Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Naruto Manga vol. 35-37 Impression

Ah Shippuden, no filler, no fluffy stories just a continuation of the Naruto we love, 2-1/2 years older and a bit more powerful. While the anime is the one which added the Shippuden name it’s the manga that keeps on with the same title and carries the story as it should be told. For subscribers of Shonen Jump the Akatsuki storyline began right after Naruto’s encounter with Sasuke. In order to catch-up the story Viz did something very against the grain. They rolled out 3-4 volumes of Naruto a month for a few months earlier in 2009 to sync up the US storyline with the current Japanese storyline. The same story at the same time for such a hot franchise … outstanding! In order to do this Naruto left the pages of Shonen Jump for a few volumes, and while he’s back now what happened in between? Recaps in Shonen Jump hit the high level but what about missing volumes? Starting now I’m going to take a look back at these volumes beginning with 35, 36 and 37 of Masashi Kishimoto epic.

Naruto Manga volume 35Naruto Manga volume 35
After their first encounter with Sasuke in years and the realization he is not coming back it’s time for Naruto and team to regroup. In order to take his training to the next level Kakashi introduces a new method in which Naruto utilizes his shadow clones to double, triple and more his training. In order to master his craft Naruto must discover his elemental power and how best to utilize it. The Akatsuki have other plans as they continue their hunt for the tailed beast and it’s Hidan and Kakuzu who now hunt taking down the two-tailed. A bounty is revealed and the quiet Asuma delves into his past and ties to the Guardian Shinobi twelve from the land of fire. This bounty and the love of money Kakuzu has leads to an epic clash having nothing to do with tailed beast.

As the revelations of what Sasuke has become settles in, its training time. Unlike most manga of this type just because Naruto starts new training the overall action does not halt as the large, secondary cast, take center stage. This time it’s Asuma who’s always been in the background and his back story. The story just keeps moving along at a splendid clip and it’s amazing how far Naruto has come in his training. Great story continues and the art, damn it’s great.

Naruto Manga volume 36Naruto Manga volume 36
Training continues for Naruto under the watchful eye of Kakashi as he works on element form change in combination with his Rasengan technique. It’s tough going but Naruto is determined to say the least. Asuma and cell number ten, including Shikamaru, hunt for the Akatsuki but Hidan is more dangerous dead than alive while the bounty on Asuma’s head is too much for Kakuzu to pass on. Will Shikamaru be able to save his mentor or will the Akatsuki collect a bounty to go with their tailed beast collection. The answer is tough to swallow.

Sad, this is a sad volume. Why? Somoene dies and it’s no super secret, fans of the series should have checked in by now so this is a spoiler for those slow readers. Seeing Asuma killed right after readers for a connection is a bold action this manga franhise has done in the past, Third Hokage, and will do in the future. This is why this series is so great. The action and art is rock solid but readers will get sad when a so-called secondary character such as Asuma gets his. Readers can guess what’s next, a bit of revenge but having seen what these Akatsuki are capable of is vengeance even an option? (Yeah it is, don’t get upset, damn this is a great series).

Naruto Manga volume 37Naruto Manga volume 37
A funeral and a fight. As Asuma is laid to rest his closest allies take it upon themselves to take down his killer. A fresh from training Naruto joins the hunt and utilizes his new Wind Style Rasen-Shuriken. Even this powerful attack has it’s limits in use and the fight with both Hidan and Kakuzu takes many turns before Shikamaru shows the level of his planning. The fights are intense but in the end vengeance is served and the Akatsuki are now two members short.

Wow, Naruto is a beast in this fight. He shows what training and crazy chakra levels can do while Shikamaru is just genius level, a truly masterful plan which will have the reader guessing right till the end. Even with these two defeated the hunt for the tailed beast continue and Naruto is on that list. With great art the real star is the story.

Overall these three volumes show the evolution of Kishimoto, his style is so fluid and detailed. Backgrounds are a much a part of the story as any character and he’s not afraid of tragedy and suffering. It actually makes his characters seem real even with their fantastical abilities and surroundings. It’s amazing to see how much Naruto has grown, how powerful he can become, that even 35+ volumes in it feels like things are just getting started. The best part about the quick releases was reading volume after volume. Speaking of this, next up will be a look at volumes 38, 39 and 40.

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