Disclaimer- No, still don't own Naruto... sigh.
The Village Hidden in the Leaves has a reputation for producing more genius ninja than any other Hidden Village.
I am, very much so, proud of that fact.
We are the village who have produced the Legendary Sannin Jiraiya the Toad Hermit and Princess Tsunade the medic nin, the White Fang of Konoha, the Yellow Flash of Konoha, Sharingan Kakashi, and so many more.
But for every good genius, there are the problem ones.
We have been the village who unleashed Orochimaru and his twisted, supernatural kinjutsu onto the world. It is we who are responsible for creating the infamous Uchiha Itachi, slaughterer of his own kin.
And even with the ones who came from good moral stock, there have been failures.
Our genius medic, Tsunade, has abandoned us because of grief and bitterness, and now lives a life of sake and gambling.
Hatake Sakumo, the White Fang, rest his soul, was disgraced for doing the right thing and ended up killing himself. His corpse, tragically, was found by a very young Kakashi, who could not understand why his father was lying in a pool of his own blood.
Sharingan Kakashi, our youngest genin ever, lost a teammate, then a sensei, and then his final teammate and lover, all of whom were sacrificed to keep this village alive. Now he hides behind his Icha Icha books and is the only person whom I allow to be three hours late to a meeting with me.
After all, I'm not inhuman. I can begrudge him three hours at the memorial stone.
Jiraiya was never really a genius, not at first. But I think he forced himself to become one, just to spit in my face and show me that he could be. He doesn't hate me, but old wounds run deep, and I have harmed him dearly, I fear. Sadly, despite the fact that he writes what is really blatant pornography and still peeks at women bathing at over fifty years old, he is the most well off of all the genius ninja Konoha produced.
The Yellow Flash, or the Yondaime as he was called later, was possibly the best we have ever created. Sometimes, I think Jiraiya made him that way in order to spite me for all the times I called Orochimaru a genius. A brilliant genius at creating jutsu, a brilliant fighter, and most importantly, a good man.
Sadly, that he was so good and so bright, he burnt out so fast.
All of them, sacrificed for the Hidden Leaf.
Even myself, the Professor, the God of Shinobi, who knows all non-clan jutsu in the Hidden Leaf, am a sacrifice. I am, despite what all my think, far too old for this job. My bones ache in the morning, my joints are stiff and ill suited to making seals anymore.
This job is murder to an old man like me.
But I do it with a smile. I love this job. Anyone who takes on a job with a hundred percent fatality rate that involves mountains of paperwork has to love it.
I think the Yondaime loved the title of Hokage most, out of all of us... sadly, he was the one who wasn't able to enjoy it for long.
He was the one who I think is the paragon of what Hokage should be like. Sacrificing everything they have for the good of the village.
Even their own son.
Oh, the villagers try to ignore it, but they can see it, see it no matter what happens. Every day, without fail, Naruto proves himself to be his father's son. Not just in looks, but in the sheer tenacity and warm nature that the Yondaime was famous and infamous for. Right down to the obsessive love for ramen.
And there are times, if you look at the boy hard enough, that Naruto is overwhelmingly like his father.
It is he, and his generation, who will show themselves to be a generation of geniuses and legends, just as the previous generations had.
Uchiha Sasuke looks to be the next genius of the village, top of his class even without Sharingan. But from what Kakashi has told me, that is no longer an issue. But his obsession with Itachi worries us all. It might just drive him to become the next Orochimaru or even the next Uchiha Itachi.
Hyuuga Neji of the class above, however, could also be the next Uchiha Itachi. The resentment in his eyes is clear to all when he looks at his young cousin, Hinata. I fear the Hyuuga are hoisting their own petard, so to speak.
Hyuuga Hinata, on the other hand, is an anomaly among anomalies. The Hyuuga are well known for inflated egos and arrogance and boldness that surpasses even the Uchiha. Yet their heir is a kind, introverted and almost deathly shy girl. I always smile when I see her watching Naruto, out of the corners of her eyes. Still, she is overshadowed by her genius cousin in her family, and overshadowed by the louder, bolder kunoichi in her class.
Of course, a true genius in terms of intelligence, is hidden from all eyes but a few. Nara Shikamaru, you are truly a piece of work. Possibly the smartest genin the Academy ever produced, but you barely scraped by. If Asuma hadn't picked you up, who knows what might have happened to your potential.
Ah. The Ino-Shika-Chou formation. While not geniuses in their own right, together, they worked more fluidly than the Sannin ever could.
