By Masashi Kishimoto
Genres: Action, Adventure, Martial Arts, Shounen, Super Power, Military
Before Naruto’s birth, a great demon fox had attacked the Hidden Leaf Village. A man known as the 4th Hokage sealed the demon inside the newly born Naruto, causing him to unknowingly grow up detested by his fellow villagers. Despite his lack of talent in many areas of ninjutsu, Naruto strives for only one goal: to gain the title of Hokage, the strongest ninja in his village. Desiring the respect he never received, Naruto works towards his dream with fellow friends Sasuke and Sakura and mentor Kakashi as they go through many trials and battles that come with being a ninja.
Ah, finally, Naruto, the most controversial manga in this day and age. Along with Bleach and One Piece, Naruto has become the very definition of Shounen: action-adventure mixed with hot-blooded fights with occasional slap-stick comic relief. Also, as I mentioned before in my Fairy Tail review, the theme of friendship and good versus evil is illustrated again and again to draw out all kinds of emotions from the readers. Now, most people who have read this manga have a love-or-hate relationship with it. They either hate it to the core, or love it as the most avid fan boy or fan girl would.
As you might have guessed from its rank in my favorite manga list, Naruto is one of my favorite manga, for various reasons. Granted, it does not have the best plot, nor do the characters exhibit many traits other than that of determination, loyalty, sense of justice, or fool-hardiness. However, it does define the Shounen genre, the single most popular manga genre, for two decades. And, looking at it in an objective light (as a whole manga), it does have a pretty good overall story progression, a great and likable character cast, an art-style that is suitable for the manga, and most importantly (also arguably), a story that makes sense*.
A story that makes sense is important, and despite Naruto-haters’ constant rebukes, I think Naruto makes sense as a whole. Again, the same argument applies. If one actually read Naruto from chapter one all the way to the most recent, one probably would not give Naruto a ten out of ten, but definitely not a low score either.
My first contact with Naruto was when I was in grade four of elementary school, which is ten years ago. Since then, I have continued to follow Naruto. There were definitely chapters or arcs when Naruto is not as good, but I have endured, and still manage to find enjoyment in it even today.
My hope for Naruto right now is that it end soon and in a manner that does not make the story fell apart. Then, I can still with good conscience give it a fairly high score, even without my personal attachment factor.