If I were to do any next gen stuff though, I would want to erase everything post Pain. I think the decision to turn Naruto and Sasuke's conflict into a world-wide problem limited the number of stories that could be told in a new generation story without leaving the reader with the feeling that Naruto's accomplishments were being undone. I would streamline the path to retrieving Sasuke and keep their conflict as personal to them possible and end Naruto with a desire to see their success expanded to other places. I would also probably try to limit the reach of Sasuke's bad acts, so he wouldn't have to be completely kicked out of the village or have to go on a decade long journey of penance.
Completely agree. Their whole story hinges nicely around Pain. After that, it spirals out of control quickly. If anything, you could have a post-Pain story be the set up for how they are going to become Team 7 adults: are they the Legendary Sannin all over again? Or something new?
And I agree with both you and Shashank below — either deal with Sasuke so that he's able to make a believable entry back into the storyline (without destroying others character arcs like Sakura's) or kill him off.
For me, it would have started with Sasuke's death. Let's be honest, he was way out of reach of any sort of logical redemption. We know he only survived cause Kishi is way too obsessed with Sasuke.
He was a villain, who needed to go. So for me, Sasuke stays the bad guy he was supposed to be. He goes ape-mental as usual, talks about destroying the ninja system blah blah blah.
I'm of two minds about Sasuke. Either 1) really dig in and make him an awesomely flawed bittersweet villain, letting his choice dangle till then end — will he turn back or no? will Naruto save him or no? will this threaten to pull Naruto into the dark side or no? will he break Sakura's heart or no? — then either save him with some fitting lifelong punishment (he becomes a blind monk somewhere) or he goes out in a blaze of baddy glory.
Or 2) have him be redeemed in a real, meaningful way that restores him to the story arc and as an integral, if not always seen, part of Team 7/future of Konoha. The plot lines are there to support this too, with the failure of the Legendary Sannin to save/turn Orochimaru back to the good side. If Naruto was able to do this, he would not only be saving his friend and making a safer future for their village, he would be fixing the mistakes of the last generation in doing what they could not.
Clearly, the manga didn't go in any of these directions. Instead they went the easiest path to having a marketable next gen. Disappointing.
I really thought there would be one last arc, of a year or more, tightly focused on Team 7. And especially after Sasuke announced he was going back to take over Konoha as hokage (which he forgot by the next chapter). I thought for sure there was going to be a major victory and lots of public harmony underscored by a quiet private struggle inside Team 7 about who was going to come out on top - with Sakura trying to mediate between them. Just like in their beginning Team 7 days. And depending on how that struggle ended, the Next Gen (an uneven mix of a few new children, some new nins and a few now-older rookies) would deal with that struggle.
Either Sasuke would be the Hokage — in which case the tone of rule in the village could flip, with the dark on top instead of the light (like Naruto and Tsunade, like ROOT vs. Leaf) — and it could be very secret, hardcore ninjas working from behind an unknowing civilian population. And Naruto could be the one pulling away (Sasuke's old position), while Sakura is more deeply torn than ever, serving her village but secretly supporting Naruto, in a way she never did for Sasuke before, thereyby proving her loyalty to one and exposing her to trouble from the other.
Or Naruto would be the Hokage, and the rule of law would be light over dark. Perhaps Sasuke would be out of the village or he would be put in charge of ROOT, as a way to appease him since he lost the power struggle for Hokage. This sets up a redo of the problem from generations past of the Senju placating the Uchiha with the military police position in the village. So is it a new generation, or just the same old struggle. Thus they have to solve it in a new way.
I would have some new Uchihas be discovered, some with no powers, some with awakening ones. Orphans or families who separated from Konoha a few generations back. I would also have some of the stories about the other clans — Senju, Uzumaki and Namikaze — be filled out. Maybe even a few new characters from those.
And again, I wouldn't have it be a wave of next gen babies. Just an overlap of a few children who want to be nins, new nins who've come of age and new adults who've come to the village, in addition to the regular cast of characters already in place. Not, "Here's the new nin babies, ready to go fight. Everyone else stop working, even though you're only 25. Oh yeah, and everything's computerized. Believe it!"