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Posted by Jesse C. Condon on 8/30/2006
I'm actually in my mid-twenties and I can't put this book down. At first when I saw it on Cartoon Network I thought "this is stupid, a mischevous Bart Simpson clone who stars in his own anime." But seeing how popular it had become I decided to buy the first DVD boxed set with money that was burning a hole in my pocket. After that I was hooked! I had to start buying all of the manga because I can't stand waiting to find out what happens next. Even though I'm definently not an Otaku, and reading right-to-left gives me a headache; it never slowed me down even a little bit. I read all 11 books in less than a week and I even bought the Shonen Jump magazine to see one of the conclusions.
The character development is great, there isn't a single one that I think they should do without. Naruto has a lot of heart and it is a pretty inspirational story. I'd be lying if I said I didn't even get choked up at some parts. It's also very unpredicable, the protagonists don't always win, the antagonists aren't always as tough as they seem. One thing is for sure, it's full of suprises. It is almost like it's own little world that forms itself in real-time. I think many non-anime fans may even like it too.
Posted by straitjacket on 2/13/2005
naruto, you could say at first glance seems like a tyical shounen manga... a loud-noisy-misbehaving-and-mischievious protagonist, lots of action, fast-paced plot and humor abound. what makes it atypical is that beneath the brash exterior is the hidden soft center. face it, naruto is a bleeding heart in disguise.
naruto is an orphan with a mysterious past who is known as the #1 troublemaker in the shinobi (ninja) village of hidden leaf. the story starts of with him in the midst of a prank, much to the anoyance of the villagers. what we don't know (yet) is why he finds it absolutely imperative to do so... resulting in his behavior. mysteriously, nearly all the adults of hidden leaf is cold and antagonistic towards him, which inadvertently results in his seclusion even amongst kids his age. it doesn't help that naruto isn't exactly the average high achiever at ninja academy, in fact, he has always been the last in his class. studies isn't exactly one of his finer points. the story moves on quickly; his third attempt at graduation exam leads him from one problem to another, all without losing a beat. amidst all the madness and general shunning of the village population, only naruto's homeroom teacher seems to understand what goes on in naruto's head. ironically, this doesn't stop naruto from making trouble for iruka-sensei...
i really do like the artwork in naruto, even if may seems to be unaccustomed to it. after seeing many mangas with generally sparse art, i find the illustrations of this manga to be detailed and lively. the village in the background seems to come alive with daily activities and the combination of modern infrastructure and mystical ninja arts makes an interesting combination. i like that naruto takes place in an alternate universe, and the contrasts of the ancient and new in this world makes it unique and entertaining.
the characters are also very endearing, and one finds it hard not to be attached to at least one of them. in fact, i am fond of a few! although there seems to be stereotypical characterization, somehow none of them seems stale. what makes them special is that each of them has their quirks and depth. and for a cast with ever expanding numbers, i have to tip my hat to the mangaka for making them distinct and personable.
let me warn you though, that while this book is full of hijinks and humor, it also is unexpectedly rife with tear-inducing scenes and angsty undertone. it's one of the few books that could make you cry and laugh at the same moment. i've read nearly all the chapters there is of naruto (currently 200+ and still going on strong), and i have to say it's like that all the way. personally, i won't read this in public coz i know it'll be a tragic day indeed when i laughed at one moment and then burst into tears the next for all and sundry to see.
another quirk concerning this series is that one of the most mentioned about character in this series, the 4th hokage (also called by his other title, yondaime) is a character shrouded in mystery. other than his title and his incredible skills and reputation, hardly anything is known about him, not even his real name. for a character that only appears in flashbacks and conversations his legacy is undoubtedly far reaching and incidentally, he's one of my favorite characters. i'd love to see if kishimoto will dedicate a chapter or two on the 4th hokage, and how he will be portrayed.
naruto is, imho, a true gem in the world of shounen manga, and perhaps even in the world of mangas in general. even after (currently) 24 volumes published in japan, it hasn't lost its freshness, intensity and gripping plot that makes readers clamor for more, yours truly included. quite a feat indeed. this is not a manga to be missed.
Excellent - Surprising on many levels!
Posted by Anonymous on 11/30/2003
I normally don't read shonen (boys) manga, because it just isn't my thing. BUT...after a friend loaned me this first volume, I couldn't get enough! There's a lot of character development and back story packed into this manga. The students grow and change, becoming more mature as the volumes progress.
There's a good mix of action scenes and plot movement, so I think it's safe to say that there's something for just about everyone in the Naruto manga (it even has a lot of female fans!). The battles are interesting in that your favorite character (or the one who seems most likely to win) may not win. The use of extreme force is often balanced by the fact that it's a severe drain on the user. The characters need to think quickly and choose which fighting form is appropriate to the given situation, rather than just rush in haphazardly.
But all that is, in my mind, secondary to the interesting characters present in the manga. Many of them have elaborate backstories which serve to bring this story to life.
The only downside is that one of the main females is rather...well...useless. But I have a feeling that will change as she learns and grows from the trials presented her.
I can't recommend this manga highly enough!