Shipping in the Naruto Fandom
As far as series go, Naruto is one of the best when it comes to indulging that demonic fangirl, or fanboy as the case may be, inside your head. As a long-running shounen anime, the cast of Naruto is vast, with hundreds of named characters and a main cast of thirty-ish, so you really have alot of choice.
This is supported by the fact that Naruto has the second-most fics on fanfic.net, after Harry Potter. In fact, in many ways the best thing about Naruto for me was the size of it’s fandom. A guilty little admittance is that I’ve never really liked Naruto himself nor has the plot line of Naruto ever kept be riveted in the same way One Piece or Fairy Tail does. No, the appeal of Naruto comes form reading 100,000 word long Neji/Tenten fics long into the night. Or delving into the dark and disturbing world of Orochimaru/Anko, just for the fascinating twistedness of it all.
Main Fandom Ships by Canon-compliance
Minato/Kushina – Dan/Tsunade – Asuma/Kurenai – Fugaku/Mikoto – Yahiko/Konan?
Naruto/Hinata – Sasuke/Sakura – Sasuke/Ino – Naruto/Sakura – Obito/Rin – Jiraiya/Tsunade
Sasuke/Naruto – Neji/Tenten – Shikamaru/Temari – Shikamaru/Ino – Kakashi/Rin – Nagato/Konan
Sasuke/Hinata – Sasuke/Tenten – Kakashi/Sakura – Any!Akatsuki/Sakura – Gaara/Sakura
…and other other ship you can think of…
*This category is a subjective one but I feel to consider Neji/Tenten of equal canonical stature to Hidan/Chiyo is a bit…inaccurate.
The most popular Naruto ship based on the number of fics that contain both characters of FF.net and are under the ‘romance’ genre (yes, I’m aware that’s hardly scientific) are;
- Sasuke/Sakura – 36,900
- Sasuke/Naruto – 33,700
- Naruto/Hinata – 15,600
- Sasuke/Hinata – 9,600
- Neji/Tenten – 6,000
- Kakashi/Sakura – 4,200
- Itachi/Sakura – 4,100
- Shikamaru/Temari – 3,800
- Itachi/Sasuke – 3,000
- Shikamaru/Ino – 2,900
*Seriously, this is was done by process of checking every popular ship I could think of on FF.net’s search engine and seeing how many fics would come up. Don’t take this as authoritative.
Of the those ten, I personally only ship, NejiTenten, KakaSaku and ItaSaku. I liked SasuSaku when I first got into the fandom, but, after a bit of maturing, I now realise how crap it is as a pairing. I mean, 70% of fics are based upon Sasuke ‘realising the error of his ways’ and trying to win Sakura’s affections. Which I find annoying because…well, Sakura is the one person to whom Sasuke’s behaviour was kinda justified. He wasn’t interested in romance, he didn’t lead her on in anyway yet she kept being annoyingly persistent. Frankly, if I had been Sasuke I would have been sorely tempted to punch Sakura in the face every time I heard ‘Sasuke-kun!’.
At the same time, I prefer stories where affection comes initially from the man or is mutual, because love-sick girls trying to win the affections of a male is tedious, especially in the case of SasuSaku. This effectively means that I’d only ever consider reading the relatively small fraction of SasuSaku fics that avoid these pitfall, as well as all the other things I don’t like in fics like pregnancy.
SasuNaru is a ship I understand. There’s a history there, both characters complement each other in personality, both character mean a lot to each and, although it isn’t strictly canon, it’s certainly less cracky than most of the pairings I ship. Sasuke and Naruto even look nice together, what with all the contrast. If I were ever to become a Yaoi fangirl (and after over seven years of anime fandom I doubt it), then this would be the ship for me.
Naruto/Hinata seems painfully boring to me. I never read stories with Naruto as the main character, the only exception to that would be SasuNaru if I shipped Yaoi, but I don’t. I also just can’t picture Naruto/Hinata. What would they talk about? The weather? How much Naruto wants to be Hokage? The value of friendship?…dull. I can’t imagine them in bed either, scratch that, Hinata is so self conscious I can’t even imagine her getting dressed in the morning. And dirty talk or lusty advances from Naruto would just be cringe-worthy.
