The Conflict and Compromise of Uchiha Sasuke

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Video Essay
Title: The Conflict and Compromise of Uchiha Sasuke
Creator: Craftsdwarf
Date(s): 31 May 2018
Medium: video, YouTube
Length: 22:20 minutes
Footage: Naruto Part I & II
Fandom: Naruto
Topic: Uchiha Sasuke and the way he relates to Uchiha Itachi and Uzumaki Naruto
External Links: on YouTube
text versionarchive
The display card for "The Conflict and Compromise of Uchiha Sasuke" which shows Sasuke facing left with the pattern of a Sharingan eye as the background
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

The Conflict and Compromise of Uchiha Sasuke is a video essay by YouTube creator Craftsdwarf that focuses on Uchiha Sasuke's character and motivation in Naruto, especially seeking to explain his seemingly-erratic behavior in Shippuden. It has a matching counterpart about Uzumaki Naruto,[1] A Defense of Talk no Jutsu by Mathwiz, which is the first part of Mathwiz's Hope and Hypocrisy in Naruto series.

Craftsdwarf's summary from YouTube:

Perhaps one of the most commonly misunderstood and misrepresented characters of his series, Sasuke is intrinsic to the ideas and themes the series explores, and deserves a deeper examination.[1]

Seeking to explain Sasuke's motivation and character arc as Sasuke moves from protagonist to antagonist, Craftsdwarf argues that Sasuke's actions "can only be justified within the narrative on the grounds that they make logical sense, without straining believability or coming across as contrived."[2] In other words, to understand Sasuke one must not only use a Watsonian lens but also set aside the assumption that all of Sasuke's reasoning can boil down to him being "a confused teenager forced to grow up in a world he comes to disagree with."[2]

Music used in "The Conflict and Compromise of Uchiha Sasuke"[1]
Song title Source
Yureru Kokoro Chihayafuru
Sasuke's Theme Naruto
Nervous Naruto
Ayashii Kumoyuki Chihayafuru
Survival Examination Naruto
Sasuke ~Destiny~ Naruto
Ninmu Naruto Shippuden
Meiun Chihayafuru
Fuda no Michibiki Chihayafuru
Senya Naruto Shippuden
Samidare Naruto Shippuden

The video is a little over twenty minutes and the audio is all Craftsdwarf delivering a verbal essay over clips from Part I and Part II of Naruto. Craftsdwarf uses music from the Naruto OSTs and Chihayafuru under their narration rather than letting the sound of the clips play.

Mathwiz made a companion video, "In Defense of Talk no Jutsu" which is the first part of the Hope and Hypocrisy in Naruto series. The title card matches the Sasuke title card seen above.
Craftsdwarf, talking about Sasuke's fall from being a protagonist, juxtaposes this image of Sasuke right before he goes to capture Killer B for the Akatsuki with a comment that eventually Sasuke "was impossible to root for."[2]
Craftsdwarf compares Sasuke and Naruto to Madara and Hashirama, respectively, and talks about Naruto's ability to compromise, which was "something the First Hokage was unable to do with Madara."[2]

Main Points

Some topics discussed

Summary of argument

  • A main theme for Sasuke is conflict, especially conflict between his belief that "the road to strength is cutting off bonds"[2] and his inability to cut off his bond with Naruto or even ignore Naruto when it would be advantageous to do so.
  • One of Sasuke's strongest character traits is his conviction, despite seemingly contradictory actions and "flip flopping motives."[2]
  • Sasuke starts out willing to work with his team to become stronger, but after their fight against Gaara "where Naruto so severely upstaged him"[2] and Gaara shows the strength of his own hatred Sasuke began "to see Itachi's path: that of cutting of one's bonds and bearing that hate alone"[2] and the show of strength from Itachi that quickly followed pushed Sasuke into choosing Itachi's path and leaving the village.
  • At the end of Part I, when Sasuke and Naruto fight in the Valley of the End, Sasuke is attempting to compromise by putting his headband back on and fighting Naruto instead of just escaping to Orochimaru's hideout because Naruto "surpassed the Sound 4, and showed that his road to strength through effort and camaraderie was still valid."[2] Naruto's failure to understand this leads to his defeat and Sasuke's final departure.
  • Learning the truth about the Uchiha Massacre means Sasuke has to focus getting vengeance on "the village that forced the impossible situation on his brother, the shinobi who willfully enable the system, and the world that perpetuated a situation where genocide was the only path to sustained peace."[2] However, Sasuke felt he could not, as Itachi wanted, return to Konoha as a hero because that would mean keeping the truth about the massacre a secret and accepting that Itachi had done the right thing all along.
  • Although Sasuke starts as a protagonist, the audience is supposed to feel that Sasuke is an antagonist, "impossible to root for,"[2] after he sides with the Akatsuki and turns on Team Taka.
  • Naruto and Sasuke walk opposite paths, and are able to eventually compromise because they each grow to understand the other and communicate through conflict. Madara and Hashirama were unable to compromise in this way.
  • What defines Sasuke most is his need to distinguish himself, not "his desire for vengeance, or power, or his edge, or his compromise, but in the area where he connects most to Naruto."[2]
  • When he's brought back with edo tensei, Itachi is finally able to compromise with Sasuke and recognise him as his own person. Sasuke's plan to become Hokage and take the world's darkness on to himself is a compromise that results in "the unification of the two paths Sasuke had once walked, blazing a trail that was neither Itachi's nor Naruto's, but his own."[2]
  • Ultimately Naruto's path, with friendship and recognition based on deeds, is validated by the narrative and Sasuke's path of vengeance and cutting ties is proven wrong, undermined by Sasuke himself. However, Naruto's path could not have succeeded without running parallel to Sasuke because Naruto's true success was not strength or recognition but compromise, and so in this way by also compromising, Sasuke can be understood as not only completing his own narrative arc but also as being integral to the completion of Naruto's search for a way to end the cycle of hatred.

