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This Naruto Character's Fate Made No Sense

Masashi Kishimoto's "Naruto" is filled with many fantastic fights and memorable characters. It also isn't afraid to wear its "Dragon Ball" references on its long orange-colored sleeves. These qualities were just a few of what helped propel the series as a beloved anime and manga benchmark for so many fans. Another aspect of "Naruto" that probably doesn't get enough of the spotlight is that many of the series' central plot points were reasonable. For instance, the series doesn't waste time going to the familiar Shonen territory of producing a tournament arc for its cast. But when broken down, the move makes sense, as it properly introduces the abilities and motivations of the rest of Naruto's future comrades.

Yet, for every logical step forward, there are a few instances of "Naruto" ninja-running back to the illogical. This is especially true when considering some of the fates of Naruto's cast. While it's easier to accept the titular hero saving his friend from a dark path, and fulfilling his dream of becoming Hokage, the villainous Orochimaru's character arc is still kind of a head-scratcher. But shockingly, there's one other character whose fate ultimately made no sense at all.

Neji's death in Shippuden seemed unnecessary

Neji Hyuga receives one of the best first appearances and promising starts that "Naruto" offers. And that's probably what makes his fate throughout the rest of the series so frustratingly baffling. During the Chunin Exams Arc, he clashes fists and ideologies with Naruto. Starting in the Naruto Manga Chapter 100 (via Viz), Neji serves as the perfect foil at this point for Naruto, both in terms of abilities and beliefs. He is equipped with the super ocular skill of the Byakugan, which sees through Naruto's crutch of using his Shadow Clones. And he also believes that no one can change their fate, which goes against our hero's plucky "Believe it" attitude toward achieving your dreams. The fight ends with Naruto the victor, but the real prize is that it also changes Neji's beliefs for the better.

From that point on, the character recognizes Naruto's philosophy, leading to positive changes, such as bonding with his clan family member Hinata. The character becomes a stronger ninja but also more of a well-rounded person. It felt like Neji was on the path to finally making his own destiny rather than serving as a mere tool to the main family branch. Unfortunately, we never witness his full potential like the rest of the Konoha 11. In the episode "The Ties That Bind" (via Crunchyroll), Neji throws himself in front of Hinata and Naruto to shield them from a barrage of wooden spikes. It's a moment meant to show off the change of heart Neji experienced so long ago following his encounter with Naruto. Instead, it's unnecessary as he's the only one of Naruto's friends in the series that doesn't survive the Fourth Ninja War, despite arguably being one of their most skilled.

Kishimoto gave a surprising reason for killing Neji

There are a host of other reasons why Neji's death is very confusing. For one, his death feels like a slap in the face, considering that many other characters in the series technically die but are later resurrected suddenly. In "Shippuden" Episode 17, Gaara dies but returns to life several episodes later. And Kakashi and Guy also come close to dying in "Shippuden" but are barely saved from their doomed end. What also adds more insult to Neji's demise is that he is significantly underutilized in "Shippuden" compared to his appearances in the first "Naruto" series. Honestly, Neji probably got more screen time during the "Shippuden" era of the series in the comedic "Rock Lee And His Ninja Pals" spin-off. For such a strong character and fan favorite, some might wonder if Kishimoto actually disliked Neji.

The truth is that for the "Naruto" creator, Neji served as an unlikely matchmaker for Hinata and Naruto. Per Narutopedia, in a fan-translated interview, Kishimoto decided to kill off Neji because the heartbreaking moment would create a stronger bond between Hinata and Naruto. The interview also noted that Neji's final moment also resulted in the name of Naruto and Hinata's son, as the couple later wanted to honor him. With Neji's name meaning "screw" in Japanese, Boruto's name, which means "bolt," has more weight to it. It's a cute connection, but we're still unsure if it was worth sacrificing such a fantastic character.