Sunday, July 13, 2014

Anime Talk: Believe It! 「だってばよ!」

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, there was a young girl who loved to watch anime. Cartoon Network had just announced a new anime series that it would begin airing. The show was to revolve around ninjas, and naturally, this perked the girls interest. After convincing her siblings, they would all watch every episode of the original Naruto series together.

Now, at this point in time, the animation production time allowed for a time lapse, in order to allow the original manga (the comic on which the anime was based on) to move farther ahead in the storyline. However, Cartoon Network had pulled the plug on the series.  This was during a time before the young girl knew of the wonder of Hulu, and so she dropped the series altogether. Years later, she would find Naruto Shippuden, the continuation of the original Naruto series online and would sit down to watch the episodes with her brother. They would reach the Pain arc, and decide to give the show a rest, in order to allow episodes to accumulate and avoid any unnecessary filler episodes. However, time passed and the series lay forgotten. Of course, it's pretty obvious that the young girl was me. A few years after watching the Pain arc, I decided to pick up the series once again, largely because I had been hearing things. And these "things" sparked my interest. This is a summary of everything I have experienced since picking up Naruto once again.

Now, when I decided to pick Naruto back up, I decided to go back to the very beginning. That's right, I rewatched the original series (sans fillers, I skipped over those). Watching those again made me realize why I had loved Naruto so much. Kishimoto (the creator of Naruto) did a fantastic job of creating the world of the shinobi. He skillfully adds Japanese lore into the storyline, and at the same time, keeps the series very fresh. I marvel at his entire universe, with shinobi villages serving as the military strongholds of the five great nations, with the political power play between clans, between the feudal lords and the Kage of each village, and between nations as well.

Of course, there's also the classification system of ninja missions, from D, being the most basic, to A being highly skilled level missions and S missions, that indicate a highly dangerous mission. Then there's the classification of the shinobi themselves: Genin being fresh out of the academy and generally carry out D or C level missions. Genin are promoted to Chunin when they pass an intense examination made of three parts (the Chunin Exam arc is my favorite of the original Naruto series). Chunin typically carry out C, B level missions, depending on their skill set. And then there are Jonin (I'm not quite sure how one becomes a jonin yet) who carry out A and S level missions. The Kage (shadow) presides over the village as its head. With five great ninja villages, there are five Kage: the Hokage (fire shadow), Mizukage (water shadow), Kazekage (wind shadow), Raikage (lightning shadow), and the Tsuchikage (earth shadow). 

There would be too much to write if I were to go into everything that the world of Naruto encompasses. However, as I started Shippuden, and moved past the Pain arc, I began to realize that Kishimoto was adding even more to not only the storyline, but to his shinobi world. Suddenly, there is a land of Iron where Samurai rule. Suddenly, we know who Naruto's parents were (this was such an emotional part for me, like omg, I was crying, even though I already knew who Naruto's father was, watching him meet his mother - gah!). Among the political power play, the comical scenes, and the awesome battles, there's also romance blooming and I will gladly admit to shipping Naruto and Hinata. I also have this strong desire for Neji and TenTen to become a couple, haha. Also, strong female characters - yes! I know a lot of people believe Sakura to be useless, but she is mostly a medical ninja. Tsunade is amazing however, as are TenTen, Temari and Hinata. 

I do not regret having returned to Naruto. I will admit to loving the soundtracks for the series as well. I own the 1st and 2nd soundtracks released for Naruto and am waiting to receive two Naruto Shippuden soundtracks within the next week in the mail. The music is spectacular and brings the animation truly to life. Sadness and Sorrow as well as Tragic will always pull at my heartstrings. 

Overall, Naruto has great characterization and the plot line develops along with the characters. The biggest downfall of this anime however, is the fillers. The fillers can easily make one lose interest in the series as a whole, as they're largely quite bad. However, if one were to watch Naruto by only watching the episodes based on the manga episodes, one would watch an amazing story that grows stronger with each chapter/episode. I know the series will come to an end in the next few years. It saddens me, but at the same time, I am excited to know how this all ends. I will eagerly continue to watch Shippuden (I am watching the Konan x Madara fight right now over the Rinnegan) and watch this breathtaking world develop even more. 

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