Hey gang, due to my irrational loathing of all things Naruto, I called in the cavalry on this one and asked a fellow manga blogger to cover Naruto vol. 50 for me. Any review I wrote would be heinously biased, so I asked someone to give it a fair look for me. So everyone, say “hi” to Lori from Manga Xanadu!
Author: Masashi Kishimoto
Publisher: Viz Media (Shonen Jump)
Volume: Volume 50 (ongoing), $9.99
Vintage: 2010 by Shueisha in Japan, February 2011 (out now) by Viz Media
Genre: Action, fantasy, teen
Naruto is the story of a young Shinobi, or ninja, who has a dangerous animal spirit sealed inside him, The Nine Tailed Fox Spirit. Shunned at first by the people of his village, Naruto has grown up from a wild and mischievous child, into a powerful ninja, still with a bit of a mischievous streak. The series hits 50 with the latest volume, but doesn’t shown any signs of slowing down due to middle age. There’s plenty going on in this volume. War is declared in the ninja world, Naruto gets a shock from Sakura, and I have to wonder if Kishimoto is a fan of bad Syfy movies.
This volume starts with the continuation of the battle between Sasuke and the Raikage. Sasuke had come to the Gokage summit to confront Danzo, the acting Hokage, who manages to slip out during the chaos after being confronted by his fellow -kage for trying to manipulate the moderator of the summit. Sasuke tries to take on all the Gokage, but he’s no match for their combined power, and Madara has to step in and save him. While there, he issues an ultimatum: either the gokage give him the remaining biju, or else he will start the next great ninja war with the biju he has. Naturally the Gokage refuse, and instead form an alliance to stand against Madara and the Akatsuki. Elsewhere, Naturo is confronted by Sakura who has a confession for him, but things don’t go as she planned and she decides to take matters into her own hands. Finally, the volume ends with a long battle between Killer Bee, the Jinchuriki of the eight-tails biju, and the Akatsuki Kisame.
There is plenty of story movement in this volume. More is revealed about the world of Naruto with Madara’s story of the origin of the tailed-biju and the legendary Sage of Six Paths who is said to have saved the world and created the seals for the tailed-biju. I really like the legend, and a lot of what Madara says makes sense. I hope we continue to hear about the Sage of Six Paths. Madara’s motives are pretty standard for a shonen villain, but at least his methods aren’t. Though, Madara doesn’t seem like the type to have such a straightforward plan and be so quick to tell it. It makes me wonder if there isn’t something else going on.
Sakura’s confession to Naruto was completely unbelievable. Kishimoto did a good job of conveying that feeling. At least, I hope that is the reaction he was going for from readers. It’s certainly the reaction Naruto had. He doesn’t believe anything Sakura tells him, and from her body language that’s easy to understand. Her ploy is sadly obvious, and I don’t think it really speaks well of Sakura that she would try and use Naruto’s feelings for her like that, even if the ultimate goal is for his own good. I’ve never liked how Kishimoto has handled Sakura, and this is just another example of why.
The battle between Killer Bee and Kisame is typical of two powerful fighters going at it. Killer Bee has the eight tails biju, an octopus, and is on good enough terms with him, that Killer Bee can use his chakra and control the transformation very well. Kisame is one of the Seven Ninja Swordmen of the Mist, with the strength and power almost equal to a Jinchuriki. When he combines with his chakra-eating sword Samehada, he transforms into a shark-like creature. So their battle is fairly evenly matched. In fact, you could say it’s like Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus, without the cheesy effects. The dialog…well it’s close to being tied with Killer Bee’s raps. Kisame is pretty cocky throughout the fight, and is nearly successful, until his own sword turns on him, and the Raikage appears. The two brothers finish the battle together.
Overall this was a good volume of Naruto. Interactions from previous chapters come together in this volume to affect the outlook of several of the characters, mostly in a good way. There’s even a change of heart for the hard-headed Tsukikage, which seems to be quite a feat. Kishimoto makes good use of flashbacks to give the developments real meaning. And there’s plenty of action between the Gokage fighting Sasuke and the Kisame and Killer Bee fight to keep action fans happy. With the way things are going, we could be in store for another 50 more volumes.
My loathing of Naruto is pretty unjustified. I’ve hardly seen any of the anime (just the pieces I caught when my step-son was over and watching it), and I’ve never seen the manga until now. Before I shipped it off to Lori, I flipped through it and was unimpressed. It seems to me the chapters come out far too fast for artistic quality, because it sure as heck doesn’t look like it’s drawn by someone who has done 50 volumes of manga. That’s all I’ll say about it.
Thanks for filling in, Lori! Lori will have more for us when she steps in again soon for a volume of One Piece. Please visit Lori’s website, Manga Xanadu, or follow her on Twitter with @MangaXanadu.
Review copy provided by Viz Media.