NARUTO FANS: Bring Neji Hyuga back to the Naruto franchise!
NARUTO FANS: Bring Neji Hyuga back to the Naruto franchise!
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*This article is intended for Naruto fans who have basic knowledge of the Naruto series, but is written with other audiences in mind as well. Spoilers ahead: read at your own discretion.
HELP BRING BACK ADULT-NEJI HYUGA TO THE NARUTO FRANCHISE AS A PLAYABLE VIDEO GAME CHARACTER!
Neji Hyuga was a fictional character in the manga and anime series "Naruto". In a Chakra-laden ninja world, he mastered ancient, reserved techniques as a child and was deemed a genius even among the renowned clan he hailed from: the Hyuga Clan, a Clan considered a peer to some of the strongest Clans in the Naruto series and distinguished for its superior Chakra Control (control of one's internal energy) as well as its Dōjutsu (Eye Technique), the Byakugan (or "White Eye"), which afforded 360°, X-ray, and telescopic vision in its users. Over the course of his growth, we were privileged to watch the Clan's strongest member put these abilities put into action: a unique, full-bodily mastery of his Chakra Points which allowed him to remotely manipulate the surrounding environment with Chakra emissions, a barrier or 'force field' created by emitting Chakra in a state of rotation (aptly called "Rotation", or "Kaiten"), a Taijutsu (martial arts) style called the "Gentle Fist" using precise Chakra emissions to affect the internal organs as well as the much smaller, pinhole-sized Chakra Points dispersed throughout the body, and an intense physical dexterity and agility to boot. Though these were his primary techniques, his Chakra Control was extremely diverse, and in theory, limitless in versatility in a world of Chakra-based techniques.
In the canonical manga, we witnessed a child dominate the Chakra Network of his opponent in moments, an incomprehensible feat prompting master-level ninja to confirm his status as a genius. In the next stage of his exams, he delivered 64 strikes so quickly that his opponent's Chakra Points continued to simultaneously react long after the individual strikes had ceased, and later, he delivered the same barrage mostly in mid-air, implying indeed that it was a near-instantaneous assault. We witnessed him deflect a Kunai (throwing knife) by emitting Chakra from his neck, change the trajectory of a supersonic projectile (a single arrow traveling fast enough to create deep craters upon impact) by releasing Chakra in a wide field around him, and shortly thereafter, dismantle Legendary Sanin Orochimaru's Cursemark Jutsu with a single blow. We later watched in awe as he single-handedly shattered a Jutsu Kakashi Hatake himself (who is among the strongest characters in the Naruto series, like Orochimaru) could not overcome and took out three Kisame Water clones who had imprisoned his squad. Finally, we cheered on as his Rotation ('force field'), which many doubted the strength of, easily deflected a skyscraper-sized, wooden whip that would have leveled an entire battlefield and multiple armies, and we remembered and appreciated that the Third Hokage himself (Leaf Country Leader), Hiruzen Sarutobi, who relied on his massive-scale Ninjutsu to protect the same battlefield, was the very person to remark on Neji's genius all those years ago during the Preliminary Exams, but we were still dissatisfied.
