The death of Neji Hyuga has been a controversial subject among Naruto fans, with many thinking it was all unnecessary and others believing it had to happen. Surprisingly, you can add the man behind Neji’s voice to the latter list. In an exclusive interview with Steve Staley in mid-October this year, Staley spoke about the death of Neji, as well as future roles in the Boruto series.
For that exclusive interview, you can check out the video below but to paraphrase, Staley wasn’t shocked about the killing-off of his character during the Fourth Great Shinobi War in Naruto Shippuden. In fact, Staley thoughts it was all required to make the Naruto series more interesting and grow attachment towards characters.
If deaths like this didn’t happen, it would make the story less interesting. Imagine Naruto without deaths. The series would become too similar to that of Fairy Tail, where even the people thought to be dead before the story started, somehow lived. Furthermore, Staley agrees with fans that the death may have even brought Hinata and Naruto closer together.
Neji was the first only one of Naruto’s immediate friends from his time as a Genin that became a Jounin and he is also the only one to have passed away. Regardless if Neji’s death was required to boost the story’s plot, it was all still a sad moment for Naruto fans. Though, he was disappointed at first but was happy immediately after, as Neji continued to be showcased in filler and flash-backs. Furthermore, Staley was happy to be cast in future Neji roles.
Staley also went into his future involvement in the Boruto Naruto Next Generations series as Neji. Yes, that’s right, you read that correctly. However, Staley’s future Neji role in Boruto will be because of the time-travel arc, where Boruto and Sasuke head back to Konoha during the time of Naruto’s childhood. Neji is obviously still alive at this point, which is why Staley will have a role in the Boruto anime.
Although, Staley does believe that it’s possible he could be recalled to play Naji again after that. The Boruto series has introduced cloning and Naruto Shippuden showcased reanimation. Therefore, it’s possible that Neji could be brought back to life, as he was a dangerous Hyuga Jounin. Staley believes that if Neji was to either be reanimated or cloned in Boruto, it would make for a great and touching story.