It’s the end of an era; the last chapter of Naruto will be coming out and will probably hit the internet translated into English Thursday morning.The last chapter will be extra long, so at least we have that going for us. Naruto had a 15 year run and I’d say it’ll retire as one of the top 5 most influential manga ever. A 15 year run! That’s a sophomore in high school. That’s the legal drinking age in Europe. 15 years ago Bill Bilicheck wasn’t coaching the Patriots. That’s a long time. And it’s over.
I first spotted Naruto’s flashy cover art on my friend’s bookshelf. I didn’t even know what manga was before Naruto, it was my gateway manga. It was my Aladdin to my magic carpet ride. That was when I was in middle school. I brought a Naruto volume into school once and started reading it during free period, I never made that mistake again. Manga and anime in general isn’t the coolest thing. It’s gotten better now, but they’ll always be that stigma associated with it.
I would meander around the manga section in Barnes and Noble until I was sure no one would see me there. Like I stumbled there by accident. I wasn’t here for manga, no, I was here for, uh, literally any other literary book. I was too embarrassed to be seen reading manga so I would snatch a couple volumes and read them somewhere else, who would have thought bookstores would be running out of business when people can just read books in the store? Not this guy.
Dozens of volumes had already been published when I started and it didn’t take long for me to catch up. I needed more, and apparently so did others. Every week a new chapter would come out on some sketchy website with a terrible translation. Websites would get shut down and I’d have to vigorously search for 5 precious seconds finding a new one, it’s definitely illegal, but fans got what they wanted, their weekly Naruto fix. I’d support the author by buying the volumes every now and then, and on the bright side I didn’t have to sneakily read Naruto anymore!
I always felt the ninjas vs pirates craze started because of the popularity of Naruto and One Piece. On one of my college midterms there was a ninjas vs pirates question for extra credit. That was probably my longest and most detailed response on a test, ever. I found myself making ninja seals unconsciously when I was stressed and I still see the Time Warner symbol as the Hidden Leaf headband symbol.
I’m handling Naruto’s closing curtain surprisingly well. It’s probably because the anime won’t finish till later, there’s a movie coming out, and there’s a mini spin off series to debut when the manga ends.
I never got into the Naruto anime, which will end after the manga, because I just don’t like anime that much. I can read manga a lot faster than watch something. The only anime I liked was Dragon Ball Z, but rewatching that now is painful. It’s just a bunch of shouting and grunting. When the first villains could blow up a planet with their finger…the power levels only got more ridiculous from there. It’s much better in my head. I wouldn’t consider Legend of Korra an anime either…though I can see how others can see it as one. Believe it. I don’t even remember him saying this in the manga, but he says this every other line in the anime. I’m just not a fan.
The movie is called The Last, but I’d be willing to bet it won’t be the last Naruto movie. This franchise is too profitable for that to not happen. It’ll come out on December 6th 2014 in Japan and the movie will follow a storyline 2 years after the events end in the manga. The film will also be adapted into a novel and be released on December 8, 2014. So there’s that. I’m pretty much getting all my information from the wiki.
I think Kishimoto even stated that this movie would focus around romance more. This movie is pretty much going to be amazing for Naruto and Hinata shippers. I don’t think this means Kishimoto will end the manga on a cliffhanger, I think the movie will act more as an expanded epilogue.
3. Spin Off
Apparently there will be some mini series in the Naruto universe but won’t necessarily revolve around our title character. I don’t know how involved Kishimoto will be in these projects either, my guess would be that he’ll oversee things but won’t put as much time into it. He needs a break after 15 years, and he’ll finally get one. I don’t think the mini series will last too long either, it’s just trying to ease the death of the series.
I know it’s lame, but Naruto’s message was always to believe in oneself, that friendships should be valued above all else, and that hard work can beat talent (a stronger theme early on that sort of went out the window as the series progressed). The ending has been dragging for years however. It’s a shame because the manga has been so revolutionary and amazing that some readers may take for granted what they’ll no longer have. Me for example, I just described myself. Kishimoto had the luxury of deciding when to call it quits, while many manga can get the axe any time if it loses popularity, no matter where the story is. Naruto never had that problem. He felt like this was where to end it, I disagree.
