Back in the old days, when we all used to watch that one anime about Boruto’s dad, we met a character named Itachi Uchiha. He is one who gave the audience quite the set of mixed emotions. Itachi was introduced as a villain. A black coat, malicious eyes, and purple nail polish completed the “bad guy” look. After 500 episodes, we found ourselves wiping away our tears taking a deep breath that the whole time Itachi was the most moral character of them all.
When we met Sasuke, we found that most of his identity was wrapped up in his older brother Itachi. From planning his murder for the first half of the anime, to trying to avenge him for the second, Itachi’s ultimate sacrifice for his beloved younger brother defined Sasuke’s character. Whether for good or bad, the oldest child leaves quite the mark on the younger sibling.
Years after Itachi’s death, we meet Sarada Uchiha, the girl who is going to save the Uchiha name! Her identity is wrapped up in who her parents are. She questions if Sakura is her biological mother and becomes bitter with Sasuke for never being home. She ends up going on a grand adventure with Naruto where she meets Shin, a creation of Orochimaru whose identity is wrapped up in carrying on Itachi’s will.
Throughout Naruto and Naruto Shippuden, there seems to be many characters who have some sort of identity crisis. I was an emotional high schooler once, so I understand this. I question my identity every other day. Like Sarada , I question if I am loveable. Even today, I was at lunch and told my friend about feeling like no one wanted to be really close friends with me because my personality is just so intense. Her answer was the classic, “Jesus loves you!”
Honestly… that wasn’t what I wanted to hear. Sakura always told her daughter that Sasuke loved her, but without him there, she couldn’t feel it. Sometimes it’s hard to feel God’s love if he isn’t physically there. But we can have assurance of God’s love because of the bible and how God presents his love to us in the form of other people. What a pleasure it is to be used by God to love other human beings! Sometimes, you just need a friend to give you a hug and remind you the truth, that you are made in the image of God and you are loved beyond anything you can imagine. These Christians are a sort of “Jesus with flesh” as my church puts it.
“But you, O Lord,
are a God of compassion and mercy,
slow to get angry
and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.”
The Uchihas just love to have identity crises because they lack people physically there to say, “I love you.” While Shin believes himself to be doing the good work of one of the greatest Uchiha shinobi ever to live, Sarada, without even knowing it, is her uncle’s greatest legacy. She is a symbol of Itachi’s love, because he isn’t physically there. If Sasuke and Shin could learn to understand that, they may have made different life choices.
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Itachi made the decision to murder his whole clan in trade for his brother’s life being spared, but it extends far past Sasuke simply getting to keep his life. Itachi wanted Sasuke to thrive, and while that didn’t go quite the way he probably wanted it to, Itachi desired for Sasuke to love the village he gave his honor away for. Sarada’s existence shows that Itachi’s sacrifice was far from vain, and a physical reminder of his love. Without Itachi, Sasuke would be dead, and Sarada would never have had a chance to exist.
Sometimes, when I feel guilty or unloveable, I punish myself, the greatest punishment being to believe that I am unloveable – something I still struggle with. Sasuke still lives a life of shame as he tried to walk a path of redemption that goes in almost every direction but home to his family’s loving arms. He doesn’t believe he deserves to live the family life Sarada so longs for, so instead he runs in the shadows trying to prove his loyalty to the village by acting as Naruto’s right-hand man. Sasuke is in many ways, a “dark hokage.” While Naruto stands basking in the love of the village, I believe Sasuke runs away from any form of love because he doesn’t believe he deserves it.
“But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”
Shin tries to revive the Akatsuki, putting himself in an imposed prison. He lives a life of bondage as he idolizes a dead man and twists his wisdom. On the other hand, Sarada lives a life of freedom in the village able to run around and make as many friends as her heart desires. She suffers no social stigma because of who her relatives are or what they’ve done. She is the true incarnation of Itachi’s will for the Uchiha clan. Sasuke and Shin do not live up to this ideal in any way shape or form. Still, while Sasuke lives in a self-imposed quest for redemption, he can live vicariously through his daughter who reaps the full benefits of her uncle’s mass murder.
Sarada runs even further to live out Itachi’s love when she makes the vow to become Hokage. Itachi struggled to make the most moral decision when he was being manipulated and abused by the village he loved. Corruption ran through the village like a snake. Sarada indirectly redeems her uncle by proclaiming that she wants to become the protector of the village. She doesn’t just want to reignite the flame of her clan; she wants to adopt the whole village as her family. She wants to be the person who is physically there to remind you that you are loved.
I can’t help but think that Itachi would be wonderfully proud of her.
You can watch Boruto legally on Crunchyroll.