We were dissatisfied because we should have witnessed far more. Neji perished on that battlefield in a manner illogical, inappropriate, and inconsistent with his prior feats of absolutely unparalleled Chakra Control, formidable agility, visual insight surpassing other Dōjutsu and rate of growth as a genius - by literally getting struck by a splinter. He perished because his character was written off, in the creator's words, "as a tool to bring Hinata closer to Naruto" in light of the decision to "make Hinata into the lead heroine". The creator went as far as to comment that Neji, in all of his depth, power and unexplored potential, "took on the role of cupid for the two of them". That's where all Neji's genius went: becoming - to the frustration of many fans - an impromptu cupid, instead of simply being applied to a technique that would have proven sufficient in that situation. For further context, Neji was objectively the strongest Hyuga member by far, having surpassed his entire clan in youth, including the Main Branch he was not born into, and Masashi Kishimoto likely felt the need to justify Naruto's marriage to Hinata - the heir of the Hyuga clan in the Main Branch, who was ironically inferior to Neji - by removing Neji. Before his forced death, this agenda was also blatant in Naruto filler where abilities Hinata should objectively not have been able to achieve (given Neji's relative progress as a genius) were cheaply slapped onto her, and also in "Boruto" - the sequel to Naruto - where the creators trivialized the history which established the disparity in talent between Neji and Hinata. In Naruto-related video games, Neji was progressively made to appear 'slower' and 'less advanced' than Hinata, even though canonically, it was always the other way around, and Hinata never even came close to achieving any of the techniques she flaunted in-game. In fact, canonically, Hinata achieved neither Neji's early ability to perceive the pinhole-sized Chakra Points, nor his early ability to use all of the body's Chakra Points, making her flamboyant in-game displays a hilarious and downright disgusting far cry from the truth. We were even insulted by various gratuitous scenes which clearly served only deface Neji, all in the name of stripping him from his former glory: all to make Neji expendable. Neji's character should not have been at the expense of a romance or the growth of another character. Him being the strongest Hyuga alive, and Naruto marrying his cousin Hinata, should have been able to peacefully coexist. What we got, however, was a tremendous character being systematically desecrated and later sacrificed for a juvenile plot point: one of the worst cases of wasted potential in the entire Naruto Series, if not the worst. Masashi Kishimoto's poor writing in this case ultimately failed the Naruto fans who paid attention to and valued his work - not "Dragon Ball Z" fans it later appealed to - but the truly thoughtful fans who allowed his art to succeed for its former nuance. Neji's resolution should have been using his own sheer genius to defy the impossible and reverse-engineer the classist Hyuga Curse Mark he was branded with to his own advantage; it should have been Neji unveiling a massive-scale Hyuga technique of his own invention to protect he, Naruto, Hinata, Hiashi and all the rest behind them on that battlefield; it should have been Neji fighting his late Reanimated father, Hizashi, as a final goodbye; and it should have been Neji not just surviving the Fourth Great Ninja War, but soaring through it like a bird freed by his own genius, not by death. Masashi Kishimoto, Neji's death was indeed nail in the coffin for the quality of your story, but regrettably, that is besides the point.
We can't bring Neji back in the Naruto manga that preceded Boruto. That is a mistake that can never be wiped away. However, we can bring Neji back to the Naruto Franchise in the form of a playable character in future Naruto video games - not just the Neji we knew prior to his death, but the Neji we SHOULD have known: the Neji Hyuga who lived to adulthood; the Neji Hyuga who truly tested the limits of sheer Chakra mastery and invented new Hyuga techniques; the Neji Hyuga who reached at least low-Kage level; the Neji Hyuga who possessed, according to the 4th Naruto Databook, THREE Chakra Natures which happen to align with the Chakra Natures the Fifth Mizukage utilizes in her extremely rare Jutsu; a Neji with a fully-revamped moveset (yes) that properly reflects, finally, him being a character whose potential was bitterly neglected, and the strongest Hyuga member and Byakugan user who ever lived, second only to Kaguya herself. Allow me to make myself clear: for the Naruto games which will be released on the Playstation 5, Xbox X, and so on and so forth, we want a fully-playable, adult-Neji character with a completely new moveset that would encompass EVERYTHING we missed out on in the manga, anime, and video games - a flashy, pure-white Gentle Fist, a massive-scale Rotation, an official extension of the 64 Palms technique, new Gentle Fist techniques invented by Neji, and of course, the implementation of his Fire, Water and Earth Chakra Natures in his Gentle Fist techniques in a creative and balanced manner. Imagine the King of Chakra Control with 3 Chakra Natures and their respective fusions, as well as the strongest Byakugan - his being arguably the worst case of wasted potential in Naruto was no exaggeration.
I call upon the Developers of Naruto Storm 4, CyberConnect2, the Publishers of Naruto Storm 4, BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment, the Publishers of the Naruto Manga and Anime, Viz Media, and the original creator of Naruto, Masashi Kishimoto, to kindly hear this message and take it into account for their future works pertaining to Naruto, and to know that I extend my voluntary aid and services as a prolific writer myself to help make this rightful revival a reality...
...and I call upon my fellow thoughtful Neji fans, my community and minority who intelligently defended his true abilities in forums and other environments related to Naruto over the years in the face of an obnoxious horde looking only to drown out his value, who dilligently identified the same errors across the scope of the Naruto franchise, and who always wanted more for him, to aid in this effort by signing, sharing, and promoting this idea. The Hyuga is the mightiest clan in the Leaf Village.
LET'S BRING BACK NEJI HYUGA, THE ONE AND ONLY HYUGA PRODIGY, TO THE NARUTO FRANCHISE, AS THE ADULT WHO SURVIVED THE WAR!
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