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I read too much Naruto fanfiction over the course of a month and I regret nothing

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Avatar for monamiwrites
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3 weeks ago

I spent an inordinate amount of time cooped up at home doing absolutely nothing while the world descended into chaos. I was also partially jobless due to the failings of capitalism thus giving me enough incentive to regress back into my weeaboo roots. Unsurprisingly, I have come to appreciate the powers of literary escapism provided by well-written longfics primarily centered on a franchise I once enthusiastically consumed during my performative years in adolescence.

unnecessary explanation as to why this list exists or why i even bothered to actually make one:

i will start off with a disclaimer that i have not consumed actual canon content for years, possibly more than a decade already. i have nothing against the OG material but i’ve honestly lost interest in going back to the manga much less the anime due to the length of the entire series proving to be immensely time consuming and because I like to delude myself into thinking that I have acquired some taste and sense of maturity in the type of media that I consume (false)

this is, more than anything, a self-serving tracker/archive of some sorts and something tangible to look back upon that will serve as a grim reminder on how very unproductive one could aim to be and succeed in being in the face of societal doom.

it is also a more compact and less haphazard way to gather all my unwarranted rants re: the current fics i am reading, compared to just launching a barrage of tweets on twitter dot com during the ungodly hours of the night

I mostly read SI/OC fics with female leads and/or female-centric fics because the overpowered shounen male lead trope is already so overdone and very bland and just overall boring. It also doesn’t help that Kishimoto can’t write decent female characters for shit, no uh-fens. I know an argument can be made on how a good majority of SI/OC fics are only just plain, cookie-cutter Mary Sue fics that lazily rehash the plot and with a vocal majority who looks down on said niche of fics (coughdudebroscough). However, I will not be swayed. Well-written, female-centric fics with good plot progression and intricate world-building are my guilty pleasure. Besides, the concept of Mary Sue fics/OCs can be a whole discussion on its own, one I’d rather not include here since this is just a post for fic recommendations/review.

here’s a set of tiers under which fics are ranked according to my own personal preferences. this is a very biased and subjective list. [This list will be updated regularly]

S-Tier

Cream of the crop, the 5 stars out 5s. These are my instant go-to recommendations for anyone who wants to delve into naruto longfics. I wouldn’t say these are perfect by all means, but these are definitely worth your time. Re-read value: 10/10

Dreaming of Sunshine

Chapters: 151 – Words: 716,431 – Status: On Hiatus*

General Overview:

SI/OC story of Nara Shikamaru’s twin sister – Nara Shikako. Reincarnation fic. For the unfamiliar, reincarnated SI/OC fics are a dime a dozen, especially in the naruto fic community. So basically, a lot of SI/OC fics start off with someone who dies in our world but gets reincarnated as a character in the Narutoverse armed with the memory and familiarity of the entire plot of the series. These fics were the isekai’s of the early 2010s before isekai became a fad.

You might say that this is quite Mary Sue-y when taken at face value because why else wouldn’t it be. But it really depends on the execution and your tolerance for the initial sloppy chapters where some authors still need to find their footing, although I really don’t mind as much as long as I enjoy what I’m reading. I don’t have anything against this trend but DoS really set the bar too high for me, every other fic that starts with more or less the same premise just pales in comparison. Generally lauded as one of, if not, the best Naruto fanfiction on the interwebs (and I wholeheartedly agree).

Thoughts:

Cannot recommend this enough. This basically started off my descent into the naruto longfic rabbit hole. Some say that it starts off rather sluggishly and painstakingly slow, but the pay-off is so worth it. I honestly didn’t have any problems with the pacing of the earlier chapters. It progressed normally, setting the foundation for the characters and plot. It was a good re-introduction to the series as a whole for me, although I did have to google quite a number of character names and technical terms because didn’t I already mention how I literally haven’t touched anything remotely related to naruto for the past 10 years or so?

