15 May 2011
The first shonen anime/manga series I enjoyed. *wiggles fingers in the air*
As a kid I never found a series like Dragon Ball enjoyable. For one, I hated the animation (to this day I still find it ugly) and the various sequels (Dragon Ball Z, Dragon Ball GT, etc.) and countless video games gave me headaches. I was never properly introduced to the universe and I am still selfishly reluctant to give it a try. Ironically I thought for a long time that I would not stand up for such a popular, multi-episode and multi-volume shonen fighting series... then Naruto came along.
I knew nothing of it when I first watched it when it debuted on Cartoon Network. It looked like an interesting show and I spent time every week watching the episodes. The next thing I knew, I got a hold of the manga and found sites with all sorts of plot summaries and spoilers. My fandom grew larger when most of my friends liked it and we all had our favorite characters. It turned out to be three years of watching and reading the series, writing fanfics (don't say a word), and obsessing about it with friends. Now I have calmed down significantly, but I occasionally check out Narutopedia and Mangafox for the story at this point.
So. Now to the critiquing.
I would be lying if I said the series was bad, but then again, it's not as great as its hyped up to be. At this point I am annoyed at how there are 539 chapters and a total of 435 episodes (both as of May 18, 2011) and the series STILL HASN'T ENDED. Sure, it's not as bad as One Piece, a rare treat for myself, or Bleach, which I gave up on around episode 60, but still. Things drag on for far too long, whether its because of flashbacks, conversations, or legthy battles. The anime suffers the most with this, especially when it has far more filler episodes than the number of brain cells a snail has.
In terms of plot it can go on, but it tends to be fairly easy to follow and doesn't start to get confusing and incredibly stupid until mid-late Part II. Anyone can argue when the idocy began, but I cannot stand bullshit, which is territory that the series is going through right now.
(TANGENT ALERT) To kill off characters and then to bring them back as animated corpses is a load of bullshit! This is an obvious sign of the mangaka trying to hard to draw out the story far more than it needs to! (TANGENT OVER)
The overall pacing - before hell breaks lose - is right between good and slow, but not torturous. The cast is very large and relationships are not well developed, but usually there is at least two of three interesting secondary characters. The main cast varies as well, but from Fangirl's point of view, there are only a handful of people I loathe in Naruto. (Sakura is not one of them. Go ahead and kill me, guys. XP)
For those of you who have read my "Origins of My Identity" page, you already know that I was at one point a Sasuke fangirl. You could say he was one of the reasons why I started to back away from the series as a whole. Once the major plot point that we have been waiting for arrived (and it was freaking awesome), you'd think he would have a resolved problem and would tone down a bit. But, this is a shonen series that likes to go on for eternity. His character stoops far lower than what is realistically possible. At this point he needs to die because he is beyond repair.
But I digress...
I will not call this the greatest series ever, but it does have some merit. There were things that made me cry, laugh, smile, hate, and throw fits. If nothing else, I - and still do -gave a crap about what was going on. It's only a shame that those good memories are tainted by the reality that now the plot suffers as the manga and anime go on... and on... and on... and on... and killing all the good characters... and reanimating them with techniques... ad infinitum.
Because of this, I cannot give Naruto anything above a 3 out of 5.
I guess I'll invest more in shojo manga, where there is an end to the story at some point. But thank you for the fun trip while it lasted, Uzumaki Naruto. :)