Wow where to begin? Naruto 631.
That Sasuke Hokage thing was pretty crazy. I want to voice my opinion on the development in the manga and talk about my theories and thoughts regarding it. For example, what led up to this incident, and why I think Kishimoto wrote what he did and what we might see in the future of the story.
Back in chapter 627 when Sasuke chose to help Konoha, I felt he was sincere in his words, in honor of his brother, Itachi. But just listening to Hashirama’s story about the founding of Konoha (and his relationship with Madara) and finding out the truth about his brother, seemed to lack enough incentive for Sasuke to make such a sudden and positive choice to help out the village. There had to have another motivation.
Back in 627 I couldn’t pinpoint what that hidden motivation might be. Something seemed a little off about the whole situation. The thought that he would go after the Hokage title did cross my mind and I kind of laughed at the idea, because it was so out there! I actually talked to my sister about it (who is an avid Naruto fan as well) and she said it sounded pretty unlikely that would happen; Naruto has wanted to become Hokage since the beginning, and to have Sasuke throw a wrench into the plot gears, would not only change the story drastically, it would screw up a lot of progress of Naruto’s character. So I said, yeah you’re probably right. The idea seemed so unlikely, however, I found myself thinking about it often, trying to make a connection, and couldn’t help but wonder…Then 631 came out and Sasuke declared that he would become Hokage! What?!
1) When you look at the Naruto story as a whole- the history of Kishimoto’s world, it is the same shiz repeating itself over and over again. From rivaling clans, the ninja wars, to the clashing of ideals, and the curse of hatred within the Uchiha, etc. Go back to the founding, Hashirama vs Madra = Senju vs Uchiha. Then fast forward to the present , you can see that Naruto symbolically represents Hashirama and has inherited the Senju Will and Sasuke embodies Madara, and is in fact, of the Uchiha clan. Both sets of pairs have had pretty strong friendships in their childhood, fought against each other in friendly brawls to train, eventually had some negative battles and a falling out and - resulting in one of each duo to sever/break the friendship with the other person and allegiance with the village. Now there is the competition for Hokage seat. The foreshadowing and parallels are uncanny.
If Kishimoto had this planned from the start, it is unclear. However, we do see from pretty early on that he does incorporate hints at this parallel, especially with the Naruto and Sasuke battle at The Valley of the End. (Naruto and Sasuke fighting in the stone shadows of their predecessors. ) Naruto has always dreamed of becoming Hokage, and now Sasuke has claimed he wants to become Hokage. After the 4th Shinobi War, unless otherwise stated, they will undoubtedly duke it out for the title. It does make a weird sort of sense that everything would reflect the past and come full circle in the end.
2) In a recent interview, Kishimoto said there would be a Naruto vs Sasuke battle in the end of the manga. So when Sasuke said he would come back and protect the village, I was rather confused as to how this would all play out and still give Naruto and Sasuke’s fight the ‘epic risk taking-this-shiz-is-about-to-go-down’ feeling that many of their previous fights provoked. I mean for YEARS, we’ve gotten so used to the idea of Naruto bringing douchebag Sasuke back to the village, complete with fighting and a‘ talk-you-no-jutsu’ about bonds and friendship from Naruto. It’s hard to wrap the mind around the idea that Sasuke would just suddenly willingly return to the village.
The foundation of the story has been about these two ninjas’ friendship and rivalry, so the whole idea of Sasuke coming back and being like ‘hello guys, I’m good, it’s all good now, let’s be friends!’ Is not only out of character, but it would lack the groundwork for a future battle of epic quality. Especially after something as climatic as the 4th Shinobi war and Juubi issue. If Naruto and Sasuke fought against each other in the Chunin exams or something equivalent, I think that would be more dull than the anime’s filler arcs and completely out of character as well. Naruto vs Sasuke has always been very intense and there has always been something at stake. So the idea of them fighting for Hokage seat ups the game and conflict.
