I am so tired of people assuming I like NaruSaku because I love IchiRuki, or that I love IchiHime because I’m into NaruHina. It’s downright annoying. Admittedly, I despise IchiHime and I find NaruSaku, though plausible, not very cool.
I will not deny NaruHina fans tend to like IchiHime while a number of IchiRuki fans prefer NaruSaku, but to me that is nonsensical. To me, those pairings are not equivalent. Heck, they’re different manga/anime to begin with. Since when do shinigami equal ninja?
NaruSaku equals not IchiRuki, and IchiHime is not like NaruHina. I am not saying NaruSaku is equal to IchiHime, nor NaruHina is just like IchiRuki. They just aren’t.
Ichigo and Naruto have little in common. I personally like Naruto better because we see his struggles throughout the series in order to become strong while Ichigo simply has always had a knack to be strong latent in him even though he did have to train some.
Naruto knows how to focus his determination better than Ichigo. Ichigo sometimes is so confused he needs someone (Rukia) to push him to face what he must. However, the time he truly knows what he wants to do (save Rukia) he shows determination like no other, putting everything he has in the line. When he doesn’t know what he’s fighting for, like in his fight with Ulquiorra, it simply isn’t the same. Naruto on the other hand always seems to understand even at a simple level the reason he is fighting for, because he doesn’t only fight when his friends are in danger, but also when he sees it as the right thing to do and when his own ideals and ways are questioned.
Rukia and Sakura are tremendously different characters. For starters, like hell I’m gonna accept the ‘they’re both flat-chested’ fallacy! Sakura is not entirely flat either. She looks to be at a B-cup, maybe an A-cup. Rukia is likely an A-cup; this is easily noticeable in Soul Society arc when she’s lying down in a robe, and that is not surprising considering her height. (No, I am not a pervert; it is easy to see.) More importantly, being more experienced, Rukia already has enviable confidence in herself and is wise. Sakura is still blossoming. Her confidence has some ways to go before reaching Rukia’s level.
I want to note that Sakura hits Naruto when he does something she finds improper, perhaps embarrassing, angering her. While some claim he likes it, I can only wonder about that. We don’t exactly see him smiling when she hits him. “He’s a ninja, so if he wanted to he could dodge.” Well, Sakura is a ninja too; if she wants to find a moment when she can land a hit, she knows how to. Yes, it’s comic relief, and I actually laugh at those moments, but it can’t be helped that Naruto will be Naruto. My point here is: If it is wrong of NaruHina fans to say she’s being abusive because it’s simply comic relief, then the same goes for NaruSaku fans saying she does it to keep him in line and in the correct ways. Comic relief is just that: Comic relief, as the very NS fandom says to NH fans. Comic relief, then, is neither to the advantage nor disadvantage of NaruSaku, though it still serves to show the difference in the reasons of Rukia and Sakura behind showing this behavior.
Rukia on the other hand always is given a motive to hit Ichigo if she must, that is, when he is extremely hardheaded (the time she greeted him after not seeing each other when he left SS) or when he insults her drawings (hey, he’s being really rude!). Other than those times, she seldom hits him. Fandom sure loves to exaggerate this treat, though. They might bicker, but note it doesn’t necessarily get physical all the time.
Whenever Sakura finds Naruto down, she also looks down. She doesn’t do what Rukia does, remaining strong and hitting sense back into him. So where is the resemblance? I might even add that is more like something Orihime would do.
Also, Sakura and Naruto don’t bicker. She may yell at him, but Naruto never yells back, unlike Ichigo. To me, that means they are not fully communicating back and forth while Ichigo and Rukia are actually expressing their true thoughts when they do so, so it’s communication (even if not quality one).
Rukia is supportive of Ichigo and does respect him despite their bickering. She respects his strength such that she leaves him to fight his fights, though of course she tries to help in any way she can, even if that means fighting the weaker enemies. She knows her strength and tries her best, which is something I like about her. She also respects his determination and decisions. When he was going to Hueco Mundo to save Orihime, she knew he was doing it because he refused to sit around and let her die just because Seireitei classified her as a traitor. He wanted to do everything he could to save a friend because that is his nature. What did Rukia do? She actually went ahead with Renji to assist him even though it was not what she was supposed to do. Far from discouraging him, she too wanted to save their friend and was willing to do what she could to help.
