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|News||Naruto Supports Pornography Ban||Feb. 19, 2009|
Welcome everyone to the Anime Vice's Naruto Manga Roundtable! Whoo, are you ready to hear some of our folks' thoughts on the manga series and its ending? Our speakers are ...
Questions were written by me.
Of all the Naruto characters, Jiraiya was the most memorable character for me. I feel that he played such a big role in Naruto's life, and quite arguably, one can say that he was one of the key characters that made him into the ninja he is. From training Naruto to harness the Kyuubi's chakra, to teaching him the Rasengan and finally, inspiring him to become a sage - he truly was both Naruto's greatest teacher and the closest thing to a father figure he had.
Nagato/ Pain in my case. Unlike many of the major Naruto villains who only got their back story told just as they were about to die, the series devoted time to focus on how his character came to be and what led him to be part of Akatsuki and desire to gather the Jinchuriki.
Hard to say really. I guess for me it would be Orochimaru. He was the longest lasting villain in the series and the earliest major one.
Gaara- He has one of the most complete stories in the entire series alongside Neji; Neji's death was timed perfectly because his story had ended back in the first part of the series. Even after his impressive storyline in Part 1, Gaara remained rather prominent in the series and his battles against the former kages were among the more impressive.
It's high point came during the middle of its run when Akatsuki became more active. Unlike Orochimaru who was the apparent villain before the title's timeskip, the Akatsuki were a more convincing threat since their plans affected many of the major characters and involved the many ninja countries. Their presence led to some major characters in the series to be killed off that offered a more serious edge to the story compared to its earlier chapters.
Part one. I even liked the majority of part 2. Where it fell starkly for me was the early stage of the 4th Great Ninja War. I remember the last good arc and great fight to me was the Kisame Arc (if you can call it that). Love the villain and the final fight between he and Guy was amazing.
The first part was of Naruto was one of the best, which is why i am looking forward to the new series. Kishimoto clearly shines when it comes to working with kids. It's with the adult elements that he seems to falter. The first part of shippuden was pretty well paced in reintroducing the characters and all the changes they had gone through over the years even while giving a spotlight to lesser known characters like InoChikaCho, the Sand Siblings, Itachi and the rest of the Akatsuki and even Tsunade. This trend culminated in the Pain Arc, the best and most coherent arc to date.
The Second portion of Shippuden faltered, starting with the Five Kage Summit Arc on wards; certainly the series shined with the 'Taming the Nine Tails' mini arc, in between the Summit and War arcs, but other than that, the second part of Naruto Shippuden was Hit or Miss.
To my own surprise, I would Disagree withabout the beginning of the Great Ninja war. A few months ago i would have downgraded it as one of the worst sections of the Naruto series; rewatching it, however, completely changed my perception, making me realize that what i thought failed to deliver, and what i was quick to complain about was the lack of action, at least to the level that i expected. And this is the advantage of watching the anime over the manga. Watching over a few weeks what manga readers would have read over a period of months to a year provides an understanding manga readers simply do not enjoy.
Certainly Madara rocked the second part of the war. But the first part of the war has a level of depth that most of the series hasn't seen in quite a while; from Gaara to Mifune to that sand shinobi no one remembers, the first part is actually the most memorable of the war, packing whole years worth of character development into a select few moments. Gaara vs the former kazakage could have been a storm of sandy battles, and i personally would have preferred that approach. But the action wasn't essential to achieving Kishimoto's purpose for unleashing Edo Tensei, which was to bring character plots and storylines to a solid and final close even while raising new questions.
It is easy to dismiss the Mifune vs Salamander clash as one of the worst clashes of the war, only to realize that it might not have provided the awesome samura/shinobi clash we wanted, but it was filled with fairly interesting back story and depth regarding human determination, the regrets that emerge from failing to reach one's ambitions and the strength they can eventually generate.
Admittedly Kishimoto squandered even this opportunity, choosing to ignore most of his undead shinobi; none the less the complainthas about the second part of the war, the unfortunate focus upon Naruto and Sasuke, he has to admit Kishimoto tries to deal with in the first part before the pair arrives on the battlefield, by basically spreading the action around. Again, this perspective comes from watching that entire portion of the war as a whole.
The series started going downhill following Pein's defeat and never really recovered with the really lazy means employed to undo much of the drama that affected Konohagakure when Pein appeared in the village. It dragged really badly in the Great Shinobi War arc with Madara being a pretty overpowered character, power upgrades galore being milked and a poor attempt at introducing a "true" final villain in the form of Kaguya.
But I think the biggest criticism I have towards the series is that it got too focused on Naruto and Sasuke for later chapters. The other Konoha ninja we were introduced to at the start of the series got little focus as the plot progressed further after the timeskip and the series did a poor and unconvincing job at trying to make it seem like Sakura was as important to things in the series as Naruto and Sasuke when her character development grinded to a halt long before the Great Shinobi War arc started.
Kishimoto forgot or neglected far too many cornerstone characters for far too long. You could tell he was trying to force their relevance towards the end but it was too late. In some cases like Rock Lee I don't feel that Kishimoto even tried very much. Everyone was waiting for the 8th Gate to happen. I think Lee is one of the few prominent characters that did not scratch the surface of surpassing his master. It could have been Lee's chance to shine since part one had it been he that entered the 8th Gate not Might Guy. Lee is just a prominent example though. This applies to many formerly notable characters.
Even more than that however is Kishimoto's unreal failure to follow the logic that he established within his own story. The last year of Naruto had more plot holes than probably the prior 10 combined. I could make a whole blog on this but I don't wan't to hate on a series that I won't deny has some sentimental value for me.
The main issue with Naruto for me is that I think Kishimoto really was trying to cater to a younger audience from the get-go got a bit darker when he realized there was an older demographic that appreciated his work, then went full circle at the very end. An everyone lived happily ever after minus Neji Hyuga, all the dead aside from him forgotten, all the villains still alive are either forgiven (Sasuke) or not elaborated on (Orochimaru and Taka), and the romance is skipped completely and just cuts too the end results. Very childish in my opinion. However, it was not without it's pros. I would not have stuck with it for years had it been all faults. I have dropped series' before and Naruto is not among them. I caught up over 6 years ago and first saw it over 9 years ago. It was not for nothing that I saw it through to the end. I also think that a marathon of Naruto would be more enjoyable. The dragged out parts will not seem very dragged and the plot holes are easier to miss.
Manga readers are always quick to complain about the so called Talk no Jutsu as the series' primary failing; and i have always defended the series in this arena. This is mostly because even the most surprising villain transformations are never as 'out of the blue' as people make them out to be. There is no so called BS on the part of the plot because previous revelations and character developments always provide a rational explanation for the change.
Pain was never more than an Obito puppet, merely twisted by his own grief but never truly evil.
Obito was, well, crazy; listen to him speak long enough and you will realize that his monologues display some disturbing levels of denial. None the less, even explaining away some of these elements doesn't change the fact that Naruto has waaaay too much talking. I personally find the Jubito elements of Naruto's Talk no Jutsu to be the series' lowest point, a waste of a villain and an anti-climatic end to a very messy battle. Sometimes, even if it makes sense, a story works better when fists do the talking, like Naruto vs Sasuke part 1.
The unnecessary focus upon Naruto and Sasuke, basically the failure to capitalize on its large cast, is the only arena in which One Piece, at least in my eyes, supersedes Naruto. An interesting issue to note tothough is the fact that, had Kishimoto made this war about all the rookies and peripheral shinobi, rather than just Naruto and Sasuke, it might have run longer than four years, albeit a more entertaining four years. Then again maybe not.
I would however dispute with other Naruto fans about the abundance of logical flaws; Kishimoto does ignore his own rules in some case, but these instances are very rare if one takes the entire Naruto series into consideration and what Kishimito stated or showed can and can't happen. Again, the insight of an anime viewer.
I felt it would have been fine even up to the the final arc. The issue is the Great War Arc took well over 4 years to wrap up. It could easily have been done in 2-3. I would have personally shaved about 18 months off. The pacing of 2013 and early 2014 in particular were nothing short of a snails pace. Unbelievable re-telling of events we already knew or had seen. It was the only period since I caught up to Naruto that I considered dropping it.
They should have wrapped things up with the Great Shinobi War arc much earlier and then devoted time to properly wrap up ongoing developments with characters, the latter they didn't even bother addressing thanks to the lazy "what are they doing now"-style ending.
The First Naruto/Sasuke fight could have been a great enough place to end. Once it hit shippuden the series couldn't have ended early though. There were way too many loose plots to close and questions to answer. The War arc could have been shorter by a year. In utilizing his entire cast rather than stretching Naruto's presence, Kishimoto could have allowed for more memorable battles to emerge even while wrapping up most of his plots at a faster pace. This as opposed to focusing on a single large never ending battle. I wouldn't say that the last fights were dragged out, because they actually kept things fresh with each new chapter. Things were changing, new strategies were being tried. This wasn't just Ichigo throwing Getsuga tenshou over and over again. But i can see how some people might have found it tiresome.
