Naruto Anime Review
US Release By
Ninja Action Drama
213+ 25-minute episodes
2002-10-03 - ?
Uzumaki Naruto is a less than normal boy living in the Hidden Leaf Village of Konoha. He lives by himself and attends a Ninja school where he mainly goofs off and causes a lot of trouble, both on campus and off. Uknown to Naruto, but known by the older folk of the village, a giant nine tailed fox demon who was going about trying to destroy the village was sealed inside of infant Naruto with much difficulty and loss of lives (its easier than killing it). And as a result of this naruto is shunned by the village, his only friend is Iruka, an adult who acts as Naruto's sensei and guardian whenever it's necessary, but most of the time Naruto is on his own.
The story starts off with Naruto failing his finals at the ninja academy, for the third time, and as a result of not being able to perform a simple clone technique he cannot become a ninja (obviously). He is once again outcast and is feelin' really depressed, until a teacher from the academy comes up to Naruto and tells him that if he reads from this "really big sacred scroll thing" (thats my name for it), that he can become a ninja. Naruto, who always wanted to be acknowledged as a great person, decides this is the best way. Naruto steals the scroll, but it turns out to be a trap and the teacher decides that he's going to kill Naruto and make off with the scroll. However, Iruka (who is searching for the scroll with the rest of the village) catches on and comes to naruto's aid, battles with the teacher, and gives naruto a chance to escape. However Iruka becomes badly injured when he takes a REALLY BIG SHURIKEN (I mean BIG) in the back as a result of saving Naruto. Naruto becomes angry at himself for running and causing pain to Iruka as a result of his actions, gets really pissed, and demonstrates one of the spells on the scroll, The shadow clone technique (basically a bunch of Narutos, be afraid). After promptly beating the s*** out of the teacher guy Iruka presents naruto with a gift, a ninja headband (it's the equivalent of graduating).
Naruto, who has now graduated, returns to the Ninja academy where he can advance to more challenging "classes." Naruto is very enthusiastic, and dreams to be acknowledged by everyone as the best Hokage that ever lived (Hokage is like an ultimate ninja). He is teamed up with Sakura and Sasuke in a three person team which is instructed by Kakashi (an incredibly powerful ninja by the way) to perform various tasks to become better ninjas, these missions range from pulling weeds, to chasing down cats that have run away from their owners. However, one mission turns out to be a little more difficult than expected, and then it just picks up from there, gets better and better, and draws you in never letting go. Naruto is an extremely excellent anime and deserves every single byte that it takes up on your hard drive. Unlike some animes, I actually went back and watched the series twice since it was just that good.
Continuing from the top...
Naruto is a very colorful and fun anime, but don't let than trick you, it can quickly turn into a powerful drama in which more characters are introduced, and then killed.
Since its about three o clock I'm going to do this in lists.
Wow... At first we meet Naruto, but after just a few more episodes we have about a dozen important characters, and by the thirties there are dozens upon dozens upon dozens of characters that play a key role in the series and each one is very unique, distinct, and has their own very memorable personality. There is no trouble remembering faces like in some animes, each character is unforgettable in their own special way. But to start off with you must know the Main main characters.
Naruto: THE main character, its the name of the anime, so of course... As I said above, he is a hyperactive, loudmouthed, ninja that one day wishes to become the most powerful Hokage of all time and have everyone acknowledge his strength. He is always screwing up and getting into sticky situations and usually has to be rescued by one of his teammates, usually Sasuke. But don't let that fool you, Naruto has more potential than anyone in the series, and from time to time you get to see this potential realized little by little. Its good stuff.
Sasuke: Naruto's teammate and rival. Saskue has a badass loner attitude, he doesn't need anyone to help him because he is the top of his class. Sasuke proves that he is a badass, he kicks ALOT of ass and is usually getting Naruto out of tight squeezes, which irritates both of them immensely. Sasuke is clearly the stronger fighter in the group, but his coldness and preoccupation with revenging his clan makes him unsociable. Because of this Sasuke has become the favorite character for many fans of the series.
Sakura: The girl in the group. Sakura is beautiful and brainy, she knows a lot about chakra, ninja history, and so on but isn't skilled with fighting. She has a huge crush on Sasuke, he just blows it off and is annoyed, and is plagued constantly by Naruto, who has a huge crush on Sakura, she just beats the crap out of him. At first Sakura just there for eye candy, comic relief, and comment or two during battle, she doesn't really fight much and because of that most fans of the series hate her. However, later in the series Sakura blooms ('scuse the pun). And she herself is kicking much ass, although not as much as Naruto or Sasuke. Sakura is a very unique character and the series wouldn't the same without her.
So, as far as Characters go this one gets a ten. Its incredible how many personalities appear in the series and even more amazing how real they are.
