If there is one character Naruto fans aren't over, it is Neji Hyuga. The character was one of the franchise's original ninjas, and audiences were distraught when Neji died protecting Naruto during the Forth Great Ninja War. So, you can understand why the fandom burst into tears when Boruto: Naruto Next Generations referenced the fallen hero in its latest episode.
If you have checked out Boruto's 35th episode, then you know Hinata brings up her cousin when giving a touching talk to her son. Boruto, who is on the cusp of becoming a Genin, asked his mom why she decided to become a ninja. Hinata explained she did not have much of a choice in the matter, but the Hyuga heiress wasn't the only one expected to defend the Leaf Village.
"When I was a child, it was just something that was expected. Not just for me, but for your late Uncle Neji as well. If you were born a Hyuga, you were destined to be a shinobi," Hinata said.
"Your grandfather was very strict back in those days," she continued. "Time has changed many things. Today, becoming a shinobi isn't everything."
Of course, Naruto fans already know much has changed for the Leaf Village. The world was thrown into chaos after Madara Uchiha and Kaguya did their best to destroy it, but Naruto helped save everyone from such a fate. The hero is now the person in charge of the Leaf Village, and the major ninja villages are all allied with one another. Peace has become the norm for Boruto, but things weren't always so easy. All you have to do is look at Neji's life to see that much.
When Neji was introduced in Naruto, the character was an aloof one who rubbed audiences the wrong way. As a member of the Hyuga's branch clan, Neji held a great bitterness towards Hinata over her heiress status, but Naruto helped Neji see past his prejudice. By the time the elder Hyuga passed, he was known as one of the Leaf's best, and he had become close with many of Konoha's top ninjas. His death was one which fundamentally changed Naruto, and it seems Hinata is ensuring his memory carries on to help her son.
Did this subtle Neji nod hit you right in the feels? Hit me up on Twitter @MeganPetersCB to let me know and talk all things anime!