Review by: Edward Zacharias
Publisher: VIZ Media (Shonen Jump)
Author: Masashi Kishimoto
Genre: Action (Graphic Novel)
MSRP: $7.95 US
Rating: T (Teen)
Release Date: Available Now
Sakura takes center stage … and we love every minute of it.
Those who followed Naruto from the very beginning have not only watched the orange ninja grow up but we also watched Sakura Haruno develop from unsure student that thought of herself as a letdown to her teammates to an older and more assertive girl who is driven to do whatever it takes to help. Personally, Sakura has always been a favorite character of mine for many reasons that go beyond her humorous “Inner Sakura” and in Naruto, Volume 30, I just have to say that I love this girl even more.
In Volume 29, what is left of Team Kakashi and the members of Team Guy reach the spot Pakkun lead them to after catching Gaara’s scent. The cave might be right in front of them but it is sealed by a giant boulder as well as a five-seal barrier that you just can’t walk up to and peel away. Luckily, Neji is with them and his Byakugan is able to spot all five seals.
You would think that knowing the locations of the seals would make entry easy now but nothing is further from the truth. This is, after all, the Akatsuki who managed to defeat Gaara and whisk him away to their lair where they’re attempting to pluck out the very thing that dwelled within the newly appointed Kazekage of the Sand Village. Their motives are clear and I won’t be spoiling anything by saying that their secondary target has always been Naruto. In a smart move from the Akatsuki, they managed to separate Team Guy from Team Kakashi to better target Naruto.
Of course, Kakashi is keeping a close eye on Naruto who is more than determined to rescue Gaara who doesn’t seem to be waking up. Racing after Deidara, Naruto and Kakashi attempt to reclaim Gaara leaving Granny Chiyo and Sakura to face off against Sasori. At this point, Naruto and Kakashi move away from the spotlight because the real battle puts Sakura front and center.
Granny Chiyo has made many small references to her connection to Sasori and it isn’t fully revealed until they are locked into battle. Sakura comes to realization that both are not only fast but they are also masters of puppetry that would put Kankuro to shame. Granny isn’t a slouch in the puppet department herself and pulls the strings of two puppets she meant to startle Sasori with but fails. It’s clear that Sasori is heartless and no longer the child Granny Chiyo remembers clearly. Plus, there’s also something about him that Sakura herself can’t put her finger on … well, not yet anyway.
Yes, the puppet battle between Granny and Sasori is intense but it pales compared to Sakura’s involvement in the fight. Since her re-introduction, we’ve come to know that Sakura has developed Lady Tsunade’s medical ninja expertise but she also adopted Tsunade’s monstrous punch. In this volume, Sakura unleashes her new skills with confidence. This is a far cry from the insecure younger Sakura that was afraid of failing her teammates. There’s even a moment – after Granny Chiyo loses her last puppet – where Sakura offers herself to take the place of her puppets.
Meanwhile, in the Sand Village, Gaara’s absence is making the Sand council nervous and the only one who has faith that Gaara will come out of this problem alive is Kankuro who was left behind after Sakura was able to successfully treat his injuries and the remove the poison that was killing him. Kankuro feels a lot like Temari who was left behind to guard the village since it’s vulnerable to attack.
By the end of the volume, it’s Sakura who puts up a noble fight against a puppet master this is beyond saving. Sure, Naruto gets his moment to shine and there’s a scene that shows he might have matured a little but he still has a lot to learn but Volume 30 clearly belongs to Sakura. If you thought the last volume was a great cliffhanger, well, this one makes Volume 29’s ending pale by comparison. Man, we can’t hardly wait.
MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Team Guy has their hands full and Naruto and Kakashi give chase but the real treat comes from the lengthy battle between Sasori, Granny Chiyo and Sakura. Naruto was right, whatever you do it’s best not to make Sakura angry.
Kishimoto’s art has always been expressive and he says more with a single glance than he does with a few words. The cover isn’t my favorite but what is inside is what really counts.
There have been volumes that have kept us on the edge of our seats and there are volumes that had us saying something along the lines of “Oh snap!” This one had me doing both. Naruto, Volume 30, is yet another riveting volume that puts Sakura front and center and makes us love her even more.