Sasuke Uchiha: Genius? Or Phony?

So, as we all know, in the original Naruto, Sasuke Uchiha is top of the class at the academy, and all the girls are obsessed with him. He’s dark and brooding and has the kind of story line that would make him the main protagonist in a different kind of anime. From the moment he’s introduced we’re supposed to think he’s absolutely amazing. But he’s trash in the original series. As a former fan of the series, I always thought my dislike for Sasuke was only based on my preference for Naruto as far as their rivalry, but I recently re-watched the series, and well, Sasuke sucks. Now, since moments outside of fights can be debated and I don’t really want to argue with a Sasuke stan, i’m just going to go through each of his battles.

  1. The Bell Test

Ok so I’m including this for two different reasons. First, I’d like to point out that while yes, Naruto fell for the same trap twice and got tied to a stump, serious boy Sasuke got buried from the neck down. Sure, there was a tiny moment of traps and shuriken tricks but aside from showing off his fireball jutsu Sasuke didn’t do anything substantial here, in face, Kakashi stepped on his head and took him to task for his undeserved ego as well. But, the real reason I wanted to bring up this fight is because of one of the plot holes in it that has driven me crazy for years.

Now, in this moment, Kakashi is surprised. He’s genuinely surprised, says that genin can’t do fire jutsu because it takes too much chakra. But Sasuke is an Uchicha. They’re clan symbol is a fan in reference to their fire techniques. It’s known that doing your first fire jutsu is a rite of passage for the clan. So, why is he surprised? Now, maybe even the Uchiha don’t normally develop that skill at 12 but he’s Itachi’s brother, and Kakashi used to work alongside Itachi in ANBU. There’s absolutely no reason for Kakashi to be surprised by this moment. I know it’s minuscule but a simple change in one line of dialogue would’ve made way more sense and actually done wonders for his character while also being accurate to the lore of the series.

2. Sasuke’s involvement in the Zabuza fight

Now let me give credit where credit is due. Sasuke absolutely pulled off a quick attack on the first two assassins that attacked before Zabuza showed up. Sure, he didn’t have to be a dick to Naruto about it, but whatever. Now, almost immediately after that, Sasuke sees Kakashi and Zabuza stand off, sizing each other up before the fight even starts, and he gets so overwhelmed he pulls out his kunai and considers suicide. Kakashi talks him down, and then Kakashi fights Zabuza. Then, while Kakashi is trapped, a Zabuza clone starts to strangle Sasuke and frightens Naruto for a moment before he gets his shonen protagonist speech started and rallies his teammates to fight. Of course there’s the moment where Sasuke does the shuriken move with Naruto, but all he does in that situation is throw the shuriken. In my opinion, this scene works great to show the gravity of a real fight, but considering the immense torment Sasuke went through as a child, a stand off shouldn’t have made him borderline suicidal, unless they wanted to do something cool about him being triggered or having PTSD, which they didn’t even hint at.

3. Sasuke vs Haku

Now Sasuke starts this one off strong. He talks a little smack, does a cliche one hit kill on Zabuza’s water clones because his Sharingan is waking up, and matches Haku in speed. But after he kicks Haku in the face one time, he gets trapped in the ice mirror technique.

Say what you want about the fact that Sasuke jumped in to save Naruto in that moment, but Sasuke was just as trapped in those ice mirrors as Naruto was, with no way out. You could make an argument that if Sasuke hadn’t tried to save Naruto he might have gotten an advantage for a moment, but I doubt it would have been enough to break the mirror technique. After that, Sasuke’s on the floor and we’re given the first peek at the Nine Tails power.

4. Sasuke vs Lee

I mean, I don’t think I need to go in depth on this one. He got completely destroyed. He did his usual trash talk about how superior he was and then Lee knocked him on his ass multiple times.

5. Chunin exams

So, there’s four fights in the Forest of Death. The first is against another genin in a yellow jumpsuit who, after a minute or so, runs away after Sasuke stabbed him. Of course at the end of the forest stuff, Team 7 fights them again and wins again. Then there’s the first encounter with Orochimaru. After some light fighting to show how strong this snake user is, Sasuke offers up the scroll, but Naruto (who just ripped a snake open to escape being eaten) punches Sasuke in the face, and after some cool fight moments and 2 speeches, Naruto is incapacitated and Sasuke gets the courage to fight. Now, this is an amazing fight, but of course, it ends with Sasuke unconscious and with the curse mark.

Then of course there’s the curse mark reveal fight with the sound guys where Sasuke breaks one guys arms and his teamate surrenders the scroll. So, three wins for Sasuke in the forest. Then there’s the tournament prelims, where Sasuke reveals he copied Lee’s technique and even though he’s not as fast as Lee is, he can pull off some of what Lee can do. Four wins for Sasuke.

6. Sasuke vs Gaara

The great emo battle we’d been waiting for. Finally, Sasuke was gonna fight Gaara. Well, it was a cool fight for a moment, but we all know how it ended. Sasuke, out of chakra, barely able to move, useless to help Sakura, with Naruto fighting a giant sand demon on the back of a giant toad.

7. Sasuke vs Itachi

Do I even need to talk about this one? I mean, Sasuke gave a pretty good speech about vengeance, and told the legendary sanin Jiraya that no one else stood a chance against Itachi, but for all that ego, he got beat so bad it’s a meme now.

Now, there are only 3 more canon Sasuke fights in the series before Shippuden. The first of course is his stalemate with Naruto, where he looked at water canisters and convinced himself rasengan was stronger than chidori even though the moves are technically equal, his attempt to fight the sound four, and his incredible fight against Naruto, which has been debated a million times who won. Some say Sasuke won because he was still conscious at the end, some say Naruto won because he chose to leave a symbolic mark on the headband instead of hitting a vital spot, but I’ll give this one to Sasuke for the aforementioned, still standing argument.

Well, there it is. Five victories. Five, four of which, were against irrelevant characters who were only shown during those moments and never showed up again. In that time, Naruto achieved numerous victories and contributed greatly to amazing fights against powerful demons and legendary ninja. Yet, the entire original series, Sasuke is heralded as the superior ninja. Everyone says again and again how Sasuke is so much better, and Naruto does too. Aside from a few moments of humility in crisis situations, Sasuke truly believes he’s better than Naruto, because back at the academy, he was. He’s been heralded a genius his entire life, and even though he’s always had his brother’s shadow looming over him, he’s fully believed no matter what that he is superior to everyone else in every way. Hell, he even convinced himself he could beat Itachi because he’d learned chidori. In all honesty, that’s my issue with Sasuke. Not his edgelord demeanor, his role as Naruto’s rival/antagonist, or even his incredible ego. The thing I hate is the fact that the series fully expects you to agree with that ego. We’re supposed to look at him in that same light, but it’s just not true.

I could also make the same argument for Shippuden, if you want 🙂

-Strawberry Smirk

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