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View Poll Results: What is a ninja's strongest motivation?
Fighting to complete the mission 5 20.83%
Fighting for others 5 20.83%
Fighting for himself 2 8.33%
Fighting for himself with others in mind 7 29.17%
Fighting for others with himself in mind 3 12.50%
Fighting for some other random reason of personal chosing (nindo) 2 8.33%
Voters: 24. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 2004-05-17, 04:05   Link #1
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Purpose and Motivations of a Ninja[manga]

Every once in a while I decide to start threads too. In general I have a question of psuedo-fact and another on opinion. The one about fact will be much shorter to ask so I'll present that one first.

In the Water Country chapter of Naruto, Zabuza goes out saying that the ninja is just a tool. The implication is that they serve their purpose and it doesn't matter if they die serving their purpose. Kakashi affirms this truth and agrees that even though Haku's death was horrible, it was one that he wanted to have that served the greatest benefit to Zabuza in the end. Additionally, during the Chuunin exam the first examiner talks about a ninja accepting dangerous missions where death lurks around the corner, and that they have to be prepared to see their comrades die or die themselves - in spite of all of that, they should still be able to carry out their mission(well...not the self-dying part). Basically the first examiner's words were affirming the same ideas that Zabuza said. The conflict comes in with Naruto's whole approach. Being someone who always wants to protect his nakama(family-friends), he strikes me as someone who is very non-acceptant of a friend's death. I don't think he would be someone who would remember the mission or keep his cool in the event of a friends death, but yet people see this as his source of strength and Sarutobi said that this is when a ninja really shines and shows off their true strength.

Maybe this is a Leaf vs Mist ideal conflict or something, but basically the question is which ideal is the one to be followed by ninja? Gain emotional attactment to your nakama and forget the mission to save them, or let them die and do your duty? I know it seems that the emotional attachment idea seems to be more correct, but I also note that it has been presented to us in the anime more recently where as the duty and mission idea was presented much earlier.

The next question is a matter of opinion in what makes a ninja stronger. The way I'm going to present this arguement is kind of one-sided and leading you to my opinon ^_^ Let's see if you can figure out which one my opinion is.

I actually created this post because as I was writing a reply in another thread and it reminded me of something I wanted to start for a while now. Here is that information as a introduction to the subject:
Originally Posted by EbonySeraphim
I don't know if you watch Kenshin, but for the first part of the story before Kenshin fought Shishio, he was an incomplete fighter. Kenshin was an extremely strong fighter with excellent abilities, and had great motivation to protect those around him. But he had a problem of the hitokiri(assassin) poking out and taking control of him in certain times when he was near death. For that problem, he went to his master again(Hiko Seijuro). During the training his master had to teach him his ougi(succession technique) by threatening Kenshin's life himself. In the process of Hiko Seijuro's approach, Kenshin thought he was going to die and for a moment wondered why he was scared of death. He tried to forcively tell himself that he wasn't afraid of death and was ready to die, and stood strong against his master - basically the hitokiri was acceptant of death. Of course then Kenshin's master went all out and definitely put Kenshin in a situation where he[Kenshin] would die. It was in this process that Kenshin realized he was afraid of death because he wanted to live and that is what he should fight for, and never leave his gaurd down. With this realization and motivation in mind, it allowed Kenshin to perform his succession technique - Ama Kakeru Ryu Hirameki. Why is this important? The act of sacrificing is taken a little too lightly. Basically, standing in front of a bullet is the easy way to save a person from dying, but it shouldn't be done if there are other ways to save both you and the person being protected. Only in the most dire, last ditch, effort situations should someone be so willing to just die for a cause. Otherwise, most likely their death will go in vain and they will have not served their purpose.
I added new text in the middle there and underlined it, just so you know. I also fixed grammar towards the end but the statements are pretty much in tact. Extending the Kenshin story further, Kenshin was an incomplete fighter before his ougi. Sure he was pretty strong generally, and even more so when protecting his friends. However, any battle brought directly to him would result in his lack of effort or lack of motivation on his part, allowing room for a serious enemy to possibly capitalize permanently. The frame of mind needed for his ougi was one that would never fail in a life or death situation. Basically, the speed and power of his ougi was dangerous even to himself and was something that if he even thought of not surviving, he couldn't do it. That is why it was necessary for Kenshin to realize the value of his own life. After he came to the realization, Kenshin could use his ougi without fail and at max strength anytime he needed.

