|“||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.
Neji is hailed as one of the foremost prodigies of his time — indeed, he is perhaps the greatest practitioner of the Hyuga's fighting style that there is. However, his pedigree combined with his knowledge of past events fills him with a seething hatred of the main family.
When Neji was young, his uncle Hiashi — Hinata's father — killed an intruder who aimed to capture Hinata. Since said intruder had some prestige in his home country, said country began calling for the head of his killer. The uncle was certain that they would attempt to steal the Byakugan's secret, but Neji's father Hizashi went in his place — first, since he had the seal, and second, to defy his clan's tradition and fight against his fate. Neji didn't know about the last part for a long time, though, and for years he resented everyone in the Hyuga clan.
Neji's life experience, at first, makes him something of a Straw Nihilist, as he constantly mentions that fighting fate is useless. Interestingly enough, this doesn't stop him from fighting his fate. He clobbers his cousin Hinata in the Chunin Exams, and is matched against Naruto in the first round of the finals. While he expects an easy win, Naruto quickly proves more resilient than he thought, ultimately defeating him. After Naruto's victory, he convinces Neji that fate can successfully be fought, marking a positive change in his character.
As a child, Neji was kind and inclined to smile. He lost these qualities when his father died, and grew serious and cold, mature for his age. For years he was driven by the fatalistic belief that he could not escape his fate. Due to his natural talents, he was also arrogant and thought himself superior to others, had a lot of animosity towards the main Hyuga branch.
Neji is a close-range specialist. He uses the Byakugan, which gives the user nearly-360-degree vision and the ability to see the flow of chakra in the human body, to hit pressure points, blocking off his opponent's access to their chakra. He can also create an impenetrable shield of chakra by rotating quickly; this is normally a technique reserved for the main house, but Neji reverse-engineered it.
- 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.
- In Rock Lee's Springtime of Youth, Neji put on Sharingan contact lens and activated his Byakugan with the contact lens calling it the Byaku-Sharingan.