Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Naruto Volume 45 Review

As many know I am a fan of anime but I am also a big fan manga. My love for manga almost rivals my love for comic books. So I decided to start reviewing manga's here at the Legacy. My manga reviews will follow the same rating format as my comic book reviews. To start things off I thought I would start by reviewing the latest volume of Naruto.

Writer and Artist: Masashi Kishimoto

Story – Battlefield, Konoha!!!

Chapters Collected – Ch. 413–422

While time jumps in mangas isn't a new story idea the 2-3 year time jump that Masashi Kishimoto gave Naruto was the best decision he could have made. The time jump has made Naruto a hundred times better than the pre-time skip Naruto. While I like the first part of Naruto overall I thought this was an average, and sometimes boring, read before the time skip. But now that Naruto, Sakura, Sasuke, and the rest of the cast have mature and become better ninja's the series has really stepped up its game with both the characters evolutions and the stories being told.

Now as for this volume of Naruto it starts off with Sasuke and his Team Hawk continue their battle with the Eight-Tailed Beast host Killer Bee. For a while now Sasuke has really become the star of this series as for the past few volumes have placed more of a focus on Sasuke while having Naruto, Sakura, and the others playing secondary roles as Sasuke takes focus of the series. And from Sasuke's battles with Team Kakashi, Orochimaru, Itachi, and now Killer Bee Kishimoto has really built Sasuke up to be one of the strongest characters in the Naruto Universe.

Now I will admit I am not a very big fan of Sasuke's character as I find his personality, even with some of the conflict, to be very dull and his dialogue sometimes comes fall flat. And his power upgrade during the time skip with Orochimaru's training and then obtaining the Mangekyo Sharigan has felt like I am reading Dragonball again.

With that said I got to admit I like the relationship that Kishimoto has given Sasuke with his new team made up of some interesting characters in Suigentsu, Karin, and Jugo. All these characters share a nice chemistry as they all have some animosity towards at least one member in the group while also being able to work well together as a team. And I like how in this volume were they begin to get dominated by Killer Bee in his full transformation into his Eight-Tailed Beast form, that looks like a big bull, and we get to see that even with all the animosity on the team each member tried to protect the others. This battle with Killer Bee was really the first test for Team Hawk to see how well they would work well together

And even though I don't really like Sasuske I still like seeing him bust out his Mangekyo Sharigan and using the Amaterasu. This black flame jutsu is always cool to look at and I like how Sasuke showed concern for his teammates being attacked by the wild nature of the Amaterasu. It was good to see that Sasuke actually in some way cared for his teammates as he saved Karen, who was set on fire do to the Amaterasu, by using his Mangekyo Sharigan to put out the flame. What will be interesting to see from this point forward is how bad Sasuke's vision is going to get as this volume showed that the use of the Mangekyo Sharigan is affecting his vision.

Also I liked that Killer Bee, the Eight-Tailed Beast, was not captured and just used one of his tails to create a clone to make Team Hawk and his village he was captured. Killer Bee has turned out to be a very entertaining character and while he has some stereotypical lines with his rapping and saying Muhammad Ali lines. It would have been to repetitive if the Akatsuki captured yet another Tailed-Beast as they already have 7 out the 9 Tailed-Beast and if they captured yet another Tailed-Beast it would really bring into question just how powerful the Tailed-Beast are if all but Naruto have been captured.

Also I do wonder why Killer Bee did not return to his village since his brother is the Raikage as he seemed to have a good relationship with his village. But I guess everyone needs a vacation, even Tailed-Beast hosts.

Now while Sasuke, his team and Killer Bee dominated the first half of the volume we finally get to see Naruto and the rest of Konoha back on the spotlight for the last few chapters of the volume. It was good to see Kishimoto return his attention to Naruto and the gang who have been lacking some panel time.

Naruto's training to master being a Sage has been entertaining to see. The best part this training that Naruto is going through is that we are finally getting to see Naruto develop more skills other than his Rasengan and Shadow Clones, which have been all the jutsus he has relied on. Also his relationship with the different Toad summons is nice and I like seeing his relationship with Fukasaku grow into a similar relationship that Naruto had with Jiraya. And it seems that he is developing his own jutsu when he is not training with Fukasaku that none of the Toads know about which may be "that jutsu" that Jiraya talked about before Naruto went off on his first mission post-time skip.

Also I liked that we got to hear some of the story from the book that Jiraya wrote about, "The Legend of the Gutsy Ninja," that was mentioned in Jiraya's flashback to one of his conversations with the Fourth Hokage and the Fourth's pregnant wife. From the few parts of the story we saw it draws a nice comparison with Naruto and good motivation for Naruto to become the ninja Jiraya had in his book.

I got to say that I was surprised to see Pain finally take action against Konoha as I was expecting it to be a bit later. Before Madara showed himself I thought Pain would be the end boss for this series and even when Madara showed up I thought he was going to be one of the final villains be defeated before Naruto, Sasuke, and others faced Madara. But now that Pain has attacked Konoha I am not sure.

In any case I did enjoy seeing how powerful Pain is. We already saw some of Pain's powers back when he fought against Jiraya. But even though we got a sample of his powers it looks like we are going to get to learn more about Pain's powers as there are a lot of powerful ninjas in Konoha like Tsunade, Kakashi, Guy, Shikamaru, Hinata's, and Choiji's fathers and others. Even if Pain is a super powerful ninja he should still have to show off most of his powers.

I hope that this new arc with Pain attacking Konoha that we get to see more of the older ninjas like Kakashi and Guy take up some of the spotlight as Naruto's generation has been dominated most of the major fights we have had post-time skip. From the looks of it that is the way things are going as Kakashi already started fighting one of the Pain's and showed off some impressive skills as he went toe-to-toe with two of the Pain bodies. And with how the last chapters went down it looks like we are going to get more action from the older generations of Konoha.

Also it was interesting to see Tsunade stand up to her two advisors. Those two elders have needed someone to speak up and call them out on their bullshit. The only thing that would have been better was if she would have actually knocked one or both of them out. Though Tsunade standing up to the two of them may mean they will join Danzo who has been looking to become Hokage. I will be interested to see what role Danzo plays in this invasion arc.

Volume Rating
Story: 9.2/10 – The ending of Team Hawk vs Killer Bee and the beginning of Pain's invasion of Konoha were great. Kishimoto does a great job with all of the dialogue with the further evolution of the characters.
Art: 8.6/10 – Kishimoto continues to impress with his art as all the characters and their jutsu are very well drawn. I can't wait to see him show off all the different jutsus of Pain, Kakashi and others in the next volume that will continue this invasion arc.
Overall: 8.9/10 – Kishimoto continues to tell great stories post-time skip. Each volume of Naruto just continues to get better than the last and volume 45 was no different. I can't wait to see how this invasion arc turns out as there are a lot of story possibilities in this arc with all of the characters involved.