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Ian Wolf's review
"The fox knows many things; the hedgehog, one big thing." - Erasmus
Naruto is the third of the four big shonen mangas that I am reviewing the first three volumes of (the others being Bleach, Fullmetal Alchemist and One Piece).
Naruto is a manga that appears to divide opinion amongst some anime fans, which is something that I personally notice when I go to anime conventions, including the one that I work for, Nemacon in Middlesbrough. It is certainly very popular, with people regularly cosplaying Naruto and other characters from the series, which is annoying for the man who runs Nemacon, whom I know personally, who hates the series.
The series, which began with a short pilot chapter created by Masashi Kishimoto in 1997 before becoming a full-blown series two years later, follows the story of Naruto Uzumaki, a mischievous young boy who is training to be a ninja, who dreams of becoming the strongest ninja in his village. However, not only does he have to overcome the problems caused in battle, but also the more disturbing issue that inside is body is a fox spirit who killed huge numbers of people in his village twelve years ago.
The first thing that strikes you with this manga is the art. The first panel on the first page is a superbly drawn landscape picture of Naruto’s home, The Village Hidden in the Leaves. This art continues in much of the same quality all the way through, although why Naruto seems to have whiskers on his face I do not know, unless it is something to do with a fox whiskers.
Out of the other two manga I have reviewed so far, it is more akin to Bleach than Fullmetal Alchemist in most areas. It has similar chapter structure and it has those annoying "Read this way" captions at the top of page whenever there is space on the top of the page.
However, there are differences of course. For starters the humour in Naruto is much broader. Early on we see things such as Naruto transforming himself into a sexy naked woman with the rude bits covered up (p. 14) and later on Naruto transforms himself into an entire horde of sexy naked women (p. 77-79), while senior ninja Kakashi is seen reading a book called Make-Out Paradise while fending off attacks from his students (p. 132.)
There are some bits that I did find confusing in the manga though, due to the somewhat fantasy setting of the work. For example there is one scene in which Kakashi is seen wearing a headset (p. 217), and some bizarre quotes such as: "At this rate, all of Sector D will be flooded!!" (p. 452) which sounds like something more out of a sci-fi story than a tale involving ninjas.
I think that rather than comparing this series to the other shonen manga, it might be more comparable to Pokemon. Both series feature a boy going on adventures that seem to go on and on forever. However, I do have the feeling that Naruto will be the one to end first, provided that Nintendo can keep thinking of things to anthropomorphise.
Overall, I am not a hard-core fan of this, nor am I someone who totally hates it. This series has its merits and makes for a light, entertaining read to pass the time.
|Score:||7 out of 10|
|Review By:||Ian Wolf|
|Date Published:||Fri, 30 Mar 2012|