OK, so I’ve gotten off my KHR obsession for a moment so I can tell you about an extremely popular shonen manga I really don’t need to recommend to anyone (since you’ve probably heard about it anyway): Naruto! Since the anime annoyed the mess out of me (English. Dub. Does. Not. WORK.) I’m reverting back to good old manga, because this is one of the occasions where I believe the manga did work better than the anime. I’m reviewing arcs one and two of the manga, the Introduction and the Land of Waves arcs.
So let’s get started with a summary of the Introduction:
So the story starts out with Naruto, and to say the least he seems like a bratty kid who doesn’t work enough and just goofs off all the time. But he has a dream that seems to exceed what he can achieve…by far. He wants to be the next Hokage, the leader of the village. But the villagers hate him, the kids laugh at him, and he ends up failing his test to become a shinobi…for the third time in a row. Then one of the test instructors goad him into stealing a very valuable (and dangerous!) scroll, and reveals a secret it seems everyone but Naruto and the kids know. As it turns out…Naruto has the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox sealed inside him, a beast that destroyed the village, killed many people, and murdered the 4th Hokage. After a vicious fight between Iruka and Mizuki, Naruto appears and completes a majorly high level jutsu- a feat no one thought he could accomplish.
^______^ That made me smile.
More insight is given, and then WHABAM! Team assignments are given, since Naruto has now passed the test for saving Iruka and completing Kage Bunshin no Jutsu. He’s paired with a dark cloud with a boy attached, and a pink-haired, violent girl who happens to hate Naruto. Oh, and a ninja genius for a teacher who never shows his face. >>; He likes Sakura, hates Sasuke, and doesn’t know what to think about Kakashi. Sasuke turns out to be extremely ‘cool’ and wants to kill someone, and Sakura’s obsessed with Sasuke. Great, great…But then they go into a challenge of getting bells from Kakashi, a little story that made me lulz out loud and taught a great lesson. “Those who break the rules in the ninja world are trash…but whose who abandon their teammates are worse than trash.” That was the best line ever. And in the end…there’s Team 7! : D
And then you get to the Land of Waves arc, something that really takes way too long to complete (20+ chapters! NOOOOO!) but does serve to flesh out the characters very well. Naruto complains their missions are too easy, so they get assigned a C-rank that turns out to be more dangerous than anticipated…in fact, it turns out to be a B-rank. Kakashi reveals he’s uber powerful, Sasuke gains a bloodline limit, Naruto gains what he thinks is the closest bond possible to a friend. Oh, and the Nine-Tailed Fox comes out. Crap. But in the end, they complete their mission and come back stronger and more wise than before.
I personally have no problem with blood, or violence, so you can find me reading this and going “OMG YES STAB HIM! YEAHHHH!” while some other people might be going “…so…so violent…T______T”. So this is a warning: Naruto has swearing. Naruto has lots…and lots…and lots…of blood. And lots of nice sharp, pointy objects to draw it with. (Kunai and shruiken! Total awesome in a small deadly form.) This is like the epitome of shonen, and Naruto’s one of the poster boys of anime/manga. New Naruto chapters come out weekly in Shonen Jump and are featured prominently, to say the least.
And I’ll put it here: I think people underestimate Naruto. When they hear about it, they’re like “Oh whee, it’s ninjas. How cliche.” It may be cliche in some ways, but Kishimoto-sama did a brilliant job creating a very complex, interesting world and it should definitely not be taken lightly. When I got into it, it was because my friends were playing a game on the Wii or XBox, something similar, and it looked interesting. I picked up a manga, flipped through it, and it didn’t look bad. Then I saw the anime and turned away for a while (“Believe it!” Do not get me started on that catchphrase. Just don’t.) until my friend convinced me to take a good stroll through the first two books. They’re amazing.
The art is good, the action is very much there, and the comedy factor has been worked in very nicely. Seeing Sasuke and Naruto grow stronger together is a very heartwarming story, and often makes me smile happily because the emotion is there. Of course, Sakura kinda doesn’t do anything. What is it with shonen and under-working the girl characters? But eh, I digress…And the characters do tend to be stereotypical. The love-struck girls, the quiet ambitious boy, the loudmouth, the lazy genius, and etc….but I do love the character designs and how all of them are super unique. The detail is very nice to see.
I hold a little soft spot in my heart for Naruto and the manga, and anyone who likes shonen should really pick it up. Naruto is a great, fast-paced manga that has been strongly advocated by too many people to count, and I’m one of them. Head off to your library and pick one up- or reserve it here.
Check back soon, I’ll be reviewing the Chuunin Exam arc and KHR Season 4 soon. Haha, Chuunin exams…it’s been a long time. (And dude, that’s a really really really long arc…>.<;;;)
Team 7. ……ISN’T IT COOL!? *fangirl flail*
Jutsu – A skill powered by chakra. More in depth explanation here.
Shinobi – A male ninja
Kunoichi – A female ninja
Kage Bunshin no Jutsu – Shadow Clone Jutsu. Produces clones that actually have weight and mass…unlike normal illusionary clones. Major high level skill.
Kunai – Throwing knives
Shruiken – Those spinny disc thingies. The sharp ones. Ouch.