Once, the ninja village of Konohagakure was attacked by an evil nine-tailed fox spirit. This demon slaughtered many people until the leader of Konohagakure, the 4th Hokage, sacrificed his life to seal the fox inside a newborn child - Naruto Uzumaki. Now, twelve years later, Naruto is a member of the Ninja Academy; but due to his past Naruto is shunned by the rest of the village, and since he has no friends or family he plays the part of class idiot to get attention. However, he is determined to gain respect by becoming the next Hokage - the most powerful shinobi in the village. With his apparent lack of abilities, will Naruto be able to realize his goal through determination alone?
I've had to reserve judgement until the final ending came out. Now that it is here, I can safety and without a doubt state that the manga is not worth it. Darker themes are brushed aside, as the ending we get is the Happily Ever After (yawn!). This is a world of ninja's...there are GOING to be dark themes associated with such a thing. Death, betrayal, child soliders... Th story focuses so much on bringing one character back, that other characters suffer for it. I would rather have seen the village develop as a more close-knit group after the character's betrayal, and watch as our main characters cope with the fact that life is not fair (bloody hell, they live in a SHINOBI world). Early story arc were actually interesting, but once you get to this last arc (the war arc), things just....detrail. The whole war just had so many random, silly things thrown in it was hard to me to take it seriously. Anything that has been built upon, forget it. It's thrown out. Redemption (one of the most difficult things a person has to do after they betray their friends, in my opinion) is rushed. It just sort of happens. LOLWE'REFRIENDSAGAIN! I hardly bought it. It's all fine and dandy to believe in someone, even after such a thing has happened...but at a certain point it is destructive and unhealthy, and I'm left wondering if you're living in la-la land. It's so much harder to regain someone's trust after you've lost, unless you live in the world of Naruto. Your friends will just pull strings for you to get you out of trouble. I'm just not a fan of stories that set up heavy themes...and then just shy away from them. Especially in the ending arc.
This series hates me. For the last four or so years, I've just been coming back to Naruto over and over hoping things will get better, but it just keeps hurting and tormenting me. I liked reading all of the beginning chapters, I really did. I enjoyed feeling Naruto's plight, I loved the ensemble of main and supporting characters, I thought many of the beginning villains were a right blend of creepy and tragic, I just don't know what happened. As a person who once grew up with both Dragonball series, I had a deep understanding of shounen inner workings and didn't mind that they had to stick to a certain formula. I'm fine with that; Movies have been doing that for decades now. But slowly, over a great period of time, something fell over me as I began to realize what I was reading transformed into a beast. Soon, the plot almost entirely revolves around Naruto doing anything and everything to bring the little punk Sasuke back home. Everything revolves around those two specific people and everyone else takes a backseat to the drama. Once it gets to that point, reading Naruto just feels more like a chore than anything else. Hard to believe, but it took me well over 300 chapters of story for me to realize the pacing had become horrid and nearly unreadable. I could talk about how fights become stupid, interesting threads and characters are thrown away, and such, but that would just make me angry over how much better everything could've been. To anyone who has somehow missed out on the whole craze, just read until the time skip and make up an ending. Save yourself, please.
I've been thinking about doing a review for this manga for a very long time and the more I postponed it the smaller the grade became, I have a kind of love/hate relationship with this manga and being the series that got me in to anime and manga it is a bit more personal I'd say, well I've read/watched DBZ before it and some others but I wasn't very familiar with the whole manga/anime thing, in fact I don't think I even knew what the were, but I was small back then and well that's enough about me, let's get on with the manga.The first part of the manga was really great, in fact if I was going to give it a grade based on that it would probably get a 8, it had a lot of diverse characters with a lot of different techniques, they all had their stories and were well developed, much more so then most supporting cast in any other manga I'd read at that point and even after it's still rare that I find one that is as good in that respect.The story in the first part was not amazing, it was however good and it had a focus, it moved forward and knew where it wanted to get, it was straight forward and it told a story of discrimination, sadness, hard work, friend, etc. , it was well told and it made you want to read it.The villain in the first part was also great, he was evil, no I actually want to save the world or create peace but I'm misunderstood, he was pure evil, a freak and a bastard that wanted to gain power and destroy the village that exiled him, he was easy to hate and made for a very good villain, he was also much more threatening and scary really.The growth of the characters was well paced in the first part and it made sense, there were no tricks and little to no shortcuts, there were less huge powerups and characters needed to do more than just spam one ability usually.When the second part started I actually thought it would be good, it's hard to blame me though since it started quite nice, there was action, drama and generally the plot was moving on, there was a purpose and it wasn't just about getting more powerups so that you can show them off and then go get some more powerups.However not long in to the second part it became obvious that most of the supporting cast were all but forgotten and so probably the main strength of the manga up until that part was just squashed, now you'd think that with this there would be more focus on the main character Naruto cause it is named after him right ? well... not so much, naruto doesn't show up that much either, not only that but he doesn't really develop further in fact for the most part he was probably more mature in part one and the worse thing is that when you think he's grown up, when you finally think he's changed he goes and does something silly or stupid just for some random scene that tries to be amusing, I said try because it isn't.The only points at witch you'll see naruto in this manga is when he's training or when he's showing off what he gained through training, other then that you'll only see him be humiliated by the author by doing something stupid and thus nullifying his entire progress up to that point.Now you may ask, if the supporting cast isn't shown much and naruto isn't shown much then what the hell is ? The answer is simple, Sasuke, you see enough of him in the second part to make you puke, and it is even worse because as with naruto his character is much worse in part 2, by the time I'm writing this review he's raving, powerhungry lunatic that's blindly set on revenge based on what some other stupid character told him, so he's basically a brainless puppet for someone just as stupid as he is.The plot in the second part is just all over the place, and worse it is ridiculous, you'd think that with the war that's going on atm it would become better but no.. it just continues to disappoint.That's not to say that there are no good points in part 2, there are some here and there, the occasional 1 in 5/8 chapters that's actually good, and the entire pain arc was really good up until the end where it just shit all over itself.The main villain in part 2 is also a very bad joke.So what is Naruto ? it had potential but it basically became a benchmark for mediocrity, it's not that bad, but it's just average, run of the mill, and it's sad because it could have been so much more.
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