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Neji Hyuuga is a character from the Naruto anime and manga.

Neji is hailed as one of the foremost prodigies of his time and he is perhaps the greatest practitioner of the Hyuuga's fighting style that there is. If he weren't a member of the branch family, he'd probably be heading up the clan someday. However, his pedigree combined with his knowledge of past events fills him with a seething hatred of the main family.

When Neji was young, his uncle Hiashi — Hinata's father — killed an intruder who aimed to capture Hinata. Since said intruder had some prestige in his home country, said country began calling for the head of his killer. The uncle was certain that they would attempt to steal the Byakugan's secret, but Neji's father Hizashi went in his place — first, since he had the seal, and second, to defy his clan's tradition and fight against his fate. Neji didn't know about the last part for a long time, though, and for years he resented everyone in the Hyuuga clan.

Neji's life experience, at first, makes him something of a straw nihilist, as he constantly mentions that fighting fate is useless. Interestingly enough, this doesn't stop him from fighting his fate. He clobbers his cousin Hinata in the Chunin Exams, and is matched against Naruto in the first round of the finals. While he expects an easy win, Naruto quickly proves more resilient than he thought, ultimately defeating him. After Naruto's victory, he convinces Neji that fate can successfully be fought, marking a positive change in his character.

He later shows up in the Sasuke Recovery Mission arc, as part of the team led by Shikamaru. He engages Kidomaru of the Sound Four, who fights him using ranged attacks. He takes some serious, life-threatening damage in the process, but he manages to win.

Neji is a close-range specialist. He uses the Byakugan, which gives the user nearly-360-degree vision and the ability to see the flow of chakra in the human body, to hit pressure points, blocking off his opponent's access to their chakra. He can also create an impenetrable shield of chakra by rotating quickly; this is normally a technique reserved for the main house, but Neji reverse-engineered it.

In Part II, he is the only member of the Konoha 11 to become a Jonin. He later tags along with his team to back up Team Kakashi in the Kazekage Rescue Mission arc. In the Fourth Shinobi World War, he is part of the Second Division, considered to be the Shinobi Alliance's up-close fighting division, along with Hinata, Karui, and Kurotsuchi.

Tragically, Neji loses his life during the war in trying to protect Naruto and Hinata but he dies understanding why his father did what he did and ultimately becomes a martyr for the Shinobi alliance in not giving up. His name goes on to influence the naming of Naruto and Hinata's first child, Boruto, with his grave being visited occasionally by the Uzumaki family.

In the AWA fics, Neji is one of the people who were given the second chance to live again in ZeroTopia. Neji is a student at the AWA Academy and is part of Class 2.

Appearance

Neji had fair skin and long black hair, which the anime usually depicted as dark brown. When his Byakugan was not active he has featureless white eyes; the anime gave them a slight lavender tint. In Part I, Neji wore a beige-coloured shirt, a dull blue shirt beneath that, and mesh armour beneath that. He wore dark brown shorts, blue shinobi sandals, and wrapped bandages around his right arm, chest, and right leg. He tied his hair back in a loose ponytail tied a few inches above the end. He wore a black forehead protector, under which was a smaller headband with two straps that frame the sides of his face, both of which hide his Hyūga main family's juinjutsu.

In Part II, Neji changed the clothing and bandages of his former wardrobe for a white kimono-shirt with long, loose sleeves, matching pants, a navy-grey apron tied around his waist, and black shinobi sandals. He stopped wearing the straps that framed his face, instead allowing his now longer hair to do that instead. When on missions, he usually carried a tan and black drawstring bag over his shoulder. During the Fourth Shinobi World War, he swapped much of his wardrobe for the standard Konohagakure flak jacket and other attire. At the war's start, he kept his hair tied in a ponytail, but as the war progresses, he allowed it to hang loose.

Personality

As a child, Neji was kind and prone to smiling; on Hinata's third birthday, he confided to his father that he thought she was cute. He lost these qualities after his father's death, growing serious and cold, more mature than most his age. For years he was driven by a fatalistic belief that his and everyone else's fates were determined from birth and were inescapable. He perceived his own destiny as being that of a rare talent, causing him to arrogantly place himself above those he believes are "weaker" than himself. He also perceived that his talents would always be handicapped by mandatory servitude to the Hyūga's main house, which he resented and it fuelled his animosity towards the main house and its members.

