MangaLife Spotlight on: Naruto v34-v40!
Written by Park Cooper

Okay so here’s what happened: I got sent a review copy of Naruto volume 30. Which I reviewed. Then I was sent a review copy of Naruto volume 36. This was way, way ahead of where I was, even though I’m reading along in Shonen Jump monthly. Then I got sent a review copy of Naruto volume 40. So I had a problem. What to do? I asked the guy who sends me Viz comp copies if he could send me the ones in-between, and nothing happened. So, I bought the volumes from just-after-Shonen-Jump-wasn’t-catching-me-up-yet and filled in from 30 to 40.

THEN most of them showed up from the review copy guy.

Oh well. It’s never a mistake to buy Naruto.

And so, moving on: Me talking about Naruto 34 through 40 in ways as spoiler-free as I can manage! But there will be SOME spoilers so be aware of that!






--Naruto v34: The Reunion

This is entitled “The Reunion” because, for the first time since that battle at the waterfall, Naruto finally runs into Sasuke again. Naruto and company find out whether or not they can trust their new ally Sai (the ninja with the art to draw things, such as animals, and then bring them to life to attack and stuff... him). However, Sasuke, as will probably not surprise you, does not feel like coming back to the Hidden Leaf Village with Naruto and company.

Results: I enjoyed this volume, although it would have irritated me if I’d had to read it more slowly out of Shonen Jump, because it’s just a little slow-moving in certain ways. Also, Naruto, get a clue! Sasuke is only interested in killing his big brother, he is NOT interested in coming back with your guys until that happens! Geez.

On the other hand, we learn that Sasuke has developed the ability to enter into magical mental areas such as that caged area where Naruto sometimes meets with the Nine-Tailed Fox... for example, when the Fox decides to talk to Naruto during this meeting, Sasuke shows up there, too, much to Naruto’s surprise, and even a little to the surprise of the Fox. The Fox makes mention of how Sasuke has developed to the point where he reminds the Fox of ANOTHER member of the Uchiha clan... and Sasuke is super-unsurprised that the Fox has encountered the Uchiha clan and the Sharingan Eyes before now. What the heck?

Finally, the Fox warns Sasuke that he’d better not kill Naruto... that if Sasuke does, he’ll regret it. This strange scene is really the highlight of the volume.



--Naruto v35: The New Two

What this title refers to is two new members of the Akatsuki, Big Brother Uchiha’s gang who’re trying to control the power of all nine legendary Tailed Beasts. They capture the woman who’s the host to the Four-Tailed Cat, even though she tries hard to do ‘em in.

The more important part of this volume, though, is that Kakashi finally explains what’s up with all these Earth-Style, Fire-Style, Water-style jutsus and so forth. Sort of like in Hunter X Hunter, everyone has a particular style they’re best with... and each one is better or worse than others. It runs: Fire beats Wind, Wind beats Lightning, Lightning beats Earth, Earth beats Water, Water beats Fire. And, we find out which one Naruto is best at!

Kakashi also has a brilliant idea on how to train Naruto... and only Naruto... if he makes a bunch of shadow clones, and they all train, and then they all pop back to him... it’s like multiplying 10 minutes of training times the number of clones, since he experiences everything they did! This allows Naruto to start working on an incredibly powerful new destructive jutsu based on his element-type affinity!

Results: Finally, someone explained the elemental-types of jutsus to me. I’m so happy.



--Naruto v36: Cell Number 10

Cell Number 10 is that of Shikamaru and Choji and Inu and their teacher, and in this volume they go up against the two Akatsuki mentioned last volume—One of them is especially hard to kill! In fact, if he can draw a pattern on the ground and stand on it, any damage done to HIM happens to YOU instead! Also, whether he’s standing there or not, he seems unkillable—when his head gets sliced off, he just has a teammate sew it back on!

SOMEONE DIES IN THIS VOLUME! It’s just about the right level of tragedy, but gosh, someone who you didn’t think would, one of the good guys, dies for real, permanently. That hasn’t happened since the old Third Hokage passed away! Dang!

Results: Although not much else happens this volume, it’s still pretty exciting, and emotionally packed.



--Naruto v37: Shikamaru’s Battle

Shikamaru leads his team, along with Kakashi, to go deal with the two Akatsuki from the last volume. Shikamaru’s brilliant strategic brain deals with the guy who is seemingly immortal, but the guy’s partner turns out to be a pretty tough customer, too. But just when we’re starting to wonder how we can handle this guy—Naruto shows up to demonstrate the fruits of all his new intensive training!

Results: Not the best Naruto volume ever, but pretty good—Shikamaru was in pretty decent form in the last volume, but he’s really on fire this time.



--Naruto v38: Practice Makes Perfect

First of all, it’s up to Naruto to finish off the bad guy from the last volume. He’s really reminding Kakashi of the mysterious 4th Hokage these days, and that’s given Naruto a new goal—the 4th Hokage came up with the Rasengan, but he was never able to perfect it into an elemental-style jutsu. So now, Naruto doesn’t just want to be Hokage someday—he wants to be able to surpass the 4th Hokage!