Sasuke/Hinata is slightly better, but again, I can’t actually picture them having an interesting conversation nor is the ship hot-and-heavy enough to make up for that.
Shikamaru is a sexist arsehole, so I’m not gonna ship him with anyone *sticks out tongue*. It’s a shame too, normally smart!guys are right up my alley. Besides, Ino is arguably even more annoying than pre-timeskip Sakura and Temari never really left me with much of an impression of anything.
Sakura is one of those ‘one size fits all’ characters, in that she’s been shipped with more people than any other female in the series. Her being a medic is surprisingly useful, given how many times it’s used to contrive convenient situations by authors. Having said that, I like fanon Sakura more than she is in canon.
This is a crack pairing, 110%. Its only slightly redeeming quality is that there are a few tenable reasons for Itachi and Sakura interacting. First, Itachi, for most of his life, would have benefitted from a skilled medic. Second, Sakura is tied to Naturo, and Naruto was of great interest of the Akatsuki.
As for how well they work as a ship. Itachi looks like, and is very important to, Sasuke, which means a whole lot of angst for Sakura. Regardless of anything else, Sakura would never be apathetic to Itachi.
I like shipping Itachi generally just because he’s such a lonely figure. That said, I accept there isn’t really any particular reason Sakura would be a good match for him.
There’s something charming about Neji/Tenten. As friends and teammates, they almost certainly trusted each other with their lives and they seem to share a certain sense of camaraderie when it comes to dealing with Gai and Lee
From there it’s almost likely that at least one of them would develop romantic feelings for the other. I think Tenten suits Neji because she, to put it bluntly, isn’t a fangirl. Unlike most of the female characters in Naruto, Tenten doesn’t seem like the type to let her emotions get in the way of her job. I feel like Neji would appreciate that.
To be honest, I can easily imagine Tenten as being either asexual or a lesbian. But, if she does like men, I think she’d like them for their personality not just their appearance. Neji is complex, intelligent and not bad-looking either. So…yeah, I can see Tenten developing feelings for him. The fact that Neji would likely be barred from dating/marrying outside the clan, or worse yet, a kunoichi without a famous last name, just adds a layer of angst to it.
For some reason, I really like fics where either Neji or Tenten is oblivious to the others feelings. Theres something about teammates pining for each other that makes my inner fangirl squeal.
Older male/younger female fics are an odd favourite for me, read into the Freudian implications of that what you will. Something about the Sakura’s trust in Kakashi, and the length of their association, makes it work. Having said that, I acknowledge it’s really not canon.
I also feel like Kakashi is so emotionally closed-off that it’s unlikely he’d ever really get involved with somebody he didn’t already know.
When done correctly, this can be a fascinating look into the very tribal and turbulent period before the Hidden Villages were founded. It often ties in quite interestingly with the feminist issues and the treatment of women, seeing at most fics are set within the seemingly very patriarchal Uchiha clan. It’s also nice to see Madara’s character explored further than it is in canon.
Sooooo random, I know, but Tobirama is by far my favourite Hokage. Sure, not all of his decisions were spot on (his treatment of the Uchiha’s precipitated the Massacre) but, on the whole, the proper founding of Konoha, in all its institutions, is down to him.
Something about a diligent, intelligent leader with an eye for practicalities is appealing to me, especially when he is as pleasant looking as Tobirama.
I wish I has more of a justification for this than Deidara’s hot but I kinda don’t. Other than the fact Deidara is a surprisingly nice guy, all things considered.
Sasori one of the most interesting characters in Naruto, along with Itachi, Kakashi and Gaara. His all consuming urge to freeze time and become inanimate is in many ways tragic, but fascinating all the same. It’s strange to think that behind the pubescent facade, Sasori is actually a middle-aged man.
His chakra strings also make for very interesting takes on the concept of BDSM, just getting that out there…
This is undoubtedly my most cracky Naruto ship. It’s founded entirely on the basis that Tenten was never a Sasuke fangirl and that I can easily imagine him being impressed by somebody as skilled with weaponry as her.