When I looked at Sakura’s confession to Naruto, the first thing I thought was “That doesn’t look very good now”. I firmly think that was really thoughtless of Sakura. If you were Naruto, would you be happy a girl that knows you have/had feelings for her would try to use that to have a degree of control over a decision you make? If you have any respect for yourself, you would not. She didn’t want him to go after Sasuke. It is evident that she still has unresolved issues (which I won’t call love either, but they certainly cause conflict in her love issues…I don’t care about SasuSaku anyway) with Sasuke. The way she broke down when she found out Sasuke joined Akatsuki left this much clear to Naruto, as we note just by looking at the sad face he makes then. That is why he had no doubt about her lying when she said she loved him. Her confession was simply not the way to go in her situation. The way she said it was too fake; it was obvious she was not saying it wholeheartedly. That was just not the moment for that, it was like the first thing that came to her head to stop him. That one scene, Sakura’s behavior, everyone’s unconvinced and disbelieving glances and Naruto’s offense, is exactly what convinced me and others that she does not really regard Naruto that way, at least not so far. If she really did love Naruto, one way or another, it would not have sounded fake. I’m not saying it had to be as beautiful as Hinata’s confession, but at least it would’ve sounded true; she would’ve either done it convincingly well, or she would’ve messed up badly due to nervousness. Naruto stated she was lying to herself, and he actually isn’t the only one who believes that was not genuine.
So why did I mention the previous? I can only believe she did it because she wanted to change Naruto’s decision, and I found that disrespectful. The promise he made to her about bringing Sasuke back was not only towards her but to himself as well. Of course Naruto was not happy Sakura was, far from supporting him, making it harder for him. To be sincere, if I were a NaruSaku fan, that scene would’ve made me upset.
Sakura apparently hoped she’d convince Naruto even when it was far more likely he’d be upset, as common sense could dictate, and chances are that’s true, so we here see how despite the fact that they have spent time together in the same team they are far from really understanding each other well.
Rukia is different. She understands Ichigo well even if not perfectly, and just looking at the way their eyes talk to each other without any words necessary is more than enough to see those two know the other well enough. She only needed one glance in Hueco Mundo to know something was wrong with him after he fought Ulquiorra while nobody else was shown noticing the same thing. That is why she understands him. The fact that they both know what guilt feels like is a factor. The time she found him confused and scared of his Hollow side, she didn’t feel at a loss as to how to deal with him. Instead, she pushed him to face his fear so he could overcome that. She actually made him face it by fighting a Hollow. Did she look doubtful as to whether or not that would work? Not at all; she was standing confident and even proudly when he overcame it. She brought forth his strength successfully.
Even if nobody will know exactly how Naruto felt in the past, it is still possible for people to understand him. Sakura is yet to show she truly does understand him. I am not saying she doesn’t get him at all, but did she really not think he’d be able to see through her façade? She should know he’s not an idiot, which is something she did not know too well in the past. So, how deeply has she come to understand him? Where is the so called development their relationship has had?
Truly, few other couples in any other shonen, or even in plenty of shoujo works, receive the complex development IchiRuki is given. It is one of the main topics of the story even, though it doesn’t stand out the way the action does (since it ain’t a romance manga). There are in the story countless moments were their bond is emphasized: Glances, them exchanging looks, smiles, moments where they open up, when they interact so naturally, even in the beginning when they hardly met each other (and also taking into consideration that neither of them is extraordinarily sociable)… Kubo has given them beautiful lines such as the memorable “You stopped the rain” and such! Even the 2011 Bleach calendar is somewhat suggestive of the bond they share. It is hinted everywhere, such that many non-IchiRuki fans also catch some. It is beyond me how people say NaruSaku is just as developed. That is false simply because it is not the nature of the Naruto series. While Naruto does develop relationships deeply, this is mainly for friends and comrades, as well as rivalries, especially Naruto vs. Sasuke. Bleach doesn’t give much depth to relationships in general, but IchiRuki is the greatest exception. Naruto gives much greater depth to the individual characters, though. The development given to Naruto is what makes him my favorite shonen hero.
Moving on to the other two couples…
Hinata and Orihime at first may look similar due to their feelings regarding the protagonists, but if you pay attention to them you can easily see them as different. Yeah, they both have relatively large breasts, but that is hardly a matter. Heck, Orihime’s breasts look much larger than Hinata’s if you ask me.
