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The One Thing About Naruto That Bothers Some Fans

"Naruto" is easily one of the most popular anime of all time. That being said, the series' fanbase isn't blind to its flaws. Fans have criticized many aspects of the show, from the absurd power scaling present in certain fights, to Naruto's cliche habit of turning villains into allies with a single heartfelt monologue (a pattern that recurs so often that fans created their own name for it, "Talk no Jutsu").

These complaints only scratch the surface of fans' beef with the series. They may love "Naruto" and its story, but they're also hyper-aware of how often the series relies on tropes of the shonen genre. Aside from the ones we mentioned previously, however, there is one other bargain-brand shonen trope which bothers some fans. Naruto himself, despite becoming one of the world's most powerful political leaders and shinobi, is an idiot. He inarguably falls within the bounds of the "dumb anime protagoonist" trope, which is a common feature in many of the world's most popular shonen anime.

Why fans are sick of Naruto being stupid

Fans have a number of reasons for disliking Naruto's dimwitted nature. For starters, he is far from the only shonen anime with a dumb protagonist. "Dragon Ball," "One Piece," "The Seven Deadly Sins," and "Fairy Tail" are all examples of popular shonen where the protagonists are about as bright as an unscrewed light bulb. "I think [the trope is] beyond played out and should've been retired over a decade ago," wrote one Reddit user, u/usernametaken3 on a thread discussing Naruto's stupidity. "But alas! The publishers and authors still think people want their main characters to be stupid for some reason."

"It comes across as a writing crutch," wrote another user, u/Raesong. "Allowing the author to use the protagonist's general lack of knowledge as a way to worldbuild to the audience. It also means that the author can drip-feed this worldbuilding as they come up with it."

However, the fact that "Naruto" relies on tropes and lazy writing isn't the only reason fans hate Naruto's stupidity. They also hate it because it never develops, even when Naruto himself shows signs of intelligence. Several fans, including the original poster of the Reddit thread, pointed out that Naruto himself is actually a quick-thinker and decent tactician in the heat of battle, but he never uses his brain in any other scenario. It's frustrating to watch the protagonist be a genius one second and an airhead the next, especially as he gets older.

There are shonen that don't have blockhead protagonists

Thankfully, there are several shonen that don't make the same mistake as "Naruto" and its contemporaries. Not every shonen protagonist is dumber than dirt. For instance, Izuku Midoriya from "My Hero Academia" is actually defined by his intelligence. He may not be a genius, but he is an obsessive superhero nerd with extensive knowledge on his and other peoples' powers. He uses this in conjunction with his quick thinking to formulate plans both inside and outside of battle.

Another fine example is in "Death Note," where protagonist Light Yagami is a 100% certified genius. The first half of the series is actually dedicated to the extended mental war he wages with L, the exceptional detective hired to track down Kira, Light's righteous serial-killer alter-ego. "Death Note" is one anime where elaborate plans and careful thinking far outweigh the importance of fighting.

There are, of course, other examples of this. Shonen is a huge genre of anime, and not every shonen author wants to write protagonists with brain cell deficiencies. It's just a matter of looking in the right place. Even so, stupid protagonists are still something of a staple, and we probably won't see them going anywhere anytime soon.