Friday, January 09, 2009

Neji Hyuga

Neji Hyuga (日向 ネジ, Hyūga Neji?) is a member of Team Guy and a child prodigy of the Hyuga clan. Despite his natural talent, Neji's membership in one of the clan's lower houses leaves him ineligible to learn the clan's most secret techniques. At the start of the series, Neji openly hates the main house because of this, readily attacking its members verbally or physically when given the chance. At this point in the series, Neji believes in a fatalistic philosophy: that one's destiny is inescapable and that a weak person will always be weak. After being defeated in battle by Naruto Uzumaki, a character that has proven his "destiny" wrong by getting stronger, Neji has a change of heart.He abandons the idea of a predetermined fate, and resolves to get strong enough to never lose a battle. He also tries to remedy the estranged relations between himself and the members of the main house, resulting in his training with the leader of the main house at the end of Part I.

Neji displays his title as a prodigy of the Hyuga throughout the series; when first introduced he is highly proficient with the Gentle Fist style of combat, with which he can directly attack an opponent's internal systems. Though never having been trained in the form, Neji has been able to replicate it and its most powerful attacks through simple observation. As the series progresses, Neji refines these abilities into more powerful counterparts, either to increase their potency or to fix an inherent flaw. One such example is his Byakugan, an eye technique that by default grants the owner a near-360-degree field of vision within a fifty meter radius. Neji constantly trains to overcome a small blindspot and to increase the Byakugan's range of sight. In the Japanese anime, his seiyū is Kōichi Tōchika, and when he is featured as a child, he is voiced by Keiko Nemoto. His voice in the English anime is provided by Steve Staley, and Wendee Lee provides his child voice.

Neji Hyuga (日向ネジ, Hyūga Neji) is a branch member of the famed Hyuga clan. Throughout Part I, Neji is widely considered to be the most talented Genin in Konohagakure. He is a natural genius, surpassing those of the main branch, which he bitterly resented. When Neji is first introduced, he has an air of superiority about him, strongly believing that everyone is resigned to their fate and that strength is pre-determined. However, after battling with Naruto Uzumaki, Neji finally changes his outlook on the world.

Neji has a large knowledge of his Byakugan, a bloodline limit Kekkei Genkai that allows its user to have an unobstructed view of the world around him (an almost 360 degree vision with in Part I a 50m radius and in Part II a 1000m radius). It can see through any solid object and can see the chakra points of a person, and using his Gentle Fist, a style that pushes chakra out of ones hand, can effectively control the flow of chakra within a foe. After the Preliminaries of the Chunin Exams, he learned in the period of one month Eight Trigrams Palms Heavenly Spin, a technique where one ejects chakra out of all 64 of their chakra points and spins like a top, creating a barrier of impenetrable chakra around ones body.

Not much is known about Neji's birth. After his cousin Hinata from the main branch had her 3rd birthday, Neji was taken by Hiashi Hyuga and had the Hyuga Main Family's Juinjutsu applied to his forehead. After seeing his father being punished for merely thinking about treachery, Neji began to see himself as a helpless "caged bird," forced to obey the main branch of the family. Around this time, his father had begun to see Neji's natural talent. After his father's sacrificed himself for the main family, Neji mistakenly believed that the main branch had forced him to do so, and the event became the primary basis of his grudge against the main branch.

A year before the start of the series, Neji graduated at the top of his class, and was placed in Team Guy with Might Guy as the Jonin leader, and Rock Lee and Tenten as his teammates. After officially being promoted to Genin, Neji declined to reveal his dream, and laughed at Rock Lee for claiming that he could become a great ninja with just taijutsu. During their first year in Team Guy, Lee challenged Neji many times, but lost every time. Guy decided to have his team wait a year before taking the Chunin Exams in order to ensure that they were prepared. At some point before his first Chunin Exam, his animosity toward the main branch became apparent to Guy, who made him promise not to let the issue influence his feelings during the exam.


Outside of his initial feelings towards his clan, Neji has shown to be extremely mature for his age and have great self-control. In battle, he is able to stay relatively calm in most situations and carefully look at the situation at hand. As stated by Tsunade, Neji has excellent instincts, both on the battlfield and as a leader. When forced to make difficult decisions on missions, he would show himself able to make one with insightful judgement though keen observation and analyzing.