Look deeply into their character personality. Orihime is only somewhat shy with Ichigo; with everyone else she is a generally more cheerful girl (except in the Hueco Mundo saga). She is the one she tries to talk to the most as well, and almost unnaturally too. Hinata is shyer with Naruto than with the rest but still relatively quiet and shy with most people; it took her time to be as open and connected to her own team as she is. She is a tranquil person while Orihime is more easygoing and social. Orihime loves to try concoctions of food that are far too shudder-inducing to investigate deeply while Hinata loves tea and pressing flowers and belongs to a traditional family. They are supposed to be of the same personality? Just how does that make sense? Really, how?
Focusing mainly in Ichigo’s fight with Ulquiorra and Naruto’s fight with Pain, we can see key differences a few people conveniently overlook.
They both fell for the protagonists, true, but how did they fall for them? First of all, Orihime’s feelings, at least from my point of view, are very questionable. She hardly interacted with him in the beginning until, ironically, Rukia and shinigami came into the picture. It was only via Tatsuki that Orihime learned about the death of Masaki and how much that troubled Ichigo, for example. It gives the impression she knew what little she knew of Ichigo because she is Tatsuki’s friend. Basically, it is a crush. She had no idea he could be so determined or so rash with his own life initially, or that he would turn out to stubbornly wish to fight in order to protect, whereas it is understood she does not like or handle well when he risks himself that way.
Although it is true that Hinata and Naruto do not interact often, they do have development. Like many NaruHina fans have repeated constantly: Panel/screentime does not equal development. In the chapter of the written Chuunin exam we see that Naruto trusts her as a good person and cares for her at least enough to not wish her to fail the test for being caught giving him the answers. In one encounter she went from being a dark weird girl to somebody he likes as a person. Those encounters are not long, but they are full of development that make lasting impressions, as his opinion of her has kept improving significantly, which explains the size of the NH fandom. Not to mention all the development made so far has always been positive to their relationship.
How did Hinata come to fall for Naruto? Through observation and, very possibly, identification. She noted since they were children how everyone ostracized him cruelly, but she never went with the flow just because everyone else did it. She simply saw no reason to despise him or treat him that way, and that does say a lot about her inner strength, sense of what is and isn’t fair and of her reasonableness. People saying she’s not impressive or special certainly never bother to make a detailed analysis of her. Not to mention her noble background not influencing her humble nature should also be noteworthy. People call her a stalker because she looked at him. They make it sound so awful… It’s not like she actually followed him home, watched him in his sleep and took pictures of him every chance she got! She did not seek to catch him at specific moments either. She looked at him due to curiosity and compassion, which is natural in children and even grown-ups. She then noticed he happened to be hardworking and determined, bold enough to say his dream is to be Hokage and an uncontrollable prankster, someone who tried to be noticed even when the circumstances were bad for him as everyone showed him coldness. She happened to find him interesting and admirable. She identified with him in the aspect of their loneliness. She was not ostracized, but the expectations her father and family had on her made her feel weak and affected her self-esteem heavily. She felt alone too because she felt nobody could understand her. That is why she has, to a small degree, an idea of what he went through in his childhood. To see him pull through despite that only increased her admiration for him. As they grew up, the more Naruto continued to pull through, and the more her feelings for him grew. Those are the qualities for which she fell in love with him, and she most certainly has made this much clear by the way she expresses herself of him. She doesn’t drool about his good looks or anything like that, unlike Sasuke’s fangirls throughout time.
The Hueco Mundo arc makes it clear Orihime is not all that comfortable with Ichigo fighting. One thing is to care for others and another to not believe in them. She was crying to Ichigo to no longer fight, to no longer get hurt, scared after seeing his mask. It was a mere child, Nel, who pulled her to her senses, telling her he had fought all that way to rescue her… Even though she and Ichigo got development in that arc, it can’t neither subjectively nor objectively be said it was positive in any light, as argued further below.
On the other hand, Hinata was shown to believe in Naruto. She was one of the first people who believed in him. In his fight with Kiba she cheered for him inwardly and was the only one shown doing it; don’t even start on her wholeheartedness. She even took his nindo as her own: To not give up. Her being a ninja herself, this does say a lot. During her fight with Neji she showed a great deal of will by standing up even after receiving a nearly fatal attack from him. She did it because she firmly believed people can change; that is the very theme of her character, and even Naruto saw she had that will, and that got to him. That is why he acted like he could feel her losing the fight as his own defeat and so fervently swore on her blood he’d defeat Neji. Some like to say he would’ve done that for anybody. I disagree. Yes, he might have promised to defeat Neji if he had only insulted whoever it is that in their minds replaces Hinata in that arc, but how can they be sure he would’ve been so fierce in his cheering for that character in the fight, or that he would’ve also done the blood oath so vehemently and felt it so personal with anybody else? I would say that wouldn’t have been unless that character also had showed the determination Hinata showed then, which does apply to others but not to ‘anybody’.