I wouldn't say it sticks out too greatly from other long-running shounen titles I've seen. It has a gimmick that appeals to its target audience and employs the typical cliches and character types used for it. Seemed to work well enough for it to be as popular as it was the past 15 years.
I am going to suggest something controversial and say that Naruto isn't as cheesy as One Piece and maybe those elements of depth in its Story lines have transcended through to new shonen series. Calling One Piece cheesy isn't negative in itself. The reason so many people compare One Piece to Fairy tail is because they share the spirit of adventure. However Fairy Tail takes those elements to the extreme and comes off as very cheesy with its nakama elements.
One piece maintains the perfect balance in its presentation of an action shonen series; yet, to an extent it is just an anime, mostly rooting its plots in basic action and entertainment. Naruto can get tiresome with all its talk about the will of fire and friendship (and Naruto's endless speeches about Sasuke). Yet the series has always presented a more philosophical message to its audience, with interactions between many of its characters providing a lot of insight into humanity as a species, the concept of death, sacrifice and grief. It was shonen at its heart, and yet Kishimoto would often speak with an adult, very grounded voice, with the shortest lines of dialogue often speaking mountains. Not to offend anyone, but when i think of One Piece, i see Luffy shouting or crying at the top of his lungs in an exaggerated manner, running after meat and fighting to become the strongest. Sure his spirit to explore makes One Piece a joy to watch.
Yet in watching Naruto fight, not to become the strongest, but to find an answer to world peace, an answer that three generations of shinobi had failed to locate and which simply came down to endurance and perseverance throughout the hardships of life, made Naruto a much more somber anime, one whose will i can see emerge in new shonen, many of which are placing less emphasis on fighting and more on plot progression. Hopefully they can find a better balance than Naruto, which sacrificed waaay too much of the action in favor of talking.
Naruto, One Piece and Bleach didn't create their respective formulas; but they popularized them and breathed new life into the shonen genre. I can see how many upcoming shonen series might pick a leaf or two from Naruto, particularly in telling the same old thing better. We knew from the first page that Naruto would become the final and greatest hero of the series. Yet Kishimoto meandered and detoured so much along Naruto's story that readers were kept on the edge of their seats about how the final story story would play out and whether Naruto would really triumph.
After all, it was until 200+ chapters later that Naruto finally acquired the power to finally stand against the lowest members of Akatsuki and even then, all he had was a truly scary attack. It would take another 100+ chapters before he came into his own, at a point where heroes from previous manga were already giants of their series.
We knew that the fox would become Naruto's final weapon; yet the way Kishimoto cast it aside and had Naruto seek out alternative sources of strength kept the mystery of this dark power hidden long enough to have readers doubt the future of this plot. IN other words it has become a thing, for new shonen manga to do the same old think but in a new way, keeping readers interested with plots that some would consider overdone. One might impute some credit to manga like Naruto that, rather than being extremely original, focused upon simply telling a good story.
I'm probably forgetting something though......
My least favorite was a toss up between Obito Uchiha vs the Shinobi alliance and Kaguya Ohtsustuki vs Team 7.
The Jubi/Jubito battles simply got too big, with too many players on the field for the fight to make any sense. Kishimoto would have been better off splitting Madara and Obito, and having the pair face off against different enemies.
The Fourth Great Ninja War. It was hit and miss
Favorite story arc was the Pein arc since it properly explored a clash of ideologies between Pain and Naruto based on their differing tragic pasts and got us quite the big major character death with Jiraiya.
Worst story arc for me was Great Shinobi War arc. Was really dragged out and Madara was a poor excuse of a villain for the arc with how overpowered and shallow he was in terms of character.
Unfortunately my least favorite was the Final Arc, the 4th Great Ninja War Arc.
My favorite is is either the Sasuke Retrieval Arc or the Pain Invasion Arc. Probably the former if I had to choose.
|Rushed. Was there some Editor at Shonen Jump demanding that Kishimoto end his manga at 700. Because their was a clear obsession to end at 700. The final Naruto/Sasuke fight was alright, provided equal amounts of large scale battle and hand to hand combat (which is preferred). But it could have been so much more. The series needed an entire arc to close all its loose threads. However with a third series we just might get all the answers we need.|
Not bad but tremendously rushed. Many of the relationships is not most of them had no basis within the context of the story. Even the main character did not have any on-panel romance or bonding with his "to be".
A big waste of time. The Great Shinobi War arc was already dragged out enough and they did a poor job incorporating Kaguya into the title's storyline. While Naruto and Sasuke's final battle was an expected development by many for Naruto's finale, the buildup to it was horrible and the whole "what are they doing now" style final chapter is something that has been done to death in long-running shounen titles like this.
I’ll admit I can be a shipper at times; however, my dreams did not come true in the end. I found it a little unrealistic that most of the girls ended up with the guys they wanted… and I did not like how the match-ups seemed to be based off of very shallow romances. I definitely did not like the Sasuke and Sakura pairing whatsoever, and the fact that Sakura still has feelings for Sasuke still baffles me to this day. As stated by a lot of Naruto fans in various forums, the Naruto couples looked like they came right out of fanfiction stories.
Despite my disappointment, I won’t pass judgement just yet, seeing that the last Naruto movie still hasn’t been released and I have a feeling a lot of loose-ends will be tied up then.
|Katmic: Not a shipper. But Naruto and Hinata worked for me. It made the most sense. One is right to question Sakura's character and her obsession with Sasuke despite all that he did to her. Sasuke didn't actually do anything to Naruto. But, for lack of a better term, he was pretty mean to Sakura.|
|Dream: Was never big on shipping with this series. Romance was never Naruto's major focus and this was reflected in the lack of proper relationship developments between couples.|
|Taichokage: Unfortunately no. I was glad that a certain young man achieved his dream but otherwise no. I have never been a fan of major time skip endings or little ones running around at the end. That's why I dislike the manga ending of Full Metal Alchemist more than the 2003 anime version.|
I look forward to it a good amount actually. To me it looks more promising that the manga ending and very refreshing in general.
No different from how I feel about other movie tie-ins for long-running shounen titles. Judging from the trailer, the movie exists as both a final attempt at a cash grab for the series and to satisfy shippers of Naruto x Hinata, despite the little interaction Naruto has had with her throughout the whole series.
The Last in supposed to be a love story so i suppose it will be something different; considering that it will answer a number of important questions, i am looking forward to it. Specifically watching Naruto's growth. He doesn't even look like Naruto. A hair cut can't make that big of a difference.
I dropped the anime some years ago but I think perhaps the anime, filler content aside was more enjoyable. Naruto is not a dark series nor is the art it's forte so very little needed to be censored and the animation did not drop the quality of the manga art most of the time in my opinion.
If anyone has the option, i would advise that they simply stick with the anime. Ignoring the fillers, events do not drag as much in the anime, which covers numerous events at a go, where the manga will naturally struggle to provide as much material a week.
At least in the mainstream for America, the series came to the states just as the anime boom fizzled out thus it never got much traction to be able to attract a wider audience. Toonami in the 2000s was on its way out and this was rather obvious with its reduced lineup and attempting to kill off anime programming from the network. By the time Toonami in the 2000s folded, Naruto was at its lowest point for its first series with the large number of filler arcs that were aired following the Sasuke Retrieval arc.
But among anime/ manga fans, it still attracted a large fanbase as such where it is among one of the top 5 all-time selling manga titles to sell internationally as it has sold over 205 million issues (surpassed only by One Piece and Dragon Ball) and was one of Weekly Shounen Jump's top 3 best-selling titles. It is an easily identifiable series for many anime and manga fans of this current generation thanks to its large popularity and regardless of its quality, Naruto will likely be a remembered series for fans of this generation years from now.
Naruto DID become mainstream. It was superseded by One Piece however. I personally don't think a repeat of Naruto would be as successful though. Just like I don't think a Dragonball copycat can beat Dragonball.
Naruto is Mainstream, to an extent. One Piece is the biggest manga in the world (no matter what people say about Attack on Titan's hype driven rise) but there are countries with anime fans that have never heard of One Piece but who cannot get enough of Naruto. Here in Africa, the only anime that is as well known as Naruto is Last Air bender/Korra, which is actually even more popular. After years of bad press (from some badly informed Anime fans) people here are only now jumping onto the One piece train (though those who loved it initially can see nothing beyond One piece). If we are talking globally, Naruto is the dragonball Z of today. It is the face of anime and manga. One piece's domination is still largely rooted in Asia.
The Naruto franchise is very close to my heart. . It’s safe to say that Naruto was what reintroduced me to anime during my teenage years. The first manga I’ve ever read in my life was the first volume of Naruto, which I came across at my high school library. I remember being hooked instantly and marathoning Naruto episodes the night prior to my grade 10 math exam.
I definitely recommend the anime and manga, not only because of its popularity, but because of its underlying theme of never giving up on your dreams or your friends.
I should close by saying.....
Thank you Kishimoto Sensei for 15 years of Naruto. I was there for most of the ride. At the end of the day, I'm glad Naruto was in my younger years up to the current time.
