I really don't think any of them will be killed off - to me, Kishi proved with Neji, Chouji, and Gaara that he's not going to kill anyone from this generation. I would say Sasuke has the highest chance, but even that, is incredibly low from my pov and general feeling I get from the series. It's hopeful, it's about overcoming obstacles and is basically very idealistic. /kinda why I love it, me thinks. XD Sasuke's survival is tied to Naruto and Sakura's life goals... And I know I would really hate an ending like that. Pairings be damned. T_T Just give me Team 07! XD
There are dark aspects, of course. I just think the light shines through, so to speak.
Funny you should bring up culture HS, I recently read an interesting livejournal entry about sex and romance in Japan, from a foreign woman's pov. (I believe she was from Australia.) Unforunately, it seems she's made the post private. =/ I wanted to share it with you guys, but I can find a little that people posted in the SS FC over at NF.
Flirting seems like a misnomer. It's more like an absense of flirting. If you like someone in Japan, there are a couple of different ways of showing it and/or approaching them, none of which really resemble flirting in the west.
The pickup - The negotiation through a third party:
1. Nanpa (the "pickup")
First off, only guys do nanpa; in the rare case that girls do it, it's called gyaku-nan ("reverse nanpa"), but I never heard of gyaku-nan actually happening, it always seemed like it was more of an amusing theoretical idea, rather than something girls really did.
Nanpa only refers to the case when you don't know the other person at all, and you want to pick them up. Nanpa is direct. "You're cute. What's your name? Do you have time? Let's go somewhere." That is the classic script of nanpa. It can be shortened to just: "Kawaii yo. Jikan aru?" If you hear that, you're being nanpa-ed. Of course, if you are a non-Asian foreigner, you will probably never hear that, because Japanese guys are too shy to try and nanpa a white or black woman. Most Japanese guys are too shy to nanpa at all. If you ask a Japanese if he has ever done nanpa, he'll probably say, "ZOMG! No way! I'm too embarrassed!" since nanpa is direct, and mostly, if you are Japanese and you like someone, you embark on a series of subtle, indirect stealth manoeuvres, because liking prohibits action, especially for women, but also for men.
Why is this the case? Japanese social interaction is all about intuiting the other person's wishes without discussing them openly, at the same time that they are intuiting your wishes without discussing them openly, so that although nothing is ever verbalised, the two of you will always exist in a compromise position of equilibrium. If you like someone, that intuitive part goes into overdrive, because you should be able to understand everything about that person without them ever telling you, and you should be able to please them without ever asking how, even more than you would with a normal person. So it's more important than ever to be indirect. Which leads me to:
2. Negotiating through a third party
Again, it's not really flirting, but since flirting is showing your feelings openly--that is, pushing your feelings onto another person, which is direct and rude--it's better to show no sign to the other person and meanwhile exploit the back channels. Sort of like in high school. So that convoluted human chain whereby: you like Hiro and you tell Junko that you think Hiro has a nice smile knowing that Junko will intuit that you want to know if Hiro likes you back, since Junko is friends with Goro who is friends with Hiro and Junko will talk to Goro and Goro will bring it up with Hiro etc etc etc etc etc etc. Once everything is confirmed, Hiro will ask you out. (The girl ask the guy out? Ahahahaha. Be serious.)
If you don't have a third party to negotiate for you, you may be forced to use other methods, all of them so subtle that a westerner may not even notice them at all.
3. Subtle signals
- Shyness. Pronounced shyness is form of flirting, since it's a sign of liking, especially from girls, but also from guys. She interacts with everyone else more than him, she doesn't sit next to him, she doesn't talk much to him, she doesn't initiate anything with him.
- Attentiveness. You make life easier for the other person without being asked to. For example, when you got to a restaurant in Japan it's normal to share food, so flirting means not ordering what you like, but ordering what s/he likes, which you already know without asking, because you're observant. Stuff like that.
- Eye contact. It's the opposite to the west, where you gaze deeply into someone's eyes if you like them. Direct eye contact is a bit rude in Japan at the best of times. If you're flirting you look down and away a lot.
- Indirect compliments. I can't think of a good example. It's pretty rare to give direct compliments and even more rare to compliment someone's looks. (It's especially rare for guys to compliment girls directly.) I wish I could think of a good example! I'll come back to this one.
Unfortunately, not much on sex was posted at the FC, so... sorry guys. But she did mention that sex is structured in Japan, like most aspects of their social interactions, and there's a distinct active/passive role. Guys are generally active, and they are responsible for the sex and directing the girl, who, according to how she explained it, basically lays there like a rock, kissing submissively and being directed by the guy. <_<;
And she said that Japanese guys stress out about sex way more than Westerners. Also, Japanese prefer to shower before and after sex - they don't like to do it spontaneously. Here's another little section that was posted that kinda touches on that:
Originally Posted by ''"
In Japan, you can't get in the front door and immediately start stripping each other's clothes off in the hallway. Well, you can, and your Japanese partner will probably acquiesce because they are Japanese, but deep down they will be hideously uncomfortable and thinking, "Sex? But I'm not mentally prepared! I haven't done my kokoro no junbi! And she hasn't had a shower! And I haven't had a shower! This is kind of gross!"
And apparently, Kokoro no junbi, is the phrase that Hinata uses in Part II when she encounters Naruto again. Thought IMC and HFX would like that. ^^
Here's more info on kokoro no junbi:
Kokoro no junbi -- it's one of those words/phrases that doesn't really have a direct translation in English. I think the closest we have is "psyching yourself up" but it's not quite the same. Mental preparation? Kokoro no junbi is like . . . you're sitting at home on the couch reading a book, and your friend calls you up and says, "Do you want to come see this movie that starts in twenty minutes?" and you would love to see the movie, and it's not as if you have anything better to do, but somehow it's hard to get your mind to switch tracks from "I'm at home now" to "suddenly going out". That is, there's nothing wrong with the idea of going out except that it's somehow too sudden. You're not mentally prepared. If you only had an hour or two grace time you'd feel completely different about everything, because you'd have absorbed 'yes, I'm going out to see a movie' and you'd been in a different frame of mind. That mental adjustment is kokoro no junbi.
My experience was that Japanese people needed more time for kokoro no junbi than EG Australians. A lot of my Japanese friends didn't like (for example) making same day plans because it didn't give them enough time for junbi. (I guess in general spontaneity is frowned on in Japan because it's selfish -- you haven't taken enough time to suss out what the other person wants before acting.)
So in a way, for Hinata, there is a without-Naruto in Konoha and a with-Naruto in Konoha state, and they are so different, she has to prepare her heart and mind to it. Awwww XD /thats how I interpreted it, anyway.
OF COURSE ~ ~ ~
Don't take this as entirely fact or anything. XD Its definitely not a highly researched post, but it was informative and reflective of this woman's experiences and insights, which is very entertaining if nothing else.
I'm sure if you wanted to get a more researched and thorough view/analysis, there are books or sites related to the subject. I don't have any recs, since I've just recently decided to dedicate more time to learning about the Japanese cutlure specifically. 'Bout time too. XD
edit - Oh and ~
Happy Birthday, I'MNOTCRAZY!
Hope it goes well for you ~