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13 Criticisms of the Naruto Series That Are Completely Valid

September 14, 2020 19k votes 2.8k voters 78.6k views13 items

Naruto is a beloved series, and for good reason. It's a hugely influential show with an inspiring story, great art, an unforgettable cast of characters, and a well-thought out.

But despite its well-deserved place in the anime canon, it has some issues. Even the most dedicated fans can admit that there are some Naruto criticisms to be made. Everyone has different things that bug them: some can't stand the end game pairings, others focus on the confusing ending, and still others wish Naruto and Sasuke weren't so outlandishly overpowered.

Whatever your particular issue with the series might be, it's clear that the series isn't perfect. Wonderful and totally worth loving despite these problems? Yes. Flawless? No. 

Let's show our love for Naruto by acknowledging its flaws. Vote up the critiques of Naruto that you agree with, and vote down the ones that you think are unfair. 

  • 1

    Orochimaru Didn't Deserve Redemption

    Orochimaru is one of the most viciously evil villains in the world of Naruto. He ruthlessly annihilated thousands of children through human experimentation, all because he wanted to figure out a way to live forever so that he could personally learn every jutsu. He spends most of the rest of the series manipulating others into starting wars for his own gain, trying to persuade a traumatized child to let him take over his body, and shows almost no remorse for any of it.

    As a villain, he's bizarrely fascinating, but his new iteration in Boruto is not. He's no longer a villain - instead, he's quietly performing dubious but not-as-horrific experiments on the outskirts of town. For some reason, a few of his former victims like Karin and Suigetsu, are assisting him - that's gross.

    Worse still, the village begrudgingly accepts him. When he asks to go to Ninja Academy's parent-teacher conferences to talk about his son, he's allowed to despite his history of kidnapping and destroying children. He gets permission in front of Yamato, a man whose most formative childhood experience involves being left under a pile of bodies after an Orochimaru experiment gone wrong.

    Basically, a decidedly less interesting version of Orochimaru gets an unearned redemption because he's "nice" now. A good villain was wasted, and his victims were insulted. 

    Fair criticism?
  • 2

    Side Characters Don't Get Their Proper Due

    If you ask your average Naruto fan who their favorite character is, chances are pretty high that they won't say Naruto. It's not a bad thing for people to like the side characters or even prefer them to the protagonist - in a show with a large cast, it's natural that some people will feel that way, especially if the side characters as great as the ones in Naruto. 

    But it is a bad thing if those great side characters don't get meaningful arcs and are sidelined at random, eliminated, or given thoughtless storylines that make it clear that the writer wasn't sure what to do with them. For example, Rock Lee is a fan favorite, and his arc brings up fascinating questions about how the world of Naruto views people who can't successfully use chakra. But while he gets a few cool moments, his character isn't really capitalized on. There's also Neji Hyuuga, who had a fascinating conflict with the main branch of his family, but ended up passing away to protect his cousin - exactly like his father did. This symmetry seems less like a conclusion based on character development, and more of a quick route to drama. 

    Other side characters get so little development that it's hard to understand why they're even there in the first place. If Ten Ten is in the core group of ninja, why doesn't she even get so much as a last name? 


    Fair criticism?
  • 3

    The Female Characters Could Be Handled Better

    Naruto has some seriously amazing female characters. There's literally nobody on the known universe more powerful than Kaguya Ootsutsuki, and both Kushina Uzumaki and Tsunade could destroy anybody who looked at them sideways. That said, the existence of a few strong female characters doesn't mean that those characters are handled well.

    Let's take a look at Sakura Haruno, one of the three members of Naruto's genin team. Sakura is strong and smart: she can basically cause an earthquake with her fists, and she learned medical ninjutsu in a matter of months. But she's also the only member of her genin team not to have godly levels of power - she's written as inherently inferior to Naruto and Sasuke. What's more, her character arc revolves around both her love for Sasuke and her desire to prove herself to be a fighter on par with her teammates. She never gets to do the latter. 

    Sakura isn't the only female character in this position. Nearly all the female characters are underdeveloped and not as powerful as their male counterparts. Rin is weaker than Kakashi and Obito, and we know less about her. Tenten is weaker than Neji and Lee, and we know less about her - the list goes on. Even the strongest female characters have backstories involving male characters saving them.

    It's also incredibly common for female ninja to give up their careers to become wives and mothers, even if they made it to jounin level and were clearly skilled. 

    Naruto is far from the only shonen anime to have this problem - it's a genre-wide issue. This is a huge problem, both because 50% of shonen manga readers are female and need to see themselves represented better, and because male fans also need to see girls presented in a more empowering light. 

    Fair criticism?
  • 4

    Naruto's Childhood Makes No Sense

    Naruto Uzumaki's backstory is one of the more vexing things about the series. Why? Because it doesn't make any sense. 

    Naruto is the son of the hokage, one of the most powerful and respected ninja in the entire world. Not only that, but he's also the son of Kushina Uzumaki, a member of a powerful clan. His parents sacrificed their lives in order to save Konoha, and sealed the Nine Tails into Naruto's body in the process. 

    The village reacted by fearing and shunning Naruto, because they believed him to be the embodiment of the monster that had just attacked their village. Fair enough, but why didn't the current hokage try to sway public opinion?

    More importantly, why did Naruto grow up almost totally unsupervised and alone?  He grows up in an apartment by himself, with occasional check-ins from ANBU and the third hokage. He's given no help or instruction in managing the immense power that's stored inside of his body, and his basic needs are rarely met. This combined with being ostracized could have easily led to either Naruto choosing to leave the village to find a place that would treat him better, or totally losing control of the dangerous Nine Tails and unintentionally destroying the village. 

    Even if no one was interested in making sure he was treated as the child of heroes with a storied lineage, you'd think they'd be interested in avoiding another disaster. Apparently not.

    Fair criticism?