Friday, April 26, 2013

Reader's Diary #991- Masashi Kishimoto (translated by Katy Bridges): Naruto, Volume 1

When I added Masashi Kishimoto's Naruto to my latest TBR graphic novel list back in March, it was one of the few titles that I chose purely due to its commercial success. Most of the others were picked for critical acclaim, some fortunate enough to have achieved both critical and commercial success. I wasn't holding my breath that Naruto, the story of an adolescent, orphaned, ninja-in-training, was going to be a great piece of literature.

And it wasn't. But then, I still enjoyed it more than I'd expected. Looking at the cover I expected I some sort of Pokemon or Dragon Ball-Z knockoff, neither of which could I ever understand the appeal. Looking at the sheer numbers of books in the series (over 60 since 97), I couldn't honestly expect that an author who pumped out books this fast could be concerned with taking the time to do an admirable job.

Still, I was entertained. There were funny moments. The art work wasn't stellar, but then not the worst I've seen either. Stylistically, it was typical manga with its sharp, thin lines and exaggerated features. But backdrops were often more detailed than expected. There were surprisingly interesting choices with the angles of certain scenes. Not being big on manga, I still don't get some things: why everyone seems so quick to temper, why there are so many "white" looking people, but I guess that's all just a part of the style.

I don't know if I could commit to 60+ books— I still haven't finished either the Scott Pilgrim or Akira series despite enjoying them more than Naruto and despite having far less books— but I can at least understand why Naruto has his fans. The first volume had enough action to work on its own and the characters are built up just to the point of compelling so as to keep a reader curious enough to maybe, perhaps, go for book 2.

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