3) So why would Sasuke want to become Hokage? Is it that Uchiha selfishness of ‘I know what is right for the village let’s do it my way or the highway’ mentality combined with their inherent craziness? I don’t think it’s just that. I’m going to get a bit into psychology here; If you really look at Sasuke’s life so far- as a young child, he was a pretty upbeat kid until the point of his clan’s massacre. The brother he loved and admired with all of his heart kills his clan and immediate family. He then proceeds to say ‘Hate me,” for Sasuke, not knowing that that was Itachi’s way of protecting him, as a child, would obviously misinterpret the grand scheme of everything, and follow that advice.
If that doesn’t traumatize a kid, then there is something wrong. It obviously made a very big impact on Sasuke’s life—Itachi being at the center of his emotional turmoil and hatred. To have finally heard the truth from the leaders of the village about his clan and what happened to Itachi, I think deep down, the kinder part of Sasuke would not want something like that to happen again. That is, if he embraces that ‘loving Uchiha trait’. I’m mean, obviously if he went the complete opposite direction, The Curse of Hatred could possibly taint him even more. It would be a completely different story though, and one I’m not really going focus on at the moment. Sasuke’s not quite to that point of no return yet- to quote Itachi,
‘Sasuke is still a white canvas that can be dyed any color.’
To Sasuke, Konoha is responsible for his clan’s tragedy. So regardless of the truth he heard from the Kages, wanting to become Hokage is probably his way of trying right wrong, process and heal from his horrible past, and have a sense of CONTROL over what power could cause such devastating events to happen again. However, he’s still conceded and very much set in the mindset of DO THINGS MY WAY AND I DON”T CARE WHO GETS IN THE WAY - In 631, when the Rookie 9 oppose Sasuke, he responds with a quip ‘I can’t (erase all I’ve done) But I don’t care what you think of me.’ This shows arrogance and insensitivity to others. He is not really thinking about the village as a whole. That’s been Sasuke’s problem since the beginning, not looking at the bigger picture. Most of his attention has been focused on either Itachi, and to a lesser extent Naruto and Danzo. And that, will NOT help him get the seat of Hokage. But because of all the shit from his past-aloof and hardhearted- detachment was probably the only way he knew how to protect himself, and something that he has harbored and continues to harbors in his late teenage years.
4) So going back to chapter 631 and the reveal, everyone reacts in upset. Kiba freaks out, yelling at Sasuke that he doesn’t know what Hokage means, he’s a criminal, a missing nin for goodness sake! The sharp-minded Shikamaru says that Sasuke becoming Hokage is utterly impossible, etc.
But then you see a panel of Naruto’s face. He doesn’t really have much of an expression or reaction, but he does have this brief recall of what Itachi told him in the past—
‘It’s not the one who becomes Hokage that will be acknowledged, it’s the one that is acknowledged that will become Hokage.’
That does bring to the forefront the fact that Sasuke is noticed. Not in a positive light either. Half of the series follows him provoking of those around him. I’m not saying that because he’s noticed anyway will get him to become Hokage, but he is definitely sticking out there and making himself a candidate. However, not a very good one.
Then the panel cuts to an echo of Itachi’s words ‘I leave him to you’. Resolved, Naruto gets up and stands next to Sasuke and says ‘I will be the one to become Hokage.’ He doesn’t say ‘No, you can’t become Hokage, you WON’T become Hokage.’ Naruto doesn’t shout or display the knee-jerk reaction that we have seen him do so many times in the past, especially in regards to Sasuke. I think this is testament of Naruto’s grown and his maturity. But more importantly, I think it proves how much Naruto understands Sasuke.
The sense that he knows what’s it’s like to have a dream, and to have that dream ridiculed and disapproved, is very powerful. I think because of Sasuke announcing these motivations in the chapter will enhance that rivalry between Naruto and Sasuke in the near future- all because Naruto and Sasuke understand each other so well. They will both have this ultimate goal that they are both trying to reach for.
