Review: Naruto

Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Author: Masashi Kishimoto
Manga: ongoing
Anime: 220 episodes
OVAs: Naruto: Find the Four-leaf Red Clover
Naruto: Mission: Protect the Waterfall Village!
Naruto: Hidden Leaf Village Grand Sports Festival
Naruto: The Cross Roads CGI OVA
Movies: Naruto the Movie: Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow
Naruto the Movie 2: Legend of the Stone of Gelel
Naruto the Movie 3: Guardians of the Crescent Moon Kingdom
Sequel: Naruto: Shippuden

(Some Information from Narutopedia | Some Information from Wikipedia)
Twelve years ago, the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox attacked the Hidden Village of the Leaf. It was a being feared by many, as a single swing of one of its nine tails would raise tsunamis and flatten mountains. It caused the death of many ninjas and the birth of many heroes. Finally, the leader of the village, the Fourth Hokage, defeated it by using a forbidden technique that sealed the demon fox inside a newborn child in exchange for his life. That child was Uzumaki Naruto.

The Fourth Hokage was celebrated as a hero for sealing the Nine-Tails away. And, he wanted Naruto to be respected in a similar light by being the vessel for the Nine-Tails. However, most of the village regarded him as if he were the Nine-Tails itself and mistreated him throughout most of his childhood. The Third Hokage made it so that the villages were forbidden to mention the event to anyone, thus the children of Naruto's generation and even Naruto himself, do not know about the demon fox inside him. But, despite not knowing why their parents shunned him out, they followed their example and treated him coldly as well.

Because of growing up in a lonely childhood without family nor friends, Naruto grew up craving for acknowledgement and attention. He found a way to get attention by pulling pranks and doing all kinds of mischief around him. However, that soon changed after Naruto graduated from the Ninja Academy by using his newly-mastered Shadow Clone Technique and its greater version, Multiple Shadow Clone Technique, to save his teacher, Iruka Umino, from the renegade ninja Mizuki. That encounter gave Naruto two insights: that he was the container of the Nine-Tails, and that there was someone besides the Third Hokage who actually cared about him.

Upon graduation, Naruto meets new people, makes new friends, creates bonds and memories that would soon change his view of the world. Naruto befriends two comrades, Uchiha Sasuke and Haruno Sakura, who are assigned with him to form a three-person team named Team 7 under an experienced teacher, Hatake Kakashi. Like all the ninja teams from every village, Team 7 charged with completing missions requested by villagers, such as doing chores or being bodyguards. During the course of their missions, Naruto befriends other characters that he meets throughout the series. Team 7 learn new abilities, get to know each other, and experience a coming-of-age journey as Naruto dreams of becoming the Hokage of Konohagakure.

After several missions, Kakashi allows Team 7 to participate into a ninja exam in which they can improve their ranks, and thus, take part in more difficult missions. During the exams, Orochimaru, a criminal at the top of Konohagakure's most wanted list, attacks Konoha and kills the Third Hokage in an act of revenge. This forces one of the three legendary ninja, Jiraiya to search for his former teammate Tsunade, who has been nominated to become the Fifth Hokage.

During the search, it is revealed that Orochimaru desires to acquire Sasuke Uchiha in order to get a hold of the powers of the Uchiha Clan which runs in him as a Bloodline Limit ability. Believing Orochimaru will be able to give him the strength needed to kill his brother Itachi, who destroyed his clan, Sasuke goes to him in search of power. Tsunade sends a group of ninja including Naruto to make Sasuke return to Konoha, but the mission is a failure. Naruto does not give up on Sasuke, however, and he leaves Konoha to train for two-and-a-half years under Jiraiya's tutelage in order to prepare himself for the next time he encounters Sasuke and to protect himself from people who are after him to take advantage of the Demon Fox inside him, including the high-ranking criminal organization, Akatsuki.

By this time, Naruto's wish to become a Hokage no longer derives from his craving to be acknowledged, but rather in order to protect his friends, his loved ones, and his village. He continues to fight alongside friends as he defines his way of the ninja and live by it for the rest of his life. The Naruto anime ends here. However, the manga continues on. The continuation is also adapted into anime in the sequel, Naruto: Shippuden.

Akatsuki has started to move in order to collect all the Nine Tailed Beasts. This includes the nine-tailed demon fox inside Naruto. Several ninjas from Konohagakure, including Team 7, fight against the Akatsuki members and search for their teammate Sasuke. Although they manage to save Gaara the host of the One-Tailed beast, Akatsuki is successful in capturing seven of the creatures.

In the meantime, Sasuke betrays Orochimaru and faces Itachi to take revenge. Although Itachi dies in battle, Sasuke is later told by the Akatsuki founder Madara Uchiha that Itachi was ordered by Konohagakure's leadership to destroy his clan. Saddened with this revelation, Sasuke joins forces with Akatsuki to destroy Konohagakure. Meanwhile, as several Akatsuki members are defeated by the Konohagakure ninja, their leader, Pain, invades the village to capture Naruto. However, Naruto defeats Pain's multiple bodies and convinces the real one to leave Akatsuki.

