The world of ninjas is brutal because anyone can be defeated at any time. Despite all the grief and cruelty that exists, the Naruto heroes of the series always smile at death.
As each character meets their end, they are not overwhelmed by fear, anger, or regret. They die without complaint and contentedly.
This is in stark contrast to the gruesome death scenes of many villains such as Orochimaru, Sasori and Hidan who greeted their demise with indignation. So why do Naruto heroes die with a smile and villains don’t?
What is Will of Fire?
The philosophy of the Will of Fire is often mentioned throughout the series by characters such as Hashirama Senju and Hiruzen Sarutobi. The Will of Fire ideals are that everyone living in Konoha is a family, dedicated to protecting and loving each other.
The villagers derive strength and will from this ideal in times of crisis. Another aspect of Will of Fire is that the dreams and goals of the previous generation can be passed on and realized by the next generation.
Therefore, wishes never die even if the original owner of those dreams has departed from life. At the end of the Fourth Shinobi War, Hashirama explained the concept to Madara before the two returned to the afterlife:
“Our job is to do all we can while we’re alive. And then leave the rest for future generations to complete.”
During the final part of the Chunin Exams, Konoha was attacked by ninjas from Sound Village and Sand Village. While the attack was going on, Hiruzen was forced to fight his former student – Orochimaru.
Although Hiruzen tried to kill Orochimaru, he still failed in the end. Orochimaru promised to destroy Konoha with his forces when Hiruzen fell. Despite these threats, Hiruzen smiled contentedly as he passed away.
He smiled because he believed in Will of Fire and had faith in the Konoha ninja he raised and trained. Despite the failure, Hiruzen is sure that the next generation will continue their dream of protecting Konoha. His last words confirm this:
“When the leaves dance, people will find fire. The shadow of the fire will illuminate the village, and once again the leaves will sprout new buds.”
A character doesn’t have to be from Konoha to believe in some form of Fire. Chiyo is Sand Village’s advisor and the one who sealed Shukaku inside Gaara. She has little faith in the next generation of her village and is very skeptical of the alliance with Konoha.
After witnessing Naruto and Sakura’s dedication to Gaara and the other Sand Village ninjas, Mrs. Chiyo’s views changed. She decided to put her trust in the next generation and allow them to correct the mistakes of the past.
Chiyo is willing to sacrifice her life so that Gaara can be revived and lead the village in the future. She explained her new point of view to Naruto while bringing Gaara back:
“I’m glad someone like you appeared in the shinobi world that stupid old people like us have created. Everything I ever did was a mistake. But now, it seems I can finally do the right thing. Sand Village and Konoha. The future of the two villages will be much different from mine.”
Despite being a famous ninja in the shinobi world and a member of the legendary Sannin, Jiraiya personally viewed most of his life as a long list of failures.
He was unable to win Tsunade’s heart, stop Orochimaru, save his sensei Hiruzen or protect Nagato, Konan, and Yahiko. Even in his final battle, he was unable to defeat Pain. Despite all these shortcomings, Jiraiya died with a smile as he sank to the bottom of the ocean.
Hiruzen passed the Will of Fire to Jiraiya, who then passed it on to Naruto. Jiraiya felt Naruto would definitely accomplish all the things he could never do. His dream of peace lived on through Naruto. With his last words, Jiraiya trusted Naruto to finish his story:
“The little frog in the deep well is drifting into the vast ocean. Not bad…not bad at all. Now…it’s time for me to stop writing. Ah, that’s right! What should I name the next part? Let’s think…The Legend of Uzumaki Naruto…Good! What a great name!”
At the beginning of the story, Neji believes that a person’s destination in life can never be changed. He accepted that his fate was also predetermined. After his fight with Naruto, he realizes that people can choose what kind of person they can be.
Neji chose to become strong enough to protect the people he cares about. This eventually leads to him giving up his life for Hinata, embracing the Fire. No one forced him to sacrifice himself, it was a choice of his own free will.
In the end, Neji left without regret because he died to save his family, protect the most important person. Neji believes Naruto will continue to fulfill his dream of protecting the people he loves. In his words:
“Dad, I finally understand your feelings… The freedom you felt when I chose to die to protect my friends…”
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