Was Naruto the Only One Who Could Save Sasuke?

Naruto focuses heavily on the relationship between Naruto and Sasuke throughout the series. Sasuke starts out as a hero, but over time develops from an anti-hero into one of the series’ greatest villains. This is primarily because of his twisted quest for vengeance against his older brother.

After witnessing the massacre of the entire Uchiha clan, Sasuke’s goal in life is to kill the man who committed the vile act: his older brother, Itachi. His goal is quickly accepted by those around him, but little did they know just how far he would take his quest for vengeance. By the time Sasuke’s friends realized he was falling into darkness, they presumed only one ninja could save him — Naruto Uzumaki.

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Sasuke Uchiha, Training As A Way To Cope

Sasuke was taught at a young age that success comes by being the strongest and smartest, a sentiment that would control his life’s path. He’d compete against Itachi for their father’s attention and only found success when Itachi began to distance himself from their clan. While they did have a strong bond as siblings, Sasuke’s positive relationship with Itachi came to an end after the latter killed their family and left Sasuke with bloody memories.

From this point on, Sasuke is left with nothing but hatred for Itachi and the promise that he will kill him to avenge their clan. With little support or friendships, Sasuke spends most of his youth alone and trains for this morbid life goal. Since he has to become strong enough to defeat Itachi, rising up in Konoha’s ranks becomes the most important short-term goal for him. Without realizing how desperate he is, the village encourages him to become strong, though there are a number of positive influencers along the way.

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The Positive And Negative Along Sasuke’s Journey

In a surprise twist, Sasuke opens up about his past to Sakura, who shows him nothing but compassion and admiration. Despite this brief moment of vulnerability, Sasuke doesn’t always show respect for Sakura, looking down on her for her sheltered upbringing. Knowing she couldn’t truly understand him, anything Sakura says is white noise to Sasuke and would never have been enough to sway him.

As a way to defeat stronger opponents, Sasuke develops a habit of ignoring those he deems weaker than himself, and since achievement as a ninja is what he perceives as success, he won’t acknowledge anyone who can’t fight. In hindsight, Kakashi might have had a chance to help Sasuke for this reason — as well as their understanding of each other’s pain. Unfortunately, the veteran ninja wasn’t as much of an inspiration for Sasuke as he would have liked. Though Kakashi’s advice about forgetting revenge did begin to stir the boy’s heart, in the long run, there’s no way Sasuke would have been able to forget, something Kakashi wouldn’t understand.

Sasuke’s path to revenge was what kept him going, so it stands to reason that closure was the best way to move on. Facing off against Itachi is the hurdle Sasuke needs, and though that doesn’t necessarily mean taking his life, that’s where his mindset is. Because of the obsession he has with his brother — paired with his emphasis on strength — Kakashi’s lessons of teamwork and peace weren’t so appealing. Instead, Sasuke is compelled by Orochimaru’s promise of power, seeing it as the only way he can attain his revenge.

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After Sasuke’s pinnacle battle against Itachi, the young Uchiha achieves some degree of peace after saying goodbye to his brother. This could have been the end of Sasuke’s story, but after he learns the truth that Itachi was under orders from Konoha all along, he has a mental break and the feelings of betrayal stir up newfound anger and hatred — now toward Konoha.

After learning about Itachi’s secret as well, Naruto quickly understands that Sasuke is in pain while Kakashi, the only other person who knows the truth, loses faith in his former student. In fact, for the first time in years when Kakashi and Sasuke meet, the mentor is ready to take Sasuke’s life, a reflection of the Jonin’s jaded personality. Ash Naruto Shippuden progresses, there are gradually more factors influencing Sasuke to commit acts of evil and fewer factors encouraging him to be a hero. At this point, it becomes clear that Naruto is the only one who believes in Sasuke — though that isn’t the full reason why he winds up saving him.

Growing up, Sasuke didn’t have relationships outside his family. After the Uchiha massacre, his first meaningful connection is with Naruto, whom Sasuke recognized as another isolated orphan. He knows Naruto can understand how he feels, but still looks down on him for his physical weaknesses. As they build their bond and strengths in Team 7, Naruto gradually becomes someone Sasuke acknowledges, breaking his rule to ignore weak individuals. Since he believes strength is equivalent to success in society, he becomes keener on listening to Naruto.

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Naruto’s Uplifting Impact on Sasuke

More than just being seen as an equal, it’s the embodiment of Naruto’s character that causes Sasuke to change. With such opposing philosophies and characteristics, everything becomes a fight between these two, and that fighting intersects through combat. Both Naruto and Sasuke are byproducts of a broken society, brought up with the idea that they can find happiness by winning on the battlefield.

Naruto learns to break free of the vicious cycle of hate and develops his skill of diplomacy, a talent that has changed the hearts of many — including Sasuke to a degree. During their first fight at the Final Valley, Sasuke is cold, arrogant, and threatening, but after admitting his respect for Naruto his demeanor changes ever so slightly. By the end of the fight, when Sasuke has the chance to kill Naruto and become a full-blown villain, he can’t bring himself to. Despite arguing that it was on a whim, it’s clear Sasuke is a pro at covering up his emotions. The one person to push him far enough to reveal his true self is Naruto.

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To be fair, Sasuke could have become a villain much sooner if it weren’t for the positive influences of the Ninja Academy and Kakashi, among others. In the end though, the greatest influence that saved Sasuke was Naruto for a number of reasons. Their history and Naruto’s growth fostered a strong enough connection that caught and maintained Sasuke’s attention, but the major quality that made all the difference — and why no one else could break through — is Naruto’s enduring character.

In a poetic twist, Naruto’s resilient faith not only aids him in becoming Hokage, but helps him retain faith in his friend. This endurance brings him the strength to become a worthy rival to Sasuke in battle and gives him the conviction to not fight with the intention of killing. Any other character would have either killed or been killed by Sasuke, but Naruto holds out long enough to end their fight in a stalemate.

The end of Naruto and Sasuke’s final battle leaves the latter with nothing but biting words. Since Naruto is already a brilliant speaker and brings out the truth of his rival’s feelings, it only takes a bit of talking for Sasuke to finally admit defeat. At this point he has already made peace with Itachi, a huge positive influence on his life — and because all his hate for the world has been exhausted, Naruto finds the perfect moment to attack him with emotions. For Sasuke, it’s the combined efforts of all the positive influences in his life with Naruto at the forefront that finally brings him peace.

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