I’ve decided to give this old anime a second try. Just a few days ago, I started binge watching the entire series from episode 1.
To my surprise, I’ve discovered that numerous aspects of my current mentality were promoted in the show back in the day. This article is dedicated to all those fascinating little things! Let’s begin:
a) it doesn’t impose the gender binary / heteronormativity
In season one, an androgynous character is introduced. His name is Haku. This young ninja is very skilled in the art of fighting, but his physical appearance is the most memorable trait during the anime.
At some point, Naruto himself mistook Haku for a pretty female and even asked “her” for a date. Haku calmly replied “I am a boy”, which did not imply that he was exclusively attracted to girls, just that he did not want Naruto to be deceived or to use the wrong pronouns.
Haku had a deep emotional connection with his savior and parental figure, Zabuza, which lead many fans to believe that they had more than a friendly relationship.
Also, numerous male characters have long hair, colored hair, earrings or painted nails.
b) it supports feminism
Most female characters in the show are powerful warriors or wise advisors. They are a force to be reckoned with on the battlefield! All young students can become ninja one day, regardless of their genitalia.
In episode 96, Shikamaru and his dad talk about the fifth Hokage, Lady Tsunade. The yonger one loudly disapproves of a female leader, arguing that women are impossible to understand. His father teaches him an important lesson right then and there: “They make men better people than we’d ever be without them. Unlike us, even the strongest of them isn’t afraid to be gentle with the man she loves.”
c) it does not mock prostitution
Most movies showcase prostitutes in a bad light. They are either worthless or evil. Not in this anime!
One of the main characters, Jiraiya, was nicknamed “pervy sage” by Naruto because of his addiction to physical pleasures. Not only does he openly express his sexuality, but he also visits a brothle to pay for some “research”, as he calls it. The girls offering him their time are never portrayed as inferior to other females. They are simply there to do their job.
d) it does not promote homophobia
In episode 3, Naruto and Sasuke accidentally kiss when a boy pushes them into eachother.
They immediately react with disgust, but one of the girls watching them (Sakura) does not automatically think “gay”, as most people would nowadays. Her first reaction is simply “I should have been Sasuke’s first kiss, not Naruto!”.
The two of them share multiple accidental kisses throughout the series, without any hard feelings.
e) it tackles tough subjects like mental issues and death
From hemophobia to the fear of abandonment, from a total lack of self-esteem to extreme anxiety, most of the major psychological issues are explained throughout the series.
They aren’t simply added as filler sequences, rather introduced as flashbacks in order to create character depth. They are a fundamental part of understanding the protagonists and the antagonists.
Have I convinced you to watch Naruto? What did you find most surprising about the series, if you’ve already seen it?
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