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Naruto the existentialist.

Discussion in 'Philosophical Forum' started by Luin, Jun 7, 2007.

  1. Luin Baka

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    I started watching Naruto a month or so ago because my tutor mentioned it in a seminar on existentialism.

    Quite quickly it becomes obvious that one of the most checked out books in Konoha's library is Jean Paul Satre's Nausea.

    Naruto's desire to be recognised, Itachi's 'measuring of his container', Sasuke's revenge, Orochimaru's immortality, etc, it seems many characters live for their own reasons only.

    Orochimaru especially seems to have taken a well thought out existentialist position which one can see when he speaks to the young Kimmimaro and says something like:

    "Life may well be pointless, but sometimes we find interesting things, like you found that flower, and like I found you..."

    Since, i've only just noticed this Philosophical forum (So sorry if this is the oldest question), I thought i'd just drop that in and ask what you all (presumably) philosophically inclined people thought about Naruto's existentialist teachings.

    Do people know whether Kishimoto did this on purpose and if he has an interest in philosophy?
     
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  2. Goodfellow .

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    The flowerpart might be filler, but I don't mind.
    Anyway, interesting ideas. Did you know Winnie the Pooh is a daoist? (this kinda goes along the same lines)
     
  3. Toby <b>Detective Dollars</b>

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    The Kimimaro speech made me too wonder about the incredibly philosophical importance of Orochimaru's remark. In fact, the only other anime series I have watched with a similar level of intelligence would be Getbackers and Death Note, and neither of them had such a philosophic swing to the actual rhetoric of Naruto's words to Gaara about selfishness when his own is barely restrained, almost like Ataturk of Turkey.

    It is very existentialistic, but are you then commenting on the series Naruto or the character Naruto as being existentialistic? I agree on the series, certainly, but so are many other anime series. Naruto simply stands out in this case for said episodes. Good find, though. I was wondering why that scene with Orochimaru and Kimimaro made me think about "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" by Milan Kundera.

    Also, Kimimaro has at times reminded me of Albert Camus' "Le'tranger", partly because of his trivial relationship to other people and death.

    EDIT: Teacher, do you not mean that Pooh is a Taoist? I cannot find Daoism anywhere in my miniscule library of religions at home.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2007
  4. Pilaf The Man in the Rain

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    It's the exact same thing..different spelling.
     
  5. Toby <b>Detective Dollars</b>

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    I know, darling. I have read the Taoh of Pooh, which I believe is the work from which Teacher has drawn his knowledge on this field of interest.

    Pray, does anyone know if Taoism's teachings in relation to Confuscius's can be defined as existentialist?
     
  6. neko-sennin AKA shadesmaclean

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    Yeah, both the scene with Naruto and Gaara on isolation, and Orochimaru's nonchalant approach to existentialism both struck a chord with me.

    I once reached a similar place to what Orochimaru was, but I moved on a step beyond that point:

    Life only appears to have no meaning because people bring their own meaning to it.

    Most people fall into to two broad categories: those who allow others to decide the "meaning" of their lives, and those who decide their own meaning.

    Orochimaru hides behind ephemeral visions of immortality, and refrains from allowing his life to have any consistent meaning.

    Gaara (understandably enough) broke as a child, and for many years allowed Shukaku to decide his purpose for him.

    Naruto, selfish as he may seem at times, decided his own purpose, and this is how he is able to have such a strong influence on friends and foes and strangers alike.

    Of course, which way to live ultimately comes down to an individual choice in which each of us must decide what path or purpose best suits our life. The real existential catch is that there is no one "right" answer, for their are as many paths to self-fulfillment as their are people in this world.
     
  7. mislead it's just Che Guevara

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    That may be true if we limit existentialism to Sartre; I don't think it would be as easy to fit Naruto characters into other existentialists' ideas. The only character in Naruto that strikes me as true existentialist, is Itachi, with his radically individual ways. Since the term "existentialism" encompasses so many different ideas, classifying something as "existentialist" is quite subjective.

    And no, I don't believe Kishimoto's doing this consciously. He's just reusing templates present in popular culture, which is also somewhat influenced by existentialist ideas (in reality, it's influenced by a whole lot of things).
     
  8. Distracted Well-Known Member

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    I made a similar thread that had a bunch of people talking about their different takes on characters like that.

    volume 3_chapter 28
     
  9. Luin Baka

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    I've not read Nietzsche's primary texts before, just learned about him in passing over the subject of existentialism. Interesting thread tho.
     
  10. IBU Hopsecutioner

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    I have to agree with Mislead here. To me, the views of Sartre's that come off in Naruto are more of a modernist reaction to all the death that was wrought by World War 1 and more of a rejection of ideas of some sort of mystic plan. His ideas were very different from other existentialists like Kierkegaard and Heidegger.

    Personally, I would like to see an anime or any program take on themes of the reduction of being to an assertion. And the absurdity of the idea that we need to prove that we exist. As I think Heidegger hit the nail on the head with his views on being and existence being self evident.

    The way I see it Naruto reflects Japanese culture to an extent. For example, America is far more religious and probably has a greater believe in an absolute meaning of life. Whereas Japan tends to be a country with far less of a strict religious influence. This is reflected by the numerous faux existentialist themes one will see in anime. The issue of making one's own meaning in life seems to be a repeating theme.
     
  11. Goodfellow .

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    Hmnm, well it was really my teacher in religions and psychology that mentioned it during classes.

    Anyway, the daoism/taoism just kind of fit with the Pooh's way of thinking apperently, just going with the flow and being yourself or something like that. I lack real knwledge in the teachings of Dao though, so I better not say anything more:amuse
     
  12. makeoutparadise I will have my revenge

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    it is sometimes said that naruto has some Buddhist overtones but I can really see them
     
  13. halfhearted The gaze into the sun

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    While I can see a lot of (primarily Sartre) existentialist themes running throughout Naruto, I don't believe that Kishimoto is purposefully creating them. Rather, it is a product of the modern world that he lives in (as some have already said).

    Interestingly, as I first read Naruto, Camus' absurdism came to mind before existentialism. The intense duality, the coexisting dichotomies of Kishimoto's world often take center stage; the constant presence of light and dark, happiness and sadness, life and death, inextricably intertwined in all of us.

    So many times (particularly with characters like Kakashi and the Hokages), the main idea, the paradox of absurdism (slightly more hopeful than existentialism), believing you are of great importance but recognizing that your life is actually meaningless is so incredibly evident.

    But, anyways, great topic. Nice to hear that schools are teaching some things worth learning :amuse
     
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