Graphic Novel Review 110/365: Naruto

Please keep up with all of my old Graphic Novel Reviews here as I quest for 365 in 365 days!  Or hit up #GN365 on Twitter.

No crazy theme this week, just some books that I think you should check out!

Title: Naruto 

Author(s): Masashi Kishimoto

Publisher: Shonen Jump (1999)

Age Rating: 13+

If you work with comics in your classroom, you will eventually have students that are or have been into Manga and/or anime.  And if you are anything like me, you want to take at least some of your students’ recommendations to bridge the conversation gap in your classroom, and it’s always good student relationship building to take an interest in what they are into.

I have a good number of kids into the classic Manga/anime Naruto, so naturally, I’ve been wanting to give it a chance, and I felt this blog post as good of a reason as any.

Naruto is the tale of a trouble-making young man named Uzumaki Naruto that has been brought up not knowing that he holds the spirit of the fox creature that once devastated his home village.  In the first book, we do not get much back-story, but we do get a lot of character development, humor, and world building.  Naruto quests to become Hokage, greatest shinobi (ninja) of a village, but while Naruto is strong even as a young man, Kishimoto sets up an unforgiving world where nothing is going to be handed to Naruto.

I like this story.  The art is classic Manga: black & white; I did have to re-read a few panels in context to understand exactly what was happening and whom it was happening to, but those issues were far and few between.  It’s a well constructed book in classic Manga style.

After this first trade, there is one thing bugging me though: a girl student (Sakura) is boy-crazy and is written to be obsessed to the point of her thoughts and actions being controlled by the boy with whom she is obsessed.  I know there are tons more Naruto books out there, and I’m hoping Sakura and other women shinobi are represented in a better light, and I don’t know how much of her portrayal is culturally based, but I know that her character would hopefully change for an all-ages American market; it reads as a bit sexist.

That aside, the book is solid, and I will be reading more Naruto.  It’s also a great first Manga title if you are looking for an entry point.  Remember, the book reads from back to front, right to left, top to bottom.  It sounds weird, but you get used to it very quickly…

Happy reading!


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