The world-building in this fic is amazing, to say the least. I am also a big fan of the characterization of both minor and major characters in the series. It doesn’t feel too OOC or forced or conveniently misshapen to fit the plot. I’d reckon I was able to like and appreciate a number of minor characters more than I did while watching the show before. This is not canon-compliant however, which is great. I am so tired of the numerous genfics that just copy the entire show word per word (and rather sloppily at that). What’s the point of fanfiction if you’re only going to write an entire recap of the show?

The strength of the fic lies in the author’s amazing writing as much as in the MC, Shikako. She is a well-rounded and fully-fleshed out character. She doesn’t have flashy techniques or earth-shattering superpowers to rival that of the overpowered canon characters, but you are easily roped into rooting for her as you go along her journey because she is a character worth rooting for. You can sympathize with her motivations and understand her flaws. She could easily be part of the actual canon and I wouldn’t complain one bit. Her characterization is organic and she blends fairly easily to the OG setting.

Amazing heroine aside, I have fallen in love with the character relationships in this fic which was something that was never achieved nor given any priority in canon. Although, up to this point in writing, there hasn’t been any romantically inclined progress in terms of existing character relationships yet, which is really not a big deal much less an issue since there’s no romance tag, to begin with. Ace/Aro rights methinks.

My hyperfixation for this fic was so intense that for a whole week, I’d scrounge up ancient ffn forums for recursive fics and rareships. I salute the author for re-imagining easily overlooked filler arcs from the anime and making them into something completely different and, in a sense, more superior to the source material. She was also able to elevate the anime movies into one of the most amazing arcs in the fic. I don’t want to spoil, but the Gelel Arc was nothing short of amazing.

Amazing world-building. Check.

Great characterization. Check.

151 chapters to binge. Check.

Gold standard for SI/OC fics and world-building.

(*Status: On Hiatus – Unfortunately, the author has confirmed this and there is no definite answer as to when she will eventually continue the story. Rest assured, the most recent updated chapter is not a big, frustrating cliffhanger. It was more of a start of another arc so if you want to join the waiting (despairing) game for this work, there shouldn’t be anything to deter you from actually reading it since you’ve managed to read everything else in this post of mine lol)


Hoshigaki

Chapters: 36 – Words: 208,533 – Status: Completed

General Overview:

BAMF!Sakura who joins Team 8. She is Kisame’s daughter. Kisame is human and (tries to be) a good dad. Despite Sakura being Kisame’s daughter, the bulk of the story doesn’t revolve around the Akatsuki. The early chapters do feature said organization but only by necessity. They are not given a 180-degree treatment wherein said group of cold-blooded killers is suddenly humanized and portrayed as angels by virtue of the initial setting where the main character grows up. They’re more reluctant (read: dangerous and shouldn’t really be left alone with a child) babysitters, less glorified criminals; at least that’s what we see in the earlier chapters.

Evil!Konoha, wait, nope—scratch it, that’s a gross understatement and oversimplification, it’s more along the lines of MorallyDubious!Konoha and the highly questionable shit that goes on behind the scenes of a military dictatorship hidden under the veneer of propaganda and academy brainwashing of impressionable, young children soldiers.

This is quite a dark, visceral fic. Mutilation, gore, political maneuverings, you name it. Team 8 (with Sakura instead of Hinata)-centric. Honestly, the main characters go through so much fucking pain and trauma, it’s horrendously appalling, and that’s just barely scratching the surface. Please take note of the content warnings.

(Sequel: Eight– Chapters: 12 – Words: 115,647 – Status: Ongoing)

Thoughts:

This might as well be an OC fic because the only tangible similarity canon!Sakura shares with Hoshigaki!Sakura is the color of their hair. The author has managed to create a Sakura so indistinguishable from her canon counterpart it’s honestly so refreshing (liberating, even) to read; and by extension also serves as a far more engaging and interesting take on the character compared to the screaming, uninspiring pink-haired girl of Kishimoto’s creation. It’s not a broody, emotionally unavailable Sakura. It’s more of a nuanced take on the character in relation to the initial setting of the fic.

