OK, first, good things! I had completely forgotten about Hinata and Naruto's little chat before the fight and rediscovering it was a real treat! It's kind of depressing in a meta sense because HOW COULD THIS SERIES HAVE GONE SO WRONG but in and of itself it's made of Hinata calling Naruto a Proud Failure and saying that Naruto's strong because he fails, and can get back up and I'm just sitting over here in the corner going YES YES YES YES THIS IS THE MANGA I SIGNED UP FOR!
But then MIRACLEHATE. Because although the fight between Naruto and Neji is as awesome as I remembered, putting it in the larger context of the series as of part two and it DOES NOT FIT IN. How the fuck are you supposed to reconcile Naruto going FUCK YOUR DESTINY and punching the emo right out of Neji with all this DESTINED CHILD BLAH BLAH HOKAGE'S SON DOES EVERYTHING RIGHT bullshit from part two? If Naruto was destined for great things ANYWAYS then isn't almost all of Neji's development as a character INCREDIBLY HOLLOW? Isn't it based on something that is now total bullshit? You can't have a CHILD OF PROPHECY and a destiny-defier be the same fucking character, it's just...it doesn't work!
I. T. D. O. E. S. N. O T. W. O. R. K.
It's just...gah, it's like they're two completely different manga! How the hell do you go from the one to the other? How is it possible to thematically derail THAT MUCH!?
Also, minor point of rage: Sasuke stealing Lee's abilities is STILL total bullshit. For one thing, bodies don't work that way: You could imitate the techniques but there's no way he could work up the body to get Lee-level speed in the space of a month. It took Lee YEARS! Years of tireless effort! Years of doing NOTHING ELSE!
I am very rarely a fan of having one character subsume another's abilities or roles, and this grinds my gears even harder than usual, in no small part because Sasuke is mostly disinteresting to me and I love Lee to the bottom of my heart. A character should not be able to just steal what makes another character special, especially if the first character worked their ass off for it, and ESPECIALLY not if we're supposed to root for the thief afterward. It goes against our basic sense of what is fair and right.