Naruto again presents ideals relatively opposite of this. He basically thinks (and shows) that the strongest abilites come when protecting the ones close to you. In fact, Gaara's character was shown to be not as strong because he thought more akin to Kenshin post-succcession technique. Gaara constantly said that he loved only himself, and that he would not be erased from the world. He was fighting for his survival as he has led a life where attempts were constantly made to kill him. I think the problem with this ideal isn't the fact that Gaara is fighting for himself, but is the fact that he has other problems - like killing too often, and being insensitive to those around him. It is easy to think that Gaara's conviction was wrong because of the other problems he had, but with the Kenshin approach to fighting for one's self in mind, is it really the "wrong" approach?

I'd also like to add that a big reason for fighting for one's self in Kenshin was because of the problem of having no one to protect. When Kenshin fought to protect others, often it was a clear cut situation for him where he wouldn't show any leniency towards the enemy and fight much more motivated. That is all well and good, but in the last episode of the first (Tsuikohen - Trust/Betrayal) OVA, he was put in a situation where he had no one to love or protect. Kenshin was in his weakest moment and was about to be killed. If he had his succession technique training before then, he wouldn't have had a problem fighting in the same situation. His motivations would still be as strong and he could never be seperated from himself. I'd also like to add that when Kenshin realized that he had to fight for himself, this was something on top of protecting loved ones. He did not forget about his family, but now he additionally had placed value on his own life in order to never die even when alone.

In Naruto's world, Kenshin's approach (fighting for one's self) might seem to be useless, but for solo missions, or missions that require you to continue even if your nakama dies, it would probably be the stronger one to carry out the mission and survive. It actually still entails the idea that you will try with great effort to protect those you care about, but assures that when the first person(you) are threatened, you will always be able to fight at maximum level to survive. With Naruto's approach, the level of protection on your nakama may be higher, but when they die and the mindset is lost, you probably wont think straight enough to carry out the mission and survive. [Keeping in mind Naruto is the only one who would really snap and all of sudden become more powerful. Other ninja's don't have such a wildcard] Only once has Naruto ever done something spectacular to protect himself - that was falling off of the cliff and summoning Gamabunta. Other than that, he has shown on multiple occasions, the lack of ability to protect himself and others had to save him (in one case costing Sasuke a lot). Assuming Naruto doesn't have someone to protect him, I can generally infer that he would pretty useless at defending himself against a real threat.

The general question is - what would make a stronger ninja: one who fights at maximum ability for himself with the love for others in mind? Or one who fights at maximum ability only for others?

I added a mini-poll with more options on the matter. I wouldn't be surprised of this thread has a small audience as I posted way to much information as usual.
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Old 2004-05-17, 04:49   Link #2
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w00t, there are only two votes so far, both for "Fighting for himself with others in mind"...that means we felt the same? ^_^;;

I just want to remind everyone here (mostly the "Itachi is a sissy for avoiding Jiraiya" advocates) what the two examiners, Hagane Kotetsu and Kamizuki Izumo, said about Shika's win in the Chuunin Exam:

Izumo: If we look at his platoon leader attributes...he understand he needs to protect the platoon from danger over completing a mission.

Kotetsu: Yeah. "I accomplished the mission, but I got everyone in the platoon killed" doesn't work. You need to be able to weight the risk with the mission, and think about survival first...or you're not worthy of being a chuunin.
Quoted word for word from A/A version

I happen to agree with their view; there are times when accomplishing the mission is absolutely necessary, but if the mission is not of dire importance, why risk the team members' lives? Also remember that most missions nowadays during peacetime are commissioned by clients, unlike during the great war period...

