Just over a week ago, I mentioned that I had never sat down and watched Naruto the whole way through. It’s strange to call myself an anime fan without actually having watched much of the orange ninja, so I thought it’d be kind of fun to watch it all, share my thoughts on the show and get your thoughts in response. I have to thank the people who spoke to me after that article, as ultimately I learned a lot more about the show than I expected. Also, thanks to those of you who offered encouragement for my sanity, which may be just as important. Here are my thoughts of the first 11 episodes. As the series is so old, these articles may have some spoilers.
A Lot Happens Real Fast
When I say a lot happens real fast, I mean it. Naruto goes from being unable to perform pretty much any Jutsu, with the exception of his “Sexy Technique”, to being able to perform a few different ones. The main crux of it is that he goes from aspiring to become the Hokage, through to being able to perform the Shadow Clone Jutsu, after he read from the Scroll of Seals that was kept at village of Konohagakure, AKA the Village Hidden in the Leaves. He was told that by reading the scroll and learning one of the techniques within, he would be able to pass his test – and he did. Good job Naruto.
From there, we’re quickly introduced to our supporting cast, with Sasuke and Sakura, as well as quickly being introduced to my favourite, Kakashi. The supporting cast get together quickly, we’re shown some other characters we’ll no doubt meet properly later down the line and away we go. The students are put through the ringers by Kakashi, their teacher – and then they manage to override the policy of the place, allowing themselves to go on a much harder mission to the ones they do from the get go. There’s more to it as well, but ultimately, Naruto himself goes from being a trickster who only thinks about himself to wanting to grow – and he does this by being told he’s grown a lot.
It’s a good pace though; I feel like if we dwelled too much on some of the minor details, such as how many missions should they have done before this bigger mission, then I think we would be stuck in ninja school for too long. At which point, the characters may be a bit too balanced.
The Artwork Is Definitive Of Its Era
Consider that the original series ran from October 2002 to November 2003, it’s no surprise Naruto looks the way it does. It’s a typical shōnen and it definitely clings to the shōnen tropes – and art style. I find it fascinating to look at a series like, say, InuYasha, Shaman King or perhaps DragonBall Z and see the similarities between them and Naruto. Indeed, the artwork is perfect for the genre – A genre targeted for a younger audience, probably an early teenager. The features of our protagonists are softer than say something like Berserk. Naruto himself is hugely stylised to shōnen, as he’s incredibly young and childlike here. Through the years, you can tell Naruto underwent a bit of a change to the look, which actually makes him look fairly older.
Oh but one other quick, odd note – It’s interesting how much of an homage the series pays to its roots. The above image of Kakashi has a filter over it, like it’s done in a screentone. For the uninitiated, screentone is how mangas show different forms of shading in black and white. I find it an interesting filter.
Audio Is Often ‘Cartoony’
Right, so there are moments in the series where they want to do a comedy moment – and when they do, they like to use a comedy track to accompany it. A quick Google tells me the song is called Fooling Mode, which you can listen to above. I found this quite hilarious and very, very reminiscent of many a cartoon I watched as a kid. Indeed, it takes a lot of the tropes built into cartoons of the 90’s and runs with it. But this isn’t the only case of cartoony audio, as there are moments where little “squishy” noises are added in, or just typically daft sounds.
I raise this as it’s fascinating – A lot of anime want to draw away from the cartoony side of it, opting to be an all out experience. Often, the fact it’s a cartoon isn’t something that you ever think of during an anime, but Naruto embraces that side of it. I found this incredibly endearing!
All in all then, I’m loving the show. It’s really good fun, so looking forward to another 209 episodes…
… Oh god. What have I started?