. The SasukexBucket story arc may have been triggered by Sasuke's actions, but it mostly provided opportunities for side characters to be badass.

    But yes, he does get a lot of attention. Why? BECAUSE HE'S ONE OF THE MAIN CHARACTERS. Of course large portions of the plot are going to be about him. But they're also going to be about Naruto. Honestly, if any of the main three got neglected during Part 1, it's Sakura.
    #2: Sasuke is immature and self-centered. He only cares about himself, and he epitomizes irresponsible selfishness.
    --Sasuke no longer understands how to relate to other people as anything other than something to measure his own power against*. He took his brother as a role model, and when this exploded on him, he was left completely adrift in terms of emotional maturity and relationships with other human beings. So, yes. He is immature, and to an extent he is self-centered. But there's a reason for it, and it's certainly not because he represents everything bad while Naruto represents everything good. (He does represent everything dark while Naruto represents everything light, but that's another story.) He is profoundly broken--he was easy for Itachi to manipulate at the time his family was killed. It actually says something for his strength of character that he manages to resist completely succumbing, and that now he's seeking power in his own ways. Of course, the fact that he's obsessing over power and vengeance even now means he's still got issues to work out.
    #3: Sasuke is a coward.
    --Sasuke is a child. He has serious trauma. This hardly explains away everything he does, and it certainly doesn't excuse it, but it makes his moments of fear easier to understand. In any case, he's shown considerably less of this as the series progresses. He's been willing to sacrifice himself at least twice prior to meeting Itachi again. In other words, this is now a null argument. Characters change. Get over it.
    #4: Sasuke never thinks about anything but Itachi!
    --To an extent this is true. The driving need to kill Itachi consumes Sasuke nearly to the point of insanity. This is as Itachi intended. Before the massacre, Itachi was Sasuke's role model. Having your role model turn around and tear down your entire life is not going to leave you with much room to develop into a normal and well-adjusted young man.

    But before that, Sasuke had other goals. He wanted to help protect Konoha. (See my discussion of the toad-slug-snake types and their different purposes, below.) This has been mostly clouded over in the present continuity, but in the early series, we still see plenty of instances for it in his willingness to sacrifice himself for his companions. We see him with normal fears and a normal sibling-like clash with Naruto.

    Even after meeting Itachi again throws him back into vengeance mode, we can still glimpse the other motivating factors in his life. He is gentle to Sakura when he could have been far crueler to her, if he truly cared only about killing Itachi. And when he fights Naruto, he finally understands that he has options other than being Itachi's puppet.
    #5: [NARUTO or LEE or SOME RANDOM CHARACTER] IS SUPERIOR TO SASUKE.
    --I'm sorry you feel inadequate about the size of your favorite character's ninja dick in comparison to Sasuke's. Although Naruto's is probably bigger. Kyuubi influence and all. Maybe Lee's, too. But guess what? They're different types of characters entirely. Now go away.
    #6: SASUGAY SUX
    --I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to take the Internet away from you now.
    #7: Sasuke is an arrogant asshole.
    --Actually, this one is true.

    I don't care how much you hate him. If you think he's meant to be the ultimate villain of the series, that he's unredeemable, that he sucked as a good guy but now that he's with the bad guys like he should be everything's okay, then guess what? You're almost certainly wrong. The boy's an asshole, but he's been given clear opportunities to demonstrate true villainy. He didn't kill Naruto. He's not gone yet. And saying the series is better off if he just dies without ever being redeemed is a knock not just on Sasuke, but on Naruto and Sakura's characterizations as well. It'd fly against every theme that's cropped up in the series so far. Why? Well, many reasons, but primarily because Naruto fixes things.

    Look. The series comes in threes. You have the sannin. You have Yondaime's team. And you have team 7. Now that the gaiden has introduced Yondaime's team, I think we're going to get references to them more (we've already gotten a reference to Kakashi's father, so the gaiden was more than just a throwaway sidestory/quick bit of backstory explanation that will never be discussed again), especially in regards to how they parallel the sannin and team 7.