Last edited by sarcasteak; 2004-05-19 at 02:09.
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Old 2004-05-17, 20:11   Link #3
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Ok, so...I obviously killed my own thread before it was even started. How about I just open up discussion to anything related to the topic? >.<
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Old 2004-05-17, 20:14   Link #4
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Originally Posted by EbonySeraphim
Ok, so...I obviously killed my own thread before it was even started. How about I just open up discussion to anything related to the topic? >.<
Don't worry; if you build it, they will come.
Just wait for the heavy-typers to join in on this...especially the firm believers of "you run from mission = you sissy." C'mon, I know you guys are out there...
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Old 2004-05-17, 20:28   Link #5
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I think Gaara was confused by fighting for yourself and fighting to prove you're the strongest to yourself. I think Naruto says it best when he says "I'm going to be a ninja in my own way". I think its a more romantic ideal that fighting for others will make you stronger, when logic would dictate that fighting for yourself should get the best out of you, seeing as you're dead if you don't.
It's a bloody good question and I honestly can't decide.
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Old 2004-05-17, 20:46   Link #6
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That completely depends of the situation.

If I'm the ninja then it's Fighting for myself, the 'with others in mind' is in option if the so-called other has an utility.

If I'm the customer it's Fighting to complete the mission, whatever the cost.
Afterall I don't pay for nothing, they know that the job is dangerous when they accept it, and I paid for this difficulty.

If my name is Kenny Redshirt, a ninja with a deep death desire then I suppose that I would take Fighting for others ^^
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Old 2004-05-17, 21:15   Link #7
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Well ever since the Chunnin Exam, I've gotten the feeling that although there are rules stating to prioritize this over that, when it really came down to it, it seemed to me that the Shinobi's actually fought to protect others, they fought for others, not for themselves, if they were given the options of: die and save the lives of many others, or live and let many others die, it seems to me they'll sacrifice themselves in order to help the greater good. That to me shows that when a bond is created and is strong enough, a Shinobi fights for Others, with His own well being as an afterthought.

Although it's not always the case, this is what I've seen to be the common ground throughout the series. Just look at all the examples.

Kyuubi - The whole village fought to protect everyone else, and in the end, the 4th put the lives of the village before his own.

Haku & Zabuza - Although Zabuza continued to say he fought only for himself, Haku fought for Zabuza, without any thought at all to his own life as logn as Zabuza was kept safe. Even in the end Zabuza fought for Haku, even though he was dead already, he fought to avenge the humiliation of another, even though he knew he would die

The Whole Mission in the Country of the Wave - The whole idea was, "We all die before Tazuna, we defend him with our lives"

Zaku, Dosu and Kin - When they went after Sasuke, Sakura tried to fight back, she gave it her all, in order to protect Sasuke as well as Naruto. When Lee arrived he fought to protect not only them but Sakura as well. Chouji, Shikamaru, and Ino, also fought to protect their friends risking their own lives in the process. When Sasuke awoke with the Curse Seal, his first target was the one who harmed Sakura, who had tried to protect him.

The Gaara Battle - Naruto fought to protect the lives of Sakura mainly, and Sasuke as well. Sasuke, if he could have, would have done the same and even tried.

Orochimaru vs. 3rd Hokage - The 3rd knowingly gave his life to protect all the people of Konoha. The remaining Shinobi fought to protect the village and the people in it.

Just about any fight Naruto is in - He could care less about his own life most of the time, just as long as the lives of his closest friends are safe.

I won't go any further for those that haven't read the Manga. But during most, if not all, the battles were there was a team effort, each Shinobi fought for the lives and well-being of the others, with his own life being inconsequential before the lives of allies, friends, family, etc.

That's just my outlook on the way the Shinobi's fight, their motives.
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Old 2004-05-17, 23:17   Link #8
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Great thought DarcoBattousai. A few things about some of the later key examples of protection of others:

Sasuke was most unequipped to deal with the demon inside Gaara. While he was alone, he was shown to be very ineffective. It was a very unmotivated fight to defeat such an enemy at that level, and Sasuke quickly reached his limit where he would have died if Naruto hadn't jumped in. This in my opinion is a great problem. Sasuke was very unable to perform beyond his normal capabilities for even his own protection, even with the motivation to survive to kill his brother. Also because of the state he was in, it didn't seem like even after Sakura arrived and was in danger that he was able to be any more effective in the fight.

