Welp, I went and finished reading Naruto. I dropped it years ago but I was bored the other night and so this possibly inevitable thing finally happened! Here are the main things I want to say:
- Zabuza and Haku’s story still makes me cry
- I wanna sex Deidara
- I read the final battle with Pain when it was still going on years ago, but dropped the manga again when it was done because I thought the conclusion was ridiculous BS. Reading it this time it made me cry. It was still pretty ridiculous, but it still made me cry.
- I also had a more appreciation this time around for Sasuke’s character early in the story, and for Itachi. I used to just hate Sasuke, but now I think that he and his relationship with Naruto early on in the manga was pretty well developed, and I can better understand Sasuke’s issues and Naurto’s unwillingness to give up on him. HOWEVER… it still dragged on way to long and became all “I’m dark vengeance hate man-boy revenge hate emo goth child of hate destined to be filled with hate and ruin everything because I hate everyone because I love my brother who I hated because man door hand hook car door.” Trying to turn Sasuke into an incarnation of pure hatred was just… not the best. And on top of that, going and claiming that the Uchiha are literally powered by hatred, and that they have a genetic predisposition to be so filled with love that they are destined to became ~ultra evil hate monsters~ when people they love die? Seriously, knock it off.
- Related to that, all the destiny stuff that showed up in the second half of the manga was frustrating because it was in direct contradiction to things that were major parts of the early manga. Naruto’s fight with Neji was all about combating the idea that people are controlled by destiny–that we shouldn’t give in to fatalism and bitterness and that we can be anything we strive to be. And then it turns out that Naruto’s not just some loser kid–he’s actually the destined savior child of geniuses who is only able to do everything he does because he’s gifted with top class genealogy, the immense power of the fox demon, unique opportunities to train under multiple top class ninjas, and magical divine power-ups and was prophesied to save the world.
- Tobi/Obito’s character motivation… sucked. “The teammate I had a crush on died so I’m gonna make a big fantasy world because I can’t handle reality.” Sasuke, Pain, Obito, Madara–most of the main antagonists’ motivations were pretty dang immature/childish/frustrating. And I don’t even know what to make of Orochimaru. First he wanted to learn all jutsu and destroy the Leaf Village and gain Sasuke’s body to defeat Itachi and all that junk and then he dies and gets revived like 4 different times and doesn’t care about any of his old goals before so what the fuck did he ultimately even want the whole time???
And he ruined so many lives and hurt and killed so many people and then
in the epilogue chapters we see that he’s pretty much just chilling out
with 0 consequences for all of this crimes. What’s up with that?
- The flashback about Naruto’s parents and their deaths and just the whole exchange between Naruto and his mom made me emotional.
- this is my favorite panel in the whole manga
- Actually, this one is
- This is the perfect single frame example of how even Sakura knows how fucking ridiculous and unreasonable and baseless and terrible it is that she’s still in love with Sasuke.
Overall, I think that the series is a huge mixed bag. It had lots of good things in it, like a number of good characters and a lot of moving parts that made me cry multiple times. But it also became a big clusterfuck that kept trying to up the stakes with like 5 different final bosses who kept trying to out “final boss” each other, and by the end it felt more than tedious. What do I care about some god-mom-ninja-demon-lady who we only even heard about for the first time super late into the manga? Just because the entire world is at stake and everyone’s throwing around godlike powers doesn’t make for a better or more suspenseful story. The heavy, clumsy themes that the story tries to develop and explore at the end mostly felt unreasonable and uninteresting. And aspects of the manga, such as how Sasuke and Pain and Obito and everyone else basically got a free pass from Naruto, were just frustrating. I understand the themes about evil originating from love and loss and pain and all that, and about the need to break the chain of hatred, however at a point hanging onto friendship and having unyielding forgiveness results in an absolute lack of accountability in which people are just free to hurt others and face no consequences for their actions. I feel like this panel represents Naurto’s and the larger narrative’s treatment of Sasuke pretty well
“You literally fucking stabbed me through the heart in order to finish off an enemy, and then instead of helping me you tried to make your ex-teammate fucking finish me off”
“In that case it’s all ok! I love you! You can hurt and betray and even murder people as much as you want because as long as you feel maybe a little bit sorry later then we just need to forgive you and let everything slide because that’s what friends do.“
But yeah. Haku’s love for Zabuza and Zabuza secretly sharing those feelings as well, Gaara’s story and his friendship with Naruto, Hinata’s fight against Neji and her actually good and genuine reason to be in love with Naruto (unlike Sakura’s non-existent reason to be in love with Sasuke), Shikamaru slowly coming into his own and gaining more and more resolve through his struggles, Lee and Guy’s unyielding determination to be the best people that they can be, Minato and Kushina’s love and sacrifice for their child and their village, and the hidden motivation behind all of Itachi’s villainy. In my opinion those were the best parts of the manga. I’m glad that I decided to reread the manga. Obviously it’s got a number of shortcomings, but like so many other people I loved it when I was reading and watching it as a kid so I’m glad that I went and completed it finally.