|“||People are judged by their true nature. It is the way of the world. That is why we have an elite, and that is why we have outcasts. We can change our physical appearance and improve our skills with training and study, but ultimately, we are judged by what we cannot change. What can't be changed must be endured. We are who we are, and we must live with it.||„|
|~ Neji to Hinata.|
|“||Even if my enemy is far stronger, even if my body should fail me, I cannot lose, there is a reason I cannot lose… …I was always known as a genius so I cannot lose. Especially for the sake of those who believed I was a genius being my weak and powerless self.||„|
|~ Neji to Kidōmaru.|
|“||Father, I finally understand your feelings… The freedom you felt when you chose to die to protect your friends||„|
|~ Neji's last words.|
Neji Hyūga (日向ネジ, Hyūga Neji) was one of the main supporting characters of the Naruto anime/magna series and a posthumous character in the Boruto: Naruto Next Generations anime/manga series. He was a jōnin-level shinobi of Konohagakure's Hyūga clan and a member of Team Guy. He died by sacrificing his own life to save his cousin Hinata.
He is voiced by Kōichi Tōchika in the Japanese vesion of the anime, and by Steve Staley in the English version of the anime. As a child, he is voiced by Wendee Lee.
From his childhood, Neji had been hailed a natural genius even amongst the Hyūga clan. In Part I, he was labelled the top-ranked rookie in his class, and was said by Rock Lee to be the strongest genin to take the Chūnin Exam that year. His father even stated that with his talent, he could potentially surpass all other members of their clan. Over the time-skip, when most of the former Konoha 11 genin reached chūnin rank, Neji was the only one to advance to the rank of jōnin.
As stated by Tsunade, Neji had excellent instincts, both on the battlefield and as a leader. When forced to make difficult decisions on missions, he shows himself able to make a decision through keen observation and analysis. In the anime, Neji was also shown to be a capable teacher, having helped Hinata improve and refine her skills, among other things, her Gentle Step Twin Lion Fists.
As a member of the Hyūga clan, Neji possessed the Byakugan, a dōjutsukekkei genkai which granted him near-360° vision, along with x-ray vision, and the ability to see chakra networks, amongst other things. The Byakugan however, does have a small blind spot located at the third upper thoracic vertebrae — a weakness of which Neji was actually aware of and took extra precaution in concealing it from opponents. While the Byakugan naturally has an immediate 50 metre field of vision when activated, Neji was able to increase its range several times that by the start of Part II, to at least 800 metres. He was also noted to have a particularly strong Byakugan relative to other members of the Hyūga clan.
As a member of the Hyūga clan, Neji specialised in close-range, taijutsu combat. In battle, Neji has shown tremendous agility and dexterity, capable of simultaneously dodging and striking an opponent with no wasted movement. His attacks are fast and fluid, precisely striking in rapid succession to leave very little time for his opponent to find an opening to counter.
Neji's fighting style was the signature style of his clan, the Gentle Fist, which takes advantage of the Byakugan's insight into people's chakra pathway system. Gentle Fist allows for severe internal trauma with minimal external force as it relies on surgical injection of chakra into an opponent's chakra pathway system. As Neji's Byakugan was stronger than most, and was able to see special nodes on the chakra network, called tenketsu, Neji could use Gentle Fist to not only damage opponents, but control their chakra flow as well. Using the Gentle Fist, Neji could affect internal organs, and was capable of killing an opponent with a single strike should he aim to harm the heart. Training in the Gentle Fist style implies superior chakra regulatory control and mastery of the human chakra network. As a result, Neji could eject chakra from any tenketsu in his body as a means to slow or impede incoming projectiles. He can also release himself from chakra-based substances using this technique. Continuously maintaining this expulsion of chakra allowed Neji to create a quasi-sensory barrier around himself to detect anything that enters his immediate area, making up for the Byakugan's blind spot, although it rapidly depleted his chakra reserves as seen when this tactic was employed against Kidōmaru.
As a member of the Hyūga clan's branch house, Neji was forbidden to learn the clan's secret techniques, but managed to deduce their workings simply through observation, further exemplifying his status as a genius. He had learned many of the clan's most powerful techniques, such as the Eight Trigrams Palms Revolving Heaven, which allows him to repel every attack. He could also use the Eight Trigrams Sixty-Four Palms, an extremely strong offensive move with which he's able to rapidly dispatch enemies by striking many of their tenketsu in fast succession, making it hard for them to both move and control chakra. In the anime, Neji was also trained by his uncle Hiashi, who taught Neji all the other secrets of the Gentle Fist style. Since mastering these techniques, Neji has begun to refine and strengthen them for more specialised needs. In Part II he had learned the Eight Trigrams Vacuum Palm, a more focused version of the Eight Trigrams Palms Revolving Heaven, with which he can expel chakra from his palm to attack opponents out of his physical reach. In the anime, the strength of his Eight Trigrams Vacuum Palm is enough to completely obliterate Kidōmaru's Spider Web Unrolling which had been enhanced by his Cursed Seal Level 2, even inflicting a mortal wound on Kidōmaru so he would be vulnerable for sealing. In the anime, he was also able to increase the number of strikes in Eight Trigrams Sixty-Four Palms bydoubling it. He could also collaborate with Hinata, using Eight Trigrams Vacuum Wall Palm. When trapped by an enemy, he could use the Gentle Fist Art One Blow Body, to release chakra from the tenketsu to free himself. Working alongside his uncle, he was able to stop the Ten-Tails' chakra armfrom crushing the shinobi around them, with his Eight Trigrams Revolving Heaven reaching the same size as his uncle's, showing growth from the size in Part I.
- His English voice actor, Steve Staley, also voiced Ryo Akiyama in Digimon Tamers, Koji Minamoto in Digimon Frontier, Tōshirō Hitsugaya in Bleach and Kamui Shirō in X.
- Neji is the first of Naruto's friends to die.