In the invasion of Pain, she did not stop believing in him. She herself admitted she knew she couldn’t take on him. He was for one nailed to the ground and was frustrated for not having an answer for him regarding a way to bring peace; I doubt his frustration escaped her very good eyes. Things did not look favorable to him at all. Even then, she did not say he shouldn’t fight anymore. She likely knew he would have to stand up and fight again, but she wanted to do everything in her power to help him if only a little. She was willing to die protecting him. That not only shows her love but also her faith in him. Do you think she would’ve risked everything for someone she didn’t believe in at all? Note she is the only one who had the will to do this much, even though she was not the strongest among the ones watching. (Sakura certainly didn’t go to at least try to heal him.)
Karenai’s infamous Ichihime Fail essay discussed how Orihime’s supposed love, enough to be in five lifetimes, is to be questioned. When Ichigo was unconscious after being beaten up badly by Ulquiorra, Orihime shouted for help with tears. Yes, she didn’t stand a chance against Ulquiorra, yet she didn’t even attempt to put up a fight for him. She did not use her powers. She just froze and asked for help. While that is not something I condemn her for, it contrasts with what Hinata did. She was well aware of Pain’s power after seeing him devastate Konoha, seeing how even jounin were incapable of doing much against even those that only had single abilities. Still, it was her love for Naruto that drove her to stand there on her feet firmly without shaking, determined to do everything in her power for his sake, even if that meant dying. Love drives people to do that sort of rash things, that is, if it is true strong love.
For the sake of having a chance of saving Rukia, Ichigo also went through quite a lot. He had the chance to let her die, rather, to forget about her since initially he did not quite know she’d die. He had had a life before she came into it and turned his world upside down, yet he didn’t cross his arms. He underwent a training that technically killed him, faced a body of strong enemies he was not too familiar with in a world about which he knew nothing about and where he knew nobody. He fought. He trained more, risking more the further he advanced. He showed a passion there he has not shown since. Many people came to love IchiRuki in that arc; I certainly did. Yet, some of the people that love this same pairing argue that what Hinata did was not out of love? I am not saying that what she did was smart, but it did show that her feelings for Naruto are not shallow, and it also serves as evidence that she is not weak nor is she just a girl that only faints. (She only fainted once or twice, but people sure love to exaggerate that too.) Just like what Ichigo did was anything but smart as well…
From about every angle I see it, IchiHime makes a bad relationship, and I really don’t think it’s just me being too biased. This couple actually defies the golden standard I have for pairings. Those who meet it can count me in as their fan right away. That is: To bring forth the best of the other. IchiHime brings forth the WORST of one another. That means automatic hatred from me. IchiHime is the only pairing I’ve ever hated. I dislike NaruSaku, but I wouldn’t say I hate it either…Oh, dear, no; it’s nowhere close to the mess IchiHime makes of Ichigo and Orihime.
Why do I say that? At first, we had the impression of Orihime being an airhead with odd tastes in food and a knack for doing good academically. However, the Hueco Mundo arc developed her and showed us a cool side of her. Having the guts to slap the Cuarta Espada is not just anything! I totally liked her character that moment! Even Ulquiorra admitted she was strong-willed. Strong! She can be strong in others’ presence, such as Ulquiorra, Grimmjow, Sado, etc… Then Ichigo appeared and ruined the picture. The moment she saw him, she went back to acting like a damsel in distress. She’s lost. She originally fought to protect her friends, but then it all became about appealing to Ichigo, which makes me real angry since we now know she can do much better than that! Since before then, it was already troublesome. She cried due to jealousy of Rukia being able to lift Ichigo’s spirits, and it was like a sunny part of her was clouded. I felt depressed looking at her like that, and also upset because we all know she can do better than being given the role of the third party.