    The first two generations (that we know of; I can't say anything about Yondaime's generation yet) are broken. In the second case, obviously, they're broken because two of them are dead and the remaining one is fundamentally broken by this (but not as broken as he could be, but I'll get to that). The first generation is more complex in its breaking.

    There are three types: the toad, the slug, and the snake, or, less precisely, the hero, the heroine, and the antihero. I'll just use the former classification. The toad-type's job is to bring light to the world, to be a hero when people need one. The slug-type's job is to heal and support the others, hold them together when they threaten to fall apart. The snake-type's job is to go into dark places to acquire the power necessary to defend the others.

    Each sannin has a sin, a way they fail at what was intended to be their duty. In Orochimaru's case, it's obvious: he forgot that there was a reason for getting power. He failed to be a defender.** Tsunade's sin was becoming so absorbed in her own grief that she pushed away her duty to help other people. Jiraiya's was turning his back on what could have been. Jiraiya's my second-favorite character, but I think a lot of the fandom cuts him too much slack. We don't really see just how much he failed until we compare him to Naruto. Jiraiya gave up. The hero should never give up. If all things had gone right, Jiraiya should have been able to accept when he was asked to be Godaime--being the Heroic Leader is the toad-type's job. But he had fallen far enough from the ideal that he had to seek out Tsunade. But I'll save the more detailed rambling on this for when I write my Jiraiya fanfic.

    Now we get to team 7, and they clearly parallel the sannin in some ways. But there's a key difference: where Jiraiya turned his back on his duty and Tsunade fled into her grief, Naruto and Sakura are determined not to let Sasuke go. Were Sasuke to be truly unredeemable, that would defeat everything Naruto stands for. He fixes things.

    Sakura has one advantage over Tsunade, and indeed over her own teammates: she has a normal life. She has both parents (as far as we know, but I think it's implied that they're both still alive), and she's never lost loved ones. This makes her less experienced in such matters than the others, true, but it also means she has a viewpoint neither of her teammates have.

    Yes, at the beginning of the series she's quite immature--but what makes her as a character is how clearly everything about her matures. The flower analogy that runs through her character is not coincidental--she blooms as the series progresses.

    (continued)
     
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  2. Annwyd Bored Fan

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    (continued)

    I generally see her bashed for five main things:
    #1: All she ever thinks about is Sasuke.
    --...okay, to be fair, she really does think about Sasuke a lot. He's her main motivating factor. Where vengeance drives him, love drives her. The timeskip has proven that time away from him doesn't turn her into a well-adjusted young woman who is happily engaged to Lee/Naruto/Kakashi/whoever she is Meant2BeWith!!!; it merely focuses her obsession. It's her flaw and it's her strength. Normally this bothers me in a character (especially a female character), but with her I'm willing to let it slide, because their sad, twisty relationship is just so beautiful.
    #2: She was cruel to Ino.
    --Yeah, Sakura didn't handle her relationship with Ino as well as she could have. But here's the thing: she didn't break everything off with her out of spite. It wasn't just about Sasuke. It was because she'd always felt herself to be in Ino's shadow. Sure, she appreciates what Ino has done for her, but she can't hide behind her forever. She had to find a way to establish herself as her own person--and while it wasn't the best way, pushing Ino away wasn't done out of malice.
    #3: She's a Mary Sue now! Where did all those powers come from, anyway?
    --Look. Throughout Part 1, she had nobody who knew how the hell to teach her. For the entire timeskip, she's been training under someone who does know how to teach her--and she has talent. This much was made clear at the end of Part 1. Second, she still has flaws. I think we'll get to see more of them--but we've seen already that she's still broken over Sasuke. Mary Sues do not methodically obsess over their (mostly) unrequited love; they just have every male within range falling instantly in love with them.
    #4: She's a whiny, immature little bitch. Get her out of my sight.
    --The problem, see, is that when Sakura was introduced, she was a whiny little bitch. She was meant to be. The whole point was seeing her grow out of that--turning from someone who could have been an ordinary, shallow girl into a talented and caring ninja when circumstances brought out what had been in her all along.