She grows up with a criminal organization but there is, thankfully, no unnecessary and annoying emo, broody phase that the readers have to drudge through. This is a 4-dimensional character shaped by her upbringing and environment. She isn’t invincible either nor does she unrealistically obtain some overpowered skill. She is more competent, more skillful, more intuitive but that just goes naturally with how the story progresses. I am such a big ol’ sucker for willfully competent female leads with zero bullshit on their main agenda and this fic just checks all the right boxes.

Another thing that I love about this fic is how is the characterization of Kiba and Shino is so well done and nothing short of amazing. The Team 8 (w/ Sakura) dynamics that can only be found here is a gem. I couldn’t keep track of the number of times I’ve wept, howled, cursed, and was physically agitated while reading this deeply moving tale of camaraderie and strong familial bonds. I would say that the relationship between the members of Team 8 is truly one of the highlights here.

Do you want a fully fleshed out set of characters driven by a personal vendetta in the backdrop of a shady government masqueraded by dubious propaganda? Do you crave for Angst? Vengeance? Power Struggles? The Gritty Realities Of The Ninja World? Buckle up, it’s one helluva ride.


Sanitize

Chapters: 12 – Words: 81,264 – Status: Ongoing

General Overview:

SI/OC reincarnation story that revolves around a medic during the warring clans era. Yui applies basic medicine and it goes a long way. [I have given up on writing jam packed paragraphs of words as opposed the the previous entries in this list, see below]

Thoughts:

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the entirety of this fic well into its latest update. It is a realistic (or as realistic as the world of chakra-fueled ninjas could go) take on the plights and perils of a society that has yet to discover the wonders of basic sanitation in relation to medicine and healing. Yui, the main character, is a fairly normal civilian(non-ninja people) armed with the knowledge of a 21st century modern woman from her life before. I wouldn’t say she is a boring character but her personality is at most stiff and at best could be described as being of rigid determination. She does take initiative in order to progress the story forward and she shares cute scenes with Hashirama. The fic also dwells on the realistic portrayal and consequences of grief, trauma and loss. This fic does not focus on overpowered techniques nor mind-bending jutsus. It is grounded on Yui’s journey as she rises up from being a raggedy nobody to a highly respected woman of medicine. I haven’t actually read nor watched any of the canon material re: warring clans era aka the long-running senju vs uchiha feud. To get an image of the story’s setting, the naruto wiki page is my best friend. My lack of awareness on canon plot did not affect the overall satisfaction I got from reading this fic at all. The major points that have made this fic S-Tier worthy would be the writing, pacing and its grounded perspective. It’s nice to take a breather from the fantasy tropes once in a while and this fic sure did hit the spot.

[Surprise, I have run out of juice at this point of writing (and i am writing this in order, sorry for the latter fics below ;~;) so I’m going on the lazy route and just express the bare minimum aka gotta shave off paragraphs of word vomit lol also I just want to finish this list today so I can spend more time reading and then add more fics on here as i go]

A-Tier

Very well-written fics that are a notch above. I have some lingering nitpicks that are heavily motivated by personal bias but do not necessarily take away from the quality of the story. Let’s just say I have to pretend to be impartial and not rank everything I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading as S-tier because the merit of tier-based rankings will then be for naught.

Of the River and the Sea

Chapters: 104 – Words: 611,984 – Status: Completed

General Overview:

Another SI/OC reincarnation fic where I am of the opinion that the main character (whom from this point on i will refer to as MC because I am too lazy to actually check the story again for reference and i feel so sleepy and my eyes are heavy and i am still at work and a nice afternoon nap would be really nice right now) is borderline Mary Sue-y although not aggravatingly so.

Initially set in Kiri where MC is born. Please take note of the content warning. MC goes through quite an ordeal at a very young age. The story is LONG. There is so much PLOT going on. It features quite a large range of characters, although I am not certain if this is a common occurrence in most naruto longfics wherein a good number of characters hold a weight of importance to the story so much so that they congregate in large numbers to move the story forward or if it’s just OTRATS that specifically does this. Kisame and Zabuza are very integral to the MC’s journey.

