Peins and the Gaara Syndrome
This is Mollie (Ibiki Teishi) with a ‘back from hiatus’ post. First, let me thank everyone for their support through what’s been a difficult time for me. For those of you wondering, I did lose my mom to a terminal disease. When I first learned what was about to happen, I had no idea that she would leave us so soon, so I cleared the decks preparing for a long journey. Sadly, it wasn’t so long, but as terrible as it was, she taught me some incredible things right up to the end. One was: there is nothing so brutal it cannot be made easier with a bit of humor. That being said, it is great to be back among you, and I’m not going to mention that dreadful real life stuff again–so please don’t feel like you need to either.
The Gaara Syndrome. What is that, you ask? Well, it is Naruto’s gift for the conversion of hearts, isn’t it? You didn’t know Naruto was a televangelist, did you? If you call now with your donations, he’ll put you on the list of the saved and offer sage prayers for you dearest desires. First mentioned in the 420 post on this blog, the Gaara Syndrome is the speculation that Naruto can turn even the sickest, most evil bastard inside out through his influence.
I’m not convinced, but then, I’m always a skeptic when it comes to this kind of thing. There was a poll, back then, that asked if Naruto was going to convert Peins to the light side of the force. (Yes, I’m intentionally using that spelling and the plural to make the name look like Penis…catch up). Something like 85% said no way in hell. I wonder if that result still stands?
Some folks have been commenting lately about Naruto’s miracle legacy with Gaara, and lastscorp put the prediction of a Peins/Gaara parallel right into a recent comment. So, hmmmmm, I wonder…is it just possible?
Remember what Gaara was like before we met Shukaku? (No. Der, I didn’t say Shikamaru’s DAD, that’s Shikaku not Shukaku. *snicker* I hope the kanji symbols are way different in the Japanese, because these names are just too close.) Back in the day, Gaara seemed like a psychopath through and through. Then, slowly, Kishi evolved him into a poor, ill-fated child whose angst was not only unbearable, but also pretty well justified.
In the anime filler (eps 216-219), one of the last episodes sets up the complete change in Gaara. In this series, Gaara has to protect the other shinobi, but refuses to access his demon power and risk getting out of control. He manages to pull off some incredible moves and risks his life to save everyone without ever losing himself to his personal demon.
All this, thanks to the choices Naruto revealed to him.
He thought being possessed meant being only a tool and a monster, but Naruto showed him that he had free will. Sure, you’re still a monster Gaara, but that doesn’t mean to have to act like one.
After the time skip, the whole rescue Gaara (the Kazekage) arc begins and we get an even more sympathetic glance into what made him such a psychopath and why he was able to come out of it. You see, I strongly believe that is wasn’t just Naruto’s influence that helped turn Gaara around, it was his own sadness and torment at the things Shukaku had done (through him) to his family.
If you look at the flashback clips from Shippuden, that struggle is pretty evident. I’ve included a fabulous AMV by Grace of Darkness here that just really captures that struggle. The vid itself starts at 30 seconds and ends at 3:25 if you’re pushed for time. BTW, the timing on this is the best part, so pause and let it buffer/download if it jumps. This is probably the best AMV I’ve ever seen; I love it because it concentrates on the struggle between Gaara the human and Gaara the jinchuriki.
Kankurou showed us in chapter 248, through a flashback, that Gaara changed himself because of Naruto’s influence. But it was their similarity that made that happen.
Naruto was strong enough to beat the crap out of Gaara, to stop his rampage, that was the first step. Naruto also let Gaara know they were the same and pointed out to him that he didn’t have to be a psychopath just because he’d had a hard life or had a demon inside him or whatever put his brain chemicals out of whack.
The big lesson of Naruto, for Gaara, was that he had a choice about how he behaved. He could live like a tool, as everyone expected of him, but that (in the end) being a tool was a personal choice.
So Gaara had this grand moment of conversion (testify!), he repented, became Kazekage and a force for good.
And I couldn’t let this moment pass without putting up a video of some people celebrating their own conversions. If you’re pressed for time, be sure to start this one at about 0:50 when things really heat up and watch until 1:35 when the scrawny li’l lady in blue knocks over the tubby guy walking around like a chicken (over the guy rolling around on the floor). No, this isn’t to make fun of anyone’s religion…it’s the juxtaposition onto Gaara that makes this ROFL funny.
SO…what about Peins, then?
According to my way of thinking Nagato does likely still have the compassion and tormented heart that Jiraiya sensed in him so long ago. That parallels nicely with the Gaara conversion.
Naruto and Gaara had an instant and intense recognition of similarity in each other. They were both jinchuriki, with monsters locked inside. They were outcasts and treated like dirt because of the way they were made.
But Peins don’t have that, do they? Nagato may still be human in there, somewhere deep inside the puppet bodies, deep in his still beating heart. But is there anything linking Naruto and Nagato so deeply together? (Besides the similar spelling of their names…)
The common thread would be Jiriaya. Is he holy enough of a sage to spark the conversion in Nagato’s heart? I’m not convinced, but you’ve heard enough from me. What do you all think?