|Twelve years previously, the land was
terrorized by the nine tail fox demon. To fight the
beast, shinobi were gathered and many died in the battle.
Finally, although losing his life in the process, the
"fourth" Hokage ninja managed to seal away the
demon into a child who grew up as the human Uzumaki
Naruto. Despite the law that none should talk of Naruto
being the fox demon, adults shunned the boy and their
children followed suit. And so Naruto becomes a pre-teen
who desires attention and eventually fame as a Hokage
ninja. Unfortunately, he isn't the best at the ninja
skills, but potential is certainly there. And his
ultimate technique is the best - creating the illusion of
a naked woman, causing the opponent to pass out from blood
loss through the nose.
After finally graduating the first level of ninja school, Naruto is grouped with two other students for the next stage. Haruno Sakura is a rather emotionally polar girl in love, but not with Naruto to his dismay. Her focus is one Uchiha Sasuke, a serious boy who is a talented student in the ninja arts. Their teacher is Hatake Kakashi, who seems rather laid back but is truly a harsh instructor and very skillful in a real battle. Although they form a poor group, the three students manage to be the first team to pass Kakashi's initial testing.
There are main points for and against this series. The artwork isn't grand, but it is good for shonen style. Naruto is a rather annoying character who constantly tries to show off despite endangering his and his teammates lives. However, if he is ever able to reliably tap into the powers of the demon fox, Naruto could be a very strong fighter. What makes this series worth the read are the fights. Masashi-sensei has created a world in which ninja skills are practically magical, thus fights depend on more than who is physically stronger. One never quite knows who is winning until someone is dead, and even then it is questionable. The damage level of the characters are similar to Hong Kong movies in which several chopsticks through the neck can be considered non-life threatening. This isn't a plot or even mysterious past heavy series, but perhaps something will pop-up with the whole fox demon issue.
Rating -- 7