While under the belief that his father died because he was a member of the branch house, Neji concludes that fate is something decided at birth and that no matter what one does, people cannot escape their destiny. Neji often applies this to people he views as weaker than he is, particularly his teammate Lee and his cousin Hinata Hyuga. He dismisses Lee's dream of becoming a great ninja despite his inability to mold chakra as hopeless, and suggests that Lee can never defeat him. As they grow as a team, he takes account to Lee's abilities and has faith in him. Still his ideals remained unchanged.

During his match in the Chunin Exams, he tells Hinata that she is unfit to be a ninja due to being too kind and not confident enough. When she is eventually able to turn his philosophy against him, telling him that she believes that he is suffering from trying to become worthy of the main house despite his being born into the branch family, Neji becomes enraged and attempts to attack Hinata. However, he is stopped by multiple Jonin before he can land a blow that would have almost certainly killed her. While Hinata is left near death after the battle, Neji's only concern is that he could not complete his attack, and he accuses the Jonin of giving special treatment to the head family members. He disregards Hinata's personal growth in the match, concluding that because she was defeated, "a failure will always be a failure."

Neji displays similar efforts to condescend others during his match with Naruto Uzumaki who, despite being repeatedly struck down, continues to try and fight him. While Neji tries to show Naruto that fate cannot be fought and that someone who is weak will always remain weak, Naruto is unwilling to accept this mindset, arguing that Neji, for all his belief in fate, has not accepted his own destiny. Naruto taps into the power of the demon fox sealed within him and fights Neji, regaining his access to his chakra. Using a shadow clone to feign defeat, Naruto surprises and defeats Neji, suggesting that if a "failure" like himself can change his destiny, a "genius" like Neji can, too.

With this example of overcoming "destiny" as well as finding out the truth about his father's death soon afterwards, Neji abandons the concept of inescapable fate. No longer bound by the idea that he is stuck at his current status, Neji resolves to become strong enough to never again lose a battle. To do so he begins putting more emphasis on working well with his team, and starts to value a mission's successful completion and his teammates' safety over his own betterment, even encouraging Rock Lee to continue pursuing his own dream. In addition, Neji begins trying to remedy the estranged relations between himself and the main house members, most particularly by being kinder to Hinata. His efforts seem to be effective, as he begins training with Hiashi and in Part II even starts to wear traditional Hyuga robes. As another result of his loss against Naruto, Neji no longer thinks of people as failures who can never change, as he suggests that he would not have persevered in Lee's situation, and believes that if Lee works hard enough, he can surpass the gifted. Neji is glad Naruto was able to influence him to change.
Part I
Chunin Exams

Neji first met Team 7 in the exam hallway, demanding to know who Sasuke is and acting somewhat condescendingly toward him. He obtained the answers to the first phase of the test by using his Byakugan to read other examinees' tests by seeing through the person's body.

When the team went into the Forest of Death, Neji and his team had to gather either a heaven or an earth scroll and make it to the center tower in a week. At about the second or third day into the second part, the cell decided to split up to search for suitable targets. Lee went off and he found Team 7, and defended the disabled team from the Sound genin. When Neji and Tenten met back to report, Lee had not returned. They quickly went after Lee and found the taijutsu expert wounded. They refrained from entering the fight, since Sasuke was about to enter the first stage of the cursed seal. Once they recovered the wounded Lee, Neji's team left the scene, and they managed to pass the second part some time afterward.

To decrease the number of genin participating the the exam finals, one-on-one matches were organized to eliminate the weaker Genin. Neji was paired up against Hinata. His attitude toward Hinata angered Naruto, who cheered for the kunoichi. Although Hinata seemed to defeat Neji, Neji revealed to Hinata that he has plugged off Hinata's chakra points, rendering her Gentle Fist useless. He also hit a chakra point close to one of Hinata's vitals moments before, putting Hinata in critical condition. However, Hinata refused to back down, insisting that Neji, not she, was fighting against what could not be changed. Neji was about to administer a killing blow when the jonin Kakashi Hatake, Hayate, Kurenai, and Might Guy stepped in to save the wounded shinobi. After the fight, Naruto swiped up some of Hinata's blood, which she had coughed up due to the damage near her vitals, and sweared to defeat Neji. Neji also told Naruto to give up, since there was no way for him to defeat the Hyuga, using "fate" as his reasoning. During Lee's match with Gaara, Neji was amazed by the power Lee released by opening his chakra gates, but after witnessing Lee's injuries end his career at a ninja, thought that Lee was foolish to try to win by using such a self-sacrificial method.

