Kashira, kashira, gozonji kashira? Did you know that the woman who moderated the 2006 MangaNEXT Naruto
discussion group had never read past volume five of the original manga and had never watched even a second of the anime? Yeah, yeah...I'm pathetic. At least I admit it. Fortunately, I can safely say that I'm not a total Naruto
Back last November, I noticed that barnesandnoble.com was selling Naruto
Shadow Box Limited Collector Set at a discount as a part of their holiday sale--and guess who had a super-duper "additional 40% off" coupon? B&N had their sale in an instant. Suffice to say that I pampered myself with an early Christmas gift that only set me back $56.90. (Considering that the set was $189.95 suggested retail, that was over 70% off!)
But although the #287
/5000 arrived right quick, instead of opening the box right away I forced it into an empty slot on my bookcase. And there it stayed. And stayed. And stayed. Until early this April, that is, when a sudden, inexplicable craving for mindless tournament shounen sent me flying like a spinning shuriken toward that bottom shelf.
The gift set on the merits of presentation alone is not especially impressive. Cheap Plexiglas and a few slivers of lacquered waste wood do not a great collector's item make. Even the stickers looked like something I could have done with my handy-dandy HP 3-in-1. But 27 brand spankin' new volumes of manga for $56.90 is nothing to sniff at, and that was all I really cared about anyway.
And lemme tell ya, marathoning 27 volumes of Naruto
over the course of a week is quite an experience. I was surprised, really, how well the series held up to that kind of (self-)abuse, although it remained comfortably formulaic throughout. There were little moments of pleasure, such as the appearance of a super-strong woman who becomes the Fifth Hokage, to compensate for things that annoyed me during my first read several years ago. (Is it a coincidence that Kishimoto was courting his future wife at the time he was writing that particular story arc? I think not.) I also loved the joke about how Naruto is one of those born sidekick sorts of characters who can't even support the weight of the story named after him.
The ongoing relationship between Naruto and Sasuke is the finest iteration of the shounen manga rivalry to have emerged from late 20th century Weekly Shounen Jump
. It begins with a comedic kiss and evolves into the promise "of a lifetime." Homoeroticism so thick and rich you can cut it with a butter knife; an entire generation of yaoi-istas are coming of age on it.
Well, now that I'm caught up with VIZ Media's English-language release, perhaps I will start reviewing individual Naruto
volumes 28+ here. What do you guys think?