Reviewed by Ismael Manzano
I was introduced to Naruto by a friend of a friend who is heavily into anime, manga, and pretty much anything imported from Japan. I was sort of hesitant at first, having not watched an anime for several years, but my concerns were quickly quelled. I was instantly hooked and ended up watching most of the first season in one sitting.
Naruto follows the adventure of a young boy from the ninja-occupied, Hidden Leaf Village, as he struggles through ninja training on his quest to become the Hokageóthe highest of all ninja ranks. His aspiration to become the most respected and recognized ninja of all time are hampered by overzealousness and impatience. And did I mention that as a child he was possessed by a fox-demon that lays dormant within him to this day? The villagers who donít think heís a mischievous delinquent, fear him because of the monster inside him. Narutoís shortcomings, however, are superseded by his determination and drive, and when push comes to shove, he rises to the occasionóalbeit, usually with help from his friends and his teacher.
After graduating from the first level of ninja school, Naruto is teamed up with Sakura, a book smart girl for whom he harbors secret feelings, Sasuke, the best ninja of his class and rival, and his teacher Kakashi.
Naruto is slightly different from the other animes Iíve watched in the past in that the main character is not automatically the strongest character in the story. In fact, he might be the weakest of the quartet, but his failure only inspires him to work harder to achieve his goal. The allure here is Narutoís heart, his courage, and his optimistic outlook despite having had a tragic childhood. I also enjoy how the charactersí abilities and powers slowly progress, taking the viewer along for the ride as Naruto and his friends grow and learn with each adventure. The fights are more realistic than Dragonball Zís fights, in that they rely more on hand to hand moves and daggers than energy balls and flying.
The series is funny and entertaining, though a little slow at times, but overall, energetic. The artwork is, of course, excellent and the fighting is superb. But if you think itís all about fighting and training, youíre wrong. The show manages to mix in a fair amount of actual story that draws you in and sometimes pulls a heartstring or two in the process.
In short, Iíd have to say that Naruto has a fan in me, and Iím sure it will have many more when the show makes its debut in the States (which, Iíve been told by my anime-obsessed friend will be very soon). Until then, keep your eyes open and watch for what Iím sure will be the next big import.