I agree withabout Naruto struggling to find its identity. It is, in fact, similar to Doctor Who. Doctor who has what it takes to create some really dark and enjoyable arcs and seasons; except it always seems to catch itself halfway, remembers its young audience and chooses to gear its efforts towards pleasing the kids, which is where it fails.
Naruto could have been so much more if it had kept its trajectory of growth and transformed with its audience into something much more serious, with lasting consequences; instead Kishimoto chose to settle for something in between.
None the less it has been quite a few years of fun and excitement. There will never be anything quite like it. Even if better anime and manga emerge, they cannot replace the spirit of Kishimoto's story. We can only hope that the mangaka can learn from his mistakes and provide us a true masterpiece in his third manga series. Because that is what it is, a manga series set within the Naruto Universe. It won't be Naruto.
Another year of Naruto is upon us, the last year in the manga; though it is just as likely that we will be dealing with the anime for at least another year, if- not two. The Naruto franchise is of such fame that the powers that be aren’t likely to allow its brand to die anytime soon.
But enough of that; another year of the Naruto anime not only portends 12 new months of great material, but also more opportunity for filler. Which is the pit within which the anime is currently wandering. One might choose to take a positive approach on the topic, what with this filler arc being the best we have seen in…forever (and mostly because of Itachi).
Yet that would require ignoring the simple facts; the last few months of canon Naruto anime episodes have been some of the best we have ever encountered; this is Naruto as it should be, as it has always been, precluding the filler garbage, and in light of the current (albeit pleasant) desert of filler, I thought I would look back at the last season of canon Naruto material, truly magnificent outside of the filler element that still pepper even the best episodes.
Rather than simply touch on each and every episode, all the memorable elements that occurred within this massive span of episodes, I will instead make mention of those specific factors of the series that proved most crucial to my enjoyment as well as story and character progression:
I have never been Kabuto’s biggest fan; once a point of intrigue I will admit to getting relatively bored with his antics after he took over from Orochimaru. He simply seemed somewhat aimless and purposeless. It is a testament to Kishimoto’s foresight that all that madness had a purpose to play, not only within the Anime’s current timeline but the future of the manga.
Was I impressed by Kabuto Vs. Itachi and Sasuke? Well, not as much as I thought I would be, not that this particular battle had any downsides. In fact I would wager that this is one of the very few true shinobi fights we have seen in quite a while, which allowed the Uchiha brothers the opportunity to deploy all manner of wit to destroy what turned out to be an impressive foe.
It would be the rare individual that thought Kabuto stood an actual chance against his superior opponents; yet one cannot deny the efficacy of his progression in rationally transforming Kabuto into a threat worthy of Itachi’s attention, because I truly couldn’t fathom how Kishimoto would actually allow Kabuto to pose a credible threat.
I will show appreciation for the Kabuto flashback, truthfully of little importance with regards to developing the character, but none the less mildly interesting, especially the first part which showed us how Kabuto acquired his trademark glasses, harking back all the way to the Chunin exams, within the first few episodes of Naruto, when a mild mannered somewhat weak Kabuto nearly lost his marbles after that one soon to be Gaara fodder sound ninja cracked his lenses.
Admittedly touching as far as humanizing Kabuto (at least one part of it); but other than that, this was the one part of the last few months that was largely uninteresting in Naruto.
2. The Tailed Beasts-
Okay I will admit to enjoying the tailed beast song, a rather catchy tune on top of its implications to the story. I don’t know why a lot of fans expressed so many mixed emotions over the revelations regarding Kurama’s true name and the past that saw him transform into a demon, as if divesting him of his evil persona took something away from the series.
We have spent the better part of Naruto under a rather dark understanding of the nine tails fox and the other tailed beasts, entities around which the entire Naruto concept revolves; finally having some story development in this section cannot be a bad thing, understanding that these demonic representations of all evil, through which the various Jinchuriki harnessed such great power, actually possessed a conscious will for good as well as evil, could have been warped by the darkness of man kind and greed for power into the giant monsters they became.
I think the anime did a great job of humanizing these initially nameless characters; more than finally revealing Naruto Uzumaki’s transformative power at work, it also brought a new dimension to the series by basically casting humanity as the bane of their own existence, actions by even great shinobi like Hashirama and Minato, even in their most heroic element, only acting to stir the hate of the nine tails, turning it into the manifestation of chaos and hate it became.
The giant battle was awesome, Naruto and Killerbee teaming up against the 7 rinnegan wielding Jinchuriki considerable entertaining, especially as the fight escalated from conflict between overpowered undead shinobi to a clash between giant monsters.
Say what you want about Naruto, I love the way it will stray out of its comfort zone into all manner of territory, touching the dramatic elements, violence, comedy, sometimes even sneaking out of shonen into seinen realms.
And biju bombs all round.
3. Naruto Uzumaki
The man of the hour; take way Itachi, Minato, Hashirama and Madara-basically excluding shinobi godhood- and Naruto is hands down my favorite character of the series; it’s probably because I have spent HUNDREDS OF EPISOPDES waiting for him to finally shine that his current savior mentality doesn’t really phase me.
And no one can claim that it isn’t deserved, that Naruto doesn’t provide considerably more pleasant and rational character development than anything you will find in Bleach; you watch him strike the battlefield like a nuke and contend with the might of Kabuto’s entire zombie army all on his own, and it becomes difficult to use words like overdone or overpowered, not when you consider the fact that the character spent nearly %70 of his own series in the lowest tier of shinobi, almost always playing second fiddle to Sasuke.
There is greater satisfaction watching Naruto stand up to Obito and decimate the landscape than following Sasuke’s battles with the likes of Orochimaru, mostly because everything you see the young orange ninja display he took what feels like an age to master.
The final cloak transformation was AWESOME; what was turning out to be the worst double episode in Naruto history, bogged down by endless flashbacks was transformed into greatness.
Not just the AMAZING biju battle that came before, displaying Naruto’s very imaginative use of his new chakra arms, not just his combination with Gai and Kakashi; Naruto Uzumaki’s final cloak is the best looking thing I have ever seen in Naruto; I don’t know if it is the colors, the black lines against golden flame, or the great CGI, but I could look at chakra cloak Naruto all day.
And that final clash with MADARA UCHIHA (the man’s name requires emphasizing) following an even more epic clash with Obito…how am I supposed to wait for so long to find out what happens next? Someone tell me if this clash with Madara lives up to the hype or whether I should really temper my excitement.
Episode 322 marks the very first time I ever saw Naruto look completely and utterly afraid, Madara proving himself that large of a threat mere minutes following his arrival.
Am I the only Naruto fan that thinks that Itachi can simply do no wrong? I mean, ever since Kishimoto flipped the switch, turning the second most famous Uchiha from psychopath to desperate hero, he hasn’t pulled any punches in portraying the disturbing extent to which Itachi went to protect the leaf village, basically inferring to the fact that no end could justified the genocide of an entire clan.
And you would think that that would darken Itachi’s shine; only he still comes out of his storyline as the hero, and I cannot figure out if that is Kishimoto’s fault, or Itachi is so damn likeable that he could slaughter an entire hospital of babies and still have you rooting for him.
Episdoe 339 has to be one of the best Naruto episodes I have ever seen, not only because it brought the Itachi plot line to its final and decisive end, but the insight it provided into the psyche of Itachi the genocidal psychopath. I don’t know what I always imagined about the night the Uchiha clan fell, but I am pretty sure my visuals were so much more violent than what we saw in 339,usually involving a cold eyed Itachi brutally maiming and murdering to his heart’s content.
True Itachi was anything but bloodthirsty; one need only look to the best scene of Ep 339, when Itachi accosted his parents, allowed us to understand that they not only saw their death coming but knew who did it, going so far as to attack Itachi’s soul with a weapon stronger than any sharingan Jutsu; basically forgiving him for what he was about to do, allowing him a moment to breakdown before he finally delivered the blow amidst a storm of tears.
I mean, look at that face; that is the face of an Uchiha who would rather not commit genocide, but will do what he must.
Deep stuff; the idea of so many people assigning Naruto to the stuff of children, meant to entertain those of less discerning tastes, baffles me, with scenes such as this and more.
It reminds me of Doctor Who’s Day of the Doctor episode, which, more than any other Doctor who episode I have ever seen, finally brought the message of the doctor’s sin home, by having Badwolf Rose remind the warrior doctor that in killing the vast number of murderous timelords on his home world, he would also be annihilating several innocent souls, of which the children numbered a massive two billion.
And that is why, even after several centuries travel, we find a doctor incapable of shirking the chains of his guilt, not because of the death of an entire galaxy, but the destruction he wrought upon 2 billion innocent children.
Equally you find EP 339 taking the series into dark territory by allowing us to understand the true sense of Itachi’s sin, murdering so many innocent men, women and children to crush a rebellion; far from justifiable, certainly not for a village as vile as Konoha…but we all still love Itachi.
It’s decided; Danzo is the most evil being to ever walk the Naruto world; I cannot be imagining the fact that almost every major moment of despair that has ever been suffered in modern Konoha times can be traced back to Danzo.