Past this point if you haven’t read the manga you will be confused. Spoilers for the entire series.
The battle that was hyped and planned for almost the entirety of the manga, Sasuke vs Naruto, was so short. It was solid, but way too short. Either make Kaguya a much better villain or not include her at all. Her fight before their rematch made both fights feel lame and out of place because they happened in succession. Sasuke and Naruto just teamed up to take down an enemy and then they immediately fight each other. They even had to fight at the waterfalls again. We get it, Sasuke is Madara and Naruto is Hashirama. I think the Sage of the Sixth Paths said they had to hold hands to undo the Infinite Tsukuyomi, but that may not be possible now…
Naruto said after they become first class ninjas they could tell each other’s feelings from clashing fists and that they’ll both die if they fought again, but they don’t die! Sasuke should have turned good when his brother turned out to be good. So I’m still confused as why he did here. It’s not like Naruto’s words changed, “because you’re my friend.” It’s driving me insane! Sasuke should have remained evil or there should have been some new reason to be good again. I wanted Sasuke to stay evil and force the protagonist to make the tough decision and kill him, especially when Naruto loved Sasuke so much. That would have been a great ending, everyone loves Naruto for protecting the world, but he’s upset about killing his “brother.”
Both of them dying would have been good too. Everyone loves Naruto for saving the world from Sasuke and his name would be scribbled on that stone memorial of dead ninja heroes Kakashi mentioned in chapter 8. Or even Sasuke killing Naruto, that would have been a twist. People live in Infinite Tsukuyomi forever.
Both of them living means that Kishimoto wants us to believe that this isn’t repeating history because Naruto ends it with love instead of death. Unless Sasuke has a kid and it starts all over again. I mean Sakura still loved Sasuke in the end so it’s totally possible. Is she insane? He hasn’t done anything nice for her ever. I hope she dies alone or settles for Rock Lee. Judging from the “hand” holding between the two best friends last chapter I’m expecting Sasuke to just…become a hermit? Is that how this conflict ends? Sasuke just promises to leave and never do anything evil? What?! How is this conflict settled with love?! Sasuke did a ton of evil things in the past, there’s no way the rest of the village forgives him. What happens with him then?! Being alone is the worst feeling in the world according to this manga, but I also don’t know Sasuke would be accepted again. Only Naruto forgives him really…any honestly Sasuke could swing back to evil any second he wanted to. I don’t feel like these questions will be settled.
It also looks like Naruto won’t be the next Hokage because…I mean he’s the strongest ninja in the entire world, but for some reason the characters think Kakashi will be the better Hokage. He doesn’t even have the sharingan anymore! Naruto’s dream was to become the Hokage and have everyone acknowledge him. They already do, everyone did before this last arc. So all that was left was for him to become Hokage and that’s probably not going to happen, I guess Naruto is too young and immature, but Gaara is the Kazekage! I would love to see Naruto in the Hokage coat looking out over Konohagakure and everyone cheering him on. I would have loved to see Naruto as the Hokage in the future sparing with a grown up Konohamaru on Naruto’s face carved into the mountain…that would have been my ending.
Favorite character – Naruto
He had the coolest and most creative fighting style with his shadow clones. Early on he was always the underdog and I he’s always been so likable. He’s like a typical Shonen hero, but as clever as a fox when he fights. Now it’s just been rasengan variations and god like kyuubi and six sage power, but him developing the rasengan with Jiraiya and getting Tsunade to become the 5th Hokage was probably my favorite arc after the Chunin Exam arc.
