Yes, yes, I know the title is woefully inaccurate. Yes, I know this is a highly anticipated post, and one you’ve all been waiting for with bated breath for over a year: the third part to my “Top Failings of the War Arc” series (second is here). Indeed, this post will be the beacon in the darkness of the void I have left in your hearts. Sit back, rejoice, and bask in my glorious wisdom. Kisu back, yo.
Now, initially I had planned to do this when the series ended. Rumor on the net was that Kishimoto said it would end in 2014, so it was my intention to do one post that chronicled all of the War Arc’s atrocities since the last one, but that was just a mistranslation. Now you get this post. Yay shoddy translators? Regardless, I had intended to include everything that made me cringe in this post, but I have decided just one topic is comprehensive enough to talk about, and is the root of all the problems of this arc. Yes, this post is about the villains.
But before we get to them, let’s talk about a fairly large retcon that put a whole new spin on the series. An unwelcome spin, at that.
Evil Brain Chakra
I don’t know if Kishimoto realizes the implications he introduced when he made this as an explanation for the typical douchebaggery the average Uchiha takes part in. See, what this means is the Uchiha are naturally predisposed to being evil. It means that Uchiha freaking out and becoming murder hobos (i.e. wandering ninjas that murder people, like Sasuke or Itachi) isn’t a weird happenstance, but something that should be expected. What this means is: they’re a clan of psychopaths and it is genetic. Now that you have a firm grasp of the Uchiha, let me explain the implications to you.
1. The Massacre was unambiguously a good thing. Why? Because they’re a clan of evil dirtbags. Nobody, and I mean nobody, would object to wiping out an army of Nazzies (well, except him), and we know they at least believed their cause was for the greater good, as misguided and wrong as they were. Meanwhile, the Uchiha are genetically compelled to be evil for evil’s sake.
2. Not genociding them all this time was a product of criminal negligence. If you had the power to kill every Natsee with the press of a button, but didn’t, you’d be as much an accessory to their atrocities as the guns they carried, since you can stop them but choose not to. That’s the Uchihas and Konoha, but worse. Tobirama was the only one smart enough to go “hey, maybe we should keep an eye on this clan of murder hobos,” and Danzo and the modern council were the only ones responsible enough to wipe them all out.
3. The black Zetsu retcon falls flat on its face. Kishimoto wants us to believe he steered them down the wrong path… but that doesn’t fly since we know taking an Uchiha’s lolipop is enough for that Uchiha to go on a murder rampage. Or if an Uchiha’s gradnma died, or if their puppy died, or anything at all that they even barely perceive as a slight against them.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s move on to the villains:
Obitobi aka “The Coolest Guy”
Where do I even begin with this walking disappointment? Okay, I have a brilliant idea, because I’m brilliant.
1. “I’m no one important.” His whole Masked Man phase. What was that even about? Why did he call himself Madara around Zetsu? Zetsu knew who he was! Really, this is the only decent incarnation of Obito. Getting rid of it for what he was to become is a failing in and of itself that could warrant its own post, but I wanna keep this read short and sweet. Not much to say about this beyond “wasn’t as bad as what came after”. Now to talk about what came after.
2. “It isn’t about Rin. THIS IS FOR KILLING RIN!”. This is what replaced The Masked Man. This whiny villain that can’t even make up his goddamn mind about what his motivation is. You could argue that Kishimoto intended him to flip flop to show that the original Obito is still in there somewhere, but that doesn’t work as an excuse for him since all it did was make one member of your big bad triumvirate a joke. Was he determined to bring Rin back in his Tsukuyomi world? Probably not since he couldn’t kill Naruto and Sasuke despite having the powers of the Naruniverse’s equivalent of God… but more on that later.
3. “To me, Obito is the coolest guy!” – Naruto. Right. Obito that murdered Neji in cold blood, showed no apprehension in killing his former sensei and his wife, Hiruzen’s wife, Konan (Obito sure likes killing women: must be because Rin friendzoned him), countless children from the Hidden Mist, thousands of ninjas in the war, and many more offscreen murders. This represents Kishimoto wanting us to think Obito is cool and redeemed… but he really isn’t. He truly, truly isn’t. After all he did he cannot be redeemed as simply as he did there. He committed suicide rather than continuing to fight… but more on that later.
How could a villain have so much build up, yet amount to such shit? Let me list why:
1. The power scale. Madara and Hashirama are absurdly powerful, to levels that are just stupid. These men can singlehandedly beat Biju and transform the landscape when they fight. Why are they this powerful? How could any clan even continue to exist with these two powerhouses running around? How did Kakuzu or Onoki survive their respective encounters with each? It’s simple, really. Retcons. Kishimoto realized he’d escalated the series to such a degree that the only way to live up to the hype he made for these two was to completely retcon Hashirama and Tobirama vs Sarutobi and inflate their power levels to end of Dragonball (Piccolo vs Goku) levels.
2. How can he do the things he does? The series bends itself backwards to accommodate this character. Why can he break free of Edo Tensei, being used by a ninja that has mastered it beyond anything any before him have, while Tobirama, the man who made it, cannot break free of an inferior Edo Tensei? Why can Madara just pull out people’s eyes and pop ‘em into his eye sockets without any medical ninjutsu? Why does Madara have instant mastery over every technique, whether bloodline-related or not (do remember it took Kakashi years to be able to use Kamui to a degree that is less than Obito can)? Because plot, is the answer to all of these.
