The Homosexual Reading of Naruto
The relationship between Naruto and Sasuke is often jokingly said to be a homosexual one. This is based upon obvious events such as their accidental kiss (http://www.onemanga.com/Naruto/3/08/
), and questionable behaviours such as Naruto's belief in their strong bond (http://www.onemanga.com/Naruto/229/14-15/
). However, these are easy to dismiss as simple smut, the kiss was
accidental and the relationship is explicitly said to be brotherly time after time. Despite this though, a further examination of events, pages and subtext argues otherwise.
Firstly, the kiss itself is interesting. Whilst it is an accident, it's intriguing that Mashashi Kishimoto had Naruto and Sasuke kiss, whilst in other shonen manga like Dragon Ball, the main character acts inappropriately with a female cast member (http://www.onemanga.com/Dragon_Ball/2/13/
). This is likewise the same even in sloppy seconds like Bleach. The important thing isn't so much that Naruto and Sasuke actually kiss, it's that the author attempts to make the audience already begin to think of sexual tension between the characters. Naruto doesn't accidentally kiss Sakura, and whilst kissing Sasuke could be argued for shock value as part of the humour, with the other evidence we are about to examine it appears become less likely.
Most fans will debunk ideas of Naruto being homosexual by referencing his apparent sexuality in the manga. Notably, Naruto continually expresses his love for Sakura, he shows an interest in heterosexual porn, and he is frigid to Sai’s seemingly misinterpreted sexuality.
Naruto’s professed love for Sakura is a weak argument. Naruto has tended to only justify his attraction to her based upon her appearance (http://www.onemanga.com/Naruto/3/04/
, when Jiraiya prepares him for death in training etc.), he hasn’t shown any development of this to admiration of her personality or behaviour. This suggests that his love for her is merely a crush, and something that can easily be mimicked – after all Lee has a crush on Sakura, and Naruto also witnesses most of the girls in his age group crushing on Sasuke. To have gotten this far in the manga, it’s strange for Naruto not to have mentioned something solid that he actually likes about her other than her appearance. Even instances when he appreciates her talents, such as after the time skip, are no different from when he witnesses the change in other characters.
When Sakura also confesses her love to Naruto, Naruto is blasé to it. If Naruto honestly did have an attraction to Sakura he’d have had a more emotional response in his belief of her lying to him. After being rejected so long by Sakura Naruto should be expected to be less cool to her recent behaviour in the manga.
With Sasuke on the other hand, Naruto is freely able to talk emotionally about why he considers Sasuke to be his best friend. Naruto talks of the brotherly bond which they share, the feeling of being whole around him and their companions, and the pain he feels when Sasuke is and has left him. Pages also suggest physical love (http://www.onemanga.com/Naruto/233/09/
). Naruto is even able to give up on his dreams of Hokage because of the pain Sasuke has caused him by deserting Konoha and team 7.
Naruto is immediately attracted to Sakura, whilst with Sasuke his relationship with him blossoms over time as they are forced to spend time together. This is typical romance, from Beauty and the Beast to Jane Eyre. His tendency to see Sasuke as brother doesn’t conflict with this reading either when we consider the traditional role of bonding in Samurai culture. Naruto specifically sees Sasuke as an older brother, and as in Sparta, Japan once promoted sexual bonding between students and sensei in order to increase the efforts they put into training, and in fighting. This is only amplified by Naruto’s training alone with Jiraiya, a much older sensei who is obviously sexually active due to his visits to brothels with his student. The decision to take Naruto to spas to relax is also intriguing.
