Quote Originally Posted by TheJaggid View Post
The thing is, I believe what you're calling 'his most admirable traits' are actually ALL of his admirable traits. Maybe I'm just not having a clear/deep enough image of Naruto at the moment, but I can't think of any 'good' trait Naruto has that Hinata hasn't talked about at some point. The way I see it, her 'clear and well-understood reasons' for why she likes him is that Naruto = Naruto, as opposed to Sakura and Ino's, which is Sasuke = handsome + cool.

Actually, I think we have different views as to why Hinata likes Naruto. Or more like, our definitions of 'like' are off. The reasons you describe aren't exactly reasons that translate to romantic affection, they normally translate to simple admiration. I think the main reason Hinata likes Naruto romantically is the basic rule of 'opposites attract.' Why she respects him and can talk about him so fondly is because of how his 'good' traits have inspired her and affected her life. I believe these good traits may have been what attracted her (not romantically) to him initially, but the 'opposites attract' rule is what made her translate that attraction beyond respect into respect + affection. In fact, it doesn't even have to be in that order; it could be that the 'opposites attract' rule came in before the admiration. My point is, they're separate and come together to create the relationship we see today in the manga. I have absolutely no proof of this, but it's the logical way I think their relationship came to be.

Honestly, some of this might not make sense because I'm in a rush and need to get ready for work.
Well those are good points and I think you're pretty close. The more I think about it, the more subtle it actually seems. In fact, throughout most of the series Hinata didn't actually "love" Naruto as such. Up until she said the fateful words in chapter 437, Hinata had never openly expressed her feelings for Naruto so boldly. Throughout her appearances, even in her own internal monologue, she referred to him as "the one [she] admires". She kind of "liked" him, but her feelings weren't overtly romantic like the crushes the other girls had on Sasuke. She was content to watch him and draw inspiration from him, rather than actually trying to get close to him or hoping to go out with him. Over time, these feelings would have developed into love- not coincidentally, at the same time that Naruto retained the same traits of courage and perseverence that had drawn her to him originally, but also actually became stronger, cooler and more reliable (taller and better looking too).

I agree that a lot of my theorising is probably giving Masashi Kishimoto more credit than he's due, but it's still interesting to consider the way things turn out anyway.