Not even in Orochimaru do you find a nature so dark, Danzo basically twisting and warping souls and lives left and right during the long duration of his existence , the ripple effects of his actions continuing to echo through out the lives of giants like Itachi and Kabuto and Pain, each of which would only serve to pass the hate Danzo created in them onto the world around them.
There is no forgiving Danzo; I cannot believe I actually felt sorry for him in his final moments, as he reminisced on all he had done for the supposed sake of his village, before his life was snuffed out. At least Madara has the decency to not mask his actions behind benevolent intentions; he wants to rule, end of story.
Danzo actually believes his crap of good guy doing the wrong thing for the right reason.
I will admit that I haven’t been the biggest fan of Sasuke for quite a while now; but I found that these episodes made a genuine attempt to cast him in a different light; especially when he first meets Itachi in Episode 329, another favorite of fine.
Firstly, I loved their interaction, with Itachi basically blowing his brother off, knowing what Naruto didn’t, that Sasuke was so far gone that no amount of talk would change him. Itachi did what Itachi does best, spew out masterful wisdom in some of the series’ best lines, basically admitting his hand in the chaos that became Sasuke’s childhood and that he could have done better by simply telling his brother the truth and trusting his judgment.
It was a poignant few moments, one compounded by the emotional expressions cast upon Sasuke’s face; for two or so episodes, what we got wasn’t the avenger or whatever he calls himself, but Sasuke the leaf shinobi, one that showed an extraordinary amount of control in falling behind his brother and taking his lead.
He basically became old Sasuke for a while, innocent and vulnerable; basically listened to what Itachi had to say and probably found himself in Naruto’s footsteps for once, now chasing after someone that wouldn’t associate him the time of day.
These episodes proved that Itachi was very wrong about Naruto being the one person that could save Sasuke.
I don’t know why he never considered the possibility that he alone possessed the power to control his brother, Itachi being the one person that Sasuke actually respects unconditionally. Like he had told him several times over, Naruto simply cannot understand what Sasuke went through, not like Itachi.
To an extent EP 339 managed to justify, at least in my eyes, Sasuke’s psychotic rage towards Kohonha, specifically with that flashback in the restaurant, where Sasuke had to sit back and listen to the very people his brother saved drag Itachi’s name through the mud. Maybe Sasuke isn’t the whiny baby I always envisioned him to be. Maybe he’s just been confused all this time, incapable of understanding why Itachi would even now continue to fight for a place like Konoha that only continues to reveal new levels of corruption.
7. The five Kage-
THIS FIGHT WAS EPIC. Even knowing the eventual outcome I was on the edge of my seat the whole time; having considerably underestimated the Kage following Madara’s introduction, these shinobi proved to me why they stand at the top of their respective villages.
Admittedly it is quite easy root for Kazekage and even Tsunade, but Tsuchikage? In the space of 10 episodes he became my favorite living Kage of the present time, a true legend in his own right, not only standing up to the mighty Madara but basically raising his head as the spirit and soul of the anti Madara team.
Gaara is always awesome. The combos were awesome, so were the speeches, especially in the face of the most powerful Jutsu I have ever seen. Simply put, the five Kages rock, even boring old Tsunade (the verbal abuse she took from Madara was certainly galling).
There is something to be said about Madara, that he didn’t only achieve victory but managed to strike fear into the hearts of the five strongest shinobi of their respective villages.
It is unlikely that I am alone in declaring Tobi as one of the greatest Akatsuki members we have seen; I don’t know what it is about the loony character that endears him to me so much; but if they had to discard him (which they did quite a while ago, to my disappointment) Obito would be the perfect replacement.
Fake Madara Tobi was kind of bland; Obito on the other hand is turning out to be one of the better villains of the series; yes, I was spoiled about the identity of the man behind the mask. No, that didn’t diminish my enjoyment of some of the best story progression we have seen in Naruto in a while.
And it isn’t just the execution-which was amazing, specifically that flashback episode, chronicling Obito’s life up until his supposed death, done in complete silence, yet conveying so much with mere expressions and gestures- but the emotions the story evokes.
Because, of course you are going to root for this young Naruto-esq fellow in this attempts to return to his friends despite his current predicament; of course you will sympathize with his plight in the face of the Kakashi/Rin revelation, even cheer him on as he looses it against those shinobi.
Then you start hating him; because he didn’t simply carry out Madara’s will in approaching Nagato; he obliterated the lives of Nagato, Yahiko and konana, destroyed the bright future of the first Akatsuki and its message of peace, basically crafted within Pain a hate and despair that would haunt him for all his life, eventually leading to Konoha’s destruction and Jiraiya’s death.
And that last battle, against Yahiko’s comrades; was it really necessary to kill them all, so brutally? From that one shinobi that stuck himself in cement to protect his comrades, to Yahiko’s fate to Nagato’s heart rending despair to the kakashi/Rin storyline; Naruto went pretty dark with the Obito story, and did more to transform the series than any other arc.
This is indeed Naruto at its best, leaving you wondering whether to sympathize with Obito, cheer for him even, or damn him to hell. Am I the only one that thinks Obito had more than a simple crush on Rin? Because he seemed downright obsessed so much so that I can believe him doing everything he has done up to this moment for her sake.
And who else thought they might have been watching a Seinin after Obito’s rampage? Because that was one bloody massacre.
KAKASHI KILLED RIN? WHAT? There has to be something I am missing here; because Naruto took a complete 180 degree turn after that scene; I always figured Rin died and Kakashi probably felt some guilt in failing to protect her but, to kill her himself; that would send anyone over the edge, and Obito was already in a bad place at that point.
And this is the point where they choose to leap into fillers, just when the series is at its most intense?
kakashi, Naruto and Gai vs. Obito is one of the most intense and action packed battles I have ever seen; every move, every punch, kick, biju bomb was so perfectly choreographed as to wring the last drop of tension out of that scene.
Naruto fights haven’t been this…shinobi-like in a long while; Kakashi hasn’t been this good in ages, and we haven’t seen Gai so skilled as he he proved to be against Obito’s sharingan. The entire set up of this battle was perfect, Naruto bringing the overwhelming power, kakashi doing his analytical thing in the face of Gai’s awesome nunchaku play.
This here fight is a must watch for any Naruto fan; rather than spoiling the fun, the slow motion scenes allow you a deeper understanding of just how close this fight was, how far towards the edge each side stood against the other’s might. The fact that it was brains and strategy rather than power than brought the conflict to an end is an added bonus.
MADARA UCHIHA IS AWESOME; you cannot watch this legendary villain in action without wanting to scream his name over and over again.
What is the one major similarity that is also a difference between Aizen from Bleach and Naruto’s Madara? A simple question with a simple answer; Aizen was so overpowered he quickly became tiresome with regards to Bleach’s dragging plot.
Madara is so overpowered IT’S AWESOME. You simply cannot resist that swag, the arrogance of this greatest of Uchihas as he basically goes about schooling the shinobi world in the basics of true power. And its like not matter how bad ass you think Madara is at any given point, each new episode somehow manages to top the Uchiha badassness.
First was that total ownage of the shinobi alliance, Madara basically tearing through a few hundred to thousand foot soldiers with pure Taijutsu. Then Onoki (tsuchikag), Gaara and Naruto rallied their forces to stop him. And what does he do? Well, just look at this.
YES, A FREAKIN METEORITE: and since when could Susanoo perform chakra seals?
The five Kage finally rally to bring Madara to a stop and…I never thought it possible that the combined force of the shinobi world’s top authorities would look so tame. Well, Madara sure wasn’t impressed, in fact losing interest and retreating from what he thought was a pointlessly boring battle, but not before doing this.
AND WHAT THE HECK IS THIS? THIS THING IS MASSIVE.
I am in awe of the greatness of Madara Uchiha.I cannot wait to see how he deals with the kyubi cloak. I find it difficult to believe that even Hashirama could have dealt with both Madara and the nine tails at once; that doesn’t seem rationally possible.
11. Ten Tails-
So the Ten tails is more demon god than chakra Beast? And it is sealed within the moon? Interesting.
Michael Jackson returns and he still want's Sasuke’s body.
Here’s the thing about these most recent episodes of Naruto; Kishimoto has been doing a heck of a job basically closing all the loop holes too many Naruto fans were to quick to nitpick at; and I for one cannot help but feel satisfaction at this level of story telling, the interweaving of plots and characters and plans, all leading to one hell of a series finale.
If you’re not watching Naruto right now, then I do not know what you’re up to; the only series that could possibly draw me away from Hunter X Hunter.
So here we are 2014, not just another new year, but the final 12 months of Naruto, or so Kishimoto says; this wouldn’t the first time a manga ran a year or two beyond its expiry date.
The end of Naruto leaves me with a disturbed feeling; all series come to an end, and Naruto can only ran on for so long before entering Dragon Ball Z territory, yet i cannot deny that its exit will leave a massive hole in my Anime and Manga world.
Yes, i have been following Naruto for that long, since the very beginning of my life as an Otaku; this will be nothing less than the end of an era in the otaku realm. Besides merely re-confirming what we already knew, several elements struck me about Kishimoto’s 2014 interview, particularly two in fact, which i thought i would make a comment about.