I'd also like to point out that in Sakura's case(in the Forest of Death), her life was the one in more immediate danger when she was trying to protect Naruto and Sasuke. They pretty clearly stated that they were after Sasuke, but that they would kill her first. I would say that she was still in a situation where she needed to protect herself immediately.

Naruto nicely shows ideal situations where the main characters have the opportunity to protect each other and bring out their strengths. If Kishimoto were appealing to an older and more mature audience, issues would come up when they aren't fighting for others, and a character really is about to die alone. That shouldn't be a time when a character stands afraid and helpless. It should be a time when they most have the will to survive (like Kenshin) and pull off their most ourageous feats. My personal rant is that they need to fight for themselves in the end.

If anyone cares about the significance of this: I think that the media (including anime) compels people to think a certain ways. It's all good to be able to stand up for your friends in situations of trouble, but if one feels helpless when alone, they are probably going to be very screwed when they can't find it in themselves to fight for their own survival or protection. Real life doesn't have such an orchestrated story where someone always saves someone else, coming in at the last minute when it really matters.
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Old 2004-05-17, 23:52   Link #9
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And, so it seems as though no ninja (except for Gaara) fights for himself; you're always fighting for/on behalf of someone else. So, if you're alone, the correct course of action is to wait around until someone saves you and fights for you(?)

The only other "fighting for yourself" thing I can think of right now is Sasuke's quest to kill his brother - putting aside all matters of family revenge and such, it seems like something Sasuke is trying to do because he wants to - not because he feels he has to ( which would be more along the line of Tomoe/Kenshin near the end when she puts the scar on his cheek).

The "fighting for others brings out your potential" comes out better if you think of team sports. In this case, your focus changes to one of not wanting to disappoint others, which will usually lead to better performance. You wouldn't give up as quickly or be able to go sit on the bench when you know that your team is relying on you.
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Old 2004-05-18, 00:29   Link #10
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Well,this overall is more of a psychological subject.
Technically,i think the overall ideal of a Ninja on mission is to act as a "tool".
But i also agree with Serephim,on
Maybe this is a Leaf vs Mist ideal conflict
Basically,the main ideal of the Leaf ninja is "Family" or "Nakama" the Hokage also shows this ideal during his fight with Orochimaru,(*His Baka apprentice*)that a ninja's true strength only manifests when has the will to protect others'.
Well,this is how i think it goes,
A Ninja is a "tool",but yet also a part of a bigger picture,a Nakama.
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Old 2004-05-19, 00:49   Link #11
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Limiting this to the Naruto world, the three most prominent issues that have occurred in the anime thus far revolve around competing the mission, protecting others, and fighting for oneself.

I rule out fighting for oneself as the strongest motivation because from what I've gathered, it consists of either saving your own life or fighting to prove that you are stronger than others. While saving your own life can be quite the inspiration to fight harder or put more effort into what you're doing, it seems people often value their own life less than others. Fighting to prove your own strength really only brings out so much in a person but I think it pales in comparison to the other choices because it lacks a clearly defined goal.

Of the remaining two, I'll first address the one I think is more important although less motivation in my opinion. To me, completing a mission is vital and of course, lives are risked in the completion of higher level missions. The fact that there is an objective means there is responsibility to fulfill it. Responsibility is something that I don't think is taken lightly and should be upheld no matter the cost. I believe this can be highly motivational and crucial to most ninjas because it would seem that a country's power is based on its abilities to complete these missions. Of course there are exceptions to this rule depending on the mission which is why this falls second to my last point.

Nakama is the key word to this entire thread. Noone wants to see nakama injured or dead and so the issue of protecting another is probably the most motivational concept for ninja's in the Naruto world. People hate to watch helplessly as other people are hurt and as shown by numerous events, shinobis are constantly helping one another and saving each other's lives. Whether or not it's part of a mission, it instinctively and suddenly becomes a priority for a ninja to save others' lives before their own. It can be stated that a single ninja may fight for their own life so that he/she may save others but it all boils down to trying harder and putting forth "more than best" effort to prevent something that can't be fixed later on.
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