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OMAKASE Black Friday deal gets you some stylin' anime goods

I want that Senketsu scarf
Nov 25
// Red Veron
Black Friday is here again along with the insanity but not all deals are to be had in stores since a lot of the anime goods you want aren't in brick and mortar stores these days. One great deal I stumbled upon for the post-turkey day shopping holiday is the OMAKASE subscription goodie box by online video streaming service

Review: Boruto: Naruto the Movie

Oct 22 // Christian Chiok
Boruto: Naruto the Movie Studio: Pierrot Licensed by: Viz Media Release Date: August 8, 2015 (Japan), October 10, 2015 (North America) The movie already starts off with lots of action, featuring Sasuke fighting with both Momoshiki and Kinshiki in the ruins of Kaguya Otsutsuki's palace. From that battle scene alone, you can already tell how well the movie’s animation will be and it’s a great way to get the audience hook to the movie. Just like Kaguya, Momoshiki and Kinshiki Otsutsuki’s goal was to recollect all chakra and create it into a new chakra fruit, which would grant unlimited power, eternal youth, and immortality. However, they don’t have any affiliation with Kaguya as she created the White Zetsu Army in order to fend off against them should they ever attempt to steal her chakra. Throughout the movie, it is easily noticeable that Konoha has evolved technologically as the use of computers is pretty frequent. However, was stood out the most, and what basically was an important part of the movie, was the forearm device called Kote made by Katasuke. Kote allows the wielder to use any jutsu of their choice, without the use of chakra, as long as they had the scroll to use the sealed technique. Kote suggested that he wanted to introduce the device Chunin Exams but Naruto considered it cheating and denied his request. [embed]34393:5113:0[/embed] When Katasuke brought up the device to Boruto, he denied his request and he told him he wasn’t going to be entering the Chunin exams anyway. But after discussing about the Chunin exams with Sarada, and with her convincing him to enter be telling him that it was a way to show off to his father, he decides to enter. Even though Naruto has reached his long-term goal of becoming Hokage, the movie still shows that the character has so much to learn as he continues to prioritize work over family obligations, especially when he sends a shadow clone to his daughter's birthday dinner.  When Boruto finds out, he states that Naruto was luckier than him, reasoning that a dead father is better than one that neglects his children. Later that night, Boruto meets his father’s enteral frenemy and rival Sasuke Uchiha. Boruto being aware of that, he begs Sasuke if he can become his student and hopes he educate him about Naruto's weaknesses. Sasuke stated that he will take Boruto as his student under the condition that he can master the Rasengan, an attack that even Naruto struggled to perfect. Given the condition, Boruto goes to Konohamaru and asks him to teach him the Rasengan, which took Boruto a few long days to learn. When he finally approached Sasuke to tell him he learned the Rasengan, Sasuke notes that it’s far too small then smacks the Rasengan from Boruto’s hands as it slowly flies at a tree and disappears before it can make contact. Boruto storms off the scene with a sad look on his face and headed directly to Katasuke, the creator of Kote. With Katasuke’s initial plan to introduce Kote during the Chunin Exams, He wants Boruto to pass the Chunin Exams using Kote. Even with his father banning the use of Kote during the Chunin Exams, Boruto still decides to use it because he's tired of relying on his teammates and wants to achieve victory by himself. However, during the first round of the Chunin exams, he doesn’t use Kote, but was able to pass the round thanks to his teammates. Naruto later finds out and congratulates his son via e-mail. With Boruto excited after receiving recognition from his father, he decides to use Kote on round two, which he successfully passes and Naruto instead congratulates him in person, Naturally, this makes Boruto extremely happy. Unfortunately during the third round, Naruto catches him using Kote and later confronts his son in front of the entire village, confiscates his forehead protector and states he will never become a Shinobi. When Naruto scolds Boruto and tells him they will talk after the exams, Boruto angrily replies that they will never talk as Naruto is too busy being Hokage anyway. A few moments later, both Momoshiki and Kinshiki arrive to the scene with the goal of extracting the Kurama from Naruto. Unfortunately, Boruto made matters worse by using his Kote since the Otsutsuki absorb chakra-based jutsu. With Momoshiki gaining that power boost, Naruto was forced to sacrifice himself and was pulled into their dimension. After learning that his father is still alive and afraid of what could happen to his father, Boruto regrets all the resentful thought he was towards Naruto and accompanies Sasuke and the visiting Kage into the other dimension to save him, in order to make things right. During the fight in the other dimension, clearly the highlight of that moment was the teamwork between Naruto and Sasuke, especially with the beautiful done animation and the combination of both Perfect Susano’o and Kurama. After an intense battle, Naruto was weakened so Sasuke suggested that Boruto and his father combine their Rasengans. After creating the gigantic Rasengan, with the help of his shadow clone and Sasuke, he obliterates Momoshiki. However, the most important part of that scene to me was when we see Boruto and Naruto smiling at each other while combining their Rasengan. At the end of the movie, Boruto and Naruto reconcile their differences as Boruto respects his father and Naruto spends more time at home. The following morning after the battle, Boruto and Naruto fist-bumped and asked the other to do their best as they left for a mission and for work respectively. That final scene was special as it shows how much their relationship has built up as father and son, especially when they first-bumped. The movie concludes with Boruto, Sarada, Mitsuki, and Konohamaru going on a mission to capture a panda that is running loose in the village. Overall, this movie exceeded my expectations. The story isn’t exactly the best, especially because both the villains and their motivations were boring as they were the same as Kaguya’s. However, I did enjoy the character development shown for Boruto, and the relationship build-up with his father, Naruto, was really heartwarming. After seeing his father battle throughout the movie, and he understands how hard Naruto was worked to become Hokage, not only that but, after learning what Boruto has been through, he learns that Boruto still needs his father. Additionally, I really disliked how Momoshiki wasn’t really a threat and the battle was one sided on Boruto. Even Toneri in The Last put up a bigger fight against Naruto. However, the latter was more of a love-story if anything. In addition to the character development, I would also recommend this movie based on the animation and the fight scenes as well. The fights in the movie easily match those in the Dragon Ball series and watching it in theaters only made the experience even better.  With the new generation of Shinobi, it would great to see more of them in action. Personally, I really want to see Sarada follow the path of Hokage while Boruto follows Sasuke’s path, and protects the Hokage, as stated at the end of the movie. I really appreciated how Kishimoto switched path with their children, how Sarada holds Naruto in a higher pedestal while Boruto holds Sasuke in a higher pedestal. Naturally, both still love their father very much. I would definitely recommend the movie to any Naruto fan. Even though I believe other material related to the franchise may come in the future, the movie was a nice way to wrap up the story of Naruto. [This review is based on a theatrical screening of the film attended by the reviewer.] [embed]34393:5113:0[/embed]
Boruto Narut Review photo
A touching story about father and son
Boruto: Naruto the Movie takes place several years after the Fourth Shinobi World War, in which Naruto has become the Seventh Hokage of Konoha and formed a family of his own. However, even though Naruto has already reach...

