So I’m working on the Kakashi’s Wish translation (the time travel comic) and there’s a part where Minato is quoting Hiruzen as saying that a Hokage has to consider every person in the village as his own family, which definitely comes from canon. I don’t believe canon ever calls Hiruzen out for his hypocrisy on this one, especially given that Boruto heavily relies on the theme of “Naruto the Hokage must put the village’s needs above his family’s wants”, but Hiruzen is such a hypocrite on this one.
Why do I say that? Because you can compare the treatment of Konohamaru, the Sandaime’s orphan grandson, to the other orphans in the series, and it’s not even close.
The reader first meets Konohamaru–who gets called “Honoured Grandson”–with his dedicated tutor Ebisu, who was in fact a tokubetsu jounin who specialized in teaching–in short, the person who Konoha considered to be the best teacher in all of Konoha. Ebisu got assigned to Konohamaru when he was just starting out at the academy, to teach him one-on-one. And sure, Konohamaru showed talent, but certainly less than Sasuke did; and one could easily argue that if Ebisu was going to have one-on-one time with anyone, it ought to have been Naruto, who was so massively underperforming considering the potential of his heritage and his chakra pool.
So Konohamaru, the Third’s grandson, got the best teacher in Konoha as his personal tutor, whereas other orphans didn’t get any tutor at all. Plus I will bet you a hundred thousand ryo that Konohamaru didn’t live alone, didn’t have to cook and clean for himself, and didn’t have to budget to be able to afford enough instant ramen to live.
“Everyone in Konoha is like my family”. Hiruzen could be such a great character because he’s such a flawed person, someone who 100% believes his own bullshit and who sincerely thinks he’s doing the right thing. His nickname of “the Professor” is too right because he’s honestly the worst of that kind of ivory tower stereotype that has these lofty ideals and believes in them so passionately but lacks the self-awareness to see how completely he’s failing these ideals in practice. He believes so hard that he’s Kindly Grandpa Hokage, but so many of the worst tragedies of the series are directly traceable to his actions or inactions.
Naruto the series came so close to giving some really powerful examples of how just intending to do the right thing is not enough (Itachi is an even more tragic example). The story shows so clearly how their choices massively backfired that I honestly forget sometimes that the story right to the end seems to think that the only thing that matters is that they were Good Guys Who Did the Right Thing. Don’t look any closer than that, don’t ask yourself if they did have other choices (even if they honestly didn’t perceive any), definitely don’t ask if some of the “wrong” choices wouldn’t have been more moral or had better results than the ones they actually took. (Would the death toll of innocents have truly been higher if Itachi had allied with his clan’s coup? If he had taken out Danzo and his sympathizers covertly to allow Hiruzen and the more moderate elements control? If he had attempted to whistleblow to Konoha at large all the fuckery that was going on? If he had decided “fuck you, fuck you, and especially fuck you, we’re out” and took li’l Sasuke and ran off to another country to open a dango and tomato stand? But I’m getting down a rabbit hole now. [Somebody write me an AU about Itachi and Li’l Sasuke’s Tomato ‘n’ Dango Shoppe.])
IDK if I should tag this hiruzen sarutobi or not? Does this count as character hate? IDK. If there are any Hiruzen fans who feel offended that this is tagged that, let me know and I will remove the tag and/or throw down with you about Hiruzen’s fuckboy-ness at your leisure.