Chūnin Exams Arc
Neji and Hinata have a tense, antagonistic relationship in part one, with Neji bearing hate and grudge for the main house, due to that fact that he considered them responsible for his father's death. While under the belief that his father had died because he was a member of the branch house, Neji concluded that fate is something decided at birth and that no matter what one does, people cannot escape their destiny. Neji often applied this to people he viewed as weaker than himself, such as Hinata, whom he resented and considered inferior to him.
During the preliminary matches in the Chuunin exams Arc, Neji and Hinata were paired against each other to fight and it was revealed by Kakashi that the two Hyugas were cousins. At the beginning of the fight, Neji tried to convince Hinata to give up the fight, saying that she did not suit to be a ninja, since she was "too kind" and stating that people never change. Hinata was shaken by his words, but, with Naruto's encouragement, she decided to fight.
During the fight, Neji clearly has the upper hand. Hinata is injured heavily by him, but continues the match. Neji is shocked by her persistence and questioned her as why she kept fighting, even knowing that destiny can never be changed. Hinata tells him that she could see he was the one suffering due the differences between the Main and Branch families in the Hyuga clan and that, by fighting her, he was also trying to go against destiny. Enraged by this, Neji attacked Hinata with the intention of killing her, but was stopped by the jonin. Hinata's injuries were serious and she fainted before taken to the emergency room.
In the first round in the finals, Neji was matched against Naruto and, during their fight, Neji explained his past and the reasons why he hated the Main family. In the flashbacks, it's shown when Neji and Hinata met for the first time as children. At first, Hinata hid behind her father but ended up smiling at Neji. Smiling, Neji told his father that Hinata was cute. After his fight with Naruto, Neji changed his way of thought and stopped believing that fate cannot be changed.
Sasuke Recovery Mission Arc
There are also several moments that show the two of them passing by each other in the Hyuga compound. In one of them, as Hinata runs on the compound's hall, she bumps into Neji. Both of them are extremely surprised by the encounter, as they are still tense towards each other after their match. Hinata spins and avoids him with an agility that impresses Neji, as he remains still and stares after her, while Hinata timidly excuses herself and keeps running further.
Pain's Assault Arc
Team Gai was returning home after a mission when Neji found Gamabunta and the team rushed to Konoha to see what was happening. They found Hinata badly injured and Neji quickly started looking for a medical ninja, using his byakugan. Later, Sakura treats Hinata and Neji questions why would Hinata do such a reckless act, as to try fighting Pain alone.
Fourth Shinobi World War: Confrontation Arc
Neji and Hinata are both in the same division; the Second Division. They can be seen smiling to each other.
During the war, they are seem together fighting side-by-side against Zetsu's army, protecting each other's back as well. Neji showed extreme concern for her safety on the battlefield, and he seemed desperate when Hinata was hit by the enemy and he couldn't save her before discovering that it was in fact another Zetsu clone.
Fourth Shinobi World War: Climax Arc
Neji and Hinata, together with Hinata's father, Hiashi, get to the front line of the battlefield to protect Naruto. One of the Juubi's attack could not be avoided and Hinata put herself in front of him to protect him, but then Neji intercepted the attack sacrificing his own life to protect both Hinata and Naruto. Hinata openly cried upon hearing Neji's final words and passing away.
In the war, while Hinata was fighting one of the Juubi's mini-clones performing the Eight Trigrams Sixty-Four Palms, she got stumbled after executing only thirty-two strikes believing that she wouldn't be able to finish the attack. She then recalled Neji's instructions and got confidence and determination to complete the technique. During the transfer of Naruto's memories and emotions, Hinata is shown to react to the flashback of Neji's death.
Birth of the Ten-Tails' Jinchūriki Arc
While Naruto is dying, Hinata silently prays to Neji that he would protect Naruto.
Kaguya Ōtsutsuki Strikes Arc
After the end of the Shinobi War, Naruto and Hinata are seen at Neji's grave mourning his death.
Years pass by and Hinata and her daughter, Himawari visit Neji's grave, giving him the sunflowers that are said to represent his name.
- During their fight in the chuunin exams, Hinata seemed to understand Neji's pain and hate against the main family and did not show any sign of hate towards him;
- Neji seemed desperate when Hinata was hurt and hit during the war and he couldn't protect her;
- They fight by each other's side in the greatest war of their lives and looked after each other during it;
- Neji's first childhood crush seemed to have been Hinata, since he appeared infatuated with her and really willing and happy to protect her, calling her cute.
- They were occasionally implied to often train together as they are shown fighting side by side during the war. Hinata also remembers later how Neji taught her the 64 palms and advised her to step forward without hesitation when fighting;
- Neji has become probably Hinata's most dedicated person, her protector and the one who constantly looked after her.
- Neji made his ultimate sacrifice for Hinata and Naruto. Since Neji had good reasons to die for Naruto (Naruto changed his view of life and he trusted Naruto could save the ninja world), his motive to die for Hinata was clearly that he considered her an special person to him. This can be interpreted as Neji having romantic feelings for Hinata, or loving her as family.
Databook 4 (Hinata's profile):
- "Having been blessed greatly with the talents of his clan, as a shinobi, Neji walked far ahead of Hinata.Hinata loves him like an actual brother. Currently,there is no antagonism between Hinata and Neji about the main family and branch family. From the bottom of her heart, Hinata trusts Neji, who crosses over the family lines to protect her by his true feelings.
- "In the place of collapsed Neji, Hinata takes on the role of lookout. The power of the Byakugan is in no way inferior to Neji's."
- "Neji was a prominent juuken user of the Hyuga.His teaching let Hinata's talent bloom after his death."
Among the fans
NejiHina is a relatively popular couple that rivals NaruHina and NejiTen. NejiHina has often received criticism and bashing from many fans of the series, mostly due to the incest prejudice (in this case they are cousins), predominant in the western world, but despite the couple recieving multiple negativity, even as the series ended, NeijHina still remained a very well-known and popular pairing in the fandom.
- Hinata is refered to as a pure white lily in Naruto Databook 4: Jin no Sho. In chapter 699, the same flowers were put on Neji's grave.
- Neji and Hinata's placement in Naruto chapter 79 and Rock Lee's Springtime of Youth chapter 9 is allude to the Chinese concept of the Yin and Yang (Neji as Yin and Hinata as Yang). In Chinese philosophy, yin and yang are concepts used to describe how apparently opposite or contrary forces are actually complementary, interconnected, and interdependent giving rise to each other as they interrelate. Many tangible dualities (such as light and dark, fire and water, and male and female) are thought of as physical manifestations of the duality of yin and yang. This duality lies at the origins of many branches of classical Chinese science and philosophy, as well as being a primary guideline of traditional Chinese medicine, and a central principle of different forms of Chinese martial arts and exercise.
- Yin is the negative/passive/female principle in nature, and may allude to many other concepts such as the moon, shaded orientation, something covert or concealed, "of the netherworld", overcast or sinister.
- Yang is the positive/active/male principle in nature, and may allude to many other concepts such as the sun, open, overt, and "belonging to this world".