Hinata? Naruto? What now?! Er…awkwardsauce? or hunka hunka burnin’ love?
Alright, Pain’s about to get frog-whipped, Team Gai has arrived, Sakura’s heading toward Hinata as fast as she can go (which, in manga time, means it’ll take like a month to get there) and Naruto’s thoughts are on Hinata. The stage is set for a dramatic, post-apocalyptic, Naruto/Hinata/Sakura reunion. This is PSI with a breakdown of the i are awkwardness about to break out betweenNaruto Hinata and Sakura. There are a few ways this can go, so let’s break it down to the possibilities and explore the likelihood of each one.
Naruto rushes to Hinata’s side and declares his undying love for her right in front of Sakura, who isn’t phased because, after all, she’s in love with Sasuke and only sees Naruto as a friend. Or, similarly, Naruto expresses his desire to enter into a relationship with Hinata, either because he’s starting to realize he has feelings for her, or because he’s just that sacrificial, and incapable of saying ‘no’ to a cute girl who risked her life for him. Hinata survives, Naru/Hina fans rejoice! (Hickeys, baby talk, public displays of affection, awkward silences and fits of giggles ensue…)
Why it’s possible: Naruto has a soft spot for people’s dreams, and he’s always been fairly defensive/supportive of Hinata.
Why it’s not: Take your pick. This is never gonna happen. Kishi won’t cut his main character off romantically this early in the series, assuming that he’s ever going to do it at all, especially when the Sakura thing is still unresolved. Whether or not you think there’s a chance that Naruto and Sakura will ever hook up, Kishi has made sure that many fans think so, and there’s so much farther that he can drag this. If we see Naruto get together with someone, it will either be at the very end of the manga, or right before that person dies. So, I guess you could argue that Naruto will honestly accept Hinata’s feelings, and then she’ll die. But that seems even less likely to me. Plus, Naruto seems too oblivious and immature to jump into/handle dating someone that he hasn’t been thinking about Hinata “that way”. Or anyone, really.
Naruto rushes to Hinata’s side, but has to regretfully reject her feelings, either because he’s not in love with her, or because he has “an important person” that he’s thinking of. His eyes shift guiltily to Sakura. Hinata magnanimously accepts his decision (or vows in her heart to try even harder).
Why it’s possible: It would be the most honest response, in my opinion, and Naruto’s not much of a liar. It’s also a bit of ship-teasing for the Naru/Saku fans, plus a clue to the clueless, Miss Sakura herself.
Why it’s not: It still puts the stops to a whole group of shippers, Naru/Hina this time. And Naruto probably wouldn’t crush the dreams of someone whose health is questionable. Also, if Hinata gives up at this point, it makes all the years she spent chasing him pointless, and if she vows to try harder, it makes her confession pointless and takes her feelings from sweet to desperate.
Hinata goes unconscious before Naruto gets there, and he’s saved from having to choose one way or the other. Hinata lays up in the hospital for a month and we get to see Naruto angst in the meanwhile.
Why it’s possible: It drags on the drama for eternity, and the shippers hang onto the edge of their seats, waiting to see which way it will go. Shonen Jump sells more copies. Also, Kishi enjoys putting people in the hospital for long stretches of time, so there are precedents.
Why it’s not: It drags the drama on for eternity, and this is a freaking shonen manga. Ten-year-old boys are not the demographic for this sappy, emo crap. Plus, there’s no hospital.
Naruto tells Hinata he has to “think about it”. Sakura begins to realize that she doesn’t want Naruto to choose Hinata.
Why it’s possible: Leaves everything as wide open as it was before the confession, giving Kishi room to breathe and the shippers room to …ship. It starts Sakura on the path to realizing her own feelings for Naruto.
Why it’s not: For many of the same reasons that #3 is impossible: too much soap-opera style angsting for a boy’s comic book. Plus, it flies in the face of the way confessions are usually handled in Japanese culture (and by Japanese culture, I mean manga and anime). The confessor says “I like you” and the confessee either replies with “un”, which means “okay”, or “gomen”, which means “it’s just you and your hand tonight”.
Naruto rushes to Hinata’s side, but Sakura announces that they’re too late; Hinata won’t be able to make it. Hinata dies in Naruto’s arms/before his eyes, but only after she extracts a kiss/vow of some sort from Naruto. Sakura’s eyes are turned toward Naruto. Naruto’s heart is filled with even more burning passion than ever before!
Why it’s possible: Oh, let me count the ways:
A. Adds depth and pain to Naruto’s character, and we all know how much Kishi loves pain.
B. Lends more power/credit to Hinata’s sacrifice. See, this way Hinata died for Naruto. Otherwise, she just got the crap slapped out of her. It’s…a little less poignant that way. I mean, go back and read it, and pretend like you already know she’s going to live. It makes the whole scene really melodramatic and silly, because all she does is run in, confess, and then the crap-slappage happens.
C. Removes a lot of the darling aura surrounding the twelve, by making it apparent that some of them can/will die. This will be crucial for the Tobi battle we all know is coming up, because it will really increase the jeopardy. And Kishi needs something like that, because this last battle was so epic. In fact, I would even argue that Kishi can’t let Hinata live, because it’s like crying wolf. When the twelve are in trouble in the next battle, we won’t believe it’s for real. And, if Hinata dies, then in the Tobi battle Kishi can make it look like someone really important/popular died, like Sakura or Shikamaru, and we’ll all totally believe it, because we’ll know Kishi doesn’t pull his punches. Then he’ll pull it.
D. Opens the door for Naruto to fulfill his promise to Neji, that when he became Hokage, he would change the Hyuuga’s system of main versus branch families. He couldn’t do that before, without hurting Hinata. I know it feels like that promise was made ages ago, but Naruto is like Horton the Elephant. When he sits on an egg, by golly he stays there until a Fox-bird hatches. (…never mind.)
E. In general, it would really facilitate the whole “growing up” theme that Kishi’s got going with the twelve. (Err…eleven.)
F. Hinata might give her first and last kiss to Naruto, and we’d get to see Naruto kiss someone besides Sasuke. At sixteen years old, isn’t it time?
Why it’s not: Obviously, it slams a door in the face of Naru/Hina shippers, and I don’t know, but that’s a pretty big point. Kishi likes his love polyhedrons. Plus, it’s pathetically sad and will tick off a lot of fans. But it’s not like they won’t already be ticked off, with either Kakashi or Tsunade dying, or possibly even both. And I think that the sadness will be the trade-off for all of the benefits listed above.
One other point: It’s very, very possible that this is Kishi’s “pulled punch”. He killed Asuma, he killed Jiraiya, he may have killed Kakashi and/or Tsunade. It may be that he was just setting us up so that we’d angst about Hinata more, but that he never intended to kill her.
Heh…this article is probably more about “Why PSI thinks any possibility other than Hinata’s death would be annoying and disingenuous.” I probably came off as very anti-Naru/Hina or Pro-Naru/Saku, but I’m honestly not. I like the idea of Naru/Hina the best, when I can bother to care about Naruto’s love life at all, even though I don’t think it’s going to happen. But I usually don’t care, which puts me in a pretty objective position, and I think that the story would best be served by Hinata’s death. What do you think? Did I miss any serious possibilities for their reunion? Or do you have any ludicrous possibilities that will make me laugh? Because I need a laugh right now. Poor Hinata.
Special thanks to Big Pockets for the art!