If there is anything more iconic than the Naruto series, it is its characters. Naruto has given us some of the most memorable characters of shonen anime like Madara and Itachi Uchiha, Pain, Kakashi Hatake, Jiraiya, Tsunade, the list goes on. However, when it comes to romantic couples, Naruto didn’t exactly make history with the exception of the infamous Sakura-Sasuke pairing.
The main love story exists between the protagonist, Naruto Uzumaki and his eventual wife Hinata Hyuga. However, at best I found them to be an odd couple. They might look good together in the Boruto series and the fanarts but their love story was very lackluster for me. Was Hinata the right pick to be Naruto’s love interest?
1. Hinata Is Boring
Historically, Naruto hasn’t been known to have well-written female characters. Even so, of all the prominent female characters., Hinata has the plainest, most uninteresting character sketch.
She only has two character notes for the majority of the show- being stronger because Naruto once taught her to “Never Give Up” and thinking “Naruto-kun” every two seconds.
It is even harder to describe or discuss her character flaws since she isn’t written enough to have any substantial flaws. This makes it extremely difficult to be invested in her character growth.
2. Hinata Has No Purpose
Not only does Hinata have no character growth, but she is also extremely unimportant to the plot. She might be more useful than Sakura in a fight but her relevance to the story itself is next to zero.
During Pain attacking the Leaf Village arc, Hinata stood up to Pain. She got beaten to a pulp of course but helplessly watching her getting beaten around enraged Naruto. This unleashed the nine-tailed fox within him.
One could say this was an instance of Hinata showing newfound bravery in the face of crisis. However, from the story’s perspective, Hinata only served the very generic purpose of being the kidnapped/tortured/killed girlfriend whose suffering acts as a motivating factor for the protagonist. While there is nothing wrong with this, the trope is pretty stale.
Hinata never did anything in her own right that’d have any impact on the main storyline in any meaningful way. To me, this is simply disappointing, considering Hinata is the primary love interest of the protagonist of the story.
3. Naruto Should Be Single
When the show started, Naruto was obsessed with Sakura. His unrequited love was a source of amusement for the viewers of the show. Slowly, Naruto grew out of his childhood crush and Naruto and Sakura became genuinely good friends.
Moreover, Naruto got more focused on improving his fighting skills. The driving force of the show is Naruto’s desire to become Hokage and the complicated conflict with Sasuke. As the story progresses, there is little to no space left for a love interest on Naruto’s plate.
However, Kishimoto hamfisted a mutually romantic angle between Naruto and Hinata in the latter half of Naruto Shippuden. While Hinata always had a thing for Naruto, Naruto developing feelings for her was as abrupt as it was awkward. There was never a natural progression of their love story. Kishimoto just put the two together at some point and decided to develop a backstory retroactively to lazily create a “childhood love story”.
4. Neji Had To Die
Neji is one of the most intriguing and well-written characters of Naruto. His character arc in the Chunin exams was as compelling as it was exciting. Kishimoto had an opportunity to create a layered, complicated and strong character touching the heights of greatness with Neji Hyuga. And yet, he made Neji the sacrificial lamb to the lukewarm lovestory of NaruHina.
At some point of the story Neji's character growth was completely abandoned. During the war arc, Neji sacrificed himself to save Naruto and Hinata's life, seemingly giving his blessings to the to-be couple.
Kishimoto tried to kill two birds with a stone by ending Neji's arc through his death and his death triggering the closeness of Hinata and Naruto. However, doing that created philosophical problems of it own.
Moreover, sacrificing the best Hyuga so it'd clear the path for another one's love story (and make her the strongest Hyuga by default) is simply lazy and uncalled for. I may be bitter because I have a soft spot for Neji but the point still stands.
Kishimoto had to twist and turn the philosophy and other characters of his story just to make Naru-Hina a thing and it still doesn't fit naturally. We could talk about The Last: Naruto The Movie, but that'd need an article of its own to dissect.