Excerpts

His position in Team 7 was one of mutual desire to work together and grow, walking alongside Naruto on the same path, and it's something almost aberrant when looking ahead to the young man who believes cutting off one's bonds is the key to achieving power. To cut off one’s bonds, to rip away someone who wants you by their side, is something that would be unbearably painful, unless you retreated into the emotion opposite of the one that allowed Sasuke to awaken his Sharingan. It's one Sasuke is capable of in abundance, but in his position with Team 7, it came to be overshadowed by his other feelings, until he was faced with a source of that emotion so much stronger than his own.

[Gaara, in Japanese: "Your hatred is much weaker than mine.!"][note 1][2]
Sasuke had now begun to see Itachi's path: that of cutting of one's bonds and bearing that hate alone. Naruto might have surpassed Gaara, but Sasuke was falling behind all on his own. And if there were any doubts looming ahead on the path of teamwork he'd had impressed on him by Kakashi, and shown as an option by Naruto, then widening the cracks even further was the arrival of Itachi himself. Itachi, who so easily held back three of the village's finest Jounin, leaving the respected Kakashi bedridden after just a brief encounter. Itachi, who would then go on to easily defeat him, as if Sasuke was still the weak, helpless boy forced to witness the massacre of his clan despite how much stronger he'd gotten, before giving Jiraiya the slip, showing capabilities on par with the strongest the Leaf had to offer. Sasuke was no closer to surpassing Itachi then he had been on the day of the massacre. Naruto continued to grow on his path, but Sasuke, falling behind, began to reject that way, as looking forward, all that lay there was more failure in the form of Kakashi and Jiraiya.[2]

By putting on his headband, he recognized Naruto, but his stubborn rival wasn't able to reciprocate. Though he recognized Sasuke, he did not understand him. He had not know the great pain of loss that Sasuke did, but instead only fought to avoid the pain he would experience if Sasuke were to cut off their bond. While Sasuke is allowing Naruto the chance to prove himself, Naruto is only forcing his will onto Sasuke thoughtlessly, giving him no option. Sasuke will be taken back and that's final.

Through his lack of understanding and desire to avoid pain, Naruto's being just as selfish as Sasuke was in starting this new path, and in this failure, he too failed to bring Sasuke back to the village.

By winning the battle, Sasuke's path to strength is realized through Naruto's failure: both in his failure to defeat Sasuke, and his failure to show how his desire to maintain bonds was the truth path to strength. It was Naruto reaching out to him without concession or care that cut the bond Sasuke chose not to break completely by compromising, and so Sasuke left the Leaf village, so many of his bonds in tatters behind him on his new path.[2][note 2]

The idea of compromise is one so fitting to Sasuke, but in this world of magic abilities, deception, and war, it is might that makes right. Powerful ninja converse through battle, therefore Sasuke achieves compromise through conflict.

At Tenchi Bridge, Naruto once again tried to win Sasuke back, but with him being so much weaker, Sasuke had no reason to heed his words. Naruto was so far behind on his own path, while Sasuke had gotten so much further on the one Itachi laid out for him, even though Sasuke failed to realize the true nature of his path, leading to a moment perhaps infamous for the amount of compromise Sasuke allowed.

