Naruto Tribute: The End of an Era
All good things must come to an end
In 1995, the tale of a unique hero drew to a close and for many young people, an era of their lives came to an end.
The grand daddy of Shonen Dragonball , created by Akira Toriyama, published its last manga chapter and only a year later, aired its last animated episode.. The saga was over
This for some, especially in the west, was their first taste of Shonen anime as it was widely received across the world
It followed the tales of Goku, an alien with incredible powers who finds his way to earth after his home world is destroyed and has an immovable drive to protect all of its inhabitants, sound familiar?
The story sent the world crazy and was an updated version of journey to the west, Moses/Jesus/Hercules/Thor/Neo Monomyth/Luke skywalker tpye tale. It arguably had the same impact on the east as Superman did on the west.
Infact to this day, the characters are still heavily compared to one another, with the resounding question being who’d win in a confrontation between them. The fandom is still heavily split 50/50 down the middle which is a testament to both characters and their legacies.
Out of the fire comes something new
So with Dragonball coming to an end, there was a void in this genre that many manga writers tried to fill but to no avail, that was arguably until September 1999 when Mashi Kishomoto published the first ever issue of Naruto.
While on a lower level than Dragonball power scale wise (focussing on protecting villages rather than the universe), it followed a tale of ninjas, which was a brilliant idea considering the success of teenage mutant ninja turtles in the 1980s.
It also focused on having the main characters of a specific age, i.e. their early teens, concentrating on showing the coming of age story that would fit in perfectly with the exact demographic it was marketing itself to. Kishimoto was also able to age these characters at a relatively similar age to his readers, which was another bonus allowing viewers to grow up with their heroes.
The use of ninjas made it possible to concentrate on a large range of varying powers sets and fighting skills and Kishimoto decided to build a far more concrete world than Toriyama’s, in the same line as J.K Rowling did with Harry Potter, A world where viewers could see the edges, and complete limitations of its geography politics and social structure.
A world rich with hundreds of well developed characters from different clans across many age groups and generations, A world with a history so vast and deep, where one could see the repercussions of the actions and decisions of the past and how it affected the now and ever moving future.
A world where all the characters were given their time to shine and develop accordingly, with realistic strengths and weaknesses which made combat assessments enthralling when fans discussed hypothetical tussles amongst their favourites
A world which, specifically didn’t focus too much on the exploits of the main character and making him the story’s soul path for heroism but in a world where you could see the validity in paths of even the greatest of villains and side with their beliefs but not necessarily their methods.
In the same way, we had heroes with good intentions who acted morally bankrupt at times but their actions were considered their only choice with the resources available at the time. We were also given truly neutral characters whose deeds and overall motives will still be debated long into the future.
A world where essentially everyone wanted the same thing, peace, but their views on how to achieve it varied, mostly depending on their social status, natural gifts,attitudes and tragedies of the past.
In short, it breathed a sense of grounded realism to the Shonen world while keeping all the things we love, like the hero’s journey and the somewhat over the top fights, still in tact.
It was the next stage in genre’s evolution and would become a standard that all manga developed after would be judged against.
Most of all, through these characters, it once again provided the fans with an opportunity to completely engulf themselves in the realm of fantasy.
The Overall Gist of Naruto
SO for those of you who aren’t aware, I will give you Naruto in a nutshell.
For those of you whom are planning on catching it at some point, here is the link to chapter one , Everything from here on out is going to be Spoiler-licious so I suggest you do a runner, you’ve been warned
***Spoilers-No-Jutsu from here on out***
It tells the tale of a young ninja prodigy named Naruto who had this evil demon sealed inside him that brought about the destruction of his village on the day of his birth.
In order to contain the beast and save the village, his father and mother, some of the most powerful ninjas of their generation, sacrificed their lives sealing away the monster within their new born child, intrusting the kid would be strong enough to contain the demon, if it ever wished to return.
The village decides to shun the orphaned child, partly scared of the beast inside, partly worried, he may wish to seek revenge on finding out it caused his parents death, subsequently allow it escape. They decide not to tell him about his true heritage, making him an outcast to all.
Now armed with the stigma of containing this 9 tailed fox inside him and alienated by most of his village, Naruto strives to live up to the honourary feats of his father’s title , The Hokage, and solve the mystery of why the beast attacked in the first place, by becoming the best ninja he knows how to be, simply because
That’s his Ninja way!
Right off the bat, it had all the trimmings of a successful story franchise and boy were they right. Pretty much through its entire run, it was the second most popular manga in japan, and third of all tme, spanning an well received anime, films, spin offs and a merchandising product line as long as Mr Fantastic’s wanking arm.
All good things must come to an end again
Fastforward almost 15 years and 699 chapters later and the story has reached its climax, influencing another generation of young adolescents around the world, in the construction of their moral epithets.
It ‘s a shame to see it go but we’ll be forever be thankful for the tales and world Kishimoto built for our pleasure