Naruto (The Original Series)

Naruto has been one of the more polarizing animes out there. Not only is it brought to us by the highly maligned Shonen Jump, but Naruto is also one of the biggest offenders of the filler syndrome. Yet at the same time there is a charm to it that is tough for me to deny.

I had no interest in Naruto. It was aways just one of those lame animes that Cartoon Network insisted on showing before Adult Swim. And then (and then!) they did a weekend marathon of every Naruto episode that had been released in the States up to that point. It was also the first saturday I had off work in months and all I had wanted to do was watch TV. Somehow on Friday night I got caught on Cartoon Network with the beginning of Naruto… and never looked back.

I have since seen the entire 220 episode series as a fansub (thank you dattebayo.com), and absolutely love it. Yeah, its flawed. But I love its apporach to characters, good and evil. I am one of those weird people who loves characters much more than plot. In books I am drawn to those where the characters are complex and feel real. Of course, in a show like Naruto they don’t feel real in the traditional sense… but they work within their genre. The real strength of Naruto is the way it takes characters and portrays them in a specific way… then it goes into the character’s back history to show why they are the way they are. They do this for the protagonists and the antagonists, allowing for a richly textured tapestry.

Unfortunately, this falls into its own cycle of predictability. Too many of the characters Naruto meets have the inital “I hate you!” reaction, until Naruto tearfully proclaims “I grew up just like you…” and goes on to say what changed him. They really do become Oprah moments. Another big flaw in the series is all of the dispensable filler episodes. Now, I enjoy the filler episodes more than most (refer back to my declaration of enjoying characters more than plot)… but they do tend to drag until the final story arc of the series. Yet I still love it.

Naruto continues after the original series in an series called Shippuuden, which is still going on. But that (and the various movies) are a different post for a different day. To wrap up this post I just want to say that the criticisms against Naruto are usually justified. But there is something about the show that transcends those flaws, ready for those who wish to enjoy.

Title: Naruto
US Distributor: Viz
Number of Episodes: 220
Availability: Viz is releasing the boxsets (with ~13 episodes apiece) at a fairly steady pace. As Cartoon Network is close to airing the final episode (at least, relatively speaking for a series that is 200+ episodes long) it shouldn’t be too long before everything becomes available.
Links: ANN Encyclopedia
Rating: 70 (Canon material- 90, Filler brings it down)

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One Response to “Naruto (The Original Series)”

  1. vineetgupta Says:

    Personally I feel Naruto is a good piece of work but the fillers are so boring that I found them nearly impossible to watch. Skipping episodes 126-220 straightaway, Naruto+Naruto shippuuden = Solid Gold.

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