--First, Kishimoto- he comes off as a rather interesting character, more humble than i presumed; i don’t think i have ever given Kishimoto the person much thought, but i always imagined the life of a mangaka as no different from that of a Hollywood super star.
Part of me expected to see his and those names of more famous mangaka littering architecture of major cities where i to ever visit Japan, thousands whispering his name as he made his regular rounds to the store.
Sections of this interview however present Kishimoto’s life as a relatively simple one, quiet; which makes sense i guess, because as a mangaka, you are likely to spend more time drawing than partying.
But then again Kishimoto did admit to spending 36 hours of his week drawing, little more than 3 days, which allows him four days of downtime; subtract one or two days for idea generation and story structuring, and you still have a few days of down time each week.
Two days that probably find Kishimoto holed away in his house, if he is indeed so isolated as to, as he says, not realise just how popular his manga is; its an interesting admission, because on the one hand it shows that Kishimoto should take a leaf out of Kubo’s book and do a little travelling, engage with his fans in the different manga and comic conventions out there; something he clearly does not do, not often anyway.
But maybe it’s a matter of a humble outlook on life; or, more than that, simple dedication to his craft, drawing his manga not for the fame or money but for the satisfaction of creating something of considerable brilliance; it makes sense he would struggle with the itch to draw even on his off days.
And that probably goes to the advice he gave about dedication and success in the manga business; because unless you’re ready to give 200% to your art, success is likely to remain ever elusive. Here’s to hoping that, for his honey moon, Kishimoto chooses a location close by, because that is one individual i would be interested in meeting.
Because even after all those interviews, i still cannot envision him as a person; despite having seen numerous pictures, as i am reading his voice in his numerous interviews, it is always that character, Ando from heroes, that jumps to my head. Strange. Anyway.
--Secondly Naruto- something in this interview struck me, the comment Kishimoto made about his editors, that got me wondering if we as fans are always a little too quick to jump down the throats of Mangaka for shoddy manga chapters.
Because we know (or so Bakuman tells me) that the editor, especially of a powerful brand like Shonen Jump, will wield some power with regards to the content produced by the mangaka on a weekly or monthly basis.
I mean, would it be too irrational to consider the possibility that editors do contribute to bad chapters and plot lines as well as good ones? One needs to ask just how much power the editor has in commanding his charge to kill off a character, save another, turn a two chapter shinobi battle into a ten chapter brawl between super powered beings.
It’s an interesting consideration in a field as competitive as manga-and as a Fairy tail fan with a lot of complaints to launch at Hiro, i have to wonder how much control Mashima-sensei has over who lives and dies.
I have to wonder what Kishimoto might have been referring to when he made that remark about remembering to reference upon ideas at an earlier stage before expanding upon them in the future. Can’t say i have come across any concepts in the series whose introductions i found to be unsatisfactory in terms of pacing and explanations.
I really can’t say that i care about seeing Kakashi’s face and would prefer it remained a mystery.
-With March approaching fast, the year is still fairly young; which means there are many more months of Naruto still to come, more months for me to locate a worthy replacement for his juggernaut of a series.
As Naruto fans all we can do is cross out fingers and hope that Kishimoto gives us one heck of a finale, worthy of the legacy of Naruto; i was struck by Kishimoto’s words about the end that he would finish the series conclusively; clearly he has no intention of leaving Shonen Jump or anyone else with room to expand the series into Dragon Ball GT style chaos.
Preparing a top ten protagonists list is a much harder task than a villains list, mostly because most protagonists stand at the centre of their series and, if one is that devoted or excited about a given anime or manga, it can be difficult to remain objective, to choose a hero because of the actions they performed in the year to make them that deserving, rather one’s personal adoration of a character.
And that is what i have tried to do, looking at this list, trying to determine just which character was really the most deserving of the title of top protagonist of 2013, as opposed to most awesome hero.
That being said i will not say that i achieved objectivity with this list, though i did try. Anyway, this is the list of greatest protagonists in anime and manga of 2013, at least as far as I am concerned:
1. HASHIRAMA SENJU (NARUTO MANGA)
Nothing less than a god among shinobi, a key component in Sasuke's supposed transformation, this including his actions alongside the current kage and shinobi to promote peace in the face of a great enemy. Is there a question with regards to who the biggest badass in manga has been this year? Precluding Madara of course.
2. EREN JEAGER (ATTACK ON TITAN ANIME)
While Attack on Titan is home to a cast of dazzling heroes, the anime bringing to life their hopes and struggles in a rather disturbing and violent light, there is something to be said about the odds Eren has contended with to acquire his position of importance in this struggle for survival, from his horrifying death at the hands of a titan to his miraculous and rather violent revival, to the hardships he endured under the hand of Levi and group, each time rising above to kick serious ass.
Eren personifies the typical shonen creed of never giving up like we haven’t seen in a while, the only member of his group to so bravely face the Titan assault on humanity with a glint of hope. Plus that final bout with the female titan was something to behold.
3. ITACHI UCHIHA (NARUTO)
It is difficult to talk about Itachi without fanboying over his awesomeness; this has been the year of the Uchiha if you think about it, and Itachi’s injection into the war turned a fairly average arc into something so much more, from his battle with Naruto, to his long awaited confrontation with Sasuke and final fight against Kabuto.
Anyone notice that every time Itachi opens his mouth, there is nothing but wisdom coming out; and the way he brought the innocence out of sasuke during their brief time together, that final moving episode that saw him finally exit from the world of the living on his own terms…Itachi rules, and that is my completely subjective opinion.
4. RAI (NOBLESSE MANHWA)
Noblesse wouldn’t be the awesome Manhwa it is without the presence of this noble hero; elegant, silent, Rai epitomizes the concept of absolute power, wielding the noblesse strength this year to levels yet to be imagined- tornadoes of blood? seriously?- yet showing a level of kindness and grace not many heroes can boast of.
Rai seems to have chosen 2013 to throw everything on the line for humanity, using an ability fueled by his own life force to unleash untold destruction to those that would harm his friends or any other member of the human race, quick to show his softer side, opening his arms even to those enemies that wished him ill, determined to find normalcy beyond his noble birth.
Also the only character on this list that can match Itachi blow for blow in the area of coolness and swag.
5. NARUTO UZUMAKI (NARUTO ANIME/MANGA)
I know, that’s a lot of Naruto characters on this list. But who can blame me, the series was on fire this year. With the prophecy of the hermit upon his shoulders Naruto has stood to pass the test of time, liberating the bijuu from the infamous tobito, uniting old enemies in the good fight against evil and standing at the front lines of the fourth great shinobi war; basically carrying the hope of humanity, reliving and surpassing his father’s legend and legacy… Uzumaki Naruto the true shinobi hero.
6. COMMANDER ERWIN (ATTACK ON TITAN MANGA)
While known as the man that stakes the lives of hundreds to save hundreds of thousands, seemingly a monster who so easily toys with human life, Erwin fights to see the day when humanity will strike back against the titans, losing an arm to fulfill this dream and really, the walled community's only hope of standing against their deadly foe. "One who cannot sacrifice anything cannot achieve anything"
7. SAITAMA (ONE PUNCH MAN MANGA)
SAITAMA is awesome. Considering that One Punch man is considered by many as the most idiotic manga of the year, it is difficult to understand the appeal of this crazy character unless you have had an opportunity to scroll through the mostly senseless pages of this manga.
Maybe it is Saitama’s…normalness, his lack of flashy persona, bold yet hilarious delivery of lines. I don’t know. Commending him on any heroic acts would be pointless though; after all they call him one punch man because he defeats all opponents with one punch.
8. KURAPIKA (HUNTERXHUNTER ANIME)
Thinking of Hunter X Hunter it is difficult to appreciate just how interesting a duo Gon and Killua have been to watch this year, that along side Hisoka, Kite and a whole host of interesting characters.
Yet it is Kurapika that somehow manages to stand above them all in 2013 and it is sad to learn that he doesn’t appear in the manga ever again, which means the Phantom troupe story line will not be resolved.
Whatever the case Kurapika was awesome this year in his role as crazed avenger, taking on phantom troupe, first singlehandedly and then as part of the Gon/Killua team during that hostage plan, ultimately placing his own life on the line to achieve the sort of impressive powers necessary to bring his arch foes down.
HXH this year saw Kurapika go to some really dark places and it is a shame we will not have the opportunity to bask in his presence again. I really must commend Togashi for his characters.
9. VIOLE/25TH BAAM (TOWER OF GOD MANHWA)
There is no denying the fact that Tower of God is one of the better manga series of the year, the story making constant leaps and bounds in its intriguing plot. What set Baam apart this year is the revival he perpetrated following previous tragedies as Fuge member Viole, no longer that meek child we met a few years back, but an immensely powerful shadow figure hidden behind a mysterious hood, seemingly taking out friend and foe in an attempt to achieve his dreams, clearly intent on crossing paths with the psychotic Rachel in the hope of resolving what i think he still believes was an accident.
Viole is the most transformative character of the year, undergoing unbelievable changes in order to confront his child hood friend. The way he balances his new duties with saving his old and new friends has made for some intense chapters in 2013.
