The thing about RtN Hinata is she's not that far removed from canon-Hinata deep down. Hinata ultimately has this possessiveness around Naruto, something I've described as her seeing him as moe. Like she doesn't acknowledge his strength, instead viewing him as the same loudmouth who never gave up in the academy. This is the mental image of him that she idolizes, the failing student who refuses to give up while putting on a happy smile to cover his own sadness. In many ways Hinata fails to acknowledge how he's changed and instead looks down upon him, believing it her duty to defend him even from the criticisms of his children. Behind that shy exterior is someone who very much wants to push herself onto the sad little boy she wants to protect. She gets jealous of a scarf knitted by Naruto's dead mother for crying out loud!
RtN Hinata is a lot more open about it with her domineering nature. She is what is hidden underneath the underneath of Hinata.
That's actually very true, and I completely agree with you. However, as an inspiring writer whose been working a book for the last 3 years, I fundamentally believe that a characters journey be it a lead or supporting character it's ultimately all up to the author. It's not just in books, but also in movie. One thing that always stood out to be was Carol not appearing in Star Trek Beyond like she had a pretty decent role in Star Trek into Darkness. There was some talks as to why she didn't show up, and Simon Preg brought up an interesting point. She wasn't in the movie because as far as the story goes she would've mainly been in the background and not have much to do in the story. She still exists in the JJ Star Trek Universe, She's just gonna be saved for future stories where she has a legit role. That really stood out to me, and I couldn't help but wonder why Hinata and especially Sakura got the treatment they got in Naruto. It's not because oh she's trash because all she thinks about is Naruto kun or she's trash because she's hardly relevent to the story. All of it traces back to the author because they are the ones who ultimately set the characters to that destination.
People really need to understand that. I mean let's be honest if we look at the story of Naruto as a whole Hinata is a very bland character. She doesn't go through any emotional growth or significant character development throughout the story. You could've argued that with Sakura, but the ending of Naruto says otherwise which is sad unfortunately. So let's look at RTN Hinata. I really what she had to offer for what she was given, yes like the canon hinata she didn't have much to do. Though, her character always fascinated me because she had this aura that just stood out. Yes, I'll admit she's hot for sure, but that's not the key feature. It was the personality that RTN Hinata possessed. Like imagine if Road to Ninja wasn't just a movie, but an entire story arc in the context of the manga. If done properly, you could've seen their lifestyles like Shino with the Abarame Clan, Choji with the Akamichi clan. Hinata and Neji interactions within the Hyuga Clan maybe with her father and her sister Hanabi. It could've been possible yes, but that's that.
Which kinda brings me to my final point of Hinata's role in the canon verse, and how she could've been a good character. Here is one way Kishi could've solved the whole situation with Hinata. Her role in Part 1 was fine I don't think anything needs to be changed there. Now Part II on the other hand there would have to be alot to convince me that not only Hinata is a good character, but also is compatible with Naruto. In fact, my cousin and I had actually written out some notes on the side while we were working on Our Version of The Last Fanfic (which we've been meaning to get back to, timing on our ends have been rather tough with college, and mainly my novel for me atleast).
Here it is:
How to fix Hinata's character arc in Part II:
- Introduce Hinata as being able to comfortably talk with Naruto instead of hiding behind a tree, and pass out due to him surprising her.
- Showcase some inner jealousy towards Sakura as that is the girl he's been wanting.
- At points (not all like 3 of 7 training segments ) Hinata trains with Naruto not only to help him get stronger, but also to see how far she's come.
- An entire arc on the Hyuga Clan dedicated to her, Neji, Hiashi, and Hanabi within the manga.
- As the canon love interest (can't believe I'm saying that) Hinata can cheer up Naruto at his low points or feeling down (ex. finding out about Jiraiya's death)
- Showcase the relationship between her sister and Neji in like small moments.
Things Hinata can retain as a character, but still develop alot in Part II:
- Being Shy in terms of her feelings for Naruto, but overtime it progresses.
- Being Kind in terms with everyone she sees.
There might've been some things I'm missing, but I think had these particular things were within the story of Naruto, I think Hinata could've been a decent character, but that's not what we got. We got a bland character who we're suppose to believe has this chemistry with the main protagonist even though his eyes are dead set on someone else throughout the entirety of the story.
Although, here's an interesting question my cousin also brought up to me, let's pretend canon Part II Hinata never existed, instead we got the RTN Hinata at the start of Part II? Would you have been fine with this?
My answer to her was, It would definitely be intriguing, and showcase a change that could've worked for Hinata's character. That's about it. Whether or not it would make NaruHina a better pairing? Not sure if it would make it better, but I still think ultimately NaruSaku would take the cake for me. That's pretty much all I got to say.