5) Since the beginning, Naruto’s dream has been to become Hokage. To have Kishimoto change his mind on not having Naruto become Hokage would be a giant slap in the face to the reader. I mean, we’ve read 631 chapters so far, and watched how Naruto has grown, progressed and gotten stronger. I took a poll and a wide majority of the audience I’ve talked to is emotionally invested in his character and wants him to achieve his goal.
I think it is because Naruto has become a very inspirational character – a light of positivity and strength. Someone who treasures the beliefs of never giving up and being the best that you can be, regardless of your past and the crap you’ve been through. To have the author flat out change that, disregard all the progress that the character has gone through, would not only be anticlimactic, but a terrible execution of storytelling.
But, I think having a little more faith in Kishimoto isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I think that he’s setting up the foundation for a fantastic ending. I can see how some people are feeling frustrated with his writing and how the story has progressed, but at the same time, I think he’s done a pretty good job at keeping the core of the story alive— The philosophies and morals that the characters believe in and the relationships between those characters are what drive it. That, reminds me (ironically) of Obito. (This is a bit of a tangent. It’s so unfortunate that Obito turned into the wreck that he is…It’s heartbreaking. Man, he was so awesome when he was a kid and now he’s the biggest douche of them all.) When Obito told Kakashi that those who break the rules are scum, but those who abandon their comrades are even worse than scum, it really stuck with Kakashi, changed his perspective and life, and he passed on that philosophy onto Team 7. Naruto, tries to follow that same frame of mind. Just look! He goes running after Sasuke, and is the only one who doesn’t lose hope in him or abandon him when everyone else does. But I think that is proof that the idea of never giving up on a person is showing up again and again in the story, and will play an integral part in further developments. Naruto, not laughing at Sasuke, not degrading him for his goal, reflects that.
Part 6) In another interview, Kishimoto stated that one of the reasons he wrote Naruto was to show a younger generation that although there is crap that goes on, there is heartbreak, death, and fighting, you can learn to get along. Kishimoto’s stories have been about repeating history, but they have ALSO been about CHANGE. The idea of breaking that pattern that repeats the negative traditions and horrors is very refreshing. My theory is that Naruto WILL become Hokage. No matter what happens in the story, even if he fights against Sasuke for the seat, he will become Hokage.
So where does that leave Sasuke in this equation? If he doesn’t become hokage, will he repeat history and pull another Madara? We’ve seen Sasuke’s capabilities and hatred targeted at Itachi and Danzo thus far, imagine what a personal vendetta against Naruto and the Village, for not becoming Hokage would be like. And in Sasuke’s mindset, he thinks he’s the best for the role. I think he would go pretty batshiz crazy over it, if he was denied. So the question is, would he be even worse than Madara? And that also leaves the question of if Sasuke doesn’t win, where does that leave the Uchiha Clan restoration and regaining of honor thing?
Since the beginning, Uchiha’s have had it pretty rough. I mean, Tobirama couldn’t stand Madrara or most of the Uchiha because of their emotional instability and intensity when they don’t get their way, and found them a bit of a nuisance and a threat. So, does that mean not letting Sasuke become Hokage will make everybody victim to his emotional baggage and rampages? And all because Uchiha’s have this genetic disposition that is triggered by traumatic emotions and situations that have sparked many terrible events that have ricocheted and affected the whole ninja world.
It’s a really complicated matter. And it hard to see what the outcomes may be.
However, I think in the end of the Uchiha issues need to be addressed and changed if things are going to be better in the future, which I’m assuming Kishimoto is implying. Naruto could potentially become the vessel for that change. (I have a feeling he’s going to be the next incarnation of The Sage of the Six Paths.) I don’t think the story is going to end with the Uchiha being in the same state of degradation we have seen in the story thus far.
I think Kishimoto has done a great job of showing an underdog and rooting for them, wanting them to succeed and be happy. I’m not saying that Uchiha’s likely get to rule everything or that everyone is going to LIKE them (ha not to mention there are officially only two left alive - I don’t think Obito is going to make it out alive), I support the ideal of some justice in regards to issue, regardless of the shiz that has happened. I know that sounds pretty crazy, and I’m not disregarding the bad that Sasuke and his clan have done in the past, however, I think that is necessary for an upgrade in the ninja politics, if the manga is going to have the ninja world become a more peaceful and successful place.