Music photo

A Daily Dose of Music: FLOW

The boys are back
Aug 13
// Hiroko Yamamura
Naruto Shippuden is winding down, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't expect the finest J-Rock as usual! The 34th ending to the series bring us back to one of the series's favorite bands, FLOW. With two singers and amazi...
J-Stars Victory photo
J-Stars Victory

J-Stars Victory Vs+ releases early for EU and Australia

The Testosterone Game
Jun 27
// Anthony Redgrave
Weekly Shonen Jump is one of the biggest manga umbrellas in the industry, collecting some of the biggest franchises like; Dragon Ball, One Piece, Bleach, Naruto, and Gintama. Their ventures from the black and white weeklies ...

Boruto photo

Boruto: Naruto the Movie Trailer reveals lots

New Generation, Old Moves, New Boruto
Jun 24
// Anthony Redgrave
The follow-up to the massively popular Naruto series is Boruto: Naruto the Movie. Apart from the title having a massive identity crisis, the feature film will follow on from the last chapter of the manga series that ended la...
Naruto: Ninja Storm 4 photo
Naruto: Ninja Storm 4

Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 summons the flashy ninja techniques

Gameplay no Jutsu!
Jun 17
// Salvador GRodiles
I may have dropped Naruto back in my early college years, but to this day, I still enjoy the gameplay and ridiculous animations of the series' fighting games by CyberConnect2. Speaking of which, the folks at Bandai Namc...
Boruto The Movie photo
Boruto The Movie

It's your kids, Naruto! Something's gotta be done about your kids!