Neji was pitted against Naruto in the first rounds of the finals. Although Neji soon gained the advantage and cut off Naruto's chakra flow, Naruto was determined to fight against Neji, inspired by Hinata and Lee's bravery and angered by the way Neji belittled and almost killed Hinata. Naruto tapped into the power of the nine-tailed fox, and was able to keep up with Neji for a time. Neji's Heavenly Spin protected him from Naruto's attacks, but when he approached a supposedly defeated Naruto, Naruto popped out of a tunnel he dug in the ground, and uppercut Neji in the jaw, defeating him.

Neji was angry with himself for falling for Naruto's signature technique, but Naruto revealed that the technique used to be his worst one, and that he only became good at it through practice. Neji then heard of his father's fate from his uncle, and broke down in tears. When Hiashi bowed before Neji in forgiveness, Neji asks him to rise, and forgave him. Neji then silently told his father that wished to change his destiny just like he did, and that he hoped to never lose again.

Sasuke Retrieval arc

Neji was recruited as part of the five-man team to retrieve Sasuke from the Sound Four. In the anime he was recruited at Konoha's park while having a morning talk with Lee, who had just gotten his operation. Neji helped Lee down the steps and when they learned about the mission Neji, sensing Lee's disappointment that he couldn't go, told his teammate to do what he has to do. Shikamaru assigned Neji the hardest task of the single line in taking the rear guard, watching the back with his Byakugan. After Chouji's fight with Jirobo, Neji's opponent was Kidomaru, who was able to analyze his defenses and find the blind spot in his Byakugan. Neji realized that Kidomaru was far more powerful than he was, and that he was in the same situation that Lee, Hinata and Naruto had been in. Neji was determined never to give up, though, as he wanted to show those who considered him a genius that their faith in him was correct, and to prove that he no longer surrendered to fate. Neji was severely wounded when Kidomaru converted his cursed seal mark to level 2, allowing him to fire arrows at impossibly fast speeds. The arrow was connected to a string, which was directly controlled by Kidomaru. Neji initially tried to avoid the arrows, but after being impaled once and sliced on the cheek he allowed himself to be hit, and channeled chakra through the web attached to the last one, severely injuring Kidomaru. He then caught and struck Kidomaru repeatedly with Gentle Fist, mortally wounding him. Despite Kidomaru's dying words that Sasuke had fallen to darkness, Neji was confident that Naruto could make him see reason the same way he had done for him. Although he was near death after the battle, he was saved with the help of Shizune and other medical ninja.

Filler arcs

In the filler arcs, it was shown that Neji's relationship with the main house was improving. He was commonly shown being trained by his uncle Hiashi, and was kinder and more polite to Hinata, sparring with her shortly before Naruto leaves.

Neji was commonly the team leader for Team Guy when Guy was absent, and was more cautious and pragmatic than Naruto was. This was especially seen in the Hidden Star Village arc, in which Neji suggested that he and the others should concern themselves with finding the star, rather than with the potential dangers the star training has to the children. When the villagers confronted Akahoshi, Neji initially refuses to get involved, and when Naruto attacked Akahoshi after Akahoshi disabled Naruto's teammates with an attack, he told Naruto that he would deny knowing anything about what Naruto did, unwilling to betray the client and erode people's trust in Leaf ninja. Despite saying this, when Tsunade reprimanded the group for Naruto's destroying the star to defeat Akahoshi, Neji accepted responsibility as team leader, before Tsunade reveals that as Akahoshi was the client, no one will complain about their failling the mission. In the Menma arc, he suspected that Menma is a Sound ninja, and while testing the theory, learned of Menma's incredible speed. His suspicions were confirmed in part when it is revealed that Menma is part of a bandit clan, but Menma remained on Naruto's side and sacrifices himself to save a town from bandits. In the Raiga arc, he had been shown in a more comical light; while he was unconscious, Tenten attempted to wake him up by feeding him the Curry of Life twice but, due to his low tolerance towards spicy food, he only freaked outs after eating it and fell unconscious again. Later in the arc he joined Naruto and Tenten in a comedic pose when they were offered more Spicy Curry, quickly grabbing Lee with Naruto when he said that the curry looked tasty and ran back to Konoha.

