Howdy, lovely people! I’m here to let you know of another fantastical manga/anime that I’m sure you’ll love. Again, it’s another series that I’m sure you’ve heard of. I think everyone has heard of it, even if they aren’t into anime/manga. That special series that we’re going to be discussing today will be none other than NARUTO by Masashi Kishsimoto! So, let me start out by saying that I’m not as into Naruto as I used to be. I only have ONE volume of this series at home. And it was GIVEN to me. I have never spent money on this series. Now that that confession is out of the way, I will tell you this. I do still keep up with it. And I do know the most recent plotline per manga, not anime. I stopped watching the anime after I found out Sai’s mission was to kill Sasuke. That was YEARS ago. It just got finished I think two weeks ago though!
So let’s jump right into this series. It follows the titular character, Naruto, who wants to become Hokage. The Hokage, or any –kage for that matter, is the leader of a specific ninja village. They help promote peace and cooperation in both their village and with other villages. Now, Naruto is a hyperactive, young wannabe ninja, who wants nothing more than to show his stuff and prove he is worth of being named Hokage. There are couple problems though. One: he’s still pretty young, and not the brightest student in class. Two: his hyperactivity is seen more of a nuisance than of adorableness (in my opinion, he was just being adorable). And three: he has a destructive fox demon spirit dwelling inside him that the fourth Hokage placed there before he died. Making him kind of a social pariah. Which stinks for him. But he is a hard worker, and through his hard work, he is able to become a genin or low ranking ninja.
He gets put into squad 7, with leader Kakashi Hatake, and other team members, Sasuke Uchiha and Sakura Haruno. With the former, he strikes up a typical Shounen rivalry (i.e. the two main characters act like they hate each other, but they really are best friends, basically brothers, and push each other to do better and be stronger, both as individuals and as a team). With the latter, he just has a ginormous crush on. The whole team grows together, and learns new abilities, while the rivalry between Naruto and Sasuke grows stronger, and even turns into something close to hate on Sasuke’s part. Sasuke is approached by an exiled ninja Orochimaru, granting him power which will help him grow stronger, and even defeat his most hated enemy: his brother Itachi Uchiha, who had destroyed the rest of the Uchiha clan, leaving only him and Sasuke. This is the climax of part one of the series, where they are fighting for their own goals: Naruto, to bring Sasuke back to the village, and Sasuke, to gain more power to triumph over enemies.
I would much rather have you read it if you haven’t before, but unfortunately for the sake of the summary, I’ll tell you that Sasuke wins. It is way better to watch episodes 128-135 or read the end of volumes 24 to 26 to understand the emotion and intensity of what happens.
After this fight, we are led into Shippuden. Naruto, who had been training with Jiraiya for about two years, comes back stronger, with the intention of still getting back Sasuke, who is still with Orochimaru. New enemies are encountered, including the Akatsuki, and a mysterious man named Tobi, who has the Sharingan. With this having gone far in explaining the summary, I don’t want to spoil too much for people. But mind you, Tobi is very important and should be looked into if you have an interest in finding out.
Okay, now it’s about that time to give my honest to goodness opinion of the series. First off, MAN is it long… I started watching/reading this back in 2007. So seven years ago. But the series started in 1999. So yeah, it’s been here awhile. And I think a big problem I had with the series was that while there were other missions that were explored, the only real mission of the series was: BRING SASUKE BACK HOME. And while I don’t condone giving up on friends/comrades, that seems to be the only thing on Naruto’s mind for a LARGE amount of the series. I found myself missing his speeches of wanting to become Hokage. And it’s not Naruto that I had the problem with. It was Sasuke’s character. Now I’m someone who loves the misunderstood bad boy of a series, so Sasuke’s right up my alley. But the problem was that he would blatantly do things that went along the lines that he didn’t WANT to be found, but leave trails or even go to see Naruto in person. And the series did have some repetitive parts, but what Shounen manga doesn’t? The plot mainly goes like this: good guy finds bad guy, good guy and bad guy fight, good guy is overtaken by bad guy, bad guy gloats in typical bad guy fashion, good guy digs deep and finds power to beat bad guy, bad guy repents and if he doesn’t die from circumstances, he becomes good guy’s ally. And to be honest, I don’t mind that sequence. Because of that repetitiveness, it makes it even more enjoyable when you are blindsided when the series doesn’t repeat (I.E. Naruto vs. Sasuke).
Now, a lot of people don’t really look past the ninja, superpowers and general good beats bad mentality, but let’s do that for just a teensy little second. Characterization is pretty important in this series. I know I’m getting a bit serious for the series, but it’s amazing how some of the same circumstances change different character’s motivations throughout the series. Take for instance Naruto. He lost everything and was even considered a demon by most of the villagers (though the Fourth Hokage wanted people to see him not as the host of an evil demon, but as a savior for being that host). But he didn’t let that keep him down or stop him from growing. He used that as motivation to keep striving and to make the villagers see that he wasn’t worthless or useless, and that there was more than just a demon inside him. He learned to control and use that power to save the people important to him. On the flip side, there is Sasuke who was in a similar circumstance. But after losing everything, all that consumed him was hate for his brother and the need for power to defeat him. He wanted nothing to with friends or camaraderie. But both characters do grow. In the simplicity of the series, there is a complexity as well. But that’s my opinion.
The anime is next on the list of things to talk about regarding this series. Like Bleach and Dragon Ball Z, there are a lot of episodes. And there are far more filler arcs in Naruto than either of the aforementioned series. I think there are close to hundred filler episodes, which makes about half of Part One of the anime. That is a lot. And before I knew what fillers were, I actually sat there. And watched them all. Because I thought they were relevant. And they weren’t. And I’m still a smidge bitter about that. I mean, the plots weren’t bad. Some were really funny to me (Curry of Life, or the episode where Shino, someone who never shows emotion, ends up eating poison where he can’t stop laughing). But again, they weren’t relevant, except to show more character development of secondary characters. Which is cool and all. There are some pretty cool secondary characters, guys.
Now, if you don’t like fillers, I would suggest going to the interwebs to see what episodes are filler pertaining to the series, and then just skip over them. We do have the most of the manga and anime available, and even video games for multiple platforms that you can check out. Again, you’ve probably read/ are reading the series, and watched it on Toonami.
UPDATE! I wrote this before last week, and didn’t foresee this happening! Naruto is now officially over!I thought it was a good ending, albeit a bit rushed. Now that it’s over, I wish that it wasn’t… Anyways, thanks for reading!!!!