What the 7th Hokage had wrought
Apr 18
// Josh Tolentino
I'll be honest, I've always wanted to say that in relation to, something, so I may as well say it now that the new teaser for Boruto -Naruto the Movie- is out. But it's not just Marty Naruto's kid that's the problem: Sa...
Naruto photo

Gothic Fashion no Jutsu! Silver rings inspired by Naruto's dark side

"You can never have enough Sharingans"- Danzo
Mar 28
// Anthony Redgrave
Even though Naruto ended last winter, it doesn't prevent us at Japanator from talking about our favourite orange clad ninja. When it comes to fashion, I'll be hard pressed to recommend anything from the Naruto series. Green l...
Naruto: The Last photo
Naruto: The Last

First In, The Last Out: Naruto The Last finally clear for Philippine release

Took 'em long enough
Mar 26
// Josh Tolentino
If you're reading this, chances are you're based in North America: The majority of Japanator's traffic comes from that area. That said, you might be curious as to how folks in other countries outside Japan get their Japanese ...

Review: Naruto: The Last

Mar 21 // Red Veron
Naruto: The LastStudio: Studio PierrotLicensed by: Eleven ArtsReleased: February 20, 2015 (North American Theatrical)Naruto: The Last offers up a chance to see a little bit of what happens in the penultimate chapter of the Naruto manga. It’s been two years since the end of the war and peace reigns throughout the ninja nations until the world notices that the moon is coming dangerously closer to the earth with moon rocks breaking off as meteorites fall to earth. Things get worse when a mysterious figure who claims to be responsible for the lunar lunacy kidnaps Hinata Hyuga’s little sister, Hanabi. Now Hinata and Naruto along with Sakura, Shikamaru, and Sai go off to save Hanabi and the world. If you’ve been paying attention to all the trailers and the last chapter of Naruto, you may know that this movie features Naruto and Hinata finally getting together as a couple.  Don’t go expecting full love story with a style similar to that of a shoujo romance. It gets the job done; it’s the catalyst that finally gets Naruto and Hinata together though we don’t get to see them as an “official” couple. It’s similar to how shounen action handles romance though instead of being a thing that breaks up the action, but here it’s part of what gets the plot going in Naruto: The Last. The movie does get a chance to show a little bit of Naruto and Hinata’s budding romance. It is very refreshing to see characters from something so focused on action like the shounen genre in a different light, I’ve always loved seeing art of characters being in a different setting. For a few minutes in the movie, Hinata gets to be a normal teen girl dealing with love problems and Naruto gets to be a clueless harem protagonist that just doesn’t get it. I have to admit I enjoyed that part and it helped my enjoyment of the movie so much more. If you’ve been keeping up with the Naruto manga, you may have seen that Naruto is super powerful towards the end of the manga and would probably crush anyone who starts up trouble. The new baddie in this movie is a crafty one, and a 114 minute movie doesn’t have the same luxury of the anime and manga that can show off that the bad guy is more capable than the protagonists in multiple chapters or episodes. This power difference scale thing can be a bit distracting when you see someone skilled in fighting like Hinata Hyuga be somewhat relegated to a damsel-in-distress role. I can forgive that since there are reasons for such a thing and that it actually gets Naruto to think of her as more than a ninja buddy. There has to be some sense of urgency and a challenge for our protagonists to get the movie going. As for how the movie looks, it looks great. Fluid and clean animation pumps up the action in the fight scenes. It’s great to see the Naruto cast in action showing off their special moves and techniques in a much better  looking quality than the anime, especially that this is “The Last” one.  It’s not just the action that looks great, there are very visually pleasing sequences in the movie. I liked the intro sequence that gives a brief look into Naruto history; it’s well done though a bit weird when you realize the choice for the background song. There’s another sequence in the movie that gets a bit surreal that is a nice treat for those that have seen all of the Naruto anime. Those ending credits are just so pretty. If you’ve seen the trailer then a lot of you may be excited that certain characters that you love will show up again. Some of you may be disappointed that not everyone is going get much screen time, if at all. We do get a chance to see a few of other characters dealing with the impending threat of the moon crashing to Earth while Naruto and company are on their rescue mission, which is a nice treat for longtime fans. So should you go see Naruto: the Last? It’s a must-see for diehard Naruto fans that need to see more of the character Naruto before he grows up into an adult in that last manga chapter. It shows off a different side of Naruto and Hinata and how they grow beyond more than just being fighters. If you like Hinata and Naruto, you’ll like this movie and you’re going to get to see a lot of them here since this movie is about them after all. I loved how this movie shows a protagonist that finally gets romantically together with another character, since you hardly see that in the shounen action genre. I have to admit that I got something in my eye as I watched the ending credits that had beautiful art of the characters with that very sweet accompanying song just got to me. This movie is a great farewell for Naruto, to his action packed adventures as a teenager and a great beginning to his path to adulthood achieving his dream to becoming the Hokage. 7.0 – Good. Films or shows that get this score are good, but not great. These could have been destined for greatness, but were held back by their flaws. While some may not enjoy them, fans of the genre will definitely love them.
Naruto: The Last photo
Going off with a blast
Naruto is a name known throughout the anime and manga world that stands alongside shounen action staples such as Dragon Ball and Bleach. Masashi Kishimoto’s orange-clad ninja has been around since 1999 and has grown ...

Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 photo
Ultimate Ninja Storm 4

Team 7 and Ten Tails make their appearance in Ultimate Ninja Storm 4

Playable Ten Tails, Believe it!
Mar 16
// Anthony Redgrave
Naruto has always done alright in when it comes to video games. There were some early embarrassing ones that somehow made it to the west but the Ultimate Ninja series has always been getting better and better. The latest Ulti...

Week Ender - Naruto Edition

Feb 28 // Red Veron
[embed]33587:4538:0[/embed] "Lost Words"Year: 2005A nice slow, sentimental rock song with Naruto and Sakura being all sad about Sasuke being away doing his thing. Well, you won't see him for  a few years so I suggest they do something else.   [embed]33587:4539:0[/embed] "Speed"Year: 2005I love the animation in this one with the crude line art. The minimal art design is still very expressive in this one. A fun watch seeing Naruto in his room playing PS1 and doing other stuff on a rainy day.   [embed]33587:4540:0[/embed] "Michi~ To you all"Year: 2007I've featured this one before and I love it because it has the Naruto cast in a highschool life setting. You get an entire story in the course of one ending and a glimpse of the cast in what they would be if they were just normal high schoolers and not ninjas in drawn out battles of escalation. I long for a spinoff manga featuring this ending. The song is great as well. Get on dat, Kishimoto! You want my money, right?   [embed]33587:4541:0[/embed] "My Answer"Year: 2009I chose one for one reason. Bikinis. Hey, at least I didn't pick the one from the pre-time skip anime ending when the girls were 12. Gross.   [embed]33587:4543:0[/embed] "Bacchikoi!!!"Year: 2009I like this one because it's funnier and lighter ending probably because it was the ending for a filler arc. Everyone loves fillers, right? Nope. Though his absurd ending featuring the Naruto cast can ease the pain of the fans who have to suffer through the inconsequential and pointless filler episodes. I like that.BONUS  Best Naruto Opening ever:  [embed]33587:4542:0[/embed]   What's your favorite Naruto ending? Share below in the comments.
Week Ender photo
The Last of the End
The Naruto manga is officially done and with the Naruto: The Last movie, the story of Naruto is officially over. It's been a long 15 years since Naruto began back in 1999 in Japan, when Bill Clinton was still in the White Hou...

Naruto Storm 4 photo
Naruto Storm 4

Is Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 the last of the series?

Clear skies at last?
Feb 04
// Josh Tolentino
I mean, sure, this new, lengthy video from Bandai Namco showing off in-development gameplay from the latest entry in the Ultimate Ninja Storm franchise has other things to gawp at, like hot particle effects and ridiculo...
Naruto: UNS4 photo
Naruto: UNS4

Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4's first trailer gets straight to the end

More particles, more ninjas, more QTE madness
Dec 22
// Josh Tolentino
The Valley of the End, that is, which, if you're unfamiliar with Naruto history, is a big ol' waterfall created by the final battle between ninja historical figures Madara Uchiha and Hashirama Senju. The location f...
Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 photo
Ultimate Ninja Storm 4

Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 takes it to the next-gen

Well, finally!
Dec 15
// Josh Tolentino
Japan isn't very well-known for the phenomenon of annualized franchises, at least not at the level of top-tier triple-A productions like Call of Duty or Assassin's Creed. There are exceptions to that rule, of course, and...
Naruto photo

Kishimoto gives us a peak behind Naruto's studio

Is it really ending?
Dec 04
// Hiroko Yamamura
Can you believe Naruto is really coming to a close? It seems like only yesterday the world was under a total Naruto invasion, with most people being unable to run into the spiky haired blonde ninja around every corner. Well,...
Naruto news photo
Naruto news

The Last: Naruto The Movie will be 'a love story'

Get your fanfiction ready
Nov 10
// Josh Tolentino
The main plot of Naruto may be over, but that won't be stopping this ninja train. No, sir. After all, there's still the upcoming film, The Last: Naruto The Movie to take into account. And if you're in the crowd that igno...

Annotated Manga: Naruto chapters 699-700

Nov 06 // Josh Tolentino
Speaking of things being what they are, it looks like those leaks were right on the money. NaruHina is canon, as is SakuSasu, ShikaTema, and a number of other pairings that seemed to come pretty much out of nowhere, like Sai and Ino, Choji and Karui, Tenten and Lee, and Kiba and...someone I can't identify. If she wasn't a named character, that would make sense, though. Kiba always seemed to be an eternal bachelor-type. They've all got their own kids, too. All with names as ridiculous as "Naruto". You've Bolt, Himawari, Shikadai, Chouchou, Inojin. The kicker, though, is the Uchiha/Haruno daughter...Salad (or "Sarada", if you prefer). The names call to mind the children of the Harry Potter series. "Albus Severus Potter", anyone? Endings are hard to do, especially ones for series running as long as Naruto has. It just doesn't happen all that often on this scale. Heck, you could even argue that it isn't happening, since there's at least one more hurrah for this setting next spring. And of course, there's the anime, which will be with us well into 2015 even without filler, and the movie, which is looking more and more like a "post-manga" story that sets things on the way to this future point. And I can't wait to see what Cyberconnect2 have planned for the next Ultimate Ninja Storm game. The story may be done, but the Naruto brand is far from over. All the same, endings are tough to do. And in my book, this one does alright. In part, it does alright because it doesn't really do all that much new. Not that it really needed to. What we (or perhaps just I) want when it comes to these kinds of shows is a snapshot of the future. We see a peaceful world, clearly one with its own problems, but nothing that the heroes we spent so many years cheering on can't handle. We see the good guys get theirs, and the bad guys are most all in the ground. It's a little pat that after all Sasuke's done, he gets off with little more than a warning from Kakashi (who's taken up the Sixth Hokage's mantle), but his - and more importantly, his best friend's - efforts have changed the world enough that that kind of redemption is possible, when it wasn't possible for Indra, Madara, Obito, or Itachi. This end didn't come without its bumps. As I've said repeatedly, it's been long overdue, the levels of escalation growing ever more absurd as the story stretched and stretched to grant its villains a karmic out. That's not necessarily "terrible writing" as some critics assert. Some work I've been reading of late (and partially highlighted here) suggests that the "story grammar" used by traditional Japanese fiction lends itself well to seeking thematically resonant endings more than pursuing set goals and "resolution" as we like to define it. I know, that sounds like a cop-out this late in the game, but in retrospect, I'd say the notion fits quite well to the pattern of the last few months, as Naruto and Sasuke's personal fight spiraled further and further up into a stratosphere of cyclic history, epic manipulations, and the repeating refrain of brothers at war.  But that doesn't really matter now, because Naruto's the Seventh Hokage. He's meeting with Darui, Kurotsuchi, Gaara, and Chojuuro, who've all taken up the fancy Kage hat in the intervening years. The Hidden Leaf is a bustling, modern city, complete with fake MacBooks and what might be a ninja smartphone. The future is here, and that's a good enough place to see the present off. 
Naruto Finale photo
It's been a long road (to ninja)
....and that's that. 

Daily Dose photo
Daily Dose

A Daily Dose of Music: Nobodyknows

Welcome back, hero!
Nov 05
// Josh Tolentino
It's time again for a Daily Dose of Music! In honor of the increasing likelihood that Naruto might in fact not be over yet, let's take a trip down memory lane with the aid of Nobodyknows "Hero's Come Back!", the theme t...
Naruto Part 3? photo
Naruto Part 3?

