To conclude the section of the males in Naruto, I feature three Kage and three other Konoha shinobi.
Of course, Sarutobi Hiruzen’s first appearance came in the manga’s first chapter. He was of advanced age, but considered the top Kage at the time. It was said that Sandaime Hokage knew about all the jutsu in Konohagakure. Hiruzen was also lwarm, caring, and highly respected, particularly by Naruto, although the boy gave the man headaches at times.
Considering his limitations and the eventual powerscaling, I still think Hiruzen’s fight against Orochimaru was still pretty good. Hiruzen was given a great measure of respect and there was a real emotional component to that fight.
The abuse this character received largely came postmortem. With the appearance of Danzo and the revelation behind Itachi’s rule in Uchiha massacre, there needed to be some explanations for the Third Hokage’s part. Matters were made worse with each new bit of information about Danzo, with largely came in flashbacks.
It was already established that Hiruzen allowed Orochimaru to escape with his life over ten years prior to the start of the story and that was one of Hiruzen’s greatest mistakes and regrets. At that time, it was known that Hiruzen’s former student had taken to conducting human experimentation. Later on, it was revealed that Danzo knew of this and benefited from it, as well.
Now, it was understood that Hiruzen and Danzo were two sides of the same coin. This was at least alluded to upon Danzo’s death. However, that did not justify the Hokage ceding so much power to another person who wasn’t the daimyo and essentially looking the other way in the face of the other’s misdeeds.
Hiruzen’s character also suffered as more and more details of the Uchiha massacre were given in the manga and this again ties into Danzo running amok. If Obito is to be believed, the Uchiha faced [increased] discrimination after Kurama attacked the village under Obito’s control. This should have been an issue Sandaime Hokage nipped in the bud, and he should have noticed and proactively dealt with any Uchiha resentment long before. Sure, Hiruzen tried to negotiate, but by the time he did it was really too late.
Hiruzen made some final appearances as an Edo Tensei summon during the war, but I don’t believe that did much to help his character. He did work with the other Edo Hokage to temporarily seal the juubi and he showed a master of all five nature types. Other than that, his role was severely limited.
He was long a protected and hyped character for the most part. As the main character’s late father, Minato served as both an exalted hero and benchmark. His relationship with his wife, Kushina, was treated with extra care and stood as one of the healthier relationships shown in Naruto.
That said, Minato’s portrayal took a surprising and disappointing turn during the War. Sometime after being summoned via Edo Tensei, Minato would be repeatedly embarrassed. He was fooled by Obito, pwned by him and Madara, and half of Kurama was taken from him by Black Zetsu in a moment where Minato inexplicably lost focus. Minato went from being epic yet affable to a big goofball.
What I personally hated was what Kishimoto did with Minato’s repertoire. It turns out this guy stole his most effective stuff (Hiraishin and Rasengan) from Tobirama and jinchuriki. The first part really pisses me off. Why not give Tobirama his own time-space ninjutsu? That was laziness on Kishimoto’s part, and the damage was done to Minato as a result.
When he was introduced, A appeared to be an overemotional, yet powerful and respected leader. As the Fourth Raikage, he was a hotheaded wrestling caricature who cared very much for those closest to him. He was also a no-nonsense leader who made valid points to Naruto when the latter begged for mercy on Sasuke. However, A’s development took a disturbing turn in the Kage Summit Arc.
For starters, A lost his temper in the beginning of the meeting he adjourned. He was a guest in the Land of Iron and destroyed a table when he felt that the other Kage weren’t being forthcoming. Another bad move was him rushing to fight Sasuke and then punching the teen, who was using Amaterasu. A lost part of his left arm in the process.
During the war, A would be one of the weakest links among the Kage. He repeatedly lost focus and his limited skillset had no effect on Madara.
To talk more about A’s skillset, I found it disappointing. Sadly, taijustu was not respected highly in the manga outside of Gai. I just said that A had limited skills and it shows an unwillingness by Kishimoto to expand on it. Since Yondaime Raikage was modeled after professional wrestlers, there were a number of things he could do beyond the lariat, liger bomb, generic punches, and lightning shroud he employed.