As for Ichigo, he does act differently in front of her, but far from being a good thing, he looks…uncomfortable. He really doesn’t interact much with her, so they do not know each other well. Heck, she is one of the few people he addresses by surname, and it could be said that indicates lack of closeness. It is very plausible this happens also due to her insisting in calling him by his surname, and with a suffix to boot. Other people are, for example, Urahara and Unohana, as well as Ishida, unlike Rukia, Tatsuki or Sado…or Byakuya. 😄 Those two may be classmates and friends, and they care about the other, but you can’t really say they’re closer than that. In his fight with Ulquiorra he himself said he didn’t know why he was fighting. She does not bring determination in him, nothing like what Rukia motivates him to do. It even gives the impression he’d have to hold back to not worry her too bad.
With the way they each are and how they interact, I simply cannot picture them working well. The reason I don’t ship it is exactly because I do not wish either of them such unhappiness. They are likely the most dysfunctional pairing I’ve ever seen shipped in a serious light.
What about NaruHina there? NaruHina’s base is the fact that they can complement each other well since they are different but still work well.
Looking back, Sakura didn’t like Naruto in the least initially. She didn’t interact with him pleasantly before they were in the same team. It is understood that Naruto’s feelings for Sakura are not based on any special occurrence, and he clearly doesn’t know her all that well. If he knew what makes her happy, by all means he would’ve done that to get her to go out with him. (This early, we are introduced to the fact that they don’t get each other all that well. Them being teammates has gotten them closer, but not quite in the same sync.) So, it is about safe to assume he liked her because she is pretty. In his encounter with Haku, he was surprised when he found out Haku was male as he had thought he was prettier than Sakura. We see Naruto’s feelings were a little shallow, which is understandable considering he grew up loveless. Anyhow, to him, she was the prettiest girl of his class, probably all of Konoha. So, wouldn’t her dating him bring as an indirect consequence acceptance among others? Maybe he wasn’t directly making that connection, but acknowledgement was what he used to seek in the beginning. That is why he pulled so many pranks. He wanted people to notice him. He wanted people to like him, to have friends. He had nobody to believe in him either. While I am not saying Sakura is incapable of giving him this, Hinata has already shown it in a prominent way. Hinata would be able to give him that which he sought then and to a degree would still help him by doing her very best to assist him in any way she can. It is already a fact she would be willing to die for him, so we can assume she would be there for him no matter what. Even though more people are accepting him with time, few believe in him as strongly as Hinata does. That is why I believe he could benefit were he to ever have such a relationship with her. Considering that Naruto’s feelings for Sakura have remained somewhat static during the progress of the story as far as I perceive, I would not find him giving Hinata a chance eventually as impossible. Indeed, both are plausible.
As for Hinata, it is clear he has had nothing but positive effects on her with his influence. He is her role model. His nindo became her own. It is thanks to him that she changed into a more determined and stronger person. She did it because it was her wish, though. She did not change for him to like her, as a few say. From where I stand, there is no better relationship than that from which we ourselves can grow and become better. As an interesting saying says “I don’t like you for who you are, I like you for who I am when I am with you”. In Hinata’s case, who he is turned her into her current self.
Some argue that although it is important for two people in such a relationship to be different, they shouldn’t be exact opposites, and I agree. While Naruto is extraverted and Hinata introverted; however, they are not really polar opposites. They do have something in common, and I believe even in real life the members of a couple should have that in common: Ideals. They both believe people can change. They both believe that hard work can lead to becoming stronger, regardless of how natural your talent is. They both believe that no matter how distant or difficult a goal may seem, if you try you can make it. They both are the type that would put their own lives in the line for people they care about. Hinata proved in her confession she can be as impulsive and reckless as him when her heart truly feels the need to.
From that perspective, it is more than feasible to think they could work together and have a positive outcome from each other’s influence. In canon, I sure hope they continue this one thing regardless of them being involved romantically. I cannot say whether or not Naruto will give her a chance and move on from his crush on Sakura or if his feelings about her will be changed in any way; only Kishimoto knows that. However, I will always be able to say, even if NaruSaku were to be canon, that NaruHina is a pairing with one of the most beautiful concepts behind it I’ve seen in anime/manga.
My thoughts are backed up even further by analyzing the confessions made.
