Search This Blog

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Manga Review: Naruto GN 64

Naruto volume 64
Author: Masashi Kishimoto
Viz Manga/Shonen Jump
189 pages
Ten Tails: With the masked man's identity revealed as Obito, Kakashi's resolve is severely shaken. It will be up to Naruto to inspire his old master to continue the fight. But when Ten Tails is finally awakened, will the entire ninja world be doomed? (Source: Viz Manga)
Spoiler warning: Review will contain some spoilers of events in volume 64 as well as recent volumes leading up to this one.
Here's the great thing about Naruto right now. We've got a world-encompassing ninja war going down, pitting every village possible against Obito and Madara's machinations. Everyone is putting their lives on the lines to protect what's important to them. And unlike some shonen manga which would be holding back on the body count, Naruto has no such qualms. It's war and people are going to die. And that's what happens in this book.

Which is not to say that the sixty-fourth book is a "ROCKS FALL, EVERYBODY DIES" kind of book. But it's a book with consequences. It's a book where people are hurt and stay hurt, physically and emotionally. It's a book where characters feel defeated and need their comrades to help pick their spirits up again. And in a genre where those kind of emotional issues might be casually swept under the rug, Naruto keeps them front and center during the action.
In one word, this volume of Naruto is about warfare. It's strategy and deliberations over which jutsu to use when and how to carefully use chakra during a major battle. After all, these ninja, while the best of the best, aren't unlimited energy machines and their abilities are not all-encompassing tools against evil. Luckily for the allied shinobi forces, their best ninja - Naruto, naturally - carries the chakra of the nine tailed fox and can share the energy around, albeit not forever.
Coloring & cleaning by Ulquiorra90 / DeviantArt
It's also a volume about emotional resonance. Kakashi is all messed up from Obito's revelations. Naruto gets messed up from the death of a comrade in battle. Shikamaru and Ino get messed up from losing their own special comrade thanks to an attack from Ten Tails. People are dying, the reach of the battle has expanded beyond the actual battlegrounds, and it is affecting everyone in various ways. I expect that the deaths of these various characters will continue to resonate through the rest of the story, especially when the battle is over and rebuilding begins.
Then again, considering that Kishimoto has already said this is the last story arc of the series, I don't think we'll see all the rebuilding and political fixing of bonds that will occur when the war ends. Although I would not be adverse to an extra volume set after the series that shows all the Hokage and their partners working together to create a more unified ninja world. I just really want to see Naruto as Hokage and working together with other Hokage and showing the town which initially shunned him that his ninja way is the best way.
The only thing about this volume that I didn't like was the last panel of the last chapter. Sounds silly, right? But it could have been easily cut out and we would have ended with the images of Naruto and Sasuke, bonds that can't be severed, which would have been a powerful enough ending for any chapter, especially one that ends a volume of manga.
Also, yes, we can talk about the Naruto/Hinata relationship. But I'd rather wait until after book sixty-five comes out. I know a lot of people are reading a romantic feeling between them, which is a totally legitimate reading! But it could also be read as close comradeship and two people coming into their abilities at the right time and being able to support each other when it is necessary. Either way, I'm cool with Naruto/Hinata being endgame as long as it is actually developed in text. Give them an actual relationship!
I expect next volume to be a lot more action and a lot more of Sasuke and Orochimaru doing whatever the heck they're doing in the background. Will Ten Tails be placated? Will Naruto whoop the heck out of Madara and Obito or will he run out of chakra and land face first in the nearest rock formation? And WHAT IS IN SHIKAMARU'S DAD'S WOODEN BOX? Okay, let's be real, it's porn. It's always porn.

Don't worry about the wait, though. Volume sixty-five of Naruto comes out in April!