Shonen Jump has announced that after 15 years in publication, the world-famous Naruto manga is coming to an end with its last chapter (supposedly #699, but hopefully #700 because…because it has to be even. That’s why.) being released on November 10th.
The story of Naruto, convoluted as it may have gotten over the years, has always boiled down to one thing, it’s a coming of age story about friendship. Bottom line.
Sure you could say it’s about proving one’s self, or Naruto‘s journey to becoming Hokage (the village chief of sorts), but honestly, it’s more just stories of growing up and the power of friendship…..with a lot of crazy “ninja powers” and stuff.
I couldn’t tell you what’s kept me reading it for 15 years. I just got attached. It wasn’t hard at all to fall in love with these characters.
- Naruto – The orphaned, misfit hero who just wants everyone to recognize and appreciate him.
- Sasuke – The orphaned, misfit anti-hero who just wants revenge for his parents’ death.
- Sakura – The relatively well-adjusted female lead who just wants to prove her worth and strength….and win Sasuke’s heart.
…and so many more (honestly, I had started to write brief descriptions of characters before I got overwhelmed and decided to just focus on the “core 3”).
Naruto started in 1999. I started reading it at about issue/chapter 10. I was pretty heavy into anime and manga at the time and a friend of mine turned me towards it claiming it was “Harry Potter with ninjas”. He wasn’t far off the mark. Granted, it would take a much more intense turn, at times reaching Dragon Ball levels of ridiculous power-up battles. But it was always fun.
Best of all, towards the end it got to a point where it had exploded to almost ridiculous proportions. My friends and I were saying, “Man, I don’t know how they could drag this on any longer. All these threads are tied.” and they didn’t. Where this week’s issue stood, with what’s just happened and is happening now, the news of it ending in a month just seals it. I’m oddly glad it’s ending. I don’t know where it could have gone after this. It just feels like the right time. However, much like when the Harry Potter books ended, I find myself waiting, wanting, and hoping for something to fill this new void. This had been the thing that I looked forward to in the middle of every week for so long. Now it’s over and it just feels…weird.
The series has become a sort of manga-pariah by the “cool nerds” for it becoming so popular. “Oh, Naruto is dumb, you should read ______ instead!”. Well, anything in any corner of fandom that becomes popular will eventually get that, but if my word has any weight, I say don’t let the 15 years intimidate you. Pick up Naruto and give it a read (seriously, read it. The anime got kind of crappy after a while, too much filler after a while and after that the quality of the first few seasons never returned). You’ll get easily drawn in and enjoy the ride.
IF THEY DON’T HAVE A PROLOGUE SHOWING NARUTO AND HINATA HOOKING UP I’M GONNA START A RIOT!!!
*huff* *huff* *huff* *huff*