I had a journal about this guy years ago. But it's outdated and I felt it's time renew and give a more wholesome observation on this ninja icon.
First off, Naruto Uzumaki is still a character I have love-hate feelings towards. If I were to arrange which Team 7 character aggravates me the most, Naruto goes back and forth with Kakashi, whereas Sakura remains number one (the only time she is #1 in my book). My biggest issue with Naruto is just how overly idealistic he is. When creating a character, one expects them to be realistic and believable. Not realistic in a sense that they would exist in our world per se, but in the sense that they're realistic in their universe. They are living, breathable people in the foundation of their world. However, what happens when that world becomes distorted to their own rules? That foundation becomes brittle, and the characters are inevitably affected by it. And, because Naruto is always at the forefront, he's affected the most.
In the beginning, Naruto was simply a character that wanted to prove he was worth a damn in his own village. He was hated for something beyond his control, and he was considered the dead-last by his peers. He was loud, goofy, obnoxious, and plenty of times his actions - in spite of their good intentions - causes more harm than good. Now many would think the main character being like that is a terrible concept, but Kishimoto managed to make it work in the beginning. Naruto is the way he is for attention, he had reasons for acting the way he did. If he was acting obnoxious just because when he's supposed to be a ninja, then there would have been a problem. Plus, it definitely helps that we see Naruto try to be better, we see him working hard to be better than he was before. He was one of the epitomes of hard work, whereas Rock Lee was the epitome. Some people could say that they have issues with Naruto's character in the beginning, and I can understand: like maybe he's too obnoxious at certain points, or maybe he was too reliant of the Kyuubi's chakra, or the beginning of his desperation to bring back Sasuke was the start of the plunge of his character. But here's the thing for me, Naruto was just starting out. He was a twelve-year-old boy with typical childish tendencies, so he gets more leeway in comparison to characters that are teenagers or even worse, adults. My biggest problems with twelve-year-old Naruto is in anime-fillers, his silliness and lack of intelligence are flanderized.
That being said, my real problems towards Naruto begins in Shippuuden. He's now a teenager and we expect a semblance of maturity, maybe see the full effects of his travels with Jiraiya. While we do see some maturity, it doesn't really do much since Naruto continues to cling onto the ideals he made when he was younger. His decision to find his own nindo is not a bad one, far from it, it's actually really good. The desire to be more than just a human tool who would follow every order without a second thought is a great ideal to challenge traditional ninjas. However, it's what his nindo turned out to be that's the problem: keeping every promise he has made, and saving everyone, no matter who they are. There's a major problem with both ideologies. For one, not every promise should be kept, such as the promise to bring back Sasuke for instance. Sasuke has made his own choice to defect the village (an easy choice since Team 7 is the most dysfunctional team of the Rookie 9), so Naruto is not obligated to bring him back after the mission was a failure. If anything, this should be a lesson that not all promises can be kept, and he should learn to let it go when it doesn't work out because as it was proven in canon, clinging to a promise leads to an unhealthy obsession that makes him look needy and desperate. If he wants to salvage the bond he manages to make with Sasuke, then that's fine. It could be a very interesting thing to see enemies who don't really see each other as an enemy. If Naruto was more nomadic (maybe traveling with some of his fellow jinchuuriki to escape the Akatsuki), he would inevitably cross paths with Sasuke incidentally. Or, if nothing else, go out of his way just to ensure Sasuke's body wouldn't be taken by Orochimaru, since that was of utmost importance. Wouldn't it have been better if instead of begging, Naruto could've taunted Sasuke of being Orochimaru's bitch to get under his skin, and another thing, the two of them should've been on equal grounds during their fight (given that Naruto doesn't go three or four tails beforehand and for such a meager reason).
To be continued...