Naruto may return in 2015

The next generation?
Nov 05
// Josh Tolentino
Let's take a big pinch of salt with this rumor, but it looks like early scans of the next issue of Shonen Jump have leaked, and with them the possibility that we've not yet seen the last of Naruto. A big splash page supp...
Music photo

A Daily Dose of Music: KANA-BOON

It's Shippuden time!
Nov 04
// Hiroko Yamamura
There's a few things your can always count on with Naruto Shippuden. Naruto will still not be Hokage, the fight scenes will take too long, and the music will always be fantastic. With the Shonen staple entering its final pha...
Naruto photo

The Last: Naruto the Movie trailer is here!

Exciting times
Oct 31
// Hiroko Yamamura
Naruto fans rejoice! There's finally a new trailer for the highly anticipated upcoming film, The Last: Naruto the Movie. I haven't followed the story in quite some time except for the tidbits that Josh drops me once in a whi...

Annotated Manga: Naruto chapter 698

Oct 29 // Josh Tolentino
What else is there to say, really? Well, I guess it's really weird to imagine Sasuke laughing, which he does for the first time in about a decade.  I'm not entirely convinced that all it really took was yet another taste of Naruto's Ninja Way™ to turn Sasuke back to the side of the angels, but then again, Sasuke's Big Plan for World Peace™ was so patently ridiculous that I wasn't sure even Sasuke believed in it. Besides, beating your friend to death's door is the best proven method of getting them to see reason.[citation needed] So I guess we're OK. The finale's reportedly going to be two full chapters long, running a full 44 pages in November 10th's issue of Shonen Jump.  It's been a long road, folks, and I think we're almost there.
AM: Naruto 698 photo
Oof. That's gonna leave a mark. At least it's over, though! Almost.

Naruto photo

Does Naruto end up with Hinata in the last movie?

Can't he have them both... at once?
Oct 27
// Hiroko Yamamura
So, it looks like Naruto is coming to a close. I haven't followed the show or manga in quite some time, but all the hoopla around the end has got me a bit interested again. I also have just found out that it seems like Naruto...

Annotated Manga: Naruto chapters 695-697

Oct 25 // Josh Tolentino
In a way, this whole huge, multi-stage war has done all the groundwork for us. The table has been cleared of everyone not critical to this last, final conflict between Naruto and Sasuke, and we've been with our two heroes long enough to know exactly why they're fighting and what they're fighting for. Kishimoto seems aware of this fact as well, given that the most substantial "content" of these last chapters has been all this fighting. Really, just FIGHTING, between two heroes at the strongest they've ever been. In fact, the fight itself amounts to a massively scaled-up continuation of Naruto and Sasuke's last major engagement, the knock-down-drag-out brawl at the Valley of the End. Sasuke won that fight, but couldn't bring himself to end his best friend. Now that they're both older, wiser (that's debatable in Sasuke's case), and fully committed to their respective courses of action, he's determined to finish the job. But, of course, saying is easier than doing, and a giant conflict of multi-cloned Ten Tail Foxes and the most "human"-looking Susano'o yet rendered quickly bogs down to a much more personal, chakra-depleted beatdown, the two fighters reduced to simple punches and kicks. It's almost thrilling to see this classic cliche play out, with these characters, in this style, though the fact that it's a hoary old cliche is more or less inescapable. And as per the plan, Sasuke once again gets the upper hand, the cliffhanger stuck on whether or not he's ready to deliver the final blow to his one and only "friend". Of course, it's telling that he's actually using that word without reservation, as Sasuke's always been a tsundere when it comes to that sort of sentiment. Still, from the looks of things, it'll be up to Sakura, who's just woken up, to break the deadlock. She's failed to do so every time she's tried before, but hey, we're close to the end, now, so this would be the time to really give it a go once more.
Naruto photo
At this point, we're not even three chapters from THE END OF NARUTO, and yet I'm left with little to comment on. That's not to say that these last few chapters have been bad, or the ending especially shallow, but simply that as far as "endings" go, there's simply not that much "happening" in a narrative sense.