To begin with, Ichigo even at the present after the time skip in the manga seems unaware of Orihime’s confession to him while he was sleeping before she left with Ulquiorra to Las Noches. It really seemed like Orihime chose to confess because she believed she would never see him again. Looking at her while she confesses, I find no angle from where one could say she looks happy. Sure enough, she is sad she won’t be seeing him (according to her, that is, showing how little she knows him). But she even shed tears. She is in angst because she herself is not sure what to do with her feelings, especially since she is aware that, although she can be important as a friend to him, she cannot occupy Rukia’s place within him, and she just never will simply because she is not Rukia. She does not share the connection he and Rukia have, and she does not understand him like Rukia can. It pains her. It is taking a heavy emotional toll on her. Again, this is simply doing her no good. Also, if she truly loved him and wanted him to know that, why did she not confess to him again when they were back in the living realm and he woke up? Sure enough, she could’ve decided to give him space and time since he was anything but happy when Rukia vanished before him, losing his power, but 17 months? Why could she not tell him her feelings while he was awake now that she had the chance? He seemed OK enough at the beginning of the time skip, so why had she not told him anything? You know what I concluded from that.
Then there is Hinata’s confession. Naruto was stuck in the ground and injured but conscious nonetheless. Hinata is also facing the possibility that she can die in this fight, never to see him again if she does, but that is not what drove her to act the way she did. She was there because she could not bear to not help the person she cared for the most while he was in danger. She acted in the spur of the moment, yet she did not regret it. Her words would let Naruto understand her actions, and perhaps she also knew it was her last chance to tell him her feelings. Nonetheless, unlike at the beginning of part 2, where she meets him after he’s returned to Konoha after a long journey, she does feel ready at that moment. You can tell by her smile and her firm look and stance that she is ready at last, even if she did not foresee this coming. Until seconds before, she herself likely didn’t know she’d say it or that she was ready. It may not have been the most ideal moment to confess, but well, nobody can deny it was rather romantic, and I mean that in all the senses of the word. Moreover, she looks happy to tell him. Of course she is. After all, those words had been true for a long time. She was happy that she got to love him because ‘his smile saved her’. Perhaps she would die, and they would not be together, and she would’ve never known how he felt about her saying that, and that would be the end of it, but she was still happy she loved him and did not regret it. Because of that she did not mind dying for him. Those few words truly spoke volumes and give a very different feeling than the confession of Orihime.
“Hinata’s brief encounter with Pain brought forth Naruto’s rage and released the Kyuubi to 6 tails. Orihime’s shout for help brought forth the Ultimate Hollow within Ichigo. How are they not the same?” The answer is simple: Context. That is a very powerful factor that can change the whole meaning of a situation.
Hinata stepped in because she did not want to let Naruto continue being battered while she just stepped aside watching. “I will not let you put another finger on Naruto-Kun” she told Pain. She was aware she couldn’t stand against him, however. So, did she ask for help since Pain was such a big shot? Did she shout at Naruto for help with a crying face because he was stronger than her? No, she did not. Brief as things were, she never asked for help; she instead was willing to die protecting him. It was not until she was nearly killed because she tried that Naruto let the Kyuubi step in.
Now let’s look again at Orihime’s situation. Urahara told her not to get involved in the upcoming fight in Hueco Mundo. She wanted to help. She wanted to fight beside Ichigo, become strong enough to do that. So, Rukia trained her, but Orihime got kidnapped after training. Her desire to be of help, that she would not ask for protection, remained. What happened when she asked for help to an unconscious Ichigo? She broke her promise to herself. Ichigo’s instinct to protect kicked in, but it didn’t do much good to her or poor Ishida, however.
If I had been in Orihime’s shoes, I would’ve banged myself for breaking my own promise. She was far from useful in that arc. Heck, it is because she asked Ishida to take her to Ichigo and Ulquiorra even after Ichigo asked Ishida to keep her safe that Ishida got stabbed, and to top things off she didn’t heal him right away. I am not an Orihime-hater, but I won’t sugarcoat things for her either and say she was not being selfish because she was, even though she has proven to be selfless too. Perhaps I am sounding harsh, but Orihime disappointed me as a fan in that time.
On the other hand, Hinata proved that brief but powerful moment how far she had come. Because it was the strongest of the 6 Pain that she was facing, she couldn’t last long (nobody but Naruto lasted long against him), but we see how much she had grown. Hinata from Part 1 did not display such determination to go as far as risking her life that way; she could not bring herself to cheer for him in his fight during the Chuunin exam preliminaries because he was fighting her teammate! She went a long way. Even if she was reckless, she showed growth and that she had been true to her promise and ambitions of becoming stronger and following Naruto’s nindo as her own even though he was gone for 2.5 years. As if that were not enough of a difference, she also stepped in to help him alone. Naruto told her she could not win against him. She replied saying she knew that. She knew, yet she brought nobody along with her down that crater. Ironically enough, she mentioned she was being selfish.