Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Manga Reviews: Naruto - Volume 3

Since most of you who are reading this have probably already read Naruto I'm figuring I don't have to worry about spoilers. So instead I'm going to try something different than I've been doing, and make this more of a commentary than a spoiler free review. Since these reviews are meant to be more focused on figuring out why this series did as well as it did, rather than trying to get you to try something new, which is my purpose behind most of my reviews, I'm going to be trying a new format. Essentially it's going to be the same as most online reviewers, summarize what happens and then make fun of it. Sure it's been done, but I've been playing around with different formats and want to see how this works for me. Really the point of doing this is to have fun, and for me to practice my writing.

Volume three starts with Kakashi teaching the team how to mold Chakra with their feet, to increase their overall control and teach them how to walk up vertical or upside down surfaces. Basically he's teaching them how to be Spider-Man.

Well...He's about as colorful as Naruto, so I guess there is a connection.

Kakashi tells them to use kunai to mark how high they can make it up a tree using only their feet. Both Naruto and Sasuke have a hard time, and barely make it up the tree. Sakura on the other hand beats both Naruto and Sasuke, mastering the tree climbing on the first try. Enjoy it while you can Sakura fans, because that's the last time you'll ever see Sakura do anything useful for a long, long time.

Okay, so maybe that was a little harsh. My apologies to Sakura fans everywhere.


While Naruto and Sasuke continue to practice, Kakashi has Sakura guard Tazuna and the Bridge building crew. Why he thought this was a good idea, I'll never know.

Last one, I promise.

Okay, I'll seriously stop that. Making Sakura jokes is easy, too easy. It's just that rereading this from the beginning is having me wonder why I liked her as a character in the first place.

Following that we get backstory, blahblahblah I don't care, and we finally get to the final battle.

Overall this is a pretty exciting battle. The pacing is really quite well done, and doesn't drag on like too many shonen manga these days. The Highlights of this fight for me are:


We finally see Naruto really evolving as a main character. Sure he's been annoying, and pretty much useless. But his development in these early stages of the manga are actually really well done. While he starts off useless, he grows from a loudmouthed brat into a competent fighter for this arc. Sure he remains an idiot at heart, but not only does he take out two of Gato's henchmen, but he finishes off the volume with a decidedly bad ass transformation.

Sasuke also pulls out a surprise as he reveals that he has the power of the Sharingan, just like Kakashi. This, really wasn't that surprising, since I'm pretty sure that it is mentioned that the Sharingan is only usable by the Uchiha clan. Overall Kishimoto doesn't really bring much attention to it, so it sort of comes as a surprise that Sasuke can use it. Except for the fact that really there was not any real foreshadowing for this. As in, we had no idea Sasuke was trying to learn to control his Sharingan. When he finally does it doesn't have the effect I'm sure Kishimoto wanted, and really I just feel passive towards the whole event.

This brings up something that I know I'll be touching on later on in the series. Most of Sasuke's power ups have nothing to do with the effort he puts in. I'm sure he does put some effort in, but we as readers never see it. All we see is that he's perfect at what he does, even at this young age, and for me at least that makes him a less than interesting character. Overall, it's a bad start for him, but he has not yet reached the unbearable stage.

I think this is why the series did so well, early story arcs were quite well written, and featured strong character development for our protagonist, while also laying the groundwork for the development of the secondary main characters. As the series progresses we get many interesting and well developed characters. But the series never would have gotten that far if it weren't for the fact that these early volumes really are quite well done. Of course there are some weaknesses to them, such as the Inari subplot which really served to annoy me more than anything else. But overall Naruto Volume 3 combines some excellent, exciting combat, as well as good character development and humor.

As we see the beginnings of a much larger scope for the manga, I can definitely say that this was the point where anyone that wasn't sold on the manga yet, wasn't going to put it down any time soon.

Of course a manga's true staying power depends on whether the readers will want to continue after the first story arc. The question is, is this first major story arc for Naruto compelling enough to keep readers along for the ride. This is exactly what we'll be examining in the next review, as the Zabuza Arc comes to a close in Naruto Volume 4.

If you liked this review, and don't yet own the manga, buy Volume 3 here: Naruto, Vol. 3


Raven the Foolish said...

Yo, I'm a Sakura fan. *tumbleweed blows by* ...You heard me. But yeah, when the manga got this far, it got interesting. And I silently cheered when Naruto finally showed some backbone since the beginning. The villains were actually pretty awesome. Now as to character was okay. Granted I never was really psyched about reading this. I only got into the series to know why it was so popular myself. It's good...but I can't wait to see your reviews further off.

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