Thanks for the positive comments. I DO think that Naruto's character was purposefully made to be the anti-thesis of the "typical ninja." And yet there is something so human and compelling about him that the others are starting to absorb... and it's making Konoha better. If Naruto can gain the strength to prove that he can do what ninja must do and still retain his humanity, then he will win them all over.
Every jutsu Naruto has used thus far we have "seen" him training that jutsu. Not so for Sasuke. He's been downloaded a lot of information and jutsus and "seems" to be the stronger character. I'm not so sold on his fight with Itachi, and Orochimaru. Neither were flat out wins and you could argue me to the teeth about this but I won't buck my position. So don't. Sasuke fanboy. Sasuke is not in the class of Pein or Madara. The last two chapters standing are showing evidence of this. He is weak, emotional, and a failure. Why do you think he left Konoha? He was so confident that his jutsu (on his rooftop fight with Naruto) was so superior that he couldn't fathom Naruto having a stronger jutsu than he. So he cried and left. Boo hoo.
As much as fans and readers rag on Naruto, his motivations are always clear. His compass always points north, and his sense of direction, purpose, and his place in the world are unquestioned. He is at peace with himself because he has refused to become something less than what he is. And by being himself, he affects those around him in a positive way.
Imagine for a second if Itachi had found a better way to resolve the clan dilemma? Imagine if things hadn't turned out the way they did? How much better would not only Konoha, but the world be if Itachi had had a Naruto-like nindo and followed it to the end?
That's the difference one person's actions can make. This truth extends outside of the manga and into real life.
Also what makes him even more impressive is that he has remained consistent throughout the entire manga, from when he ranted on at Zabuza for treating Haku like a tool to now as he trains in the same art as Jiraiya, remembering him not as a shinobi but a close personal figure. Naruto sees no one as a tool and this is what seperates him from everyone else. He has no desire for manipulation in the way other people do. The only way he manipulates people in any form is through the positive effect he has on everyone around him because of his attitude, and he doesn't even do that on purpose.
In effect the Land of Waves/Zabuza and Haku arc sums up the entire manga's theme and direction perfectly.
The whole point is that each reader should come to their own conclusion about the story. Interacting on the forums is all well and good, and it makes some aspects of the story more enjoyable. But regarding the books you've read that you really loved, you can remember something you took away from that book that had a serious impact on you.
Everyone isn't going to see Naruto the same way. The age range for the readers is broad, and some will see it as a typical shonen while some will read something deeper in the manga. This is an individual choice to all because we all relate to the story in different ways.
What I do hate though is when members rag on others because they don't see the same in the story. It is not being naive, or dense. We all have our own individual views that's all. That's what this whole forum is about, discussing and spreading those views.
Anyway, to each his/her own. I believe that the major theme of Part 2 is correcting the mistakes of the past, and that both Naruto and Sasuke are going about it in their own ways. Everything that happens in the story falls under that category. If you agree, fine. If you don't, that's fine as well. But either view will not lessen my enjoyment of the story.
Making it easier for people who don't know about this yet:
Paraphrased from Wiki:
A "bildungsroman" is a novel/story in which the author presents the psychological, moral and social shaping of the personality of a (usually young) protagonist.
The Bildungsroman generally takes the following course:
The protagonist grows from child to adult.
He must have a reason to embark upon his journey. A loss or discontent must, at an early stage, jar him away from his home or family setting.
The process of maturation is long, arduous and gradual, involving repeated clashes between the hero's needs and desires and the views and judgments enforced by an unbending social order.
Eventually, the spirit and values of the social order become manifest in the protagonist, who is ultimately accommodated into the society. The novel ends with the protagonist's assessment of himself and his new place in that society.
Coming-of-age story. A type of novel where the protagonist is initiated into adulthood through knowledge, experience, or both, often by a process of disillusionment. Understanding comes after the dropping of preconceptions, a destruction of a false sense of security, or in some way the loss of innocence. Some of the shifts that take place are these:
ignorance to knowledge
innocence to experience
false view of world to correct view
idealism to realism
immature responses to mature responses
In other words, the "outline" of Naruto looks lkind of ike this:
Naruto is born without a (living) family and ostracized from the social order of Shinobi life
Naruto learns what "strength" means and forms his own (contradictory) ideas about what it means to be a shinobi
Through hard work, Naruto makes friends, trains to be a shinobi, and dreams of becoming Hokage
Naruto loses his best friend to the "social order" - i.e. a harsh shinobi world that values--seemingly--a different kind of "strength" than Naruto values
End Part 1. Begin Part 2
Naruto is forced to confront the sad/dangerous shinobi social order through a number of conflicts with akatsuki who represent the "worst" of the world he lives in and who arguably were created by it (insert also learning about Jinchuriki, the ultimate "tools")
Naruto (et al) loses people he loves. Naruto is forced to reckon with death/sadness and the difficulty of not becoming as strong as he hoped as fast as he hoped.
Meanwhile, Naruto's friend is indoctrinated completely into the "social order" of the Shinobi world, yet curiously does NOT grow to any kind of "mature response" from following these "rules" as might be expected.