So that leaves Naruto as Hokage, and Sasuke…..? I think it is highly unlikely that Sasuke would become Hokage on his own and people would be ok with it. He’s a criminal, a missing nin, and needs to pay for his actions, etc. Especially when you look at the fact that most of the stuff he did, he CHOSE to do. It’s hard for one to feel completely sympathetic for his causes or to support him because of that. But, my Sasuke Hokage Loophole is this: I think that Naruto will have Sasuke become Hokage with him, regardless of their fight outcome. This is because, if Sasuke did win the battle fair and square, no one would just give him the hat on the spot. Protests and a demand for a trial would ensue, and Naruto would be given the spot anyway. ( I’m assuming something like that would happen right after the war though. ) If Naruto won I think he would offer Sasuke the chance to become Hokage with him. Two Hokages?! WHAT?! (What would that be called, the Brokages?, the CoKages?)
7) If you look back at Madara and Hashirama and their situation, they could have done a pretty good job at ruling the village together; they are the ones who thought of the idea of making the village in the first place. It wasn’t just one kid saying ‘I’m going to do this, and do it alone!’ It was both Madara’s and Hashirama’s efforts combined. It was teamwork that created the village. One ninja could not have done it without the other and create such a successful institution. To have Naruto and Sasuke become Hokages, I think, would be a great tribute to the founding fathers, and a reflection what thing would have been like if events had gone right in the past. I mean, I don’t even know if that is possible, and I’m not completely brushed up on Kishimoto’s ninja politics, but it’s never been done before, and it would break that chain of the existing tradition and leave a door open for immense reform and renewal.
Conclusion: Naurto would fulfill his longtime dream, Sasuke would fulfill his goal, and perhaps the Uchiha would finally have that spotlight and gain the respect they’ve always wanted. (However, that would probably take more than just Sasuke to change that. It would probably be a few generations after him that the idea would bear fruit.) And of course, there would someone there to mediate. That would be Naruto, who knows Sasuke better than anyone. I think they could both balance each other out pretty well, as they have done in the past. They are ying and yang, and when they put their minds together for the greater good, amazing progress could happen for their village and the ninja world. ( I can’t wait to see how they work together in the upcoming chapters)
8) The major question is this: Would the village allow something so ridiculous as letting a criminal and former missing nin, take a seat of power? No, probably not. The founding of Konoha and the Hokage selection was based on democracy and the vote went to Hashirama. I’m assuming it would be the same for the present when the time came to choose the next Hokage. Most people aren’t going to vote for Sasuke and run the risk of something crazy happening by his hand again. Not everyone is as forgiving as Naruto. There are many things running against him, Sasuke is very conceded and self righteous, it is very unlikely that he could win a popular vote. And even if he did win, he would be a very cold Hokage, and not connect to his subjects that well. If he planned to take the Hokage seat by force, that would just get more people pissed off and cause even more problems, and I can foresee Naruto having to go after him and finish him off. Another Hashimada incident. There is that cycle of hatred and war again.
He will likely lose in the race, and that leaves the biggest gape in my theory, I’ll admit.
The pattern with Sasuke though, is that when he sets his mind on something he wants, he sticks to that plan until he gets it. (Itachi, Danzo, etc) At this point the story, it’s too hard to tell whether he’s being absolutely serious with his declaration, or if he’s just joking around and prodding at Naruto, perhaps a bit awkward at turning up like this so suddenly, not knowing what to say without sounding utterly stupid, and trying to rekindle their rivalry. I really don’t think it’s just the latter, but I could be wrong.
But say, if somehow Sasuke does repay all his debts to the village and its people (and that would take something extremely drastic, I think to fulfill that. As to what, I am unsure.) he can be forgiven and start a new slate. However, I honestly don’t think he could repay most of it in his lifetime. This segways to my next point.
