Naruto: Tenten Is the Franchise’s Most Disrespected Character

The Naruto series has a plethora of interesting side characters, but not all of them get the same amount of spotlight. There are many characters this can be said for, but one characters with the biggest wasted potential is definitely Tenten. Tenten is "the girl" of Team Guy and a powerful weapons specialist in her own right and, in the anime, she's part of the Konoha 11. Unfortunately, those captured by her design and potential charm quickly learn that her presence in Naruto is minimal and shallow.

Tenten is most well-known for her fight in the Chunin Exams against Temari, one that quickly ends when Temari bests her -- forever relegating her to the Sand shinobi's shadow. When Temari blows Tenten and her weapons away, her teammate Rock Lee tries to go after the kunoichi as well, only for her to block him. Some time after, Lee has his fight with Gaara, and during this, we find out that Lee cannot effectively use ninjutsu or genjutsu, and thus was trained to specialize in taijutsu by his (and Tenten's) mentor, Might Guy. The viewer can't help but root for Lee, the underdog, and his weight-dropping scene is one of Naruto's most iconic.

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Later, we find out in Shippuden episode 237 that Tenten originally wanted to become a medical ninja like her idol Tsunade, but could not emulate the great Sannin despite her training. However, she figures out that she is good at fuinjutsu, the art of sealing objects. But this isn't even part of the manga or main plot like Lee's fight was -- it's all part of a filler episode. Tenten's backstory could have established meaningful character details in her fight with Temari, or set her up to have something in common with her friend Rock Lee, but most fans avoid filler, and likely don't know her motivations at all.

Team Guy are close friends, and even have a spinoff together. But after Lee and Neji's backstories were explained, and operation Rescue Gaara, they were definitely were sidelined as a group -- with Tenten suffering most of all. There could've been an episode where Lee and Tenten compare their experiences and acknowledge their talents in rare ninja arts, even if it ended up being another one of Naruto's notorious filler arcs.

Temari didn't just outshine Tenten in their fight, though. In Boruto, Temari and Shikamaru get married and have a son, Shikadai, while Tenten apparently stays single and doesn't have a family of her own. Her most popular pairing, with Neji, is obviously impossible, but she still could have been paired off with Lee, or even Shino, another unmarried character. Other side characters like Kiba and Chouji were randomly paired off, but Tenten didn't get the same treatment. Still, marriage isn't the most important development. It's a little refreshing to see a single female character when everyone's been paired off -- but even other single characters like Gaara and Lee have legacies of some sort, something they're doing to advance towards the future. Tenten doesn't have parents, nor does she have a child or goals or an important role of any sort in the Hidden Village -- and with all that, she wasn't even given a last name.

In Boruto, Tenten runs a struggling weapons shop, finding it difficult to make any sales as, with the conclusion of the Fourth Shinobi War, Naruto's world has entered an era of peace. Since sales are low, she must be bored -- why doesn't she have a family like any of the other characters, or participate in active shinobi work? But lack of family aside, Tenten is an avid weapons collector who even has the Treasured Tools in her shop after she sealed them. Boruto might explore this later on, but for now, Tenten has been pushed aside, like she has been for most of the series.

Naruto's female characters are notably less developed than its male characters, but almost none can compare when it comes to Tenten, who is supposed to be part of the Konoha 11. Tenten is a very interesting character when considering her basis -- but simply hasn't been developed fully, and her canon potential has been left to rot.


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