[Sasuke, in Japanese, with subtitles: "Destroy Konoha."]

Over the course of a day following Sasuke's victory over Itachi, his vengeance shifted from the one who killed his clan to the village that forced the impossible situation on his brother, the shinobi who willfully enable the system, and the world that perpetuated a situation where genocide was the only path to sustained peace.[2][note 2]

Sasuke says everything he can to try and prove Tobi in the wrong, because he had to. If all of Sasuke's actions were preordained by Itachi, then his quest for vengeance, to redeem his clan, all the bonds he severed...it would have all been for nothing. Sasuke wanted to surpass Itachi, and in attempting to do so by meeting him head on, he only fell into his hands. Sasuke survived their battle, but he did not surpass Itachi at all. With the truth about Itachi in the light, his desire to surpass him informed his desire to avenge him. Whether he respected Itachi's will or not was irrelevant: he had no desire to compromise if it meant that he would not surpass Itachi.

[...]

It was only after that point when Sasuke made a concession. Not one born out of desire for compromise, but a concession for his own pride. HE had to surpass Itachi, and this flaw took him further down the path of darkness that Itachi never truly walked, nor intended Sasuke to go so far down. Itachi took the burden of the Uchiha onto himself, and Sasuke would surpass him with another, far greater massacre as punishment for the failures of the Leaf.[2][note 2]
If that weren’t enough, then Danzo’s death is followed by the arrival of Sakura and Kakashi, who try to kill him. Teamwork failed them, so now they attempt to cut off their bonds. Sasuke laughs as if mocking them. It’s moments like this that result in the aspects of Sasuke perhaps the most difficult to swallow: his edge. Regardless of how one feels about it, it’s there for a reason. After Gaara reaches out to him, he opts to continue walking his dark path, infamously fan translated as "my darkness is greater than yours". But while Sasuke laughs at Sakura and Kakashi, he does not laugh as Naruto calls him a friend, instead simply repeating his goals and ideals.[2]
Those of the past were unwilling to compromise, but Naruto is different. After his failure at the Tenchi Bridge, he sought understanding. When battling Kakuzu, he refused help, fighting alone in an effort to get closer to Sasuke. Even more strongly is in regards to Pain. Pain was responsible for the death of Jiraiya, also nearly killing Kakashi, Hinata, and crippling the Leaf village. Naruto burned with a hate stronger than any he'd ever felt, yet he sought to meet Pain alone, going without his bonds as he faced someone he might have hated as much as Sasuke once hated Itachi. He sought to understand Sasuke, and so there was compromise. Something Naruto was unable to do at the Valley of the End, something the First Hokage was unable to do with Madara, something the Leaf was unable to do with the Uchiha Clan. Like Sasuke once tried Naruto's path, Naruto looked down the road Sasuke took.[2]
And it's in that where I think of Sasuke the most. Not in his desire for vengeance, or power, or his edge, or his compromise, but in the area where he connects most to Naruto. At the core of Sasuke's character lies a desire for recognition above all else, and the difference is explained through Itachi. Itachi tells Naruto that the Hokage is one who becomes recognized by the village, not one who seeks recognition alone. Whereas Naruto becomes recognized by others through his deeds, Sasuke only wanted recognition from the ones he sought to impress most: his family.[2]

Though Sasuke's basis for challenging Itachi's beliefs was done out of that desire for recognition, in doing so, in showing an autonomy that challenged his brother's goals, even though he might have been wrong, he finally became recognized by his brother at last. Itachi was finally able to compromise, and so Sasuke did, seeking the Hokages and gaining more information with which to challenge his goal of destroying the Leaf.

His new perspective leads to new courses of actions, manifested through his own definition of Hokage, the position he then sought to fill. This new compromise is one born from the two paths Sasuke had walked. In taking the world's darkness onto himself, he walks Itachi's path, but in doing so he aims to save the ninja world, achieving Naruto's goal. The compromise here is in the unification of the two paths Sasuke had once walked, blazing a trail that was neither Itachi's nor Naruto's, but his own.[2][note 2]

Naruto was able to bear his pain and conceive of a way to end the cycle of hatred, surpassing his opposing side while maintaining his beliefs, but Sasuke failed. The moment he decided to fight alongside Naruto, the moment he accepted Itachi's love, the moment he decided not to destroy the Leaf, and most importantly, the moment he made a concession in his beliefs for Naruto’s sake in the act of fighting him and him alone: that was when Sasuke lost.