    The turning point, of course, was when she cut her hair. She'd started to change during the Wave Country arc, but the big moment didn't come until the chuunin exams. That was when she cast aside the majority of her immaturity in favor of pursuing a higher calling in life: the support and protection of her loved ones. Unfortunately, she was sufficiently well-depicted as being immature and annoying early on that some people haven't managed to shake off that image of her.
    #5: SHE CAN'T HAVE SASUKE! HE'S MINE ALL MINE
    --Please, seek help.


    And then there's Kakashi, the remnant of Team Yondaime. I tend to be slightly ashamed of fangirling him so badly, since he's one of the most popular characters, and I don't want to be just like all the other shallow fans. But...the angst. The beautiful, beautiful angst. And the little subtleties of the ways he deals with it--

    --anyway. Kakashi's issues are less immediately apparent than Sasuke's, and because he's so popular and he doesn't interfere in anybody's pet pairing, he rarely gets bashed. I've seen it happen, though, especially from the vehement Sasuke-bashers who feel the need to extend their hate to anyone who was ever vaguely similar to Sasuke. The reasons generally given are as follows:
    #1: He's a TERRIBLE teacher.
    --...no. He's not a great teacher. Team 7 was the first team he allowed through all his twisty mindgames. I doubt this was entirely because they were so very good. More likely, he was just a little bit easier on them than others because they reminded him so much of his old team--and somehow they slipped past his defenses. But just because he's finally teaching instead of failing everybody doesn't mean he's going to get everything right the first time.

    But all things considered, he's not that bad a teacher, either. Given the state of team 7 by the chuunin exams, he's got to be doing something right. And he certainly cares about all of them.
    #2: He's so mean to Sakura!
    --Yeah, he tends to ignore Sakura and focus on Sasuke. I'm not excusing that. But, well. Even leaving aside the obvious fact that Sasuke's the one he can teach the most...it's not like he's cruel to Sakura, either.*** He specifically thinks of her before the chuunin exams when he neglects to tell them that they need to enter as a team. He knew they'd pressure Sakura if he told them that, and he wanted it to be her decision.

    But yes, he does neglect her. He doesn't really know what to do with her--which is probably as much a symptom of his issues as anything. He only does the defending, and he only does that through killing--he doesn't understand the slug-type's role very well (which is part of why I want to see more of how his relationship with Rin turned out after Obito's death, but I digress). He doesn't know how to teach a potential healer like Sakura. In other words, he's not a bad teacher, just not the right one for Sakura--and he doesn't handle that as well as he could have.
    #3: He's incredibly irresponsible.
    --This one baffles me. Responsibility is what keeps him going. He doesn't live for himself anymore; he lives because he feels he carries whatever's left of all his lost loved ones in his heart. He has very little self anymore (still more than he wants to have, I suspect--although his time with team 7 has made him more capable of appreciating life and himself). It's for other people, and what he believes are his obligations to them, that he exists now.

    So I figure the complaint refers to him not being "responsible" in the sense of following the rules. Yeah, he blows off the rules plenty. Sometimes he blows off what other people would consider important obligations. Running off to train Sasuke without a word to the others first? That kind of sucked. But he's not irresponsible--he just has strange priorities.
    #4: Kakashi is an arrogant asshole.
    --Actually, this one is true.