10. SAJIN KOMAMURA (BLEACH MANGA)
Looking at Bleach in the past two years, it might seem difficult to pinpoint one particular character that has stood head and shoulder over all other combatants that have staked their lives to defeat the quincy invasion army.
But Komamura struck a nerve with me this year, probably the dullest and most uninteresting character in the entire series; yet Kubo has made a pattern out of redeeming his characters in this final arc and none has made a comeback as impressive as this wolf man.
It wasn’t merely the uniqueness of his power up but the heroic heart he displayed to us this year, the sacrifice he made to defend his home; really it would have been better if he had simply perished in battle rather than the fate he suffered.
1. NEJI HYUGA (NARUTO MANGA)
Died protecting the hero of Konoha and the only hope for the survival of the shinobi world. What could be more heroic than that?
2. CAPTAIN LEVI (ATTACK ON TITAN ANIME)
Who didn’t nearly lose their head from excitement over that battle with the female Titan in the SNK anime? Truth be told i would have been happy to swap Eren for Levi if not for the fact that he hasn’t had as much presence, as much to do in the anime as Eren. That doesn’t detract from the force that is Levi.
3. AH GOU (FENG SHEN JI MANHWA)
The fellow's reliving his father's legacy, rising up to fight against the tyranny of the gods, invading the land of these supernatural beings to end humanity's long history of servitude to their kind, basically intent on changing the order of nature.
4. KEI KURONO (GANTZ)
Kei's record against humanity's greatest alien threats this year have set him apart as one of the planet's more impressive saviors.
5. JIN MORI ( THE GOD OF HIGH SCHOOL MANHWA)
Jin mori is strong, immensely powerful, not nearly as smart as he should be and kind at heart; basically the typical shonen hero, yet so much more as he struggles to overcome the supernatural system that governs his country and the world, this year defeating a wannabe god, learning of his heritage and, kind of like Ah Gou, invading the realm of the gods to reclaim his title of Monkey king.
6. MAOU SAMA (HATARAKOU MOU SAMA ANIME)
MAOU SAMAAAAAAA! Yes, this is totally subjective, on account of how much i love this anime. But maybe there is something to be said about a demon lord that has spent centuries killing and maiming and trying to dominate mankind finding himself in the human world and suddenly taking steps to protect its peace and quiet.
7. BLACKSTAR/MAKA/DEATH THE KID (SOUL EATER)
The adaption of Soul eater Not! irks me. Anyway the manga finally came to a close this year and these three heroes do deserve some credit for flyinh to the moon and facing off against the legend that is the Kishin.
As much as she annoys me, Maka gets all the credit here though; basically the weakest of them all, she had no business being on the battle field and even Kishin said so, not when standing besides a god like warrior in Black star and the new death god kid.
Yet she stood her ground and delivered the finishing blow, blackening the moon and bringing the soul eater nightmare to an end.
Whew, that was a long list, and that’s probably because there were that many heroes worth commending this year, even more than actually made it to this list. If this was a top 20 (which it almost was when i first compiled it, before choosing to trim it) i would have mentioned Iori from Gamaran for all the righteous murdering he’s been doing against his former master’s students.
Then there is Phantom Miria from Claymore and the leader ship skills she displayed this year in basically commanding an unwinnable battle against immensely powerful beings, amongst which included the invincible Priscilla and several crazy abyssal ones.
-Unohana finally revealed the beast in her in 2013 and gave her life in an attempt to awaken Zaraki, the second Kenpachi, the true saviour of Soul Society with the way things are going at the moment.
-Ganta in Dead man wonderland showed some mettle in somewhat redeeming his childhood friend and taking considerable punishment in an attempt to bring the red man’s reign of terror to an end.
And then there is Shion from The Breaker: New Waves, 2013 being the year he proved himself worthy of the title Gaju, even in the face of immense tragedies.
-Kite from Hunter X Hunter was a bad ass this year, not the side character i thought he would be but striking an emotional cord in his interactions with the kids, and giving his life to protect them, that and his disturbing revival.
-With regards to the SNK heroes i was primarily interested in what was accomplished by each character this year and Eren’s star really shined in the anime in 2013, especially the way he wrapped things up with the female titan. Eren is basically the cheerleader of the SNK world if you think about, because i don't think anyone else in the series truly believes they can win the war.
I am still kind of pissed off at the internet for spoiling the Neji death for me. That would have been one heck of a shocker for me as a Naruto anime viewer.
Tasha from Witch hunter is also probably worth mentioning.
This year has been quite good to heroes in anime and manga and we can only hope that 2014 proves to be just as epic and explosive.
Well, that is it from me. What heroes/protagonists rocked your world in 2013?
Time skips are a pretty common element in anime, so i am by no means saying that only these series are involved with using them in their plots. These four are simply the most popular series to use time skips so it makes sense that i look at them specifically. The question is which had the better time skip. I might as well say it right now that my answer to the question is Naruto and fairy tail.
The purpose of time skips is to change things up a bit. Maybe a story has reached the end of its road as far as current events are concerned, or maybe all the mystery has been squeezed out and the author feels it necessary to inject fresh life into it; or maybe it is a matter of changing the characters and adding some further development that wouldn’t be possible in the current timeline; either way time skips will bring about the change of that era in anime or manga and start a new one, so it is almost like the anime is starting anew.
In considering which anime executed the time skip best, it is a simple matter of looking at pre-time skip, post time skip and how much impact and influence the time skip had on the overall story line, not far down the line but in the immediate future, usually the first arc after.
Pre-Time skip:> All four had pretty epic finales to the first parts of their stories. Naruto saw Naruto and sasuke finally face off, Sasuke came int
o his own as he mastered sharingan and his cursed seal transformation, naruto finally showed sasuke what he could do and Orochumaru finally made his second move. Bleach saw Aizen’s fall and Ichigo
reach his peak, power wise. One piece caused events to enter the new world and brought about a change in the era of piracy while seeing the demise of several characters. Fairy tail delved deeper into the fairy tail guild with the S-Class test, the introduction of the passed fairy tail masters, the three holy fairy tail magics and final showdown between fairy tail and the dark alliance’s strongest guild, Grimoire Heart. Hades, the strongest villain to date made his appearance and we finally saw some dragon, with Archnologia bringing the first part of fairy tail to a close in a most spectacular manner.
Of all the four, Bleach had the weakest ending. You would think that seeing Ichigo achieve final Gentsuga tensou and unleash Mugetsu, Seeing Aizen activate the Hougyoku, Ishhin’s appearance, Urahara’s fight and everything else that happened would have a spine tingling effect; and it would have, if all that had happened nearly 110-150 episodes ago or 50-100 chapters in the past. By the time these events happened we were all pretty much tired of this arc and Aizen; so a lot of excitement was over shadowed by relief that he was finally gone. Kubo dragged events out too long, to the point that everything that happened at the end just couldn’t muster the impact and epicenes it should have had. Even the revelation of Gin’s true intentions didn’t matter as much as they should have and i will admit that i didn’t care much for his death. Bleach messed up here and only a few moments, like Yamamoto’s fight and Ichigo Vs. Uluqiora saved this arc.
One piece had the strongest ending. technically the first part closes with the Marine ford arc but i would say that it stretches back a far as sabody Archipelago. That is where the gears first began turning in moving one piece towards this awesome end. I re-entered one piece and began the Sarbody Archipelago arc after marine ford was over (or nearly over) so i had the privilege of watching it all at once, over a period of a few weeks. There were way too many moments here for me to zero in one just one thing that made it so epic. The straw hat’s defeat was spectacular and logical and you could really believe that they were
The appearance of the white beard pirates was everything i expected it to be; there were so many characters at play with so many different powers and stories and intentions, both on the pirates side and the marine side. It felt like the whole world had come to Marine Ford. Of course White beard and Ace ( and Baggy whether you like it or not) stole the show.
Any Naruto fan can remember that final arc and knows why it was so epic. Many would point to the sasuke naruto battle being the pinnacle of the arc, but i would point to the Konoha 11 battles. They proved themselves to be more than genin.
Fairy tail changed things around and for once focused on the guild and its battle against a powerful enemy, unlike the norm where Natsu and crew go off to have an adventure. It was hilarious, especially the scenes with that big guy with the voodoo dolls; we saw god slaying magic for the first time, Cana of all people got some actual character development, Hades was every bit the monster a master should be and of course Achnologia blew me away as a fairy tail fan. I actually didn’t see the fairy tail time skip coming, which made it all the more epic. It caught me off guard.
Post-Skip:> I am not a fan of how One piece and Bleach executed the events following the time skip. it was cool to see the straw hats reunite. The idea of a shonen post time sk
ip arc is usually to show off how powerful the characters have become. The idea is to show case strong enemies that the heroes are now able to annihilate with their new powers that they couldn’t defeat before. The fish man island arc was terrible
for a post time skip arc. I might have accepted it before the time skip but not after. I could waste time mentioning so many things that were so wrong with it, but i will keep it short. The enemies were simply not worth the time. Not Luffy, not Zoro, but Ussop and Fanky could have wrapped up that entire affair by themselves. What is the point of a threat that event the weakest members of the team like Nami and Chopper could have eliminated.