He failed to follow the path he'd laid out for himself, but in challenging his beliefs, in challenging Naruto, the two compromised, and Sasuke earned recognition from those who's paths he once followed. He did not bring revolution to the ninja world in the way he wanted, but through his compromise, he was able to serve, acting as the knife in the dark path he walks to defend the world from hidden threats, while Naruto stands in the light as a beacon of peace. The two of them, recognizing each other, walk down their paths, separate, but together.

[Sasuke: "I lost."][2][note 2]

Reactions & Comments

As of October, 2018, the video has 1,998 views, approximately 3,900 likes, and 67 dislikes.

The top comment, with 478 likes and 42 replies is:

Stop making me think Naruto might be decent[3]
One reply provided a link to more meta:

For the most part, the problem lies within the viewers. If people read/watched all at once, actually comprehended and retained information, then they would feel better about the series. Whether it be Naruto or anything else, especially if it's long, which makes us prone to miss important details.

With that said, here's a short overview i made about his character. Manga links included so you can do some rereading.

https://imgur.com/a/Iybcq5z[4][note 3]

The second highest comment had 377 likes and 62 replies.

Sasuke being a bad character is like the number 1 misconception in Shonen. Right up there with goku being a bad dad[5]

Some of the replies:

His problem is that he comes off as an unlikeable cunt for a good part of the series. He's a good character, but many people don't like him and for understandable reasons. An analysis like Crafts' is great now that the series is over and we can judge the whole picture, but Naruto went on for many years with people putting up with Sasuke's behavior so most people were less willing to judge him like that. Now the idea of "Fuck Sasuke" is just cemented on people's minds.[6]

Sasuke was always great and likable. Some people of lesser intelligence are displeased with Taka Sasuke because he didn't become a brainless Itachi fanboy after he learned the truth like they did.

Think about it - Itachi shoves hatred and vengeance down Sasuke's throat for years to ensure he would want revenge no matter what, yet when he finds out that Konoha oppressed, & persecuted his clan, then ordered one of their own to commit genocide & live the rest of his life as a hated criminal with the truth being hidden away in secrecy, he's supposed to want to protect Konoha just because Itachi wanted too. Why? So he be slain like everyone else? Sasuke wasn't pleased with this corrupt goverment and system. He didn't want to serve them. And he felt that the villagers who abided by this government & system, allowing it to stay in power, were guilty aswell.

The Uchiha were ordered to be wiped out, no mercy, as revenge he was going to do the same to the village. After learning the truth his mindset had changed. It became darker. This was noted by Karin.

Sasuke placed his clan above the village. That's why he severed his bond & abandoned the village in pursuit of revenge 3 years earlier. Learning that his clan was screwed over by/for the village that he already didn't care about made things worse.

In order to side with Itachi and Konoha, Sasuke would need to know the importance of Shinobi & Villages, how they're greater than individual clan's. That's exactly what happened during the war with Sasuke deciding to protect from the shadows like a true Shinobi. To change the system to ensure things like the Uchiha massacre and multiple world wars didn't happen again.

People wanted Sasuke to automatically come to this decision without seeing things through his perspective. Why would he have the same ideals as Itachi when he wasn't taught them? Chapter 220 for example, Itachi didn't instill love for Konoha within him, he instilled pride in their clan.

Hurizen stated Itachi had a Hokage like mindset at the age of 7. Well he sure didn't show this to Sasuke, speaking of the villages importance being greater than that of a single clan.[7]

Sasuke wasn't always great and likable. But that doesn't men he's not a good character. You can understand his motives and all that stuff *but that doesn't mean he's always likable*. There are moments where you're clearly supposed to route against Sasuke, and that's completely intentional.[8]

I get what you're saying.

My point was, he was always great and likable as a character. We can still like a character but disagree with them. Who actually wants Pain to murder Jiraiya and Kakashi? Few if any, yet he's well liked. Being praised as a good villain. That's what i was referring to. I was saying that Sasuke was always likeable because he's good character. For example, i didn't want him to destroy Konoha, but i still rooted for him in battles, like against Danzo.

Being a jerk in real life is way different than in fiction. No one likes characters like Doflamingo, Chrollo, Zabuza, and Orochimaru in real life.[9]

This video really glosses over the reasons people dislike Sasuke.

For example, Sasuke switching sides to Orochimaru is extremely selfish. If Naruto got more powerful than Sasuke in the Leaf Village... why would the answer to being stronger than Naruto be leaving the Leaf village? Naruto's certainly within his rights to try and stop him signing up with an international terrorist who wants his body.

And Sasuke never really gets properly punished for all the bullshit he does. You'd think Naruto would at least call him out on it. A bit more "look, you've become a murderer!"