    * Actually, all the main snake-types have trouble relating to people. Orochimaru only sees other people as something to use; Kakashi has trouble seeing people as anything other than something to protect; Sasuke, thanks to Itachi's influence, doesn't quite know how to relate to people as anything other than targets against which to measure his own strength.
    ** Yet another note about the snake-types: when they fall, they go down the hardest. They also have the most likelihood of breaking of any type, I think. The implication may be that in order to protect something, you also have to be able to destroy it. The choice to protect instead of destroy has to be that: a choice. And people don't always make the right one. The future of the Uchiha clan was in Itachi's hands: he chose to destroy it instead of rebuild it. It's also possible that this is the reason Kakashi failed as a defender: because he never saw it as a choice, rather than simply something he had to do as an emotionless human weapon, until it was too late.
    *** Except during his initial test. He was a complete bastard to her then. But he would have done the same to anyone in her position.

    ---
    I was also going to include some more recent observations, but in this forum, arguments against NaruSaku and NejiHina are basically flamebait, so I'll leave it at that for now.
     
  3. MangoNaruto TLC

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    This is a very long rambling essay with contradictory comments all over the place. What exactly is your point? Is it a factual breakdown of Sasuke, Sakura and Kakashi? Not really......more of an opinionated breakdown of them to me. Some of description is rather contradictory to its respective titles. A very long rambling indeed, nothing more than that.
     
  4. Criminal NF TRIPLE OG

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    Well, thats about 15 minutes of my life I will never get back. Thankyou for bitchin, come again.
     
  5. Mizura Meh

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    Oy, or you could say that she cares about both her teammates equally now. :notrust And she actually does something about it.

    Oy, Sakura handled it just fine actually, they both did. :notrust Ino wanted Sakura to bloom, Sakura decided to do so by becoming Ino's equal. I see it actually as an acknowledgement of everything Ino did for her. It's like how kids set off to surpass their parents to acknowledge Their efforts. Why do you think Ino was so damn proud of Sakura when the two tied? It's a bit like Naruto's rivalry with Sasuke: Naruto wants to be Sasuke's equal not out of spite, but because he views him as a close friend and wants to be viewed as his equal.

    Now she isn't, and let me explain this better: Her fighting style is still limited, and absolutely every one of her new skills has been hinted at in one way or another in part 1 (predicting trajectories -> chuunin exams first test, intelligence -> same, using chakra to enhance her abilities -> Ino match, Kakashi's explanation)

    So those are the extras to add about Sakura. I don't really care about the rest.
     
  6. Annwyd Bored Fan

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    Care to explain why I'm wrong, then?
     
  7. Annwyd Bored Fan

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    and to Meh: I don't actually agree with any of the excuses people use to bash Sakura, I'm just quoting them.
     
  8. Mizura Meh

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    I know, but in several instances, I don't think you did a very good job explaining it. :notrust
     
  9. Heihachi Whatever will be will be...

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    I think explained them well, alot better then I could ever.
     
  10. AceMyth What's purple and commutes?

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    Well, it's common knowledge that the level of discussion in these forums has hit rock bottom long ago, but this very eloquent and thought-provoking post speaking up for sympathetic characters we're supposed to like being met with pure cynicism and pettiness just might indicate that it has finally started to dig.

    I'm very impressed with this essay all-around. I mean, even in case it utterly failed to consider both sides of various issues (and in my humble opinion it did not), this has to be one of maybe a total of eleven posts in the history of this forum which even bothered to try.
     
  11. Chamcham Trigger 光翼型近接支援残酷戦闘機“エヴァッカニア・ドゥーム

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    Well it was a long rambling essay, but I give credit for him sharing his views. I didn't really agree with everything, but it's a lot more writing than I've cared to do (except in other areas), so I think it was worth the glance over.
     
  12. Annwyd Bored Fan

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    Thanks. Honestly, I don't generally do much here; I come here when I'm bored, poke around for a bit, and then go back to LJ, where the pairing wars are less vicious and the average IQ seems to be a bit higher in Naruto fandom. :/ Sometimes, anyway. Not that Naruto fandom on LJ doesn't suck sometimes too. And, before I get flamed, not that I'm insulting anyone in particular here.

    Well, I did warn people that it was rambling, and I didn't tie anyone to their chairs, tape their eyelids open, and force them to read this, so I don't feel particularly guilty about wasting people's time with it. XD
     
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