Neji shared his philosophy about fate with those he met, gladly telling them when they are straying from the paths that have been set out for them by, for example, trying to exceed their natural limitations or trying to defeat him in combat when they lack any obvious ability to do so. When he shared his philosophy with Hinata, she concluded that his insistence upon destiny was actually a sore spot for him that caused him inner suffering: he so badly wanted to prove himself to the main house yet feels incapable of doing so. Neji attempted to kill her in anger for her words. Naruto Uzumaki also disagreed with Neji, claiming that Neji was not realising his destiny because he was in fact holding himself back. Neji initially scoffed at Naruto's suggestion, but he was forced to reevaluate when Naruto, a "failure", defeats him, a "genius", in a fight.

From his experience with Naruto, and from learning that his father was not forced to die, Neji decided that fate is not inescapable but that, rather, one's destiny is what one makes of it; he felt indebted to Naruto for releasing him from his prior "darkness". The destiny Neji ended up selecting for himself was to become strong enough to never lose again. In pursuit of this goal he trained with his teammates, whose own dreams he became supportive of, and later with members of the main house, whom he gradually started mending relations with. This interaction with others caused him to become kind once again, and over time his desire to get stronger became as much a motivation to never lose as it is to protect his friends and family. In particular, he embraced his responsibility as a member of a branch house to keep Hinata safe, showing greater concern for her than anyone else in combat situations and, ultimately, giving his life to save hers.

Abilities

From a young age, Neji's skills as a natural genius were evident, even by the Hyūga clan's high standards. Hizashi believed his talent and potential growth could eventually surpass all other Hyūga, which he succeeded in by the time of Part II, having become the greatest genius since the start of the Hyūga clan. Besides his clan traits, Neji graduated from the Academy at the top of his class, which in turn convinced Rock Lee that Neji was the top competitor during his first Chūnin Exams. Although he was not promoted during those exams, he was the only Konoha 11 member to become a jōnin during the timeskip, most others only making it to chūnin. He was typically calm even in hectic situations, a quality the Fifth Hokage said made him a good leader. He could also use Fire, Water, and Earth Release.

As a Hyūga, Neji possessed the Byakugan. While a common dōjutsu in his clan, Neji's was noted to be especially powerful. With these eyes, he had a near-360° penetrative field of vision. A small blind-spot exists behind his third upper-thoracic vertebrae — a weakness he was well aware of and trained extensively to overcome, to no avail. Instead, he took extra precautions to compensate for it by emitting chakra around the area, giving him a way to sense any approaching attacks and slowing them enough to give him time to respond.

He was able to increase his Byakugan's range over time: whereas he could only see things 50 metres away in Part I, by Part II he could see things from at least 800 metres.

With the Byakugan, Neji could see individuals' chakra pathway systems and the 361 tenketsu that run along it. Using the Hyūga's signature Gentle Fist fighting style, he could attack an opponent's chakra system directly, constricting or cutting off their chakra flow from only minimal contact. Because the chakra pathway system is closely intertwined with many of the body's major organs, debilitating and even fatal damage can be done just as easily. While Gentle Fist strikes are by default difficult to defend against, Neji's speed, precision, and general taijutsu prowess made him especially formidable at close range, requiring opponents to keep their distance if they hoped to compete with him. Even at a distance, however, Neji's Byakugan and keen reflexes made him difficult to hit.

As a member of the Hyūga's branch house, Neji was originally forbidden to learn many of the clan's strongest jutsu. Being so gifted, he had in spite of this been able to learn how to perform these techniques from observation. Offensively there is the Eight Trigrams Sixty-Four Palms, with which he attacked multiple targets at once, either an opponent's tenketsu to seal several at once or an incoming volley of projectiles; in the anime, he could double the number of strikes. Defensively, he could use Eight Trigrams Palms Revolving Heaven to expel chakra from his body and deflect all incoming attacks. His uncle, Hiashi, was deeply impressed that Neji learned how to perform both of these abilities on his own, and came to believe Hizashi, and by extension, Neji should have been the successor of the Main Branch. By the end of Part I, Hiashi started training Neji in the Hyūga's other secret abilities.

In Part II, Neji began using the Eight Trigrams Vacuum Palm to attack targets outside his physical range or push away incoming attacks; when performed in combination with others, its strength is accordingly increased. If restrained and thus unable to use Revolving Heaven, he could release chakra from his tenketsu to free himself.

Trivia

  • The name "Neji" means "screw/whirl", which may be referring to his Eight Trigrams Palms Revolving Heaven. It's also possibly a play on "Nejia", an internal Chinese martial art that focuses on developing internal chi through whirling and spinning techniques. His family name "Hyūga" means "place in the sun".
  • Neji's hobby was meditation.
  • Neji's desired opponents were Hiashi Hyūga and Naruto Uzumaki.
  • Neji's favourite food was herring soba, while his least favourites were pumpkins, and he also had a low tolerance for anything spicy.

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