Part II

Over the timeskip, Neji retook the Chunin Exam and passed, and later was promoted to Jonin rank, being the only genin from Konoha to achieve this during the timeskip. He made his first appearance when Tsunade requests that Team Guy travel to Land of Wind to aid Team Kakashi

Rescue Gaara arc

During their traveling the team was met by Pakkun who redirected them to the Akatsuki hideout in the land of river, however when Zetsu saw them, they were quickly encountered by Kisame Hoshigaki, who was later revealed to be a clone, due to Pain's impersonation technique.

During Team Guy's battle with Kisame's clone, Neji was successful in freeing himself, Tenten and Lee from Kisame's water prisons. While Naruto and Kakashi pursued Deidara, Chiyo and Sakura fought Sasori. Neji fought a clone of himself, created by his removing the seals to the Akatsuki hideout.

In the anime, Lee realized that the clones do not tire and the only way to defeat them is to become stronger. Neji recalled that Team Guy's goal was to constantly become stronger, and noted that he would not simply be content with being a Jonin. He defeated his clone with a point blank range version of Eight Trigrams Empty Palm and chased after Deidara with his team. Guy carried a weakened Kakashi on their way back to Konoha by piggyback. Observing this Lee tried to convince Neji to ride on Lee's back, believing it to be a training exercise, and Neji angrily refused.

Invasion of Pain

During the invasion Team Guy had been completing a mission. On their way back Tenten stops the group, telling them that they should have a break, when Guy stated that he noticed that birds were flying away from Konoha, as if they were escaping something. Neji admitted that he "has a bad feeling" and that they should go back to Konoha right away, much to Tenten's dismay


As a member of the Hyuga clan, Neji possesses the Byakugan, which gives him an almost 360-degree field of vision, except for a small blindspot at the back of the neck. Neji is acutely aware of his blind spot and takes extra caution in keeping it away from opponents as well as paying close attention to it. While the Byakugan naturally has only a 50 meter field of vision, Neji is able to increase the range of its sight several times over by the start of Part II, to around 1000 meters. He is noted to have a particularly strong Byakugan in comparison to other members of the clan, perhaps surpassing all of them.

With the rest of Team Guy's taijutsu skills, Neji's Byakugan also allows him to specialize in the Gentle Fist fighting style, which he has mastered to the point he can damage an opponent's chakra circulatory system and inner organs directly with even a slight tap. Also through his mastery of the Gentle Fist, his chakra control is great enough to render a person unconscious with a simple poke to the head and unleash chakra from any and all chakra points in his body whereas most ninja can only unleash chakra through their hands or feet. His skill in taijutsu is so great, he can easily fend off attacks from several opponents at once as demonstrated during his battle against Naruto and his clones. Neji also uses this technique to attack his opponents heart directly and send them into cardiac arrest resulting in the death of the opponent with but a single strike. As a user of the Gentle Fist, Neji can eject chakra from any chakra point in his body to either slow down objects or release himself from chakra based substances that will get him out of trapped situations. His strength and brutality in this area are such that three Jonin—Might Guy, Kakashi Hatake, and Kurenai Yuhi— in addition to exam proctor Hayate, felt the need to intervene when he was on the verge of killing Hinata during the Chunin exams.

Since his a young age, Neji has been held to be a natural genius, even becoming the top-ranked rookie in his class. His father has even stated that his talent and potential surpasses all other members of their clan. As a member of the Hyuga clan's branch house, Neji is forbidden to learn the clan's secret techniques, but has managed to deduce their workings simply through observation. Since mastering these jutsu, Neji has begun to refine and strengthen them for more specialized needs. He has learned many of these techniques, such as Eight Trigrams Palms Heavenly Spin. In the anime, the fruits of his efforts are first seen during the Sasuke Retrieval arc where he uses Eight Trigrams One Hundred Twenty-Eight Palms (八卦百二十八掌, Hakke Hyaku Nijūhachi Shō), essentially a doubled version of the Sixty-Four Palms technique, to strike numerous targets at once. In Part II he also learned the Eight Trigrams Empty Palm (八卦空掌, Hakke Kūshō), a more focused version of the Heavenly Spin, with which he can expel chakra from his palm to attack opponents out of his physical reach. In the Rescue Gaara arc, Neji also displays his ability when he uses Eight Trigrams Mountain Crusher (八卦破山撃, Hakke Hasangeki) which is essentially a version of the Eight Trigrams Empty Palm that is used at point blank range, to defeat his enemy. While most of the former Konoha Genin become Chunin over the timeskip, Neji is the only one to become a Jonin.