This is on top of the minor reasons that add up (every character shilling him, the Sharingan acquiring new powers basically every arc, the stupid haircut).[10]

Leaving the village was entirely about Itachi. Naruto was actually one of the main reasons he even contemplated on giving up revenge as Kakashi suggested. They both lost comrades in the past but gained new ones fo cherish. Sasuke thought about things for hours til the Sound Ninja came and used his hatred toward Itachi to persuade him to leave.

Well, no need for me to type when i've already prepared links in advance for occasions like this.

https://imgur.com/a/gizZRiU

His good deeds far outweigh his crimes, some of which only a few even knew about. Like wanting to destroy Konoha. I doubt Team 7, the Kyuubi, plus the dead Hokage & Akastuki members went around telling everyone.

https://imgur.com/a/y8jRpvw[11]

Other comments from the video:

This video was okay, went a fair bit too easy on Sasuke I'd argue.

For instance, I definitely wouldn't say it's selfish of Naruto to try and fight Sasuke to make him stay in the leaf village. Choji and Neji both nearly died to bring Sasuke back, and Sasuke's going to visit an international terrorist who they both know only wants to steal his body. Sasuke is not thinking clearly and Naruto ultimately has his best interests at heart.

Saying that Naruto doesn't know the pain of loss is missing the point - Naruto had known pain alright, from growing up an outcast. In fact, he knows the pain Sasuke's going through and it's that empathy that ultimately keeps driving him to try and bring Sasuke back over.

I'd also say that while people don't usually bother trying to understand Sasuke, a lot of people's frustration with him is very valid and comes from the fact that he A) is shilled a lot, B) faces very little consequences for his actions (for example, Karin forgives him for trying to kill her for no reason other than that he's hot) and C) as a result of A and B, other characters tend to be at their worst when dealing with him, especially Naruto and Sakura really not taking enough of a stand against his bullshit.

This is combined with loads of little factors (like how the Sharingan keeps getting new powers which makes it feel like Sasuke doesn't earn his powerups). So it's sort of there's a good character underneath, but a lot of the presentation puts people off.

To compare with this sort of character done right, Bakugo from MHA is also an angry rival to the main character, but any time he pulls bullshit the series always karmatically punishes him by denying him what he wants until he changes his ways.[12]

[Reply from Craftsdwarf]
Well, my point with Naruto's selfishness in bringing Sasuke back was that he wasn't being considerate of Sasuke's feelings. The outcome Naruto wanted to force on Sasuke would have meant he'd never have gotten the strength he needed or the recognition from Itachi. Even bringing up Neji and Chouji (and also that Naruto promised Sakura) doesn't change that despite supposedly having Sasuke's best interests in mind, Naruto's not really thinking about him. Sasuke gave Naruto a chance (prove his strength and show that his path was valid) but Naruto didn't give that same chance to Sasuke. He didn't try to reach a compromise like "well, go if that makes you feel better, but feed the Leaf information on Orochimaru to prove you're still an ally so you can come back one day." He made his word law and failed Sasuke through that inability to compromise.

Pain of loss and pain of never having had something to lose are fundamentally two types of pain. They connected and sought recognition in part from their previous pain, yet they still sought different forms of recognition because their formative pains are different. Pain is relative, and not all pain is the same.

I'd also argue that relatively speaking, he got enough punishment (especially by Kishimoto's standards, as he's so ought for morality overcorrection). He killed a few samurai, rejected the Leaf, and now isn't allowed to exist within it. Nevermind that he dealt with numerous criminals and helped saved the world. It's Naruto's optimism and desire to understand and connect that gave him the strength of character he needed to surpass his opponents on the road to saving the world and becoming Hokage. It's optimistic but I don't think that's a bad thing. Karin forgave him but only after he turned from the dark path that pushed her away in the first place (not that she really knew...). But even so, those are issues with other characters, not necessarily Sasuke, and people who dislike Sasuke for that (and him being shilled) are fine to. I'm not trying to say he should be liked and I even point out in the video that it's understandable to feel that way. I don't even think I really like him: he's a flawed character who acts on his best interests in contradiction to his ideals, and that's why I find him interesting. A character doesn't have to be likable to work for the story they're in. And yeah the sharingan is bullshit lol. I don't bring a lot of that up because it doesn't really affect how his character works for the story, even though again, they're valid reasons not to like him.

And I don't think the Bakugo comparison is accurate because he started a friendly rival character and is still one. Their roles and how they move the story around them are ultimately very different. Vegeta, Ishida, Renji, Todoroki: there are plenty of 'antagonists turned friendly rival' characters but Sasuke is interesting because 'friendly rival turned antagonist' characters are less common, so it's not quite an equivalent comparison (though I totally get people liking Bakugo more, he's a good dork).