By a twist of fate, Naruto's friend's goals turn contradictory to Naruto's. The ugliest truth is set to be tested.
End Part 2 (possibly) Begin Part 3
Naruto will grow up and through trial, not only come to understand the world as it is, but become stronger in the process
Naruto will (again) confront Sasuke, the Elders, Akatsuki, basically anybody who represents the "old world" view
Naruto will completely and awesomely reject all ideas of the "old world" counter to his view of "strength", and through the power he gains, completely kick everybody's ass
The world will completely change due to ONE kid's resolution for a very simple reason: Naruto will prove that strength and love (i.e. "bonds") can exist together and are better for everybody.
Naruto will become Hokage and rather than be "indoctrinated" into society, will reshape and lead that society into a new future.
For the record, I have NO issue with people hating Sasuke as a character. You're kinda supposed to. Sasuke is an arrogant ass who abandoned his friends in the search of power for the purpose of revenge. Along the way, he demonstrated a sort of drug-induced illusion of power that's pretty typical of people who take short cuts to get what they want. He's like an athlete on steroids who also gets lucky and then brags about it. Some of his ability is real, but a lot of it is hype and arrogance.
What I have issue with is people saying that Kishimoto somehow isn't aware of this (despite having written it, and foreshadowed it, and commented on the retardation of Sasuke's choices through other characters) or who think Naruto isn't going to be a match for Sasuke ever.
As for Sasuke fans, when they aren't of the same mentality that shortcuts = success, they are usually the people who are looking past Sasuke's facade to his brokenness and empathizing with why he is the way he is. This is fine with me too. Sasuke's cockiness is a symptom of a disease of the heart--he's secretly dying inside, cut off and alone as he is, empty of all but his pride. And it's really kind of sweet that he has a friend like Naruto who believes his soul is worth saving no matter how deep he digs himself into the mire.
So yeah. Best case scenario is that Sasuke will realize the extent of his failures. And then Naruto will kick Sasuke's ass to confirm it (or the ass kicking will come before revelation). And after Sasuke's been humbled completely (to I screwed up and deserve to die; please kill me) Naruto will reach out with the same hand that god-smacked Sasuke to the ground and pull him back up as a friend.
Sasuke in a way thinks he's better than others because his last name is Uchiha. This is clear as day in the little talk he gives to Oro. He puts his family name over everything even when they are wrong. Like the Uchihas being killed he blames the elders when it was clear that the Uchiha clan was going to start a war that would cause many lives that had no ties to the ninja world to be lost. All because the Uchihas wanted to be selfish and gain power. But Sasuke didnt see it that way all he sees is you harmed my family. They are right over every thing. even when they are wrong. Thats one thing that I dont like about him.
Then when he got jealous that Naruto surpassed him in power because he looked down on him. That always got on my nerves.
His relationship with Naruto and Sakura.
They go through hell and back just to see Sasuke and he doesnt give a damn about them. In fact he tries to hurt them whenever he sees them. They have nothing but love for the guy dont let anyone talk bad about him in any way. And how does Sasuke repay them? By trying to kill them.
Another thing that pisses me off about Sasuke is that when he was talking to Madara he called Naruto "the nine-tails" as if he was just any other jin. Even Madara had enough respect to at least adress Naruto by his name where as Sasuke just calls him the nine-tails.
Naruto went through the pain of the 4-tails because he wanted to save Sasuke so bad. And what does Sasuke do in return? He eletricutes him mind rapes him and tries to impale him with a sword.
Naruto tries to talk to Sasuke at the VoTE and trys to help him and lets Sasuke know that he's gone through pain just like Sasuke has. And what does sasuke do? Chidoris him in the chest twice.
In short Naruto and Sakura have put all their heart and soul into trying to help this *******. And Sasuke could basically care less. Not to mention when Neji ,Chouji and Kiba all almost died just trying to find Sasuke. And then Naruto told Sasuke what happened and Sasuke was like "I dont care I want power thats all I care about"
HIS ARROGANT ATTITUDE.
This one pisses me off alot because all his fanboys buy into it. the way he talked to Oro. The way he was in front of the 8tails. the way he was with Itachi. he was very cocky and annoying to hear talk in all those fights.
Him saying shit like "oh yeah Naruto I let you live because I felt like it."
WHY I DONT LIKE HIM AS A CHARACTER.
Well number one he is boring. He has a one track mind revenge revenge revenge go to sleep then some more revenge. it's old and annoying. he should have stopped with the revenge crap after he learned the truth about Itachi. thats all there is to Sasuke revenge... thats it. it's like he's to stupid to come up with anything else..
HOW HE CONSTANTLY HANDED POWER UPS.
I mean he doesnt work or train for any of his abillities he just gets handed shit from chapter to chapter and it's stupid. He pretty much got his Oro hax from absorbing Orochimaru. didnt work for that then he was handed the white snakes healing out of no where then all of a sudden the CS HAD NO DRAWBACKS AT ALL. Then as so as he lost all those haxes he gets MS handed to yet another abillity he was just handed.
Then the latest in his line of hella haxes the miracle healers. He now has Karin and Juugo to save his ass. And the BS wins are not helping.