Naruto also tries his hardest to be like Sasuke, causing him to catch up to him as a rival in ability. Sakura attempts to do the same, and it’s insightful that the Naruto acts in the same way to the person she supposedly loves. Naruto is appears to be oblivious to Hinata’s attraction to him, and even when she confesses her love and almost dies for him, he doesn’t make an effort to consolidate his relationship with her. He seems to be not interested in women in general, which is furthered by his lack of interest in Jiraiya’s books despite others in the manga obsessing over them (http://www.onemanga.com/Naruto/245/12/
), and by his inobservant view of Sakura after puberty (http://www.onemanga.com/Naruto/245/15/
Critics will of course raise the issue of Naruto’s interest in the female form, and his encouragement of Konohamaru in the same practices. This is flawed, as although Naruto does look at heterosexual porn and attempts to spy on naked women, he has only done this successfully so far in order to transform himself into a beautiful woman in order to attract men (http://www.onemanga.com/Naruto/1/10/
). This sex change allows him to flirt openly with his master Jiraiya, in a clearly sexual manner, encouraging pederasty (http://www.onemanga.com/Naruto/91/07/
). Likewise, he instructs Konohamaru to do the same – and the end product leads to Konohamaru presenting homosexual acts using the technique (http://media.onemanga.com/mangas/000...0225922/10.jpg
). Whilst Naruto does scold Konohamaru for this, it may well be because he does it in front of Sakura. Naruto doesn’t want her to see this, as he needs her as a facade to hide his own homosexuality, and he may do this subconsciously if he himself has not been able to come to terms with his sexuality and relationship with Sasuke. Likewise, Naruto’s interest in spying on Sakura may well be an effort to bolster his heterosexual image after being threatened (http://www.onemanga.com/Naruto/286/16/
Leading into the last issue, this also explains why he is frigid around Sai – someone who is seemingly comfortable with their own sexuality (http://www.onemanga.com/Naruto/286/14/
), because he feels that the character is forcing him to confront his own feelings. Naruto may also be attracted to Sai – perhaps because he resembles Sasuke, and attempts to pass this off as contempt towards him (http://www.onemanga.com/Naruto/286/03/
If we interpret the Naruto world as one which discriminates against homosexuals, it may well be significant that there are no openly gay characters in Naruto. This would make Naruto’s reluctance to admit his sexuality significant, and points of interest such as Sasuke’s ambigious line, “I...,” (http://www.onemanga.com/Naruto/233/14/
), may be when a character is attempting to voice their sexuality. Notably Sasuke may be afraid to reciprocate his feelings because of the society they live in, and this makes his rejection of Naruto all the more painful for the titular character (http://www.onemanga.com/Naruto/307/09/
Returning to our original point, Kishimoto has deliberately seeded these ideas throughout the manga in order to make readers consider them. That said however, there have also been far more obvious expressions of his sexuality. Notably, Naruto’s defacement of the Hokage statues resembles bukkake (http://www.onemanga.com/Naruto/1/05/
), he is attracted strongly to Haku whilst thinking she is a woman – he hasn’t been shown to be attracted in the same way to a genuine woman (http://www.onemanga.com/Naruto/21/08/
), and his often attention craving behaviour appears to mimic the attitude of many adolescent women – not of most male teenagers (http://www.onemanga.com/Naruto/1/10/
). Naruto also is probed anally by Kakashi, and attempts to reciprocate this when he is older in the anime, and also performs the move on Gaara (http://www.onemanga.com/Naruto/5/08/
). Whilst this can be to inflict pain, it’s again questionable why the author decided to include it.
Naruto’s fights are also full of images of submission. Naruto frequently is beaten by his enemies to near fatal injury, but uses this suffering to convince his opponents differently in their beliefs. Many positions in fights shown, such as Naruto being held to the ground by Pain, or Sasuke leaning over Naruto whilst he is unconscious also are suggestive (http://www.onemanga.com/Naruto/435/015/
). Furthermore Naruto’s preference for holding weapons in his mouth, biting and even farting promote thoughts on oral and anal stimulation (http://www.onemanga.com/Naruto/77/10/
Several Manga covers are also suggestive of Naruto’s affection for Sasuke sexually, http://www.onemanga.com/Naruto/233/01/
, and see annotated below:
In conclusion, Naruto may well be gay but he may not have come to terms with his sexuality yet. This is normal for someone who is 15. Arguments for his heterosexuality are undermined by many instances and the decision by Kishimoto to include homosexually suggestive actions and events provide disagreement.
tl;dr – Naruto’s a fag.