This is the fic that introduced me to the concept of QPR (Queer Platonic Relationship)s and for the first time— I felt seen. (I am about to go on a tangent here— I don’t care because I can do whatever I want) MC basically gets a harem of hot ninja dudes, powerful hot ninja dudes, but surprise! none of these potential romantic partners actually get any romantic development with MC— thus QPR. I have always been partial to this type of story progression in works of fiction and I didn’t know then that it actually exists IRL aka it’s a real life thing and it has an official terminology and all that fancy pizzazz.

I do appreciate cute romance and well-paced romantic development in stories but what I’ve truly wanted was the QPR route all along. Why can’t we have characters who feel so strongly for each other but not in the default romantic way? Can’t characters have a relationship but not be romantically involved? Can’t they just stay as strongly-bonded friends and not have it develop into a shoe-horned romance? Did this fic ‘review’ just end up as my coming out story? Okay, back to the fic ‘review’

Thoughts:

As evidenced by the long winded ramble above, OTRATS has a lot going on for it. It’s basically a hero origin story of the MC. Yup, gonna have to use Hero as a placeholder here because MC undoubtedly has a huge hero complex which isn’t necessarily a bad thing story-wise, it makes for entertaining arcs, but ugh come on, everyone in the story loves LOVES her (which I’ll get to in a bit). We get to see where she starts from the beginning. She grows up and does immeasurable acts of heroism? martyrdom? badassery borderline on being Mary Sue-y? You tell me. In the long run, she kind of ended up being the second coming of Jesus Christ and unwillingly started her own religion of zealous fanatics.

I did enjoy the story though even if I sound like I’m an MC anti. The writing is great and so are the story arcs. It just came to a point in a chapter or two where it all basically boiled down to unadulterated hero worship of the MC. I can vaguely remember feeling exasperated at the entire cast of characters who wouldn’t shut up about the extraordinary and inhuman feats that the MC was able to achieve in the years spanning the plot. Heck, there was an entire arc where every major character just fawns over MC nonstop and I just rolled my eyes for 30 minutes while skimming through said chapters. Well I’m not specifically mad about it, I even enjoyed it but I did wish that they toned it down a notch.


Stumble

Chapters: 72 – Words: 296,592 – Status: Completed

General Overview:

Time travel AU! where Sakura and Sasori are sent back in time before the Fourth Shinobi War. This is written by the same author as Hoshigaki and what can I say, I’m a big fan. Sakura is back in her 5-year old body and she tries her damndest to prevent the war from happening and to make sure everyone lives. The story is chock-full of angst and hurt, oh boy, so much hurt and pain and emotional beating. There are several chapters that deal with sensitive subjects and appropriate content warnings are placed before each chapter.

Sakura becomes OP to the point of being almost Kage-level (?) in terms of her skills and intellect at a young age, well considering she’s basically in her 20s when she died in the first timeline only to be brought back in time before she entered the Academy. Sasori transforms into a good uncle figure and he is adorable.

The entire premise of the fic revolves around canon fix-its. It’s not necessarily a bad premise, per se but it’s too convenient for my taste? My masochistic tendencies just crave for tragedy and pain, so considering how the story ends// spoiler alert: the ending is more or less happy and all loose ends are tied// I felt okay about it, not too thrilled or elated.

Thoughts:

I loved the characterization of the time travelers. They didn’t change too drastically but the certain aspects of them that did were pretty much justified by the harrowing events that they had to suffer from in the previous timeline.

Sakura here is very snarky and cracks hilarious jokes and tries to get under Kakashi’s skin every chance she gets. I love it! Although the exact reason as to why she specifically targets her teacher has eluded me. I might have missed it somehow? I know that the new!timeline Kakashi was drastically different from the previous one so I guess that made her act the way she does around him? Their relationship is one of the highlights for me, their banter is great.

As previously mentioned, the fic tackles sensitive subjects and it might be quite heavy for some. Rest assured, the author has managed to handle these subjects with tact. It also doesn’t rush the development or tries to hastily solve character conflicts with a lazy band-aid solution. The fic focuses more on Team 7 but it still involves most of Rookie 9 + Team Gai.