It seemed like a waste, the amount of time spent simply keeping these characters busy running around because it was obvious that if they met the villains, the villains would be instantly defeated. So much of what happened here was unnecessary.
Bleach is no different; the full bring arc was crap. Again the villains were simply ridiculously weak, and what makes me hate that is the fact that they were so ridiculously hyped yet when it came for them to deliver, they fell flat on their stomachs. Even Ginju (if that is his name), after al the hullabaloo of going bankai, couldn’t touch Ichigo. It was obvious that the idea was to show just how much stronger the characters had become, but Kubo failed that when he made the villains so weak. Seriously, none of the shiningami had to do anything new to beat the enemy and i had been looking forward to seeing how strong Rukia had become with her promotion. But of course Kubo chose to put her in a stupid situation with bears and toys. Kubo could have found an easier way of giving Ichigo back his powers. What irritates me the most is how cool some of the designs he created where, especially Ginjo’s bankai and how wasted they all were. Fairy tail is still going strong in its first post time skip arc and, even with some of the glitches of the Daimatou enbu, it is setting up to be fairy tail’s best arc ever. We saw all out brawls between fairy,
every other guild they ever introduced and a whole new set of mages and magics, all determined to contend for the big prize. Beyond that is the absolutely thrilling mystery that has been written into the overall plot by Hiro, who is proving to be a master at deception and misdirection. With the introduction of Eclipse, the royal family of Fiore, powerful mages like Kagura (maybe my favorite outside Erza), Minerva, raven tail, Eclipse, possibly zeref and the dragons, this arc has more than tripled the quality of the previous S-Class arc.
Clearly fairy tail isn’t a better series than the other three. But in considering the arcs before and after a time skip, fairy tail is miles ahead of one piece and bleach.
Naruto stands only a little higher than fairy tail, if not at the same level. The saving Gaara arc was actually exciting to watch, at least much more than fish man island or full bring and did quite a lot in finally introducing the Akatsuki to us, Gaara Vs. Deidara, Sakura Vs Sasori and a host of other events. We entered into a new place in the story and there was a freshness to the arc, like the series was starting a new. Here Naruto stands above one piece, bleach and even fairy tail; there are blunders made by Hiro that i simply cannot ignore.
Time skip impact:> It would be easy to say that Naruto can’t be considered to have had the most impact because it had its time skip ages ago and thus had more than enough time to
build upon its story while beach and one piece and even fairy tail are all fairly recent. But that would be false reasoning as i am not talking about ov
erall progress that has occurred in the story since the time skip but immediately after, in the first arc. In Naruto we finally got to see Sakura in action against Sasori. Sure she couldn’t have beaten Sasori on her own but neither would Chiyo have achieved victory without her; either way she faced an Akatsuki and won, in her one and only moment to shine in the series. We saw Gaara’s rise, how he had achieved the title of kazekage and gained the hearts of his people, clearly a result of what Naruto did to him. He showed himself a totally new individual, both i spirit and in power. That fight with Deidara was incredible. It had me on the edge of my seat, not really knowing who had the upper hand at any one point in time.
Naruto did a lot in that first arc and showed that the entire series had in a way changed, and taken on a darker more serous tone. This was new Naruto.
Bleach, there is really nothing to say about it. The exact same characters before the time skip were the exact same characters presented after. Nothing changed, besides making Ichigo a little more whiny. The time skip, as far as i am concerned, had absolutely no impact on the story. If Naruto impact had the greatest impact, then bleach had the least, or rather no impact at all. It was a waste and truth be told absolutely unnecessary. The story could have done without it.
Fairy tail sits in the middle in that the main characters didn’t actually undergo a time skip; the world did, which makes the time skip here unique. The characters were all the same but everyone they knew and everything had changed. So basically the time skip impacted everything there was to impact in fairy tail, which would make it superior even to Naruto if not for the hiccups in this present arc.
The primary characters in fairy tail had more of a struggle because the world had changed around them and even the weakest of mages that they knew had become a threat; and thus they had to find a way of making up for lost time in as short a period as possible. Many people disagreed with the second origin plot, that it was power too easily acquired and given away, that fairy tai didn't have to work for it and thus it invalidates any development they might show. That was true when second origin was first introduced but not now; because the second origin power up hasn’t been used by anyone except Erza and even she didn’t need to use it until the very last battle. IN other words during the time skip the fairy tail mages weren’t left behind, it was every one else that finally caught up to them and their power, otherwise a daimatou Enbu seven years ago would have been pointless; fairy tail would have won it without trying.
This time skip was necessary whe you consider that fact, because none of this competition to fairy tail’s might would have been possible before; Hiro found away of making a lot of strong enemies available in a short time. it was clever and well done as it forced event the likes of Natsu to (some what) grow and learn to overcome the new foes.
One piece falls in line with bleach. We saw very little impact of the time skip in the fish man story. Sure they were stronger and you could see that, but the enemy was simply too weak for it to matter. It wasn’t the best foot first into the new world. I am not afraid to admit that fish man island bored the heck out of me.
Overall i believe Naruo had the best time skip and made best use of it in the short time, followed by fairy tail. As some might point out, One piece is still developing and bleach, well, like is said, bleach didn’t need the time skip and even with the interesting events of the thousand war arc, the time skip doesn’t play a role.
So this is more an entire event or group of events than a single moment, so don’t get confused.
Naruto has a way of testing my patience. If you have had any experience with Naruto, then you will know that I am referring to the never ending filler the series resorts to, to keep from catching up with the manga.
It can be excruciating, dealing with an entire season of god awful filler crap, just to get a few episodes of canon a few months at a time. This of course is a curse all long running anime face, but most like one piece manage to handle the long runs much better, without resorting to endless fillers.
Then again I can’t really use one piece as an example. Sure it has nearly a tenth of the filler that Naruto has. And that’s because one piece makes use of stretching mechanisms, where by it will drag out a 5 minute plot into one and a half episodes. Hell, while most Anime cover two to three chapters of there manga at a time, I would be surprised to see one piece covering just one, and with what I have experienced over the year and half that I have watched one piece, it can be as excruciating to watch as Naruto fillers.
But that aside, I have been tempted on many occasions to jump ship, not from Naruto as a whole of course; after all it is my favorite series; but to make the move from anime to manga.
Most times however, Naruto manages to make up for it, i.e, sure we might get several dozen wasteful filler material, but immediately after will come a story that will make the wait for canon material all worth it.
This is what happened with Naruto Shippuden episodes 245-249; we went from the fairly interesting five Kage summit to a season of filler that somehow managed to be worse that the god awful garbage that was aired after the pain invasion arc.
And just when I was at the end of my ropes (I couldn’t even bear to watch more than a few episodes), the announcement came; filler was over and what came after wasn’t merely worth the wait, but it left me so amazed and satisfied that I could have taken any amount of filler after, and I couldn’t have cared.
SO, before I get to explaining the epicness, first I shall explain the plot for anyone that might have no idea about what I am talking about.
Naruto arrives on the moving island, and attempts to talk Killer bee into helping him achieve mastery over the nine tails fox. Once Killer bee finally agrees, Naruto undergoes pre-training training where, before he can master the evil, hate and power of the nine tails, he must first master and defeat the darkness within his own soul.
After overcoming dark Naruto, the pair jinchuriki head to a sacred temple where Naruto uses the key that jiraiya received from the fourth and in turn gave to him to unleash the nine tails fox. According to Killer bee, he must contend with the kyubi and forcibly take its chakra in order to take full and unfettered control over it.
The battle commences the moment the seal falls, with the nine tails nearly destroying Naruto with a tailed beast ball, only for Killer bee to intervene for the first and last time.
Soon Naruto is going all out in an attempt to over come the kyubi’s over whelming power, with kunais, speed, strength, clones and rasengans all proving futile. Naruto eventually enters sage mode and takes the battle to the next level, though barely making much head way.
The one time he finally manages to force some kyubi chakra into his body, it overwhelms him; even though he defeated dark Naruto, he still has doubts and some darkness that makes it impossible for him to overcome the hate of the kyubi.
As the power overwhelms him, the kyubi nearly takes him out, but just then it’s movements are sealed as a red haired woman who turns out to be Kushina Uzumaki, Naruto’s mom, makes an appearance.
She tells him the story of his past, of the Uzumaki clan with their unique and powerful sealing jutsus and the land of the whirlpools, of their links to Konoha that thickened when the first hokage, Hashirama married Mito uzumaki, with whose help and teachings he was able to master and seal the tailed beasts; of the tragedy that befell the Uzumaki clan during the shinobi, how Kushina was brought to Konoha to become the second Jinchuriki of the nine tails after Mito and the hardships she suffered as a foreigner and Jinchurinki before meeting a Minato who saved her, literally and figuratively.
The tale brings Naruto the courage to over come his hate and defeat the Kyubi in an awe inspiring attack. Naruto takes the chakra and manifests his nine tails mode.
