Monday, June 28, 2010

Manga Reviews: Naruto Volume 7

It's been kind of interesting, seeing how close I can follow a schedule for these reviews. I'm starting to think updating three times a week might be a bit much for me. I definitely need to be able to be flexible so I can put in time for reviews of series I am following. I hope to be able to start reviewing the Fairy Tail anime series as it updates every week. If things go well this week I should be able to start that fairly soon.

I should probably mention that this will be the last of the Naruto Manga reviews until further notice. Unless of course I can get my hands on Volume eight and beyond sooner. My campus library doesn't have them, but the town library does. So I'll definitely be able to get my hands on them, but this won't be until much later as I've scheduled several other reviews already (this was before I knew I could get my hands on the other Naruto volumes) and I want to get through those first. In the interest of catching up with this series however, I might reschedule some of my Fairy Tail and Bleach manga reviews in favor of more Naruto reviews. It all depends on what's available though, you know how libraries can be.

A thought that just occurred to me is that there are plenty of people who have complained about Naruto because of the bright clothing worn by the so called ninjas. Nobody could possibly be stealthy in bright orange. Personally I think that sneaking around in the dead of night isn't all there is to being a ninja. In fact, ninjas wearing their black uniforms during the day would stick out like sore thumbs. Which is why the Naruto ninjas are so ingenious. They look so much like anything but a ninja that nobody would suspect them.

You'll never see them coming.

Granted the orange jumpsuit is a bit much, and wearing stealthy clothes at night would be a good idea. But I still think that the best clothes for a ninja to wear are clothes that wouldn't attract attention to themselves or label them as ninja. And so far Naruto is one for two.

At the beginning of volume seven, Ino's team does a pretty good job of fighting off the sound ninja. But once the surprise of the new team's fighting tactics wears off the sound ninja fight them back with relative ease. All seems lost for our young protagonists as they are outmatched by the ruthless sound ninja. Until, at the last minute, a spark of hope arrives. Tenten!

Neji might be a little bit of help.

Of course before Neji and Tenten have to do anything, effectively hiding their true capabilities for a more dramatic date, Sasuke wakes up!

Smart Zaku. Real Smart.

You know, as far as retarded villains go. I think Zaku, the guy who shoots pressurized air from his hands, takes the stupid-cake. Seriously, when a guy who looks that evil, and has FREAKING SMOKE COMING OFF HIM!!!, asks you who hurt his friend, the right answer is "He went that way!" Then point in the opposite direction you're going to be running. It is most definitely not advised to confess to the brutal beating of said person's friend.

What follows is a massacre, that ends with both of Zaku's arms broken, that horrifies everyone present, except for Naruto who is still asleep. Sakura manages to calm Sasuke down with a cooldown hug. Personally I just wish she'd take the hint that he's psychotic and it's just going to get worse as time progresses. Granted I guess you could excuse his ruthless behavior as being part of the curse's effect on him, but personally after having to put up with his ultimately pointless character arc I'm not that forgiving.

After the sound ninja leave, Naruto wakes up, having missed everything that happened, and understandably still thinking that they are being attacked by Orochimaru. Of course his natural, even reasonable assumption leads to everyone just smack talking, or simply smacking him. Easily the most under appreciated protagonist ever. Granted, if you go by the past few chapters, you wouldn't think he's the main character at all.

After some more "Naruto Abuse" we learn from Tenten's interior monologue that if Lee hadn't been distracted by trying to protect Sakura he could have wiped the floor with the sound ninja.

Sorry, but that still just sounds strange to me.

Sound Ninja.

When Sasuke finds out that Lee was beaten by the guys he just trashed he is shocked, obviously remembering his humiliating defeat at the hands of Lee.

I love how I keep thinking of ways to bring this back.

Sakura is of course appreciative of Lee's gallant behavior, beating Naruto when the latter is rude to Lee. Of course it really doesn't take much to make her beat him, and she still doesn't appreciate Lee enough to ever go out with him.

The plot then switches to focus on Gaara to showcase what a blood thirsty psychopath he is.

But he's still so dreamy.

Of course, cultural differences aside, this manga still is for a relatively younger audience. So it's not likely that there will be any actual killing...HOLY CRAP!!!

He's just misunderstood!

To clarify, that is not ink that the artist spilled on the page. That is blood. There was a human in the middle of that. I would also like to point out that Gaara had a pretty big fangirl fanbase before he was redeemed. Am I the only person who sees something wrong with this?

Granted, the way he just stands there with the umbrella is pretty badass.

Naruto, Sakura and Sasuke meet up with Kabuto, who explains a little about ambush tactics and such, when they are ironically ambushed by the same ninja who tried to impersonate Naruto in volume six. This time he's brought along his friends, and after another clever battle that once again reminds me that Kishimoto used to be really good at these, our protagonists win, mostly on Naruto's prerogative, as Sasuke is still weak from the curse, Sakura used up all her action points for the next several volumes, and Kabuto is pretending to be weak.

Very convincing.

Of course Kabuto turns out to be a spy for Orochimaru, and the volume ends with Naruto and Sakura about to open the Earth and Heaven scroll after having reached the tower. Since it was previously shown that anyone who opened it before finishing the test was put under a hypnosis that kept them out until the end of the test (in the middle of a wild animal infested forest I might add), there is some amount of tension as Naruto and Sakura almost opened it before in order to cheat (what happened to the "Won't cheat when he's supposed to cheat" Naruto?), but were stopped in time by Kabuto. And so the volume ends with me wondering what could possibly happen!

Or pretending to, I already read the series remember?

Overall this volume had a lot of action going for it, which at this point really is Kishimoto's strong point. As such it's a great read and worth taking the time to continue the series. It doesn't take nearly as long to get through the forest of death as the anime does, so that's one more score for manga.

Granted, this is the point where Sasuke slowly starts evolving into the character I love to hate, so there are mixed emotions here.

I think I can confidently say that anyone who has reached this point is already hooked, and slowly starting to form a bond of trust with Kishimoto's abilities as an artist and writer. I think that bond of trust is what makes the series so strong. Fairly early on readers were shown strong evidence that Kishimoto knew what he was doing and was sticking to his strengths. That kind of trust is a powerful thing that I think is one of the main factors that made Naruto such a global phenomenon.

Of course, One Piece is still more popular in Japan. One of those cases where Japanese taste is shown to be more refined and sensible than American taste. Granted these are also the same people who will eat live Octopus, so I'm withholding judgment about what that means for the series. (For the record, I love Japan, their culture, their people, and manga and anime obviously, but you have to admit, they are a peculiar people our Oriental friends).

So, that's it for the Naruto reviews for now. Until further notice I have other reviews I need to focus on, and I'm going to be taking a small break from reading manga for a while, as I've recently noticed that my reading speed for regular books has gone to seed. So I need to work that up to par again.

I don't know when the next Naruto review will be up, it might be sooner rather than later, but I won't make any promises. You might even get a review of Fairy Tail or Bleach first. But for the sake of keeping a bit of continuity going in this blog I'll do my best to get my hands on volume eight when the time comes.

If you liked my review, buy the manga here: Naruto - Vol. 7


Raven the Foolish said...

Yeah, I can't really say much about this volume as this part of the arc was not particularly my favorite. Gaara killing scared me. Then finding out Kabuto is a bad guy. At least we won't need to ever have him talk to use about ninja-info cards. Yeah, eating live octopus scared me.

Jakub said...

It was really interesting until the Sasuke chase arc. Great read, do want more ;)

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