3. Get to the damn point. When Aizen from Bleach toyed with his opponents and let them live, he had a purpose for it. He needed people strong enough to make him feel fear for his life so he could evolve to further forms of power. He needed this to be able to fight all of Squad 0, so there was a purpose behind his tomfoolery. Madara is not this character. He toyed around with everyone, despite constantly mentioning “it’s time to get this over with.” Since this plan just requires him to activate a jutsu, he could’ve done it at any time, but wasted his efforts playing with his enemies. This is not “cool” or “villainous,” it’s called “being a goddamned idiot”. Kishimoto just needed a way for his characters to not lose to him, and couldn’t think of any so he ended up writing his villain as an incompetent knit.
4. “I still don’t know how i’m going to have Madara defeated” – Kishimoto. That speaks for itself.
This “character” was introduced as the true final boss, supplanting the one that had been built up since the start of part 2. Before she took center stage as the big bad, she had only been mentioned in passing twice (her debut mention being in 646), and then 33 chapters later, she replaces Madara as big bad. Why? Because Kishimoto couldn’t figure out a way to have Madara lose. However, in doing so he introduced an even more powerful character… that just so happened to be an even bigger goddamned idiot than Madara.
She has the barest of motivations and it doesn’t even make sense. She wants to rule the world and create an army? FOR WHAT? You already rule the world. What, is she gonna take them off into space to fight the Saiyans or something? She had the power to end the fight in a finger flick, but never did it. Finally, and arguably the worst of all, she had absolutely no characterization whatsoever, as she was mute for almost the entirety of the fight, having Black Zetsu do the talking for her. For all you rookie writers out there, this is how to not write a character you mean to be important. Absolutely awful, she was. Really, the most infuriating thing about her is she is yet another character that was too stupid to use her power… but more on that later.
Why? Just why? His only excuse for living is being a tool to make the Uchiha not be as bad, even though they are, and to make Kaguya be introduced into the plot. He’s just a plot device character and nothing else. An atrocious excuse for a villain. The sheer amount of retcons to justify him and White Zetsu.
Madara: “Black Zetsu is my will and White Zetsu was made from Hashirama!”
Later chapters: “White Zetsu is the result of Infinite Tsukuyomi and Black Zetsu is somehow from Kaguya!”
Never before has there been so many retcons in the same arc to things introduced in that very arc.
Now Let’s Talk About the Elephant in the Room
This is the “more on that later” section.
1. Obito had the power of Shinra Tensei on his side. Shinra Tensei’s power, according to the third databook, is to dispel ninjutsu, and we see Pain do that to the Rasenshuriken multiple times in the fight against Naruto. Naruto and Sasuke’s final attack against him wouldn’t have worked if he just [bleep]ing remembered he could use that.
2. Obito let himself die because he wanted to try to get lucky with Rin, rather than continue fighting. He had the time to run and intercept Kaguya’s bones, and then Kamui away the one fired at Kakashi. Had he remained where he was, he could’ve Kamui’d both bones away instead of wasting time trying to block with his body. He’d proven himself to be valuable to them in the fight as he was the only one that could also hop dimensions. If Kaguya wasn’t mentally damaged, Obito would’ve doomed them all by forgetting how his own powers worked.
3. Kaguya. I mentioned how Kubo gave Aizen a valid reasoning for having to leave his opponents alive, but Kishimoto tried doing it with Kaguya and failed. She wants Naruto and Sasuke’s chakras, but Black Zetsu tells her she doesn’t need it. That one line made the entire final battle utterly pointless. She’s there risking her defeat for something she doesn’t even need.
But let’s operate under the premise that she must have that chakra. All she needs to do is touch them, but she can never get in too close and they try their best not to be caught by her. It sure would be nice if the Rinnegan had a power that somehow sucked people in close to the user. Oh wait… It’s almost like Nagato is the only character that knew how to use the Rinnegan.
Now, what if Kaguya was a competent villain and just wanted to kill them? Well that’s easy too! Trap each of them in a separate dimension and wait for about 60 days. They’d die of hunger and she would be queen of the world. Now, if we factor in that she really wants their chakra, she could instead wait 20 days. They’d be tired, starving and too weak to fight. Boom, you just won.
How did Kaguya lose? She got blindsided by attacks from all angles. How is this even possible when she has the Byakugan? She should’ve seen them coming and be able to react accordingly.
4. Madara. Just use Shinra Tensei, bro. One Shinra Tensei from Pain shattered the bones of all of Naruto’s giant toads. One Shinra Tensei destroyed Konoha. Now imagine a Shinra Tensei boosted by the chakra of the 10 tails. Even before getting the ten tails, he could’ve just dropped meteors on everyone and end it there. Really, Madara had the absolute most ways he could’ve won, but because of stupidity (on both his and Kishimoto’s part) he was unable to.
In summation, the Naruto War Arc is most impacted negatively by its villains. Its mediocre villains that are incomprehensible to anyone that even critically looks at Naruto for an instant.