Thanks for the input though![13]

But Sasuke's path isn't valid. He was going to work for someone who had just tried to murder the entire Leaf Village and who had killed the Third Hokage. He was going to run off and join a terrorist cell. Sasuke putting on his headband doesn't change the fact that that's what he's trying to do. I don't think we should act like him doing that is some big compromise in light of what he's doing, which is betraying everyone he's ever known and lived with to do something stupidly dangerous. Heck, if Orochimaru hadn't been so injured from fighting Kurama when Sasuke attacked him he might have actually been able to snag Sasuke's body, and nearly did even after Sasuke beat him. It took Itachi's intervention to prevent Orochimaru getting exactly what he wanted.

Sasuke has no right to expect anything from Naruto other than a fight. Heck, the fact that Naruto is willing to want to bring him back instead of simply killing him for his utter betrayal is a massive sign of caring about Sasuke that Sasuke never really shows towards anyone in the entire series after the Chunin exams. (well, anyone alive. And yes, I am including Boruto in that because him being a deadbeat dad is the defining part of his relationship with Sarada and Sakura).

Heck, the very solution that Sasuke is attempting isn't even particularly logical - sure, he's fallen behind Naruto, but Naruto got that strong learning from Leaf Ninja. Even Itachi and Orochimaru learned the majority of their powers and abilities in the Leaf Village (and Orochimaru's battle with the Third was by no means a stomp - Orochimaru came out of it with no arms. Itachi, too, ran away from Jiraya). Sasuke totally could have become stronger in the Leaf Village. What Sasuke wanted was more power now and that's what Orochimaru gave him, a powerup that is explicitly a deal with the devil.

About consequences, as the other person who replied points out, Sasuke actually suffers remarkably little repercussions from his crimes, which include:
1. betraying his village
2. planning to sack said village
3. attacking (and largely hilariously failing at attacking) the heads of state of every major country
4. trying to murder one of his companions and leaving the others to die
5. attempting to take over the world again
6. along the way, murdering dozens of samurai

When Pain decided to redeem himself? He sacrificed his life with Rinne Rebirth to fix as much as possible.
When Obito decided to redeem himself? He tried to sacrifice his life with Rinne Rebirth to fix as much as possible.
When everyone decides Sasuke's redeemed? He spent a few years in jail, got married to a woman he had tried multiple times to murder.

I have a few other qualms with your video. (note I hope you're not offended that I have all these complaints. Usually I think your videos are really spot on, I just have some problems with this one) While you're right that Sasuke doesn't manage to kill anyone till the final arc by himself, that's a purely consequentialist reading. He's been trying to kill Itachi since he was introduced. He nearly brought Kirin down on Naruto in their first post-time skip encounter, something which Naruto at that point definitely could not have survived. He definitely thought he had either killed Orochimaru or done the next best thing. Deidara we don't know (but I honestly doubt he would have left him alive). And Itachi he was definitely trying to kill.

So it's not a big moral turning point. Sasuke just either fucks up a lot or circumstances intervene to stop him from killing prior to the final arc. A more apt description would be "he doesn't kill anyone who didn't have it coming" until he joins the Akatsuki and tries to hunt down Killer Bee.[14]

Sasuke is one of the best written characters of the show. The only reason some people don't like him is because they don't fully understand his character.

What makes sasuke my favourite character is how achingly human he is. He is driven by emotions, by the anger at the injustice he suffered, and by the love for his kin. Survivor guilt affected him a lot too. He made mistakes. However, one thing that makes me love him so much is his willpower, he will do anything that he thinks needs to be done, screw himself and the rest of the world. Its like, every time he is shattered, he transforms the shattered part into a sharp weapon to retaliate, he takes an insane amount of pain, probably more than anyone else in the series and just keeps going.

