Well I suppose this will be the last I write about Naruto Gaiden (but not Naruto) for the foreseeable future which is a real shame as I really did enjoy writing these mostly because the story was so perfect for it, also in case you missed my last write up here is Chapter 10/Final. However everything comes to an end and I thought the best way would be to wrap some things up with this review/impressions although since my view on the series are already very well documented I expect that it’ll be more of a wrap up then a review really. Anyways enough rambling lets get to the heart of the whole thing; for one last time lets go to the world of Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto Gaiden.
The Characters: Overall Naruto Gaiden was very good at using the old characters represented primarily by Team Seven while intertwining the new generation of ninja’s. Without any doubt confounding some readers early on the standout star of the series was Sarada Uchiha, going in nobody actually knew who would be the star but most probably predicted Naruto’s son Boruto would fill that role. However what we got instead was a Naruto clone in Sasuke’s kid... In many ways the similarity made the thematic connection between the two stories evident especially as Naruto became a bigger part of the series himself until he effectively became the co-protagonist of the whole affair.
Beyond that the supporting cast was ably used as well with of course Sasuke and Sakura making lasting impressions on the story if for no other reason then they looked really cool at certain moments. Beyond them too the manga was very skilled at weaving in cameo’s of fan favorites. For myself the best use of this was the inexplicably attractive Orochimaru, the bumbling buffoonery of Suigetsu, and of course the completely unexpected but totally believable return of Kabuto. Oh ya... and Chōchō was there too...
The Villain: This was without any doubt the weakest part of the manga. The Father and the Shin’s never struck me as a truly challenging opponent, just due to the fact the two main characters from the previous manga had become effective demi-gods. Shin despite having the power of the Mangekyō Sharingan at his disposal was little more then a perfunctory element to the manga trully little more then a box tic and a head nod a shonen manga ALWAYS needs a villain.
Really it’s my belief The Father and the Shin’s were a victim to what made the manga so great and fun. That the manga respects the canon of the previous series where after defeating the progenitor of all Ninja arts and being infused with the power of very founder of their way of life it would be amazingly difficult for anyone to be a rival to Naruto and Sasuke even slightly. Beyond that the focus of the manga was never on fighting it was always on the inner struggle Sarada had with herself and her less then clear origins in her eyes. Beyond that the entire raison d’être for the Shin’s existence was the further reinforcing of the basic theme of the series: Love vs. Blood. With Shin’s eugenic focused crusade representing blood while everyone championing love being more important.
In the end while the Shin’s weren’t really great, they never really were supposed to be. As I said their existence seems to be little more then the base requirement of the shonen manga because the heroes ALWAYS need somebody to hit in the end. Really though the manga in my personal opinion was better for its focus on elements outside action.
The Story: I’ll get the gushing out of the way, I feel Naruto Gaiden is one of the best pieces of writing in the entire Naruto canon. Not really since the Pain Arc has Naruto hit such high notes in terms of pacing, characterization, and understanding. To do it all within ten chapters really shows how much Kishimoto has grown as an author and mangaka in the decade or so he’s been writing this manga.
It’s greatest strength is it’s length. After finishing the manga and reading it again what struck me is how well it flowed, rather then reading like a manga it read like a novella. This leads me to believe Kishimoto had the entire story planned out from the start and deviated for it very little. Even the chapters that I felt were a little dry or short while doing the initial reading fit perfectly when taken as a whole. This is because unlike the previous manga that needed to draw things out Gaiden was totally free to tell its own story and without any doubt it succeeded.
Overall: While I have more to say I’m sure we can draw it out as always in the comments. However I think it’s pretty clear I like Naruto Gaiden a lot and will certainly miss it from week to week. However sad it makes me to say this I can’t actually recommend it to people without total knowledge of the previous manga. In short for the very reasons I love it other’s may loath it, unless you actually care about the characters the story will come across as flat and boring. In short Naruto Gaiden: Nanadaime Hokage to Akairo no Hanatsuzuki (its full Japanese name I abridged it abit...) is a love letter to fans of the series. It’s also sadly unmistakably an set up story progressing into the next generation of Naruto media that will presumably start with Boruto: Naruto the Movie. Well it sucks but Sarada’s adventures may be over for now and we’re entering the age of Boruto but it was fun. Again as always thanks for reading and hope you stick around TAY/AniTAY, in the near future I’ll be publishing some more Naruto content. Thanks for reading.