In a fast paced world, this post might come a bit late. Last week, the popular shounen series Naruto has come to an end. For me personally, it’s a mixture of sadness and excitement. Sad, because the title that introduced me to the world of anime ended. Excited, because I’m finally seeing the ending of a much treasured series.
Before I delve any further to what I thought about the series itself, here’s a summary I got from Wikipedia.
A giant, powerful fox known as the Nine-Tails attacks the ninja village Konoha, killing many people. In response, the leader of Konoha – the Fourth Hokage – seals the fox inside his newborn son Naruto Uzumaki at the cost of his life. The Konoha community thinks that Naruto is the Nine-Tails itself and often ridicules him throughout most of his childhood.
From the summary itself and being a shounen series, it’s quite telling about roughly how the series developed over the last 15 years. Being categorized as a shounen genre already tells us this is a series that comes packed with actions, emotional struggles and realizing dreams.
Naruto has all that.
I’ll leave the main gist of the story, as in, the whole ninja wars, the existence of tailed beasts and such to your own discovery if you haven’t already read. This post mainly talks about my views on the series itself.
From a young age, Naruto aspired to become his village’s leader, also known as Hokage. His main reason at the time was so he could be recognized by others. After all, he had lived a very lonely life, often shunned by adults and peers, because he had a destructive force sealed within him. Not by choice, of course.
Naruto And Other Characters
Over the years, however, Naruto’s reason of becoming Hokage slowly turned to become less selfish. He wanted to protect the people he cared about. In fact, Naruto had been so consistent about his dream and values that over the course of the series, he had been repeatedly chanting the same thing.
Of course, I doubt the series can be as huge as it was and still is if it only focused on one character. We’ve seen small or big changes in other main characters like Hyuuga Neji and notably Gaara. Naruto’s unfazed by all his previous failures and this has somehow rubbed off on his peers. His sheer determination to be acknowledged by others and unwillingness to submit to fate are the main reasons why he’s loved and hated by people around him.
Personally, I find Naruto entertaining because of the characters. There are a variety of them and they don’t lack personalities. Their quirks made them fun to watch. Shino with his expressionless face, Chouji with his love for food, Ino with her on-going mindless cat fights with Sakura, Naruto with undying love for ramen, Bee with his nonsensical raps, etc. The series has a good fun side which balanced out the dark sides of ninja wars.
Moreover, given the length of the series, I appreciate that it was well thought out to the point it painted some of the similarities and maybe even differences over different generations. It doesn’t just stuck in one era or one generation. Instead, the story was spread out across different generations with variety of characters.
One of the main themes of Naruto is bond. Or better termed as friendships. Because Naruto was not able to reach out to others as a kid, he treasured his newfound friendships with his peers as the series progressed. There’s no one be hurt, everyone’s to be protected, so to speak. This bond theme even extended out to various anime fillers and minor characters over the course of the series.
The highlight of these bonds is none other than Naruto and Uchiha Sasuke, his frenemy. While the latter had repeatedly left him behind and caused him pain, Naruto never gave up on his dear friend. He continued to reach out, hoping that he could bring back the friend whose acknowledgement he most craved for.
The Naruto series gave readers a hell of an emotional ride over the past few years, particularly when the war began. Well-known characters were started to be killed off. I believe the despair of the characters left behind were well delivered. I, for one, felt the pain the characters were going through when their senseis, lovers, families lost their lives on duty. What I love the most is that the deaths of the characters were not in vain. They sparked determination and renewed vows to seek justice and peace. In a way, the bonds they shared were deep.
Speaking of seeking justice and peace, Naruto has its shares of villains. Note the plural here. Over the last 15 years, the main antagonists switched from one character to another. Most of the transitions were smooth, but not all. Big names like Orochimaru, Uchiha Itachi, Uchiha Madara and Tobi will forever be remembered by Naruto readers. I can’t say these villains are likeable. Sure, they have their reasons, however absurd they may sound, to turn to the dark side. Some, we perhaps felt a little sympathy towards. Either way, we know the reasons for their rebellions. We know why they turned bad. I think those revelations are important to further understand the characters and the reasons for all the drama that has happened.
My personal favorite would be Itachi. He’s not exactly a “real” villain, but he was painted in such light for a good part of the series. In more ways than one, he’s similar to Naruto. He is loyal, caring and peace-loving.
The final chapter has come and gone. We got the happy ending we all wanted and some icing on the cake with fans favorite pairings and stuff. I remember smiling while reading through the last chapter. It was nothing grand, but I was satisfied. After all, I’ve been following this series for such a long time. I should consider myself lucky to have read the actual ending.
Would I recommend the series to anyone? Hell yes. Why wouldn’t I? The thought of starting a long series can be intimidating. But hey, there’s an end goal here now. Naruto has only 700 chapters. Once you start reading, you might finished the entire series before you know it!