Yamanaka Ino is brash and loud and still has a little girl's crush on Uchiha Sasuke, but mixes it with a kunoichi's seduction... which doesn't work so well with a twelve year old. But she is still a driving motivation in her team, Asuma says, and is the only one who can force Shikamaru and Chouji into working.
Akamichi Chouji is a strange one, to be sure. His family is known to be loud and forceful, the definition of the physical strength that the Chou portion of the formation is supposed to provide. But Chouji is a kinder and gentler boy than his father, whose potential, like many others, is overshadowed by the others in his class. Only Shikamaru really sees what that boy can do.
Aburame Shino, despite his strangeness to his peers, is actually quite normal for an Aburame, from the sunglasses to the trench coat to the bugs crawling underneath their skin. Frankly, I've always been impressed, not repulsed, by the Aburame's connection to the tiniest, seemingly useless creatures of the world. Among the Aburame though, it is said that he may very well be the best that they have ever produced.
Inuzaka Kiba, and of course Akamaru, are also the definition of normal for their clan. The Inuzaka are large, physical fighters who can go into almost bestial rages on command. The Inuzaka do not have as much fame as the Uchiha or Hyuuga or even Aburame, but in their own right, they are powerful, and Kiba will prove himself in time.
Rock Lee is an amusing character. Gai cannot stop talking about the boy, about his progress, about how amazing his determination is. And I must agree. To go from being an equivalent to Naruto in the Academy to a taijutsu specialist with absolutely staggering skill is amazing. It's why I could not deny Gai's request to teach Lee the Lotus, no matter the danger.
TenTen, despite her being overshadowed by both Rock Lee and Hyuuga Neji, is truly a marvel. She chooses her own path, to use weapons and master them better than most chuunin have. Her goal to become the next Tsunade is very admirable indeed, though I do hope she never picks up the medic genius's bad habits.
Haruno Sakura... in her, I see a girl who is not really quite sure what she's supposed to be doing, so she simply follows the Uchiha boy around and lets herself be protected by Sasuke and Naruto. I'm saddened that her potential might go to waste, but perhaps, in time, she will see that she cannot continue to watch the two from the back, and must fight beside them.
And last, but no longer least, is Uzumaki Naruto, who unknowingly, truly has the greatest heritage of all his generation. As I said before, I shall say it again. The Yondaime Hokage is quite possibly the best Konoha has ever produced. And with the power to wield the Kyubi no Youma's power, he has more potential than his entire generation combined.
But Naruto is an anomaly, even in his generation of oddities and potential legends. He is far from a genius, despite his amazing task of learning the Kage Bunshin within the span of a few hours, despite the fact that he has, according to Kakashi, come up with strategies that have outwitted missing nin jounin.
He is not a brilliant genius like Hyuuga Neji or Uchiha Sasuke, not a brilliant medic like Tsunade, not a brilliant taijutsu user like Rock Lee, not a future weapon's master like TenTen, nor a strategic prodigy like Nara Shikamaru, he lacks a bloodline to back him, a clan to shape him, or parents to support him.
What is he, then?
A brilliant loser.
He is different from the rest of us geniuses.
He's not like us at all.
Despite all the traits he shares and inherits from the Yondaime, despite his ability to create stunning strategies out of thin air on the fly, despite all his potential, he is a loser.
And that makes him unique.
He's not truly his father's son, not a star that will burn brightly but burn short.
He is the Sun, eternally bright and powerful. He is new, he is different, and he is better than all of us because he is not a genius of any kind.
Because we geniuses are always blinded by hubris and our own self importance that we fail to see what's right in front of us, and thus, our failures are all that more spectacular.
But Naruto sees what's wrong, see's what the geniuses cannot and fixes it with all the tenacity and power of a boy who was never given a chance, and never needed one to begin with.
We have had so many geniuses of so many kinds, all of us have failed in one way or another. I failed with Orochimaru... actually, sometimes I think I failed all my Sannin. I couldn't see Orochimaru's darkness, Jiraiya's potential, or Tsunade's fragility.
Even Yondaime, great and brilliant and good, was unable to keep his team from being destroyed.
Every genius fails, and that failure damages us all.
But a loser, a loser is different, a loser is better than that.
Naruto is better than that. He falls, he's beaten down, but once, not truly, has he ever failed.
Because in the end, only a loser truly sees.
Out of all the chapters so far, this has to be my favorite.
I'm really tired of all those fics where Naruto becomes some sort of genius with an uber blood line and super fantastic jutsu. Why don't you just replace Naruto's name and but Uchiha Sasuke or Hyuuga Neji or Hatake Kakashi, for God's sake.
Naruto said it himself, after fighting with Neji.
"You're not a loser like me."
Next- Morino Ibiki, and what's the most important thing of all.