Dec 9, 2014

Posted by in Writing | 1 Comment

Naruto to Mobius [Spoilers]

Naruto and HinataI’ve had a good amount of time to reflect on the ending of Naruto, a manga I’ve been reading since college. To say I’m disappointed isn’t correct, but to say I was thrilled wouldn’t be accurate either. Those who know me (or more to the point, know my taste in stories) know what a huge Naruto and Hinata shipper I was. So I received a lot of messages in the past month asking how good it felt to finally be able to gloat. And I thought it would be sweet, especially after the Harry Potter shipping debacle that ultimately launched my writing career.


But I was wrong. And it once again lit a fire beneath me that Harry Potter once did.


The reason is very simple. The story failed to deliver the one thing that ultimately mattered to me: an epic romance. Naruto and Hinata had all the elements to become an amazing couple, and Kishimoto planned their relationship from the very beginning, but instead, he decided to end his manga with a snuff. A quick dash to the finish line that featured a mindless final villain, a lazy fight, a prototypical conversion by Sasuke, a one-chapter conclusion, and a one-chapter time skip to “see what happened.” Naruto and Hinata are married with two kids and they don’t even share a panel together. In fact, they haven’t for months.


What the hell? I know a movie was just released to tell Naruto and Hinata’s romance before the time skip, which I’m looking forward to, and I know that Naruto is a shonen. And I’m even aware that the manga is a product of Japan’s culture of anti-climactic endings. But even so, the conclusion produced an icy feeling in my heart reminiscent of the release of Half-Blood Prince. And it reminded me of what I really wanted when I first started writing. Mobius and Aurora were the anti-Ron and Hermione. But now I see that they are also the anti-NaruHina, because their bond was the thing that really mattered in the end.


Naruto was the single-most influential work when I wrote my first books, and it will remain that way, probably for the rest of my life. I loved the strong characters who lacked weaknesses, the limitless magic engine, and the awesome blend of modern and ancient. But I see now that true satisfaction in a story from beginning to end will only come from the ones I tell. That might be how it is for most story-tellers. At least I hope writers truly love their own endings. And maybe that’s the best part of being a writer in the first place.


Am I happy in the end? Yes, because I can still imagine what Naruto and Hinata’s relationship is like, just like I used to, and I’ll still have the movie to look forward to. But am I looking for something better? Very much so. As I’ve been doing from very early on, I’m always on the hunt for the story like mine. A story about a boy and a girl where that’s all that mattered.


Time to get writing.