Annotated Manga: Naruto chapters 693-694

Oct 07 // Josh Tolentino
But you knew that already, so let's get to the good stuff! Too bad there's not all that much of it here in these chapters, as they serve mostly as the talky preamble to Naruto and Sasuke's big final clash. You could imagine how it goes. It's where Sasuke explains why he still intends to murder the hell out of Naruto and pretty much everyone associated with the Ninja World's current status quo (starting with the Five Kages), and why he's different from Obito, Madara, and the recently-defeated Kaguya. And...the result isn't promising. Sure, he's not trying to replace the real world with an illusionary utopia, or trying to revert the world to its proto-form to appease his malevolent ur-Goddess mother, but Sasuke's definitely trying to blow it all up in his own special way. And it starts by him attempting to claim the title of "Hokage" and bend it to some weird new definition with the express intent of lionizing the legacy of Itachi. To Sasuke, the true "Hokage" is one who takes on all the burdens of the world, as his brother did, burning them away with their internal flame (hence the "ho") and sinking into the shadows ("kage"), forever hated by the witless masses. A noble, literal scapegoat.  I can see where he'd get that idea. I read Watchmen. I watched Code Geass. There's any number of stories where one guy volunteers to be the Bad Guy so that their defeat would unite the world in a new and better place. The thing is, though...didn't that literally just happen right now? Sasuke doesn't need to be the Bad Guy, because he, Naruto, Sakura, and the rest of the ninja world combined just KILLED THE BAD GUYS. Almost all of them, in fact! The good guys have beaten everyone from the unwitting pawns (Akatsuki) to the misguided youngster (Obito) to the bitter old dude (Madara) to about as close to the actual devil as you can get in a non-Christian story (Kaguya's secret shadow kid). We don't really need another super-threat to rally us right now. Of course, one could argue that Ninja World Wars aren't sufficient to make world peace permanent. Heck, we just got out of the fourth one of those, and in the real world it took humanity two and change to get over the idea. Sasuke means to flip the table on the whole order of the ninja world and "sever the past", including the flawed systems Hashirama built that victimized his brother and the cosmic manipulations of the karmic cycle. Of course, anyone with their faculties intact can tell that's not the right answer here. All throughout the story every attempt to break the bonds people share with each other and the world at large has met with tragedy and failure. Not to mention that after everything Itachi's said about what it takes to be Hokage and why he did what he did, the only think his idiot little brother got out of the postmortem sermon is that Itachi made the mistake of not killing everyone (including Sasuke himself). But here we are. A guy too stubborn to be anything except the hero of the story against a guy with perhaps the poorest sense of context ever to grace truth, fiction, or the worst comments thread. They're best friends.
AM: Naruto photo
The heart of the matter
Well, I'm sure you've heard the news by now, but The End is near, and it's coming in six-odd chapters. It's not completely over, of course. There's still a movie to go, the anime is some months behind even if they never touch...

The End of Naruto photo
The End of Naruto

The 700 Club: Naruto manga ending on November 5th, 2014

Good night, sweet (ninja) prince
Oct 06
// Josh Tolentino
I guess Masashi Kishimoto really wasn't kidding when he claimed that his baby and brainchild Naruto would be seeing its end sometime this year. That time is in six weeks or so, as the final chapter of the decade-and-a-ha...