Rock Lee the genius of hard work was another one of my favorites, although he didn’t really get too much page time after the time skip. In a ninja world where he couldn’t perform ninjutsu, Lee still kicked some ass. Plus those eye brows. Rock Lee deserves better than Sakura, but he’ll probably end up with no one…
I loved Kakashi’s character, but he’s so weak now. If Naruto’s chakra pools are oceans, Kakashi’s are puddles. I liked how Shikamaru as well and how he beat his opponenets by outsmarting them. Both these characters appealed to me because they were so lazy. I just like characters that appear that way.
Favorite Akatsuki Member – Deidara
This guy was hilarious and I loved his jutsu. I may or may not have drawn a bunch of mouths on my hands because of him. I took a pottery class and couldn’t make those damn birds he always rode on, that shit it tough to make. I remember his battle vs Sasuke was being released when I was in camp. Those were the days without smart phones and I snuck into one of the admin buildings to read it on a computer. I never felt more like a dork, but it was worth it. Earth element being weak to electricity is total BS by the way Kishi.
Least Favorite Characters – Sasuke
He annoyed the hell out of me ever since he left Konoha to become stronger with Orochimaru. If Naruto can get just as strong as him with Jiraya and Kakashi as his teachers, it’s just stupid for him to turn evil. Itachi even turned out to be a good guy, but somehow this just made Sasuke more evil, his motivations were so stupid, “I need to kill my best friend so I can be more emo” were pretty much his intentions. Him helping Naruto during the war just made me hate the final arc even more and it was out of character with everything he did up until that point.
Sai was another character I never grew attached to, if he died during the ninja war I would have been more sad he took away page time from someone else than his actually death.
As soon as the gaiden chapters were released everyone started saying that Tobi = Obito and they turned out to be true. Kishimoto didn’t really surprise anyone there. I hated how he was a puppet for Madara…who was a puppet for Black Zetsu…who was a puppet for Kaguya. I mean how many puppeteers can there be? I always hated the cliché villain boss who had everything go “all according to plan” after everything clearly didn’t go to plan. It’s just bad writing.
Favorite Arc – Chunin Exam
I loved the Tsunade arc, but the Chunin Exam introduced a majority of the characters outside of Team 7 and developed them all while exploring many new jutsu. I would have never thought of Shino’s bug techniques or Gaara’s sand attacks before reading Naruto. Naruto beat Neji and Gaara back to back. Those were two of the best fights pretime skip. Plus we got to see Orochimaru vs the 3rd,Gaara vs Rock Lee, and Shikimaru shined during his fight during the exam, the best part was when he gave up. Naruto’s speech during the cheating exam is great too and I love how he actually never does pass the exam. Naruto calling Sasuke a big chicken in reference to when he froze up, I’m going to go reread that again right now it was that good. Pretty much all of Naruto pretime skip was amazing. Post time skip was…good, just not as good as it had been. Shikamaru vs Hidan, Sasuke vs Itachi, any Deidara moments, and Naruto vs Pain were vintage great fights. I’m actually pretty sure I liked many of the time skip arcs more than others, it’s just that this last arc has been so dragged out and disappointing. I wish this last one was a little shorter and then Kishi could have written one that established Sasuke as the last villain instead of this, but I understand how that may have been extremely difficult to write.
Least Favorite Arc – The War Arc
I think he just ran out of ideas and tried shoving all the things he wanted to do into this war arc and it turned into this jumbled mess. It had potential, even if the revive all the dead villains idea was terrible and even more poorly executed.What’s the point of bringing back characters if not to satisfy “what if” scenarios? Kakashi fighting with Zabuza’s great sword happened off screen…god damn it. Also how lame were the rest of the seven swordsman of the mist after Zambuza and Kisame were introduced. So disappointing.
Naruto’s over, but not really…the lackluster ending arc, the movie, and the mini series debuting shortly after doesn’t make it feel like Naruto is ending. I’m sure one day it’ll hit me like a truck, but for now, I’m just excited to get more content. I can always reread them online and relive the moments, and I will, but now it’s over. I can’t wait to see how it ends.