Naruto … older, not very wiser and with new tricks up his sleeve.
Review by: Edward Zacharias
Publisher: Viz Media (Shonen Jump)
Author: Masashi Kishimoto
Genre: Action (Graphic Novel)
MSRP: $7.99 US
Release Date: Available Now
Two years have passed since Naruto Uzumaki left the Hidden Leaf village to train with the “Pervy Sage” and become stronger. His reasons for leaving was the stuff epics are made of and he made a promise to a friend he was determined to keep. Having lost a battle with a once comrade that went Anakin Skywalker on him, Naruto left to train hard enough to rescue Sasuke Uchiha from himself.
Volume 28 opens with Naruto’s return to the village that had once shunned him and now respects the youth for having fought to save it during the village’s most critical moment. Two years have passed and Naruto is indeed taller but, hmm, not much wiser in name ways. For one thing, he’s still mischievous enough to have kept up with his Sexy Jutsu, which he was about to demonstrate for a slightly older Konohamaru. Yes, he was also surprised to see an older Sakura (who has spent the years training under the Lady Hokage).
Oh, and there’s no Sasuke Uchiha in sight. Good, I say, I don’t miss him in the very least. If this will bring the hate mail, so be it, but the truth is that the whole Sasuke drama was getting old and this volume is a new beginning with new possibilities. After a quick meeting between Sakura and Naruto, Jiraiya “hands” Naruto over to Kakashi-sensei who immediately takes them out to the training ground for a repeat training exercise similar to the one they held back in the beginning of the first half of the series … sans Sasuke. Of course, things don’t end the way they did back when they were mere students and you’ll be surprised to see how things turn out.
One of the great things about Volume 28 is also the fact that Kishimoto doesn’t re-introduce familiar faces all at once. Naruto does run into Shikamaru and Temari (from the Sand Village) who is in town to help proctor the Chunin Exams as a Sand representative. The story just isn’t about Naruto’s return, however, because we also get a peek at the Sand Village and the newly reformed Gaara that has become the village’s Kazekage. Gaara even mentions how his encounter with Naruto (back when Naruto defeated him in a massive battle) had changed him completely and is determined to take care of his village and earn its respect the right way.
Unfortunately for Gaara, a pair of new villains has entered the village with intentions of crushing it and taking its Kazekage. These Akatsuki put up a fight against the powerful Gaara but the battle doesn’t turn out in Gaara’s favor. In the Hidden Leaf village, Temari senses something is wrong and it isn’t until word reaches the Fifth Hokage that Gaara is in trouble. So she sends out Team Kakashi (along with Temari) to find out what happened to Gaara and who kidnapped him.
To Sakura and Temari’s surprise, Naruto is very vocal about saving Gaara. It’s clear that he not only sympathizes with him but also might be the only one who truly understands his once foe and the pain of being alone. We also get a peek at Sakura’s healer training and – in the end of the volume – we get to see Team Guy all grown up and ready to give Team Kakashi a helping hand.
Naruto, Volume 28 is a new beginning and as so it’s also the perfect opportunity to jump into the Naruto bandwagon. It gives a brief glimpse of the past but it doesn’t dwell in it. There’s a brief mention of Sasuke but these kids have finally moved on and are concentrating on other important matters. Even the adults don’t treat them with kids gloves. As far as the story is concerned, it’s a good one that seems to take things to new directions and there are “older” characters we’re just dying to see again (like Hinata and Ino just to name a few). In short, it’s a whole new ballgame and we can’t wait to see the next inning.
MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN
The fact that this is the perfect starting point for new readers makes this volume of Naruto the major reason newbies should buy this one right away. Secondly, even those of us who loyally stuck with the series will find that this volume doesn’t talk down to fans. Plus, there’s no Sasuke.
The two-year leap allowed Kishimoto give his familiar cast of young characters a new look without completely transforming them into people we won’t recognize. His attention to detail is also the reason that his backgrounds just come to life.
Volume 28 is certainly the real second chapter to the Naruto series since it not only moves the lives of the characters forward but also introduces new possibilities that don’t involve Orochimaru or Sasuke. This fact alone is what makes this a volume that breaths fresh air into this much-loved series.