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The Most Interesting Character Development In Naruto According To Fans

With hundreds of manga chapters and anime episodes, "Naruto" is a relatively long series. That might seem intimidating to curious anime fans that have never experienced Masashi Kishimoto's grand shinobi tale. But delving into its story, besides some needless filler here and there, "Naruto" expertly uses its long span to develop its characters. This is apparent with the titular hero, of course. Naruto goes from a child unfairly ostracized from his village to the celebrated hero who leads it. But the protagonist isn't the only character whom fans get to see experience such fruitful character growth.

When it comes to fighting, Sakura arguably develops into the series' most underrated powerhouse by the time the series rolls into "Shippuden." She also becomes one of the most intriguing, as her feelings for Sasuke conflict with her loyalty to Konoha and her comrades. Villains aren't absent from any noteworthy development either, as Orichimaru shockingly goes from one of the biggest villain threats to an ally by the end of the series. But when it comes to character development, there's one surprising entry that fans consider the most interesting.

Fans couldn't help but notice the vast growth of Gaara

Fans from the "Naruto" Reddit Community believe Gaara has the most interesting character arc throughout the series. And when we consider his trek, it's easy to see why. During the "Chunin Exams" and "Konoha Crush" arcs, Gaara is presented as a mirror of Naruto if Naruto had given into his dark feelings of rejection and abandonment. From his brutal defeat of Rock Lee to his dramatic clash with Sasuke, Gaara comes off as a murderous sociopath who wouldn't hesitate to crush you with his sand. But after his battle with Naruto, the character gradually develops into a strong leader for his village, a faithful friend to Naruto, and just a plain kind soul. "Gaara went from basically the most ruthless character in the series to one of the most gentle, second only to Hinata lol," u/ZGMF-X09A_Justice said.

Some fans pointed out that a significant part of his shift is rooted in Naruto's most potent skill of talking to his opponents. As witnessed with the likes of Zabuza, "Talk no Jutsu," as fans teasingly refer to it, is sometimes sharper than any blade and usually much more effective. Naruto empathized with Gaara's tragic origin during their battle in the "Konoha Crush" arc and, as a result, changed the former villain for the better. 

The stark contrast of Gaara at the beginning of the series compared to the end is best expressed by fans thanks to a humorous moment in "Shippuden." In Episode 497 (via Crunchyroll), Gaara and his cohorts decide on the perfect wedding gift for Naruto and Hinata. And one joke scene shows the once lethal villain innocently gardening. It's a moment played for laughs, but as some fans noted, it perfectly sums up Gaara's colossal change as it is not too out of character. As u/b2ice appropriately wrote, "Gaara went from King Explosion Murder to 'My guy, come smell these chakra flowers I just bloomed.'"