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9th Aug 06
Ninja school can be a trying time for an adolescent boy.
Originally a manga by Masashi Kishimoto, Naruto is now released to DVD in the UK. Naturo tells the story of a 12 year old boy of the titular name and his quest to be the finest Ninja in all the land.
A long time ago, the demon fox with nine tails appeared (Kyūbi). When Kyūbi swung one of its tails, it would cause mass destruction and carnage. To counter it, the people gathered ninjas. One ninja sealed the monster in a life or death battle and died. That ninja was known as the Fourth Hokage. With his death, he sealed the powers of Kyūbi into the body of a baby boy...
That baby grew up into a young boy, called Uzumaki Naruto. A decree made by the Third Hokage forbade the other villagers from mentioning the event to anyone, even to their own children. However, this did not stop them from treating Naruto like an outcast. Although their children did not specifically know why their parents treated Naruto the way they did, they learned through example to despise the boy. As a result, Naruto grew up as an orphan in a lonesome atmosphere without friends, family, or acknowledgment. He could not force people to befriend him, so he sought acknowledgment and attention the only way he knew – i.e. through pranks and mischief.
In order to get the approval and respect from the people around him, Naruto wants to become a ninja for the town and the best one at that, The Hokage. Little does Naruto know that he is the vessel for the demon fox and that this instils fear in his fellow villagers who believe that the demon will resurface. Also, his desire to become Hokage is not his own, as others in the Ninja training school share his ambition.
Initially, becoming a ninja is somewhat difficult for Naruto. After failing the Genin (apprentice ninja) exam, Naruto is tricked into stealing a scroll containing the Leaf Ninja’s secrets inorder to become a Genin. He ends up in severe danger but saves his teacher Iruka and as a result, he is upgraded to an official ninja where he begins his journey to become Hokage!
During his apprenticeship Naruto is teamed up with the girl that he has a massive crush on, Haruno Sakura, and the boy she likes (and his main rival) Uchiha Sasuke. They are mentored by Hatake Kakashi, who is an extremely powerful ninja.
Naruto is an impatient boy, loud and a bit obnoxious but still a good natured person. He has a great amount of self confidence and is a very stubborn, never admitting defeat. His confidence is only matched by the loudness of his voice! His phrase “Believe it!” is uttered almost every other sentence, and can be quite tiring.
Naruto Uncut excellently mixes humour with action. The opening theme tune can be a bit annoying but it sounds like a Japanese Billy Idol doing karaoke so always gets a smile from me.
Similarities have been made been Naruto and a certain lightening bolt-scarred boy wizard, and yes they are there, but don’t let that detract from the amusement that Naruto brings. They are different stories and Ninjitsu is way cooler!
Naruto starts off with a lot of slapstick but quickly becomes more intense as these newly minted ninja must come to terms with the realities of the outside world. This is one anime where they aren't afraid to show blood or death. The fight scenes range from typical punch/kicks to special bloodline techniques specific to clans.
The world of Naruto is richly complex. It is a mixture of old and modern society with power lines and TVs within villages but where ninja techniques are substituted for mass weaponry and medicine.
There were things that you have to get used to, the main one being the use of alter ego drawings whenever a characters inner thoughts need to be known to the viewer. This device is used extensively. These opening episodes are also used to explain certain terms like chakra and how it can be used (by hand movements) and developed (through hard work) to give a Ninja more powers (jutsu).
I’m really looking forward to seeing the next volume of Naruto as the 13th episode finishes on a cliff hanger!
One word of warning: Naruto has been available for download for a few years now, so don’t go to websites like narutochaos.com or narutocentral.com unless you want to get spoilers.