What sets him apart from typical shounen rivals is how integral he is to the plot. Normally, heroes surpass their rivals and eventually the rivals get pushed back to be supporting characters(albeit prominent ones), however, in the whole ordeal of naruto, I felt like there were always two protagonists, neither of their ways very great, they are the same kids who turned out differently, driven by circumstance, as naruto said, their positions could have easily been reversed. This was the only story, where the hero didn't defeat his rival outright in the final fight, because sasuke isn't a typical rival, he is the equal without whom naruto is complete, without whom balance cannot be found . Yin and yang, dark and light, sasuke and naruto. This is a story of them both, equals, rivals, brothers and best friends.[15]
Ignoring the hate Sasuke gets due to Naruto's obsession with saving him, he actually made Shippudden way more interesting than it would otherwise have been. I think his highlight was the battle he had with Itachi, a longstanding obstacle that prevented him from moving on. I do feel like he always wanted to surpass Itachi, since during childhood his father was always outspoken about Itachi's genius.[16]
Honestly Sasuke's character arc when he departed from the village in pursuit of power is what shifted the series of Naruto in a far more intriguing direction (at least for me personally). By making Sasuke leave the village, Kishimoto was then able to use Sasuke as a means to explore the historical world-building of the Naruto world by making Sasuke unravel the secrets of the Uchiha Clan Massacre, which by default needed to explore the generational conflicts of the Warring States Period, mainly with the Senju. Without going down that route, Kishi would have found it difficult to do so because Sasuke would have been restrained by his commitments to the village as a shinobi.[17]
For a long time i thought Sasuke was poorly written. But later I realised it wasn't sasuke who was poorly written but Itachi. This is because Kishimoto thought of an end scenario and forced the characters towards it rather than letting them act it out. Itachi in part 1 contradicts the Itachi in the later parts of Shipudden. Itachi became whatever Kishimoto wanted him to be at that time rather than a realistic character and since this affected sasuke's character we came to hate him.[18]

Sasuke is easily the best character in the series if we don't count Madara (and if it wasn't for Naruto's talk no jutsu, he would have surpassed him in every way).

Sasuke learns from the world around him. People don't get him at all. His revenge is not a selfish obsession, he is determined to bring justice to those who killed his entire family, since no one else will. His goal of destroying the Leaf is not madness, it's about punishing the corrupt elite.

His character only got even better after talking to Itachi, and that hardly seemed possible.

Sasuke's revolution without a doubt is the most solid plan and close to perfection there has been in the series. Better than Pain's and Madara's because true peace and cooperation exists in his world, add the fact that he's not a puppet with ideas put in his head by a higher power. And it's most certainly better than Naruto's foolish idealisms.

Like I said, Sasuke observed, Sasuke learned. He realized that union between nations was possible thanks to a threat like Madara. So he put every selfishness he had left in him behind and decided to become that threat himself, forever.

People don't get his goals in this scenario either. Sasuke does not plan to become a dictator, he does not think he has the authority the rule. He'll just be there. Watching from the shadows. Any corruption and potential threat will be eradicated. But good developments, he won't intervene there at all. He's literally a Batman with superpowers, with a global territory, and no "no killing" rule holding him back. An absurdly great anti hero.

Too bad this is a shonen and we had to have the happy ending. Sasuke could have been so good.

I would like to add, Sasuke's character could have greatly benefitted from a romance with Sakura actually taking place in the series. Not only would that have made people see Sasuke with a better perspective, but all the shortcomings Sakura's character has would have been gone. Because Sakura was such a great character at the beginning of Shippuden. She was no longer an annoying little girl, she was a great medic with strong and legit convictions and even beat a fucking Akatsuki. It was only when Sasuke entered the picture what made her go back to an irrational girl. If said love for Sasuke was real, no one would have a problem with that. And I really think that this love of hers is not an obsession, but a very real thing that was put in the backseat by Kishimoto, but it was still there and he gave us plenty of hints. Still, I maintain that he should have actually made it real and a big plot point like he obviously wanted.

Seeing how Sasuke actually ended up marrying Sakura and having a child with her, we can't throw out the window that Sakura was perhaps Sasuke's greatest weakness, and not his friendship with Naruto. Him trying to kill Sakura means he knows that love is holding him back. That is why he did it, to get rid of that burden that was standing between him and his goals. Also, he wasn't able to kill her and used genjutsu on her. That says a lot about his limits and introduces a glaring flaw to what he wants to become.

If all of this had been properly and fully fleshed out, it would open the door to amazing potential stories, such as Sasuke trying to convince Sakura to join him, or him looking for descendance to continue on for him, along with giving Sakura an amazing arc of conflict trying to save Sasuke and question the black and white world that Naruto is trying to sell to everyone, which simply doesn't exist.

