All along naruto and Naruto Shippuden, Naruto functioned as a character who attempts to expose inconsistencies in his opponents’ ideology. This tendency, sometimes referred to as “Talk no Jutsu”, is seen throughout the series, with one major exception. When Pain launches his all-out assault on the Leaf Village, he is able to corner Naruto long enough to have a conversation with him; the one who exposes the biggest flaws in his ideology.
In the past, Naruto has managed to change the minds of several of his most famous antagonists. He first helped Zabuza realize that he didn’t really believe he or Haku were tools of war. Naruto then helped Gaara accept that he didn’t want to be alone and despite all his pain, he also wanted friends. Naruto’s beliefs have long helped his villains change their ideologies, but his greatest narrative failure illustrates the flaws in this approach.
During Naruto’s fight with Pain, Pain is able to jam several chakra-absorbing rods into Naruto, stopping his movement. With Naruto unable to fight back, Pain takes the opportunity to monologue about his worldview and why he considers the destruction of Konoha necessary. He tells Naruto that the Shinobi World’s past is the same as its future because of one simple truth: people will never truly understand each other. Hate will permeate the shinobi world as the cycle of war and distrust will continue to ravage every village, causing an endless thirst for revenge. When confronted with this riddle and asked how he could stop it, Naruto has no answer.
Naruto’s inability to answer this question illustrates the central flaw in his ideology. Naruto talks a lot about faith and how he believes in people’s ability to overcome pain because he was able to overcome his own, but that line of thinking quickly begins to break down in the shinobi world. The shinobi world is one that works by raising child soldiers, teaching them deadly martial arts and secret techniques in order to prepare for the next instance of war or subterfuge. When Naruto confronts Nagato and makes him use Rinne Rebirth, Nagato says he will entrust the world and its future to Naruto, but by the time Naruto has his son Boruto and is Hokage, almost nothing has changed. The five shinobi nations are working more closely together but still distrust each other and there are still plenty of rogue agents working to fan the flames of war once again.
Naruto’s ideology is optimistic and admirable, but it’s clear that he has no real way of helping everyone understand each other. He failed to bring about the necessary changes in the shinobi world that are necessary for the abolition of war and child soldiers, especially since his own son is still raised that way. Naruto’s Pain’s inability to respond still stands as the source of his greatest ideological failure.
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