But wait, there’s much more in this volume: Right when Orochimaru can’t wait much longer and it’s time for him to switch bodies and find a new host body for himself... that’s pretty much exactly the time when Sasuke decides that Orochimaru has nothing more to teach him. TIME FOR ONE OF THEM TO GO! This change in the nature of things is extremely sudden... there’s no long foreshadowing of hints that this day is coming... one day, THAT’S IT SWEET BABY.

But wait, things get worse—the 5th Hokage informs everyone that Naruto’s cool new jutsu not only attacks every cell of its victim’s body... it’s also a little dangerous for Naruto himself! And he’s already practiced it, and used it once... she demands that he NEVER use it again! But you know how Naruto is... he’ll do what he has to do.

But wait, things get worse—Whether Sasuke was victorious, or whether Orochimaru is maybe deep inside his brain somewhere, everything’s changed now—there’s certainly only one of them in body, and that body has decided to go take on Itachi Uchiha of the Akatsuki. To this end, he starts putting together an all-star team of guys to help him—he frees one of Orochimaru’s imprisoned experimental subjects, who seems to be a younger, billion-times-badder-ass version of Zabuza (remember him? The guy Haku worked for, so long ago? Well he’s taken up that same big sword that Zabuza used to use, too [from Zabuza’s grave], and he knows what to do with it!), and then they pick up a chick who has the hots for Sasuke—her exact jutsu powers aren’t quite clear yet. Then they head off to find the 4th and final member of the new team...

Results: The most amazing part of this one is the fight between Sasuke and Orochimaru... you can’t say that nothing happens in this volume!



--Naruto v39: On The Move

The final member of Sasuke’s all-star team to take down Itachi Uchiha is a guy so weird, his body is where Orochimaru got the stuff to give people the Curse Mark that boosts powers... He’s a friend of Kimimaro (the boney guy that it took both Rock Lee and Gaara to finally finish off... remember that guy?), who told him that Sasuke Uchiha was a guy worth trusting, since he’s pretty much Kimimaro’s successor. Jugo, the 4th member, has a little problem—an incredible bloodlust that makes him want to kill people. Since he’s really extremely qualified to kill people, this is quite a problem. Sasuke promises that he’ll fill the role of Kimimaro—the only other guy capable of stopping Jugo. Jugo agrees to join the all-star team, which Sasuke names Hebi, which means The Snake.

Meanwhile, since Naruto is completely incapable of giving up on his dream of getting Sasuke to someday come back to the village, we decide that the best way to find Sasuke again is to find Itachi! So... it’s a hard time to be Itachi... especially since the 5th Hokage decides that the best way to help find him is with a team that Naruto’s worked with before!

You THINK it’ll surely be Rock Lee’s team, or maybe Shikamaru’s team, but no, she sends Team Naruto out with Hinata, Kiba (and his dog Akamaru of course), and that Bug specialist guy (I never really memorized his name...)!

Kakashi breaks out his pack of ninja dogs, and it’s on!

Soon, Sasuke is in trouble as that Akatsuki member who makes explosive animals out of clay finds him and decides to take him on!

Meanwhile, since it’s Take-Down-The-Akatsuki Day, Kabuto, the perpetually-up-to-no-good-ninja-doctor, gives Team Naruto a notebook with everything he and Orochimaru have ever been able to find out about the various members of the Akatsuki... and we learn of the messed-up thing that Kabuto’s done to himself in the name of his new hero—Naruto!

Man, will Naruto NEVER stop inspiring people?

Results: Not quite as awesome as the last volume, but that’s still saying quite a bit. One isn’t really drawn in by Sasuke’s new fight, though, so you can’t wait for it to be over, that’s the weakest part.

Mostly, this one is just setting up future awesomeness...



--Naruto v40: The Ultimate Art

The title refers to that clay-creature jutsu guy that Sasuke was fighting last volume, so there’s no need to go on about that... it keeps going on for over 60 more pages.

Finally, when it’s over, creator Masashi Kishimoto cuts loose with all KINDS of interesting (and spoilery) information and hints... like about Naruto’s parents. And about the secret mastermind manipulating the Akatsuki... who is a very bad-news person that a very unexpected source has mentioned in a previous volume...

Meanwhile, the Toad Sage Jiraiya investigates a certain other heretofore unknown Akatsuki member... once upon a time, there was a guy so powerful he looked down his nose at the legendary three great shinobi of the Hidden Leaf Village... Jiraiya learns that the Akatsuki member he’s investigating killed that guy... and his family, and his friends, and everyone he knew or was remotely connected to...

Results: The fight between Sasuke and Deidara the clay master went on for much too long, but the rest of the issue is pretty awesome... things really are moving along.



So there you have it. I didn’t bother to grade them as usual, because each of them is some class of A, be it plus or minus or right in the middle... especially for Naruto’s fans, of which I am one. I’m very happy that, albeit in sudden spurts, the plot is truly moving forward. Issue 41 is out now, and 42 and 43 will be out in a matter of days, not weeks and weeks. Please look forward to next time... I know I will... now to hope that Santa sends me Naruto volumes 40 through 42 in the mail soon... I’ll try to be more patient this time!






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24 March 2009
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18 March 2009
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