Otokage

Chapters: 25 – Words: 76,616 – Status: Completed

General Overview:

Sakura feels left out in her own village as her own teammates have all gone outside the village and leaving her behind to pursue their own paths in the quest for greater power and revenge. In an unexpected turn of events, she is offered something so outrageously bizarre and unheard of but in defiance to all known logic and protocol she accepts it anyway. Competent!Sakura fic where she dons the title of Otokage left behind by Orochimaru after his death. She becomes the unlikely successor of a middling village that badly needs a leader and a semblance of organization.

Thoughts:

Another Competent!Sakura fic from writer168. If you’re seeing a pattern here, then yes, you are seeing a pattern. I have all but binged all the naruto longfics from this author and I regret nothing. I just love their writing style so much? It’s honestly so easy to breeze through and the stories they write flow so well. In Otokage, I was introduced to the concept of Inner Sakura, which was apparently canon, in fic-form. I was a tiny bit bothered by this weird apparition in the early chapters but *spoiler warning* Inner Sakura ceased to exist as the story neared its conclusion. I really enjoyed reading this because 1) The plot in and of itself is not mainstream thus it’s not as boring as the thousand and more fics floating out there that only rehash canon and add nothing new to the table 2) A lot of interactions with unlikely characters which is already entertaining as is 3) There’s an immensely hilarious sequel that should be required reading: Shinobi

Overall, a really fun read and by fun I mean it in every sense of the word not the “I am harboring masochistic tendencies wherein I only enjoy works of fiction granted that they offer me immense emotional backlash and pain” type of fun. There are some points in the fic that you could categorize as angst but those don’t really hold a candle to the extreme, honest to goodness angst that is Hoshigaki, Eight and Stumble all of which I have already listed in the preceding tiers.

B-Tier

Quality fics with good pacing and plot. Enjoyable reads overall. Probably the only reason why they’re ranked ‘lower’ would be the unhealthy level of attachment I, (un)fortunately, do not harbor for any of them. I can attest, however, that these are still very much worth your time to read and enjoy. It’s all in the matter of taste. (I do not want to pretend that I have actual ‘taste’ lol, just mild preference maybe?)

Paradise Found

Chapters: 21 – Words: 175,885 – Status: Ongoing

General Overview:

Another SI fic but less overpowered ninja with a dark, angsty upbringing, more normal, less frenetic civilian focused fic. It is a reincarnation fic wherein the MC can recall in perfect, clear quality, her previous life in ‘our’ world as she struggles to readjust within the fictional world of Naruto. MC does not engage in anything ninja related up until she meets the titular protagonist of the universe she now resides in. She also actively avoids revealing her ‘true nature’ to concerned authorities so as to not affect canon as much as possible. There is a ‘twist’ that you don’t encounter often in SI/Reincarnation fics which adds more layers to the plot. The ‘twist’ appears early on and helps in developing both the plot and the characters. The fic also explores how clans in Konoha work or how they appear to work since I can’t really weigh in on my nonexistent knowledge of canon here. There’s some political undertones in this fic, as well.

Thoughts:

The fic starts slow, at least for me. There is so much exposition on the MC’s previous life that I would rather skip reading, not that it’s unwarranted but I got used to SI fics that didn’t dwell too much on the previous world the reincarnated protagonist came from. I guess it might be one of my pet peeves. I generally don’t want to read several paragraphs on the life and tribulations of the MC in a world where the main plot of the story doesn’t matter. I think that it’s basically just bloat because the snippets of memories from her old world doesn’t necessarily bring anything else into the plot. Sure, the little snippets of her previous life may help in her character arc/development but most of the times it’s just misplaced angst that leads to nowhere because 1) MC is already dead in ‘our’ world so what’s the point? and 2) These paragraphs (sometimes chapter in length) do not move the plot forward even by an inch so it all boils down to unnecessary exposition. I can’t really say that I enjoy the MC as a character, she’s not bad per se, just a very cookie-cutter bland protagonist? but I did enjoy the plot to some extent.