With that task done, Kushina fills Naruto in on the events that happened the day he was born, or how Madara attacked the sealed site of birth, kidnapped Kushina and extracted the nine tails before launching it into Konoha to execute that legendary attack, the battle between Minato and Madara and ensuing consequences.
This group of episodes ends with Naruto now wiser of who and what he is, his destined birth, the hopes that his parents held for him and the resolve he forms to bring peace.
I know that these were specifically five individual episodes, but as far as I am concerned, what I watched was a five part movie, because that is how I felt after watching all five episodes in one go, one after another.It was literally like nothing I had ever seen in naruto.
So first I will start off with the less important but none the less amazing factors that make these episodes so epic;
1. Animation: When I say that these episodes felt like one long movie, I am not exaggerating; that is literally how awesome this animation was. Words like brilliant, breath taking and pulchritudinous ( I learnt that word just for this description) don’t even begin to describe the kind of animation that was unleashed by Studio Periot in these five episodes. It was almost like they were using this chance to show off just what they could do if they ever took the gloves off, and I must say that I was impressed. These weren’t merely special animation and graphics that were saved for that one group of special naruto episodes, as is done with nearly every anime out there, where for one time or even twice, usually a first or last episodes (guilty crown’s opening episode was beautifully animated, even though the anime sucked), they will go the extra mile to animate a special story; in these five episodes Studio Periot was literally using movie level animation, as in if you were to look at some of the very best anime movies you have seen, Naruto’s graphics in these episodes, especially 248-249 would be right up with them, as good as or even better.
In fact I have seen movies that aren’t even animated half as good as this. Epic wise, I am thinking of that scene with the fourth and Kushina at the tip of a tree after he had saved her, the way every detail, from Minato’s jacket to her hair was beautifully animated; then there was that awesome tail beast ball at the start of the fight, the way it exploded forward while everything surrounding it was disintegrated; and of course Naruto’s kyubi mode took the cake. I have seen so many shows botch the whole 2D and CGI fusion, with the CGI elements usually looking so out of place. But that first look of the Naruto Kyubi mode, the golden flaming form, was simply…breath taking.
Most anime movies I have watched don’t get this kind of budget.
As far as ratings go, I would give the animation in these episodes an 8/5, and yes, that is beyond the scale. Someone said that if they took out all the filler in Naruto and kept this level of graphics, the Big three might shrink down by two, at least anime wise.
2. Art--- You would think that good animation would automatically mean good art. But that is not true. I have seen anime with acceptable animation, but with lousy art. I am thinking of the Jojo’s bizarre adventure series I saw last year. While the animation was fine, the characters were drawn in such a silly way. Thankfully these episodes avoided that pitfall because again, every thing was done perfectly. And not just the kyubi mode; in this case I am drawn immediately to the nine tails.
The scene, the story of what happened 16 years ago when the nine tails attacked has been such an iconic scene in Naruto and even with all the stories told by characters of what happened that night, fans have always wondered what happened and what it felt like.
We see that in these episodes, and personally I was afraid that they would mess things up, that after seeing so much of kyubi related flash backs and hearing what happened, there would be nothing new to see and all we would get would be some large red monster attacking in the background while they focused in on the events surrounding madara and the fourth.
This scene was more interesting than I anticipated. Firstly we got to see so many of our beloved characters at a much younger time in their lives and it was more nostalgic than informative. We got to see gai and kakashi being themselves. The long dead third hokage and his short yet awesome battle against the kyubi, then itachi and sasuke.
But the highlight of this event was the rather unique way in which they chose to display the attack, like the pages of a story book being opened; it made the entire scene all the more scary as it showed the kyubi as less of a magical creature and more of a monster. it just worked for me perfectly and it kept things new.
The art work here I would rate a perfect 5/5
And now for the more important aspects that made these moments so epic:
1. The action---AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH, that was what my brain was doing the whole time I was watching the events of these episodes. The battles in these episodes were, and I will use a phrase that I vehemently dislike, off the chain. I was blown away several times over. First we had the battle with the nine tails and it was every bit the beast we expected it to be. Even with its chakra gone, it was more than ready and capable of annihilating Naruto. Once the battle was done, even if Naruto had triumphed, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that he hadn’t beaten the fox. But his efforts were truly a sight to behold, especially the way he finished things; with a tonne of clones each armed with a giant rasengan that, from the fox’s point of view below, looked like they were tiny blue moons descending upon it.
This was the naruto we had been waiting to see every since the series began, a competent Naruto, loud mouthed but with the power to back it up. I would really like to see an all out battle between these two, one in which only one walks away from, because that would make it all the more serious.
But of course it was the fourth that stole the show, the way he saved baby Naruto from the explosion, his short but unbelievable fight against the kyubi and of course the final show down with Madara. This fight was short, yet it was also the best fight in the entire Naruto series by far. We had heard of the great shinobi Minato, but now, with these episodes, we go to see it, the truth of his legend and why he might be the greatest shinobi to ever live, besides Hashirama at least.
Even the combined actions of Konoha to take the fox down were an impressive sight to watch.
I would rate the action in these episodes with a 10/5, again, breaking the scale.
Now while it was the individual and combined efforts of all these factors that made these five episodes so epic, one stood out among them all,
4. The story---Let me just say this, it might be misconstrued that I think these episodes are the best ever in Naruto. That would be a wrong assumption; I think these episodes are some of the best I have ever seen in all of anime, and I am speaking both as a Naruto fan, as well as a regular viewer of anime.
And most of that is as a result of the story told in these episodes, which was both beautiful and heart wrenching. First we got a glimpse into Naruto’s world. We and he realized that he hadn’t always been alone, that there had been others out there, numbering in the thousands, with his blood, his heritage, and his name; basically his own people; and this knowledge came with the fact that they were gone, all of them and that, besides Nagato, he would never meet another Uzumaki.
I liked how the knowledge gave Naruto a sense of belonging, and I actually hope to one day see another uzumaki. The Uzumaki clan has such a nice ring to it.
The bigger revelation was Naruto’s mother. It was hilarious that the first time he saw her, he accused her of being the nine tails in disguise, allowing Kushina to show that brush side of her that Naruto is so well known for. It was a touching scene, as I don’t think he had ever given her much thought; it was always about his father, the legendary fourth hokage, that he idolized so much. Neither us the fans nor Uzumaki ever really gave much thought to Naruto’s parents in the first part of the series, and even when it came to light, Kushina didn’t really receive much attention.
It was a really touching moment, that instance when he realized who she was. It was touching later on when he knew she had to go on now that she had fulfilled her mission; poor Naruto, after only having met her.
Minato is the coolest character in Naruto, but it as a surprise to see that Kushina was every bit as prominent and interesting to watch as he was, with the tortures she faced as a child from a foreign land and the fact that she had a monster inside of her. Personally was impressed and tickled by the very distinct way she dealt with those that bullied her, in contrast to how her son Naruto dealt with the same thing.
With Naruto, it was all about playing pranks, being funny and taking the insults with a stride. Kushina didn’t give a crap, she would beat the hell out of anyone that would dare try to look down upon and bully her.I was especially tickled by the scene in the forest where Kushina wallops an irritating classmate, he ran’s off and calls his bigger genin of a brother and she beats the hell out of him as well.
I laughed at that for ages. But it was also touching to watch that scene with Minato, when she confronted him about how he had always coldly looked down at her, choosing to ignore her every time she looked at him for help during the moments that her classmates would bully her, and he replied that the reason he never made a move to help her was because he knew she was strong and that she didn’t need his help…Minato oozing coolness here.
The story is tragic of course. Minato has to sacrifice his wife to save Naruto. And then after he saves the village, he and Kushina make the ultimate sacrifice to save naruto when the kyubi makes a go for him.
It was truly heartening to watch how far these two great shinobi went to protect their son, and it would be an odd fan that didn’t hate madara/tobi in that instance for what he had done to what was a truly great shinobi family.
Outstanding moments: That scene when Kushina tells Minato that she was pregnant was hilarious (MInato: I am going to be a dad. Kushina: I am going to be a mom, don’t you know, MInato: I am going to be a dad. Kushina: I am going to be a mom, don’t you know…)
-That moment when the kyubi impales both Kushina and Minato, those last words they gave to Naruto before they both finally died…difficult to watch up to this day. From what I have read, Kishimoto chose to write this flash back because he had just become a father and he felt it necessary to tell this story about Naruto’s origins.
I wondered where Jiraiya was and why he made no attempt to help during this crisis. Then I remembered that during his own flash back, he was off writing his novel while all this happened. But how about Orochimaru and Tsunade?
I rate this story with a 15/5, again beyond anything I could have hoped for. This was an origin story to end all origin stories; it was quintessential Naruto.
If you are a naruto fan and haven’t watched these episodes, you need to do so. If you are a Naruto fan that gave up on the anime, you need to watch these episodes. If you are not a Naruto fan, watch these episodes a simply great anime.
If you read the manga, you might wonder why you should bother since you read the story. I have heard from Naruto manga fans that watched these episodes and said that the animated version took the event to a whole new level that the manga didn’t reach. SO, don’t worry about being bored just because you read it, watch these episodes.
WATCH THESE EPISODES….
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