Oh wow. another great thing about Naruto for sure is the animation. it's fresh, its clean, colorful, and detailed. not horribly detailed like Cowboy Bebop or Gundam 0083, but it ain't crappy art like in some animes. The most amazing thing about the animation is the fight scenes. Holy Cow! Fight scenes are smooth, fluid, and make you think. You actually feel like your in the fight, don't blink though, you might miss something. Unlike crappy, second rate fight scenes you see a lot of in animes like Dragonball Z where its just the same eight frames played over and over for a minute or two, Naruto makes battles fun to watch. The amount of effort, detail, and continuity that goes into fight scene animation makes Naruto as good as it is. This gets a big ten.
I usually didn't pay attention to this much until after watching more detailed anime like Cowboy Bebop (and sloppy ones like Slayers). Its how believable the story is and the little things that make an anime better or worse. Making a mistake like including a character in a flashback that wasn't there originally *cough*slayers*cough* makes an anime seem lazy. Putting effort into making an anime credible and not contradictory is important. Naruto is one of those special animes, for example: a person throws a shuriken at another person, that person easily dodges it and lands, BUT you can still hear the shuriken crashing through the foliage in the background. Little things like that add to an anime.
[Screaming like a Japanese schoolgirl] EEEEEEK! I love them. Especially the second opening, which became a personal favorite of mine and despite being in Japanese became popular with my friends and others at my school who are not anime watchin' folk. The first closing was also a favorite of mine. Not to mention that the music within the anime was good as well. I actually have a few of the songs on my playlist, and I'm very picky about what gets on my playlist. This gets a high score.
This anime gets very high praise from me, as well as many of my anime friends. For me it ranks way up there in my top ten, just below Cowboy Bebop and Evangelion. If there's one complaint I have (here it comes) and that's that the series draws stuff out, well actually thats unfair to say, I think its more correct to say that there's filler in there. the end of a fight scene may be followed up by a story/flashback about how that person came to be in the position that they are in now, like the death of their family, or killing their clan. its a good strategy that gives each episode an very suspenseful cliffhanger that leaves you hungry for more. A lot of animes do it, and it bugs me, I guess I shouldn't just single out Naruto, its really a pet peeve of mine. But. Its not really bad, we don't spend 8 episodes being shocked as Bobs power level raises from 1024 to 1038 and then pan to get the shocked expression of every character in the vicinity.
Warning: Do not be fooled by the child friendly look of this anime. because after a few episodes you'll find out, this anime is not afraid to show a little blood. In fact, they aren't afraid to show a lot of blood... in fact, there's quite a bit of blood. But don't be scared, there's no gratuitous injuries like exposed organs or muscles, just some harmless blood. However, if there is a moment where someone gets turned into ground beef the anime uses friendly "indicators" and sounds to "suggest" that the person we just saw became impaled, split, and then mutilated into pieces no larger than a peanut.
Another thing which I almost forgot: combat in this anime isn't restricted to fists and knives. There is the use of Chakra to breathe fire, make clones, switch bodies or a number of other things. Every character has their own unique "magic" attack (their chakra) such as shadow prisons, mind switching, manipulating sand or many other things. Sakura seems to have this kind of thing mastered. There is a lot of "spell using," and thats another aspect of the anime that I like.
Thats about it, not much else to say other than this is an awesome anime, its on 38 episodes now and more to come, its easily outdone Dragonball Z in the same genre and is worthy of your time, hard drive space, and bandwidth.
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Notes and Trivia
Editor's Note: When this review was written, Naruto was still in fansubs, and only up to 38 episodes.
Based on a comic by Kishimoto Masashi, currently being serialized in the English Shonen Jump, and soon to be released in book form by VIZ. If you're interested, the Japanese site Naruto dot com has some flash animation of it, and here is the official Japanese site at TV Tokyo: http://www.tv-tokyo.co.jp/anime/naruto/.
Naruto is a common Japanese word--a decorative slice of steamed fish paste (kamaboko) with a spiral pattern on it, usually served with ramen or other soup-and-noodle dishes (if you remember Azusa's challenge to Ranma early in that series, that's a naruto).
US DVD Review
Available from VIZ in two versions; individual, dub-only, edited DVDs that match the TV version, and "Uncut" box sets, which are indeed uncut, include both the original Japanese and English dubbed audio tracks with an English subtitle track, and offer storyboard to animation comparisons by way of special features.
Blood and lots of violence. Its a ninja anime...
Violence: 2 - 2.5 if I could. Not a gore fest, but it has its moments.
Nudity: 0 - With the exception of "sexy no jitsu".
Sex/Mature Themes: 1 - An "accident" between sasuke and Naruto plus a little romance between two ninja assassins.
Language: 2 - It's in Japanese.