Annotated Manga: Naruto chapter 691-692

Sep 22 // Josh Tolentino
Despite a long, tearful, and strictly speaking, unnecessary goodbye sequence between Naruto and his recently resurrected father, the fact remains: Naruto, Kakashi, Sasuke, and Sakura really have saved the world. Barring some kind of plot twist that the very next chapter seems to head off hard, Kaguya is gone, as is Madara. The cycle of reincarnation, of Indra, Ashura, the Sage of Six Paths and his brother (and their third, shadowy sibling), is pretty much done. In a metatextual sense that would make her whole boss fight a big, fat, boondoggle, but for the sake of our blood pressure let's try not to think of that part too much. Instead, the other shoe finally drops, and the moment most longtime Naruto readers have been anticipating roughly since the time-skip* (almost ten years ago!) arrives: Yep, it's time for a final showdown between Naruto and Sasuke, opened by perhaps one of the best evil faces Kishimoto's ever drawn. And of course, it seems to be a real duel, with Sasuke employing his new Rinnegan to clear the field of pretty much everyone besides the old crew, including the Tailed Beasts (who'd just about called Naruto their new hangout). Of course, Naruto had likely seen this coming as well. You don't make a vow to die together with your best friend and not come upon a reason to consider following through on the promise, after all. And Naruto's quick to point out that his beef with Sasuke isn't another artifact of the karmic cycle, since he's spent pretty much this entire story arc asserting that ninja history belongs to the people that participate in it, rather than those who would play manipulator (The Third Sibling and the Sage of Six Paths) or those who would erase it  (Madara and Obito). So this fight is his and Sasuke's alone, though the actual evidence of it doesn't really reinforce the case that this fight between two powerful "brothers" isn't another incident of history repeating itself. But of course, the judgment of history always happens in retrospect, so it'll all depend on how this last conflict plays out before we can decide if it was something we've seen before. And I look forward to seeing that happen, finally. *To be fair, it's been about four years since Naruto and Sasuke last separated, and when the final vow was made.
AM: Naruto photo
Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?
If you were one of the many readers to think that this end to Naruto and Sasuke's struggle seemed a little bit too convenient, you were right to hold that view: This isn't the end. And really, how could it be?

Annotated Manga: Naruto chapter 690

Sep 01 // Josh Tolentino
I, uh...I think they won. A triple-threat strike from Sakura, Naruto, and Sasuke manage to land the sun and moon marks on Kaguya, sealing here away inside a giant rock the size of the moon, all over again. The tailed beasts are freed, and Team 7 is whisked to safety right before Kaguya's dimension collapses, where the Sage of Six Paths congratulates them on saving the world. And that's it, I guess. It's not that the win feels hollow. On the contrary, it's long overdue. And it ties up a loose end, in the form of Naruto going back to toss Black Zetsu, the little gremlin that basically started all this grief, into the maelstrom, preventing him from coming back for a sequel.  But it doesn't feel done yet. Not even in the way Bleach seemed to end way back when Ichigo beat the big bad...only to continue on past a time skip. In fact, things feel so incomplete at the moment that I'm not even fully convinced we're seeing the whole picture. It kind of feels like this particular scene: If you get my drift. But hey, it's just one chapter so far. We'll have to wait a few days to see how the rest of this pans out. It'd be nice if the series could top things off by the big "700", if you ask me, though.
AM: Naruto photo
Welcome (again) to the second incarnation of this week's Annotated Manga for Naruto! It seems that some technical foulup wiped all the text from the recap while the watchers were looking the other way (or asleep). Never fear, though, for a good ninja always keeps a backup, and this is it. Apologies for the mixup!

Annotated Manga: Naruto chapter 689

Aug 23 // Josh Tolentino
Well, it seems a week's break was enough to lead this latest chapter to dedicate itself to dissuading us of the notion that this fight has gone "full DBZ", as people used to say, because it plays out just like one expects a proper ninja fight to go, except on a real WMD scale. After a brief demonstration of Kakashi's new Kamui-powered Susano'o and Lightning Cutter, we're given a small blessing in the form of Kaguya resuming her previous form. I'm quite happy with that, as I don't think I could've taken yet another "giant monster" phase of this fight. We also learn something about the nature of the Gudoudama, those big black balls all the cool kids use. It seems that the Gudoudama are essentially the Ur-Chakra, a melding of all the elements and such. And a really, really, really big one, powered by siphoning the life out of all the people trapped in the Infinite Tsukuyomi, is what's needed to remake the world in Kaguya's image. Which is what she's working on now. Of course, we can't have that, so Team 7, finally all together and at roughly comparable power levels (except Sakura, again), embarks on its last gambit, a plan so pleasingly "Naruto" that it's a joy to behold. I won't spoil it here, but double-fakes, transformation feinting and nick-of-time power combos carry the day, pushing Naruto and Sasuke into arm's reach - and giving Kaguya the biggest headache of her existence.
Naruto photo
You were nearly a Kaguya sandwich!
Just a couple of weeks ago - when the last chapter of Naruto hit the presses - I mentioned how it unusual it was that Kakashi got a straight-up power upgrade, thanks to dear, departed Obito. After all, the typical high-stakes Naruto fight almost never leaves the proceedings up to raw strength, and yet here's Kakashi with the only thing better than having one Sharingan - two Sharingan!

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