With Pain having left, Madara announces that he wants to obtain the nine tailed beasts in order to perform an illusion powerful enough to control humanity. All of the leaders of the five ninja villages refuse to aid him, and instead, join forces to confront him.

Story: The story of Naruto is both common and unique. It is unique because it has its own original concepts on Ninjas, and the abilities they have. There are many twists to the plot and there is always more than enough thrill to keep you glued to your seat. However, it is common because sometimes the outcome is very obvious. If you are used to reading shounen and adventure manga or stories, you would be able to predict the next events. Although, that is not always the case. The run of the story may be very slow to some. This slow pace can be attributed to the length of the fight scenes which contribute only bits to the progress of the story. However, some people may not notice this because of the excitement that the fighting leaves for the viewers. Overall, I give the story 4 stars and a thumb-up!

Characters: Naruto consists of varying characters. This fact may be the cause why the characters in Naruto are very likable and endearing to fans. With the many different characters, backgrounds, and personalities, each one is bound to find someone to whom he/she can related to. This makes the story very lively and at times, also make the story less predictable. I like the concept of Clans here. It's very fun to know that this family knows this, and that family knows that. It adds all the more to the enjoyment. The design of the characters are also good. Although the drawings are quite simple, they are very well identified. Easily differentiated, each character has his/her own unique individuality that stands out for him/her alone.

Abilities: My first reaction in seeing the abilities, power, and "chakra" in Naruto was, "Wow! Cool!" The chakra system was very well thought-out. Also, integrating the five elements, hand seals, techniques, and ninja weapons to the fighting style was very creative. The powers of each character is defined and not one of them is so powerful that their is no weakness. Each character's unique prowess and weak point has been though about beforehand. With the combination or hand-to-hand combat, ninja techniques, and illusions, there is definitely a lot to see.

Shippuden: Naruto: Shippuden or sometimes just simply called, Shippuden, is the sequel to the Naruto anime series. The events in Naruto: Shippuden take place after the time skip from Naruto or 2 1/2 years. The story is all in one manga, Naruto. However, the anime was separated into two parts, Naruto for the first series, and Naruto: Shippuden for after the time skip which was Naruto's training with Jiraiya. This anime series is currently ongoing.

Animation: The animation is somewhat average. There is nothing specially attractive about the animation. However, it's not too dull to be completely ignored as well. The story of the anime follows closely with the manga's storyline. However, there are times when filler arcs are made in order to give time for the manga to release more volumes for the anime to adapt.

Voice Acting: There is amazing voice acting in Naruto. Definitely, it is almost an all-star cast. Junko Takeuchi gives her voice to the main protagonist, Uzumaki Naruto. She is also the voice of Gon Freeces in Hunter x Hunter; Metabee in Medabots; and Kanbara Takuya in Digimon Frontier among others. Noriaki Sugiyama is the voice behind Uchiha Sasuke. He is also the voice actor of Ishida Uryuu in Bleach; Emiya Shirou in Fate/Stay Night; and England in Hetalia: Axis Powers among others. Veteran seiyuu(voice actor) Inoue Kazuhiko is also part of the cast as Hatake Kakashi. He is also the voice of Sohma Hatori in Fruits Basket; Aion in Chrono Crusade; Tachibana no Tomomasa in Harukanaru Toki no Naka de Hachiyou Sho; William in Romeo x Juliet; and Suoh Yuzuru in Ouran High School Host Club among many others. There are more but too much to enumerate. Aside from the power cast, the casting was also done very well. Each voice actor was able to successfully and properly portray his/her character.

Soundtrack/Themes: All Naruto soundtracks have been composed by Toshiro Masuda. I must praise the soundtrack for its varying mood and tone. The music is very good and the timing in which they are inserted is great. In fighting scenes, you feel the thrill; in funny scenes, you feel the comedy and laughter; in dramatic scenes, you feel the sadness and feelings of the characters. All opening themes of Naruto are, for me, well-done. However it is not all of them that I feel very hyped up to watch the series. My favorites are Haruka Kanata by Asian Kung-Fu Generation, Kanashimi wo Yasashisa ni by little by little, and GO!!! by FLOW. They are the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th opening themes, respectively. As for ending themes, Wind by Akeboshi, and Speed by Analog Fish are the best and for me, the only ending themes I actually listen through to the end, since I don't mind about the others. They are the 1st and 10th ending songs, respectively.

I know not all of us have the same opinion. However, I hope you guys will give Naruto a chance and try it out. You might turn out to have the same opinions as me. Or, you may even like it more than I do. But it's also possible that you may not like it at all. But anyway, I hope this review helped!