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Naruto Greatly Benefited From Switching Up Team 7 After the Timeskip

Kishimoto’s choice to switch up Naruto’s Team 7 after the time skip greatly benefits the characters and the stories by adding unique new elements.

Time skips are a staple trope in shonen anime, allowing the author to reposition the characters and plot threads in a manner that builds new mysteries and alters the tone of the whole story. Naruto’s time skip allowed characters to breathe and grow, making the higher-stakes conflicts feel more honest and deserved. In addition, replacing the main characters, Sasuke and Kakashi, with Sai and Yamato drastically upset the team dynamic, allowing for further character growth as Naruto and Sakura have to accept their new reality and adapt to it.

When Naruto and Sakura realize the Hokage has reconfigured their team without Sasuke or Kakashi, they are shocked and apprehensive about the changes. Team 7’s first iteration became a motley family — a web of complex emotions and concerns manifested from their intense missions and shared pain. Sai and Yamato drastically altered these dynamics, as both individuals hail from Konoha’s black ops organizations, where emotions are generally considered a weakness. Naruto and Sakura struggle to connect with these new severe teammates during their first missions.

Naruto Sai Smiling
Sai’s penchant for pushing people’s buttons provokes Naruto and Sakura’s friendlier natures, challenges Team 7’s first interactions and prevents them from connecting. His endless verbal provocations and rude statements, coupled with a keen lack of emotional intelligence, create some of the worst tension. Neither Naruto nor Sakura had dealt with the emotional distress created by Sasuke’s betrayal, so replacing him with a seemingly cruel and antagonistic individual forced them to discuss and deal with a few of their issues.

As Sai accidentally pushed Naruto and Sakura to cope with snippets of their Sasuke issues, he started to break free from his programming when his teammates’ powerful emotions broke through his thick armor. While Sai doesn’t endear himself to the original Team 7 members as Sasuke, they form a unique bond that prevails through the rest of the series in rich ways that mutually benefit all three. Sai can cope with his emotional burdens and turbulent history thanks to the empathy and awareness he gained from traveling with Naruto and Sakura. yamato scary face from naruto While Kakashi is still in the story, popping up when necessary to help Team 7, Yamato fills Kakashi’s initial role uniquely and charmingly. Yamato’s history in Konoha’s black ops and as a test subject for the ever eerie Orochimaru leave him awkward and a bit emotionless in most interactions. However, due to his experiences, Yamato accidentally scares and unsettles Naruto and Sakura as they attempt to undertake their first mission.

As Naruto and Sakura realize Yamato can be scary when needed but is generally just a strange fellow, they come to accept his presence while never embracing him to the depths of Kakashi. Naruto and Yamato establish a bond that differs from Naruto’s teacher-student dynamics with Iruka, Kakashi or Jiraiya but benefit him drastically, as Yamato’s unique nature manipulation allows him to control Naruto’s fox transformation. In addition, Yamato enables Naruto to train at newfound levels, elevating Naruto’s skills and potential to take on a foreboding terror: the Akatsuki.

Sai and Sakura watch Naruto’s training in Naruto.
As Sai and Yamato helped emotionally and physically push Naruto and Sakura to grow into powerful, mature ninjas, they opened the door for new conflicts as their pasts returned to haunt them. Sai initially allowed Danzo to stick his fingers into Team 7’s business, which furthered his plots to control Konoha and become the ultimate leader. Coincidentally, Danzo’s manipulations advanced Sai’s connection with Naruto as people became aware of the programming and control that Danzo embeds in his underlings.

Yamato’s existence as the only human to survive a cruel experiment that imbued him with his wood manipulation skills renders him a target. As the story of Naruto hits an apex with the Great Ninja War, Yamato is kidnapped and used to empower the enemy troopers. He ends up in an opposite situation to Kakashi, who continuously saves Team 7 by requiring his rescue mission. This inversion of sensei roles makes Yamato, an otherwise dull and quirky character, stand out with a refreshing character arc.

young yamato from naruto
Before he is kidnapped, Yamato acts as a strong and patient leader for Team 7, which frees Kakashi to help Shikamaru and his team deal with the Akatsuki and step up as a temporary Hokage. Kakashi’s impressive skills and unique presence on teams as both a sensei and driven ninja benefit greatly from stepping away from Team 7. The natural progress of the story matched this decision to alter Team ,7 as Konoha required the trusted Kakashi to help the Hokage direct the village through impending conflicts with the Akatsuki and Danzo.

Kishimoto’s choice to switch up the staple team of his series pays off in droves, as every character involved with both manifestations of Team 7 benefits extensively from these switch-ups. Challenging the status quo for characters and readers alike proved refreshing on all fronts and allowed Naruto to grow into a more mature and complicated story. Shaking up Team 7 is an ideal example of why the authors should alter their core groups to refresh their stories.

About Yashoo Mashi

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