The Yondaime’s Assistant

Chapters: 26 – Words: 165,507 – Status: Completed

General Overview:

SI fic where the MC actively tries to change canon plot and succeeds in one way or the other. Canon divergence (somewhat) but most of the plot takes place before the actual canon based on the series. The fic focuses on the Genin Corps (I have no idea whether this is indeed canon or just a well accepted fanon concept) so MC isn’t really a combatant type of ninja but is still in the active force. The plot just revolves around the village and it follows MC’s journey from discovering how she got reincarnated into the world of Naruto like every other SI/Reincarnation fics, her days studying in the academy and getting shafted into the Genin Corps and her path towards becoming the clerical assistant of the Fourth Hokage. It has romance in it (I got blindsided because I don’t know how to read tags, apparently) and is more or less the major focus of the fic but there is still a semblance of a plot in here, do not be deterred! What’s great is that the fic isn’t your conventional het romance but it’s a polyamorous type of romance, instead. The character tags tell you everything you need to know about the main ship/s.

Thoughts:

A good, easy read where you get to see the lives of Konoha’s pencil pushers up close and personal. There are really fun character interactions between less developed side characters from canon. I know this is really dumb of me but I could barely remember the plot of this fic while writing this post and instead of the actual main plot, my brain capacity was only able to recall the mostly unrelated side story/AU which served as the last chapter the author posted. I was writing the overview with that in mind and somehow I had this nagging feeling that I was writing an entirely different overview aka the last chapter AU not the actual fic. I ‘knew’ that I read a polyamory fic with Kakashi and Genma in it but I couldn’t connect it with the ‘plot’ that I had in mind for this one because instead of the actual plot, my mind went directly to the Minato AU from the last chapter which, and I cannot stress this enough, is pretty dumb. I had to double check the fic again just to be sure. Very poor memory span aside, I do remember how I enjoyed reading this fic and how it portrayed the main characters quite well. I think I have become a big fan of emotionally-unstable-Kakashi-who-really-needs-therapy-for-all-the-shit-he-went-through-in-his-life type of Kakashi characterization. This fic deals with it, too and although I’m not really big on romance, I really liked the progression of the characters’ relationships in the fic.


I Found You Missing

Chapters: 25 – Words: 76,616 – Status: Completed

General Overview:

Kakashi x Sakura as penpals and it’s a long one-shot but truly a gem of a find. It’s a series of letters between a particular diligent academy student and a soldier out in the war that has been raging on for years. It starts as a simple academy project for Sakura but then it spirals into a long term exchange of words, thoughts, and feelings? Noncanon compliant. The ending is cathartic, I’m no romantic but I loved all 70k+ words of this one-shot.

Thoughts:

First of all, I loved this fic and I enjoyed every bit of my time reading it. I guess I’m just a big sucker for penpal fics? Is that it? Am I the most basic bitch there is? Or am I actually just a closet KakaSaku shipper and I secretly like to read student x teacher romance because what if The Age Gap looks good in fiction! ANYWAY, I think the KakaSaku dynamics is done well in this fic. Sakura is characterized as a well-spoken, diligent and a persistent bookworm who just wants to break the shell of the elusive, somewhat broody Kakashi while he is out there risking his life in the trenches. I loved the progression of their relationship. From Kakashi’s reluctance to send a reply in as much a single word to his ever so hopeful penpal, who in the course of her long correspondence had made their letter exchange project into her own emotional outlet, to the eventual realization that their constant exchange has become something so much more significant to the both of them. I really enjoyed this one-shot and I am still on the fence on whether I should just say fuck it and dive deep into the KakaSaku void.


And there you have it! This list could be longer if I bothered to everything else I’ve read but didn’t make the cut because surprise surprise this girl has some standards set!

I am still on the lookout for quality longfics and I’m currently reading Chiaroscuro, although this is taking me longer than normal (if you count finishing 500k+ wc fics in 2 days normal) because I don’t have as many hours in the day to just lounge about and bury my nose in longfics these days.


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