Having realized that there is no way anyone would read these reviews to see if they want to buy the manga, I’ve decided to make these be more about the parody and making fun of the series. And what better time to do so than now, at the start of a nice big stretch of nothing but fights. So far Kishimoto hasn’t disappointed with his fights, so let’s see if he’s left me any openings to make fun of.
They open the scrolls, revealing a summoning spell. Iruka appears in a puff of smoke and tells them that they just barely made it in time. He warns them to take it easy during the third part of the exams, focusing on Naruto and telling him that he worries about him. Naruto says that ever since he got his headband he was no longer a student, and that for all his faults he’s still a full fledged shinobi. Iruka remembers how he’d been concerned about them taking the exam, and realizes that his concerns were unwarranted, and that Kakashi has a better idea of what they are capable of.
Elsewhere the Hokage and Anko are debating Orochimaru’s motives for showing up during the exam. The Hokage deduces what Anko had already heard from the horse’s mouth, that Orochimaru is there for Sasuke. They decide to continue the exam, while keeping a close eye on Orochimaru’s movements.
Less than half of the contestants who passed the first part of the exam remain, but Anko is surprised that so many passed.
There are several panels that establish the mindset of the rapidly growing cast of characters, that could have easily been cut down. I think it’s at this point that Kishimoto tries make his story more interesting by introducing a larger cast of characters. Overall it works, as the supporting cast is one of Naruto’s strengths. Too bad he realizes that juggling a large cast takes away panel time from the main characters, and cuts a lot of them more or less out of the story later on. Even major events involving side characters only get token attention.
I don’t even like shipping, but I can still tell that was a dick move Kishimoto. Oh well, sucks to be Hinata. Actually, it sucks to be a minor character in Naruto period. If it’s not Hinata being shafted by Kishimoto, then it’s Rock Lee shafting himself. Guess those two have the most in common here. Hmmm…
The Hokage explains that the entire purpose of the exams is for them to be a miniature war between all the different Shinobi nations, the purpose being a political way of avoiding conflict, and securing economic security for the victorious nation. Though I don’t know why he bothers, since none of the dunderheads get it anyway.
Long story short, before they move on to the actual third exam they have to have preliminaries to eliminate the excessive participants. Which means, Fights! Lots and lots of fights! But, since this is Shonen we’re reading, I can’t exactly complain about that. That’d be like going to see a Shyamalan movie and complaining about how crappy it is.
So the real question is not if the fights go on for way too long, since that’s a guarantee, but whether they’re actually interesting to read. Well, I read through this at least once, so they can’t be completely horrible, can they?
First off, I think I need to point something out that bugged me rereading this. Namely Hayate’s introduction. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothing against his character, but the way he appears bugs me, because it’s something I’ve noticed Kishimoto do before, and it doesn’t make any sense.
Note the speed-lines in the upper left panel. Hayate has obviously just teleported, or moved very, very fast, and appeared kneeling down like that. What’s bugging me is that prior to this page there is no indication of any movement. Naruto, Kiba and Neji react to something, but we don’t have any indication as to what it is until after their reaction. Sequentially it makes no sense. The lay out is completely out of order. It’s a small annoyance, but I’ve been noticing that panel layout isn’t Kishimoto’s strength.
Hayate explains that because there are visiting dignitaries watching the final exam, they have to keep the final exam “Intense, tight, and fast-moving.” In other words it’s all about the showmanship. Apparently putting on spectacles is part of Ninja curriculum in this world. Makes sense I guess, considering they removed the “dress discreetly” portion.
They are given the option to drop out, and Kabuto takes it. Anko mentions to the Hokage how Kabuto was an orphan that their ninja brought back from a village they destroyed. This sets up the possibility of Kabuto being a spy. Which is then steamrolled in a most amateurish way, as Kabuto not only blatantly thinks about how he’s a spy for Orochimaru, and how he hates Konoha…
But he even goes so far as to talk to his team member about how they work for Orochimaru. There isn’t even any indication that they’re trying to whisper. They’re just standing there, talking about what should be kept secret from the ninja surrounding them. Some of which are standing RIGHT NEXT TO THEM!
That isn’t even the worst part. It’s just plain sloppy storytelling. While it was pretty obvious beforehand that Kabuto isn’t a good guy, it still could have made for a decent review if handled properly. Instead everything is dumped right there in the open, with no attempt for any kind of dramatic tension.
Sasuke’s mark is bugging him, making him even more short tempered than before. Now nothing drastic happens here, but we do see some seeds planted as to why I think Sasuke fangirls are all insane. I won’t go into detail about this yet, but let’s just say that Sasuke isn’t exactly prince charming here. And he won’t be getting any better.
Actually, now that I think about it, there’s something off about the relationship dynamics in Team Seven overall. Sakura is obsessed with Sasuke, to the point of uselessness, Sasuke is self centered and the bane of my existence, and Naruto is completely clueless. Heck, at this point their relationships are so bad that it’s a miracle they want Sasuke back in the first place.
The first fight matches Sasuke against Yoroi, Kabuto’s team mate. And good lord, before the fight even starts we have to get reactions from every minor character present. I’ve also noticed something strange about the Viz translations. Now I don’t know much Japanese, and not nearly enough to be functional at all, but I do know English. And right now I’m seeing that Viz is going out of their way to say everything in the most convoluted and complicated manner possible. They’re very wordy basically.
After a few more panels of all the other characters, Kishimoto really wants us to remember them, doesn’t he? And the fight starts. I’ll be honest, it’s pretty decent. Yoroi’s power is to drain chakra, forcing Sasuke into a position where he has to rely on the curse mark if he wants to win. It allows for proper tension, which is a must for any dramatic situation, even fights. Especially fights. Sasuke remembers his fight with Rock Lee, and realizes how he can win the fight.
To Sasuke’s credit, when the curse mark threatens to take him over he does resist. Too bad he didn’t keep it up later on. Using Rock Lee’s technique Sasuke takes out Yoroi. And Orochimaru couldn’t be more excited.
The next fight Zaku, the guy with hands that blow, aka/ the professor, and Shino, the bug guy, face off. The fight is interspersed with scenes of a confrontation between Kakashi and Orochimaru. Overall the page layouts are quite good, and well put together. I have to give Kishimoto credit for this one.
The third fight is Kankuro against Kabuto’s other team mate. It’s a quick, but fun fight. All the fights have been fun so far, with Kishimoto showing the foresight not to have them stretch out for too long. Though there are a lot of fights to get through yet…
The fourth fight is Ino vs Sakura.
Before the fight starts we get a flashback (sigh), of a class Sakura and Ino took when they were younger, teaching supplementary lessons for the Kunoichi. They used to be friends, which begs the question as to why they hate each other now. Commence bitching between the two girls, and hellloooo Kishimoto’s biggest weakness. Writing women. I know it’s meant to come across as a rivalry, but really all I’m getting is petty bickering out of the two. Apparently they don’t realize that they can be rivals without hating each others guts.
Anyway, Ino sets a trap for Sakura and catches her in a mind substitution technique. Now, despite for all the fights, this volume was pretty good. Actually, it’s good because of the fights. For its flaws the fights are really entertaining, and move at a good pace. Characterization may not be Kishimoto’s strength, but he’s great at fights. There are some undeniable flaws in the general quality of the manga, but nothing that can’t be fixed with practice. Overall a decent read, but nothing stellar. It’s got good fights, but characters are as weak as ever.
If you liked my review, Buy the Manga Here: Naruto – Volume 8