The idea of redemption and renewal would be very powerful in this story, especially in the form of Sasuke’s development. Sasuke has caused more love and upset for the fans than any other character in the series. We have loved him, we have hated him. We love him again. We hate him again. He’s a double-edged sword that you can’t quite pinpoint or trust, but hesitantly, we still find him intriguing and confusing, wondering what he will be up to next. He is integral to the plot. He’s the friend, the teammate, and in the next moment, the avenger, the enemy. Sasuke is many things, and that is what is most disturbing. That’s what make people so angry about Sasuke—he has betrayed the reader so many times, and flip flops so much that we just want to throw our hands up in the air and yell, “THAT’S IT! I CAN”T TAKE IT ANYMORE! WHY DO YOU KEEP SHOVING HIM IN OUR FACE KISHI?!”
But I think that is what makes Sasuke such a fantastic character- he can’t be figured out; he’s not a hero, no, not even remotely admirable for most of what he’s done, but he is a character, and one with many flaws. Very ugly flaws.
So, here’s what I think will happen towards the end of the series:
Sasuke will be forgiven, regardless if he becomes Hokage or not. The meaning of the word Forgiveness (In the Merriam-Webster dictionary ) is as follows:
a : to give up resentment of or claim to requital for <forgive an insult>
b : to grant relief from payment of <forgive a debt>
: to cease to feel resentment against (an offender) : pardon <forgive one’s enemies>
Forgiveness isn’t about dishing out what the accused is deserving. It’s about letting go and releasing those needs of revenge on those who have caused one pain and suffering. It isn’t about forgetting, pretending, or excusing the wrong doings that happened, or giving permission to keep doing said wrongdoings in the future. Forgiveness is learning to let go of the old, and start anew.
For Naruto and the rest of the village and Ninja World, and even Sasuke, a conscious effort to act on this principle would be cathartic and healing. Throughout the story, Naruto has been that figure that has been willing to forgive. He understands what it is like to be left out, alone, unwanted, ridiculed, etc. That is the reason why he can see Sasuke and know him at his core. As he once said in the manga, ‘Our roles could have been reversed.’ It’s a scary thought that he could have become an agent of revenge and hatred triggered by those feelings and events regarding the Kyuubi. Even though he struggled in the beginning, in truth, Naruto is a kind soul, a fervent protector and supporter of his friends and comrades, one who tries to connect to those around him. (I am immediately reminded of his interactions with Gaara) Those are all excellent qualities for a Hokage of Konohagakure. But what is even scarier is that the qualities Naruto embodies, is a reflection of what Sasuke was like as a young child- pure, kind, lively and excited to be alive. Uchiha, the Clan that treasured love and friendship above all else . Kishimoto has yet to really delve into what that might mean or how that manifest in an Uchiha (most examples have shown how that great love is tainted by the Curse of Hatred, aka, loosing someone very special to them, with the exception of a mention of Shisui and Itachi’s love for Sasuke.) As result, I think Naruto would try to embrace Sasuke with as much love and support as he could and involve him in his world. I have a feeling that Naruto would defend Sasuke to the death, even during and after the 4th Shinobi war. Considering Naruto’s charisma and stature as a hero of the village, there is a possibility for things to end on a more positive note.
“I leave him to you,” Itachi said to Naruto. He really couldn’t leave Sasuke in better hands.
It’s time for the Ninja World, The Village hidden in the Leaves, and Sasuke, to turn over a new leaf. (haha)
As to what that could be happening in the future, I do not know. Sasuke becoming Hokage, or Naruto becoming Hokage and Sasuke is his right hand man, or they are both Hokage and rule together, or Sasuke ends up attacking the village, or dying. There is endless possibilities. I just like to ramble and process what I’m seeing in the manga. However, I look forward to the developments of the storyline, and wish Kishimoto the best of luck as he finishes out the story . ( look, I just jinxed it, it will go on for 10 more years now)
//as for the picture you can find the painting process on my youtube account chakraqueen47