So Naruto Gaiden has concluded, and it featured both Sasuke and Orochimaru in his latest iteration. Which again raises the question, what exactly was the moral of the story for these two?
The Naruto series excelled at emphasizing certain moral behaviors to its readers/viewers: e.g., with hard work, determination, self-confidence, and a will to succeed, even a loser or social outcast can reach the top; love and understanding each other on a deeper level can solve any problem and bring out all you're actually capable of; kindness and compassion towards wild 'Beasts' can lead to positive results; it's important never to abandon your friends and family; etc etc. All very good, solid shounen values!
So what do the lives of Sasuke and Orochimaru teach us (if anything) from their character arcs? By the end of Shipuden neither has really repented or shown remorse for their bad behavior (simple "sorries" do not cut it), both have done horrible things (murder, hideous human experimentation, etc) for which they are never punished (Sasuke is pardoned, Orochimaru's 'imprisonment' in Gaiden is pretty milquetoast, and he's even allowed to continue researching with his assistants!), and it is implied that they got a free pass for the simple reason that they joined forces with the Shinobi Alliance to destroy a common threat that was even worse (and one which was against their own interests to see succeed anyway!). Even then, Sasuke attempted to hijack things at the last minute and take over the world, only relenting when he was soundly defeated (i.e., he stopped when it was no longer possible for him to achieve his ends!). Yet both are still allowed to do pretty much whatever they please for the next decade or two. So what are we to make of all this? Do whatever you want and if you have powerful enough friends, you can get away with it, and keep on doing whatever you want?