What’s more is how A was portrayed in Chapter 700. He was old and doddering and somewhat miserable, although in the company of the other former Kage. Worst of all was how he never hooked up with Tsun-Tsun. I would have shipped that.
I take issue with how he died. For starters, Asuma hardly received any focus since he was introduced. He was one of the Twelve Ninja Guardians and Hiruzen’s son. Did those things not warrant elaboration? Secondly, Asuma never received a decent fight in the manga before he died. Nope, he fought against an immortal Hidan with no knowledge of Jashin and was used as a prop to propel Shikamaru’s development.
Shikamaru needed “to grow up,” and Asuma’s death was the means by which that happened. Let’s forget that Shikamaru had already taken a leadership role in the Search for Sasuke Arc and received an important speech from his father on learning from the mistakes that were made in order to be a better leader moving forward. And let’s forget that as a Chūnin, Shikamaru also had work in helping to make preparations for Chūnin Exams.
Romantically, Asuma was shortchanged. While it was implied that he and Kurenai were romantically involved, that wasn’t confirmed until after Asuma’s death. That’s when we found out that Asuma was also going to be a father. He never got to meet his daughter, nor was he even told about her when brought back as an Edo Tensei summon.
Tbqh, I never really expected much from Yamato, but his past was somewhat promising. Shortly after his introduction, it was revealed that Yamato was once experimented on by Orochimaru. Yamato was the only child out of 60 to survive being injected with Hashirama’s DNA and as a result, could effectively use Mokoton. It was basically understood that Hashirama’s was superior, though.
After the remade Team Kakashi (with Yamato substituting for the sensei and Sai NEVER BEING AN ADEQUATE SUBSTITUTE FOR SASUKE, DAMMIT!), it became clear there wasn’t much left for Yamato’s character. He and the rest of the team were outclassed by a Sasuke under Orochimaru’s tutelage and Yamato’s observations and advice held little weight. He was there to make sure Naruto never lost control of Kurama and Yamato once told Naruto to rely on his own power. Naruto was made a jinchuriki in order to eventually use the kyuubi’s power and received more help in that department from Killer Bee than anyone.
What’s worse was what happened to Yamato once preparations were made for the war. He was kidnapped and knocked out in order to boost the Zetsu clones Obito made and then used as a body for Spiral Zetsu. Yamato’s character was finished and in the Naruto Gaiden, he was found to be wasting his life away watching over Orochimaru. Snake Man is better off and WTF could Yamato even do to stop him anyway?
I have included Danzo here and not in the villains section because I’m not sure if Kishimoto intended for Danzo to be a villain. On one hand, the character did so many dastardly things. On the other, Kishimoto had a habit of writing some of his characters as good people who did bad things. It was also stated by at least two characters, Sai and Yamato, that Danzo truly cared for the village at heart.
As I’ve stated in a previous post, Danzo was not one of my favorite characters, but I thought he was intriguing regardless. He presented a much-needed contrast to the shinobi we were used to seeing, especially those in Konohagakure. He openly criticized the actions and beliefs of past Hokage, took jabs at the standing Hokage (Tsunade), and was running his own shadow organization (Root) to undercut leadership around the shinobi world and advance his agenda. He even held back soldiers during Pain’s onslaught. He did this to finally assume the position of Hokage.
Certainly, Danzo needed to meet Naruto and put the teen on the spot. It also would have been interesting to see Danzo exposed to the rest of the village and see whether or not more Konoha shinobi would see things his way. There needed to be a bigger discussion of the village’s history and what everyone was willing to do to make the village prosper or perhaps improve conditions around the shinobi world.
That’s not what we got, though. It’s not so much that Danzo died but how he died that left a sour taste in my mouth. He essentially died in silence. None of his crimes were exposed to the rest of the village and none of his views were aired for consideration. (That had more to do with the truth behind the Uchiha massacre being buried than anything, but still…) Danzo’s view that he served as a much-needed counterpart to Hiruzen was confirmed in a way, but also outright contradicted due to the direction of the story. Danzo also died to Sasuke for the sake of vengeance. He wasn’t given the dignity a full-fledged villain deserved. He was nothing more than a side villain at best.
Next up are the females, minus Tsunade and Sakura.
- Next: About the Females (Minus Tsunade & Sakura)
- Previous: About the Male Villains
- Back to Introduction