The Naruto Complex

The anime "Naruto" deals with the concept that no one is inherently evil. All of the "bad guys" have a back story. Their back story explains why they have done what they have done and how they have become who they have become. Often times, the "bad guys" have been wronged in their past and their actions are well intended. What are the implications of showing this gray area in anime and TV? What is the significance in making the audience empathize with the antagonist? Does it become more enjoyable when the villains are more layered than they initially appeared? Does the "bad guy" not actually being evil, undermine the protagonist?

  • Of all the different topics that arise from a show like Naruto, this is one of the hidden gems. Not many pick up on that duality driving villains in a show like Naruto, but nonetheless it is a profound idea. Good topic and poignant questions. – MikeySheff 8 years ago
  • But there is always a bright side about Naruto and positive inspiration. – HaodiNi 8 years ago
  • I like this a lot! I think a lot of times some shows focus on portraying villains as wholly evil even though this shouldn't be the case. Each person is complex and isn't entirely evil or good. I think allowing the audience to see an antagonist as a complicated person with mixed motives is a good way to create a real story. – seouljustice 8 years ago
  • Naruto uniqueness lies in the fact that all central conflicts arises due to clash of ideals. All characters seek peace ,but all in a different way. In doing so it breaks the cliche of good v evil. – Akash 7 years ago
  • Naruto is very good at making you question your morals. There are tons of villains in Naruto and other anime but more often than not, you find yourself relating to the villains. Stubbornness is a trait that I think all the villains have in common; by adding in these emotions we experience every day, it gives a sense of realism and connection the characters. – aguzma3 7 years ago
  • I like this idea for a topic! Although, I would find it interesting to include- for the case of Naruto specifically- that many of the main antagonists (the Uchiha, for example) and their backstories provide an interesting commentary on privilege and oppression (here the Senju could represent the dominant majority while the Uchiha are the suppressed minority). Rather than necessarily "undermining" the protagonist, I would be curious to see how they instead highlight the protagonist's social standing and how it shapes their worldview and, thus, pits them against the antagonist in the first place. – ees 7 years ago

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