I agree the theme about peace was a complete mess and perhaps should've never been introduced. Without it, the series would've been really shallow and selfish tho, so my question is how could it been handled better?
The theme is fundamentally flawed cos ninja are mercenary, they only exist when there’re wars, and during times where you can make a living off conflicts. They’ve done so much shits themselves, it’s hard to have sympathy for them when they complain about danger and death, that’s what their job is about ffs.
There’re things you can rewrite to give resolution to individual issues, but not the overall theme.
1. Nagato’s backstory is about small villages getting caught up in larger villages’ power struggle for supremacy. It wouldn’t be hard to show the 5 villages fund the rebuilding of the small villages they destroyed as “collateral damages”. And Kishi could’ve shown the small villages represented in the Kages meeting in Gaiden, he didn’t. They’re excluded again from the power club.
2. How the Hyuuga slavery was handled was just gross. Slavery is portrayed as unacceptable and needed to be eliminated in every other shonen out there e.g. One Piece and Magi. Kishi had the nerves to make slavery about accepting your destiny lol. All Kishi had to do was showing Naruto confronting the main branch about the practice, he could offer anyone who wish to be a free man their own quarter and protection, it’s up to the main branch to decide whether to change or risk losing a major part of their manpower.
3. The genocide. It’d only take a few panels to show Naruto revealing the truth about the massacre and condemn it irrevocably. Instead Kishi just kept it under the rug, I knew he’s fucked up in the brain when Itachi said he wanted to preserve “reputation” over truth, he’s a coward who can’t face up to history. Kishi is probably one of those right wing Japanese who think Japan shouldn’t have to apologies for their actions in ww2 cos of “national pride”.
4. Bijuus. I think they should’ve been kept as mindless beasts. Before they’re turned into misunderstood puppies, they’re like the nuclear bombs in the Naruto, villages scrambled to get hold of them, they’re a prized asset in arm race. If the villages agreed to give up their bijuus and eliminate them all together, it’d be something similar to de-nuclearization in the real world, it’d have shown the villages were serious about making warfare less brutal.
5. Child soldiers should be banned. People argue other series’ main characters are child soldiers too, but other series don’t have a flashback dedicated to show child soldiers are cruel and products of adults’ selfishness and stupidity like Hashirama’s flashback. If it’s presented as a problem in the series, it should get a solution.