Saturday, July 14, 2012

Watashi wa Anime ga daisukidesu-Naruto

       Now, first off, I am not going to claim that Naruto is bad. I know a lot of people who would, but I won't. I also will not explain the plot, because once I start it gets hard to stop. What I am going to talk about is how Naruto lost me. It used to hold a very special place in my heart, because it was the anime that got me to look it up on the web, and finally discover what anime was and where to find it. I don't know how long it would have taken for that to happen otherwise, but it was the catalyst. Back in the day I was a diehard Naruto fan. Now, I'm going to start with what is good about the anime.

     The action is very good, and while I generally prefer One Piece and a couple other anime in that department, it's still well done. The music is very good, and gets you ready for a good time. The best thing, easily, are the characters. The cast is large and there are quite a few stand outs. Rock Lee is a personal favorite, but almost all of the main cast are very well done. Naruto himself is a great protagonist. When they delve into his childhood, it really works. The Zabuza storyline is probably the peak in quality,  but the Chunin Exams/Gaara arc is my favorite. The ending fight works very well, though I've seen the same idea done better elsewhere. (Keep that in mind, I'll bring it up again in a couple of days.)

    Now for the bad. To start off, the problem with the great cast is that the writer has no clue how to focus. As time goes on, he spends less and less time with the initial cast that drew us in, and keeps throwing in new characters, only about one in ten of which are a fifth as good as the original characters. I don't want to spend more time with Sai, I want Hinata! For the anime the filler is atrocious, between Naruto and Shippuden literally a year and a half of filler. Some of it was good, but most was really bad, and because it was filler it was a year and a half where nothing of real importance could happen. Then there's the Sasuke problem. I didn't like Sasuke at first, but by the end of the Zabuza arc he had grown on me. But then the Sasuke retrieval arc reared it's ugly head, and now I can't stand the guy. And it got worse! Every time he's shown up since then he's made me more and more pissed. At one point it started to feel like Sasuke was supposed to be the protagonist, but luckily it switched perspectives again soon after. Plus, after the initial success of Zabuza and Gaara, I haven't liked the villains much. Orochimaru started off cool, but degraded fast. The Akatsuki didn't really impress me.

   The thing that gets me the worst though is the story. Over time, the plot has become more and more sidetracked and convoluted. It keeps going off-course, and not resolving what it's set up. Off everything that has happened so far, I think only the tailed beasts and Naruto's parents were things the writer knew when he started. Like I said earlier, the Gaara fight felt satisfying because it felt like it was built up to, and everything fit just right. I haven't felt that since, and that is a shame. Let me compare this with the anime I talked about yesterday, One Piece. One Piece set up huge plot points years in advance, in one case decades, and did so where it usually wasn't obvious that Oda was leading us there.

    Again, I am not saying Naruto is bad. I'm saying that it started of very good, and I loved it. Now when my friends who read the manga tell me what's happening, I sigh and shake my head. If you really enjoy it, good on you. There's something that you enjoy that I do not, that's a point in your favor. Sorry Kishimoto, I still like you as a person.

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