Bateszi quickly touches upon the barbaric brutality at the core of Naruto.
There’s a moral ambiguity at its core, feelings torn between the vicarious thrill of watching a series of awesome encounters with heroic characters, and the reality of seeing these children maimed and killed by a bunch of hardened, heartless soldiers. It’s thrilling in its triumph, but thoroughly sad, too, which is just the way it should be for such a dark premise.
One doesn't need to wait 200+ episodes until Kakashi Gaiden before Naruto reveals itself. I mean, Haku was in the very first arc. Personally, I never liked the necessity of the brutality as built into the setup . I guess that's the price of easy dramatization, the way how Kishimoto makes it exciting. At the time the way people die when they are killed in Naruto was perceived as a dramatic improvement over the "cartoony" DBZ.
 I do not have special hangups about children. A book about boy soldier was a mandatory reading in my school. Such instances were regrettable and thought resulted from adults' failures to protect children, but such was the real life. Naruto is equally harsh to all of its characters.