As promised, here's another post! On time! I actually can't believe it's come to this, I mean, this is my nineteenth post and here I am blogging about...*sigh* well, I suppose it could be worse. I could be blogging about Master of Martial Hearts. But I suppose that I'm not being entirely fair here as today's series is much more...dare I say..."respected" than that piece of fanservisey shit. But let's just get this over with. Ladies and gents, I'm John Cortez and this is my nineteenth post for...The Broken Infinite.
You know, I like to think that I'm a pretty decent reviewer. I'm able to look at a series with a critical eye and point out the glaring flaws and outstanding positives that it may or may not have. Despite this, I know that I'm a very biased reviewer. I've got a habit of inserting my own personal thoughts and opinions into my reviews regardless of what others may think of it. While from an objective point of view this is a bad thing since if I'm reviewing something, I should be mainly objective but in my opinion if you rate a series purely on the facts about it you're not really telling what you think is good or bad about it, you're just saying what's already acknowldged as good and bad about it. Today we're going to be talking about a series that's...kind of love it or hate it. Today everyone, we'll be talking about one of the series that gets people into anime but at the same time gives it a bad name. Today...is Naruto.
The plot is this: Naruto Uzumaki aspires to be a ninja but not just any ninja. He wants to be the Hokage, the strongest ninja in Konohagakure or The Village Hidden in the Leaves. Unfortunately, his skills are...lacking to say the least and he'd much rather play a good prank than attend his ninja classes. Upon failing his graduation exam for the third time in a row, Naruto is told to take a powerful scroll and master one of the many jutsu within it and if he can, his instructor Iruka Umino will be forced to pass him. Well he does end up mastering one jutsu and he does end passing but he also learns that he is the vessal for the Nine Tailed Fox, a powerful monster fox that killed a great many ninja 12 years ago. This, he learns, is why all the adults in the village treat him like a walking plague. So, now that Naruto's become a Genin or Lower Ninja he's placed in a team with two of his classmates. The first is Sakura Haruno, the brightest girl in his class who Naruto is majorly crushing on and the second is the ultra "badass" bad boy Sasuke Uchiha who Sakura is majorly crushing on. They're lead by Kakashi Hatake and together they go on ninja missions and all that cool stuff.
I feel kind of dead trying to describe the plot of Naruto but that basically is all there is to it in a nutshell. Of course by now everyone knows about the Sanin and Orochimaru and all that but for the purposes of this review they're not really important.
So, where do I begin to actually review Naruto? Well, I suppose we should start with how the series looks. It looks decent enough. Nothing about the animation or how the series is drawn is of particular interest to me and it's pretty much typical shonen. The music in the anime is...alright. I like some of the openings and endings and I suppose the background music is alright as well. Really there isn't a whole lot to say about the audiovisual stuff here. It's just shonen.
Now before we get into everything that Naruto does horribly wrong, lets take a look at the things it does well and right. First of all, the series manages to establish itself with an interesting introduction and well crafted world. The next thing it does, most importantly, is establish likable and sympathetic characters, especially the main character. Naruto himself is a very likable person with his abundance of energy and drive to prove himself as well as his strong desire to find his place in a village that does not at all want him. The other characters are also likable enough and varied in their appearances so that no two people look exactly alike. The character relationships are enjoyable and so are each of their personalities and desires and goals. And finally the fight scenes are some of the best I've ever seen in a shonen series, hands down.
And now we get into the series flaws. First of all, Naruto is like almost every other shonen action series out there. A main character struggling to overcome and change public perceptions of himself and wanting to be something that they're not. The main character has a rivalry with a character who's superior to him in every way and struggles to bridge the gap in power between them while also having a crush on a girl who can't even care enough to give him the time of day. The series also suffers from Flashback abuse. Naruto will seriously and shamelessly flashback to something that happened 5 minutes earlier in the episode. It's annoying and it distracts from the action because the series seems to think that we're all idiots. Next up, Naruto has some of the absolute worst fillers in anime history. Remember the fillers from the original DragonBall Z like where Goku and Piccolo had to learn to drive and it was funny? Naruto's aren't even funny in a "So Bad It's Good" kind of way. They're just...baaaaaaaaad most of the time. But in personal opinion, Naruto really losses points with it's characters because the ones who aren't named Naruto and Sasuke don't really get enough focus.
But let's get down to the personal part of this review. Everyone knows how infamous Naruto is for it's fillers and flashbacks but what are the problems that I have with it personally and where do I stand on it? Well, despite me saying that it's a love it or hate it series, I'm rather neutral towards Naruto in general. I like and loathe it for multiple reasons. I like the characters, the fight scenes and the interesting and involving world that Kishimoto has crafted over the years. I like how the characters are portrayed especially the character of Sakura Haruno. At the beginning, Sakura was a love interest of Naruto but she loved Sasuke for his reputation and status and good looks and in general acted like an annoying Sasuke fangirl. Sasuke eventually calls her out on this and says that she's even more worthless than Naruto because at the end of the day, Naruto can make a hundred solid clones of himself while Sakura just kind of stands there. This prompts Sakura to try and change herself into someone worthy of Sasuke's affections and it also leads her to acknowledging that Sasuke is a human with flaws and she begins to truly fall in love with him for who he is. And when he finally leaves the village and Naruto is the one who vows to bring him back for her, Sakura realizes that Naruto isn't just a little pest but a good person who'd do almost anything for his fellow ninja. After the timeskip she becomes a badass medical ninja and cements her spot on her team. I'll also say this for Naruto, it knows how to create memorable characters, especially it's antagonists. No one's ever going to forget Zabuza and Haku, or Garra or Orochimaru.
But why do I hate Naruto? I thoroughly despise the way that Kishimoto seems to just use characters to get Naruto into whatever situation he needs to be in to win the day. For example, in part 1 of the series is the fight between Neji and Hinata Hyuuga. Now, why does Hinata lose this fight? Well it's not because she isn't a capable fighter, it's because she needed to loose the fight in order for Naruto to avenge her and take her place in the finals of the Chunin Exams. Further on the characters, while a lot of the characters backstories and histories are revealed throughout the show, some characters like Shino and Tenten haven't even really gotten that many chances to show what they're made of. Sure, they get a battle or two here and there, but what about their personalities and goals and dreams? What else is there for me to loathe about Naruto?...Maybe the use of female characters? While it's common knowledge that females get the short end of the stick in shonen anime and manga, the females of Naruto might have it the absolute worst. Their motivations and aspirations mainly revolve around romance and men and their backstories, similarly, revolve around men. Hinata wants to be her best because she loves Naruto. Ino and Sakura want to be their best because they love Sasuke. Even Tsunade's backstory involves the tragic death of her lover. Now that leaves, among the relevant cast, Temari who got upstaged by Shikamaru, Tenten who gets upstaged by EVERYONE due to her lack of screen time, and...Kurenai who isn't seen that much to begin with but later gets kind of...cast aside when she becomes pregnant. Now, that's not to say that each female character is without her moment of severe badassness but...honestly they're not very well written at all. Oh and then there's the shipping wars.
That's really all I feel I can write about Naruto. I'll see you all next week, DaWaRou~!