It's such a shame we didn't get that. We can blame this being a shonen or crazy NaruSaku shippers, still, we missed it and it's a damn shame.[19]

Really? Sasuke post 697 is still a boss and it's not like he gave up his plan entirely. He adjusted. Naruto proved to be a reliable ally, so he chose to work with him rather than handle everything alone. For example, Naruto protects Konoha from within while he does from the outside. And rather than become a common enemy to the Shinobi World to keep them united, he became one to the criminal underworld.

http://mangaseeonline.us/read-online/Naruto-chapter-220-page-12.html[note 4]

http://imageupper.com/gi/?galID=S1100010091T15033585135413&n=39&m=44[note 5][20]

While I agree that Sasuke is still pretty great as of right now, I think that the realistic approach, what Sasuke would really do in the future, is ditch Naruto and go back to his "evil" ways much like Madara did after founding the Hidden Leaf Village. What would really keep him "in the light" is his wife and daughter, which I like to think about it that way, even if the series won't adress such a fascinating thing, not to mention that one must ask himself what would happen if Sakura or Sarada died? Would Sasuke change back? The answer is a very obvious yes.

The Boruto series purposely avoids the issues presented in Shippuden, because there is no way that Naruto's idealisms solved them. I mean, how are shinobi maintaining themselves if there is no conflict? The natural response is, there is still conflict, which means, Naruto has failed. Yes, there are no more grand scale wars, but there are still problems. "Democracy and cooperation are quieter forms of conflict" we have already been here with Madara.

Before you know it, things will escalate, and we are still trapped in the vicious cycle of hatred.

This is the thing about Naruto, it deals with pretty heavy and philosophical stuff, but it can't go "balls deep" because children watch this too.

It's crazy to think that Madara, Pain and Sasuke are not only correct in this fictional world, their philosophies apply to the real world too.[21]

Notes & References

Notes

  1. In the text version, this paragraph ends with "You don't have enough hate." quotations included, which I believe is the English language dub translation.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 In the text version, this is all part of one larger paragraph, but I thought that that was really hard to read so I added paragraph breaks.
  3. Archive link. The image hasn't been saved, but it was the page of the manga during the Wave Arc where Zabuza learns that Sasuke is an Uchiha, Kakashi calls Sasuke a genius ninja, and Zabuza says that Sasuke might be Haku's equal.
  4. Archiving didn't work. This is a scanlation of Naruto Chapter 220 page 12. Itachi and Sasuke talk about the Konoha Military Police.
  5. Archived. This is a scanlation of Boruto Chapter 15 page 37. Sasuke speaks to some criminal in a cell in Konoha T&I while Sai and Morino Ibiki watch.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Craftsdwarf, on the YouTube video description, published 31 May 2018. Accessed 07 October 2018.
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 2.21 2.22 Craftsdwarf, text versionarchive, published 31 May 2018. Accessed 07 October 2018.
  3. WatTheWut, commenting on the video, sometime in June, 2018. Accessed 08 October 2018.
  4. Plot made Sasuke not copy 1000 jutsu like Kakashi, commenting on the video, sometime in June, 2018. Accessed 08 October 2018.
  5. ResonantPilot, commenting on the video, sometime in June, 2018. Accessed 08 October 2018.
  6. Hannelore, commenting on the video, sometime in June, 2018. Accessed 08 October 2018.
  7. Plot made Sasuke not copy 1000 jutsu like Kakashi, commenting on the video, sometime in June, 2018. Accessed 08 October 2018.
  8. The Great Me-sama, commenting on the video, sometime in June, 2018. Accessed 08 October 2018.
  9. Plot made Sasuke not copy 1000 jutsu like Kakashi, commenting on the video, sometime in June, 2018. Accessed 08 October 2018.
  10. Sigilbreaker26, commenting on the video, sometime in June, 2018. Accessed 08 October 2018.
  11. Plot made Sasuke not copy 1000 jutsu like Kakashi, commenting on the video, sometime in June, 2018. Accessed 08 October 2018.
  12. Sigilbreaker26, commenting on the video, sometime in June, 2018. Accessed 08 October 2018.
  13. Craftsdwarf, commenting on the video, sometime in June, 2018. Accessed 08 October 2018.
  14. Sigilbreaker26, commenting on the video, sometime in June, 2018. Accessed 08 October 2018.
  15. WankaTony, commenting on the video, sometime in June, 2018. Accessed 08 October 2018.
  16. Crazy Diamond, commenting on the video, sometime in June, 2018. Accessed 08 October 2018.
  17. CloudOfKings Ace, commenting on the video, sometime in June, 2018. Accessed 08 October 2018.
  18. Arrush Hegde, commenting on the video, sometime in June, 2018. Accessed 08 October 2018.
  19. Joker, commenting on the video, sometime in July, 2018. Accessed 08 October 2018.
  20. Plot made Sasuke not copy 1000 jutsu like Kakashi, commenting on the video, sometime in August, 2018. Accessed 08 October 2018.
  21. Joker, commenting on the video, sometime in August, 2018. Accessed 08 October 2018.
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