Pop Culture Gadabout
Tuesday, January 01, 2008
      ( 1/01/2008 08:10:00 AM ) Bill S.  

REMAINING A FOOL: Viz Media's Naruto publishing blitz - a schedule that saw three volumes of the manga series being released on a monthly basis from September through December - has concluded with the finish of the series' most recent plotline. In it, our title hero and a band of fellow student ninjas had gone on a mission to rescue Naruto's friend and rival, Sasuke, who's in the clutches of an evil former ninja named Orochimaru. Though each of Naruto's companions gets their own moment of battle glory, the story's big climax appears in the blitz's penultimate volume: an epic fight between Naruto and Sasuke. It's a moment that the series has been building to and backing away from since the first volume - and series creator Masashi Kishimoto doesn't disappoint.

Without giving too much away, though, the series' "Part One" ends with Sasuke still enmeshed in Orochimaru's villainous scheme - and our hero departing for a two-year apprenticeship with a new mentor named Jiraiya. Final volume 27 only devotes three chapters to Naruto, Sasuke and the third member of their training triad, Sakura, before filling the book out with a flashback set ten years earlier. At the same time, the newest issue of Shonen Jump, the manga mag where Naruto first debuted in this country, has the first five chapter of our boy's post-apprenticeship adventures. For those (like me) waiting for the paperback, the first volume of the older Naruto's story is set for March 2008 release.

Volume 27 aside (as entertaining as the extended flashback is, it still feels like a placeholder), the storylines featured in the past twelve volumes have been pretty engaging. First half was devoted to the search for a new hokage (leader), to replace the one killed during an attack on Naruto's home village, and with medical ninja/gambling addict Tsunade, Kishimoto found an entertaining replacement. (One of the comic conceits that bolster this series is the fact that - for all that they may rail against Naruto's boyish impulsiveness - few, if any, of the adult ninjas we meet are all that more mature than the kids they teach.) The second half focused on the Sasuke rescue mission.

After earlier introducing a vast cast of young student ninjas in the Chunin Ninja Selection Exam, we got to see many of these same kids as they engaged in real one-on-one combat. Though occasionally, the size of Naruto's cast threatened to grow overwhelming for more casual readers, the energy and enthusiasm with which Kishimoto and his assistants tell their ongoing story is unflagging. Even if you initially forget (as I sometimes did) who some of these young warriors are supposed to be, Kishimoto has enough of a hold on their individual personalities that you quickly reacquaint yourself with them.

As for our title lead, a few months back, I found myself wondering about whether two years of maturation would work against his character appeal. By the end of Part One, though, I'm less worried. Told that he should abandon his pledge to rescue Sasuke from turning to the dark side, Naruto refuses to listen to either threats or reason. "If being smart means what you say," he declares to his new mentor. "I'll remain a fool my entire life."

That's our boy.
# |

Pop cultural criticism - plus the occasional egocentric socio/political commentary by Bill Sherman (popculturegadabout AT yahoo.com).

On Sale Now!
Measure by Measure:

A Romantic Romp with the Fat and Fabulous
By Rebecca Fox & William Sherman

(Available through Amazon)

Measure by Measure Web Page

Ask for These Fine Cultural Blogs & Journals by Name!

aaronneathery.com News
Aaron Neathery

American Sideshow Blow-Off
Marc Hartzman

Arf Lovers
Craig Yoe

Sean T. Collins

Barbers Blog
Wilson Barbers

The Bastard Machine
Tim Goodman

The Beat
Heidi MacDonald

Kevin Church

Big Fat Blog
Paul McAleer

Big Mouth Types Again
Evan Dorkin

Laura "Tegan" Gjovaag

Blog This, Pal!
Gordon Dymowski

Rod Lott

Cartoon Brew
Amid Amidi & Jerry Beck

Cartoon Web Log!
Daryl Cagle

Clea's Cave
Juana Moore-Overmyer

Collected Editions

The Comics Curmudgeon
Josh Fruhlinger

The Comics Reporter
Tom Spurgeon

Christopher Butcher

Comics Waiting Room
Marc Mason

Comics Worth Reading
Johanna Draper Carlson

a dragon dancing with the Buddha
Ben Varkentine


Electromatic Radio
Matt Appleyard Aaron Neathery


Eye of the Goof
Mr. Bali Hai

Fred Sez
Fred Hembeck

Greenbriar Picture Shows
John McElwee

The Groovy Age of Horror
Curt Purcell

The Hooded Utilitarian
Noah Berlatsky

Hooray for Captain Spaulding
Daniel Frank

The Horn Section

The House Next Door
Matt Zoller Seitz

Howling Curmudgeons
Greg Morrow & Friends

The Hurting
Tim O'Neil

I Am A Child of Television
Brent McKee

I Am NOT the Beastmaster
Marc Singer

In Sequence
Teresa Ortega

Innocent Bystander
Gary Sassaman

Irresponsible Pictures

Jog - The Blog
Joe McCulloch

The Johnny Bacardi Show
David Allen Jones

Dirk Deppey

King's Chronicles
Paul Dini

Let's You And Him Fight
One of the Jones Boys

Mah Two Cents
Tony Collett


Michael's Movie Palace

Nat's TV
Nat Gertler

Ned Sonntag


News from ME
Mark Evanier

No Rock&Roll Fun
Simon B

Omega Channel
Matt Bradshaw

Pen-Elayne on the Web
Elayne Riggs

Peter David

Dorian White

Progressive Ruin
Mike Sterling

Punk Rock Graffiti
Cindy Johnson & Autumn Meredith

Revoltin' Developments
Ken Cuperus

Marc Bernardin

Matt Hinrichs

Self-Styled Siren

Spatula Forum
Nik Dirga

Tales from the Longbox
Chris Mosby


The Third Banana
Aaron Neathery & Friends

Thrilling Days of Yesteryear
Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.

Toner Mishap
B2 et al

Trusty Plinko Stick
Bill Doughty

TV Barn
Aaron Barnhart et al

Unqualified Offerings
Jim Henley

Various And Sundry
Augie De Blieck

Video WatchBlog
Tim Lucas

When Fangirls Attack
Kalinara & Ragnell

X-Ray Spex
Will Pfeifer

Yet Another Comics Blog
Dave Carter

A Brief Political Disclaimer:

If this blog does not discuss a specific political issue or event, it is not because this writer finds said event politically inconvenient to acknowledge - it's simply because he's scatterbrained and irresponsible.

My Token List of Poli-Blogs:

Roy Edroso


Jane Hamsher

James Wolcott

Lance Mannion

The Moderate Voice
Joe Gandelman


Amanda Marcotte & Friends

The Sideshow
Avedon Carol

Skippy, the Bush Kangaroo

Talking Points Memo
Joshua Micah Marshall

This Modern World
Tom Tomorrow

Welcome to Shakesville
Melissa McEwan & Friends

Blogcritics: news and reviews
Site Feed

Powered by Blogger

    follow me on Twitter