June 20th, 2006

manga is crack

Kishimoto Masashi - Naruto, vol. 01-05 (Eng. trans.)

Naruto is an orphan in a ninja village; he's the class troublemaker and almost universally despised by both adults and children. His one goal in life is to become the head of the ninja village and be the most respected ninja of all time, or something like that.

rachelmanija had already warned me that the first volume really isn't all that spectacular; because of this, I enjoyed it a lot more than I had expected to. Naruto is bratty, but something about his smile cheers me up, and I really liked the relationship between him and Iruka. Things grow more complex later as he gets to join the Ninja Academy and is teamed up with Sasuke, who is special and talented and stoic, and Sakura, desperately in love with Sasuke. Sakura and Sasuke don't get quite that much character development in the first few volumes, though I have to admit that I really adore the portrayal of Inner Sakura, who's greedy and scheming and altogether unlike the somewhat nice face she presents to the outside.

And Naruto just continues to charm me with his enthusiasm and his desire to be the best, even though he's not usually the character type that gets to me. He's just so... cheerful! And he takes everything as it comes! He reminds me a lot of Goku, who is actually now my favorite Saiyuki character.

The first arc came to an end in vol. 4; the villain of the arc was somewhat boring until the last bits of sympathy show through, much like most manga and anime villains. I was also bored during a lot of the fight scenes, particularly ones that talk about assorted ninja chakra or magic spinning eyes or what have you. But again, that was to be expected. The unexpected bit was how touched I was by the end of the arc, particularly by Naruto's actions. I want to hug him half the time!

Also, there is a scene in which a box sneaks up on Naruto, and he yells, "Box! I can see you sneaking up on me! Don't think you're so smart!" Except, you know... box! Sneaking up on Naruto! Hee!

Volume 5 starts off a new arc -- the ninja exams! Rachel was right, this volume is hilarious. I will not make any further notes, as I'm currently enmeshed in the arc, but I haven't really formed many opinions of the other ninjas. On the other hand, watching Naruto and Sasuke and Sakura interact totally cracks me up. It took a few volumes, but they feel like a family now, albeit one that bickers a whole lot. And I adore Naruto's first big crises during the exam, which totally would have had me falling off my chair, except someone was painting my toenails.

And. Volume 5 ends with the ninja students going off into... the Forest of Death! DUN DUN DUN! I definitely let out an undignified snort as I read that. It's almost as good as a Forest of DOOM!