Naruto, Vol. 1 (Collector’s Edition) – Manga Review

naruto-1-ce-cover

Review by: Edward Zacharias

Publisher: VIZ Media (SJ Collector‘s Edition)
Author: Masashi Kishimoto
Genre: Graphic Novel (Hardcover)
MSRP: $19.99 US
Rating: T (Teen)
Release Date: Now Available

Wallet Deflating Jutsu!: One Hardcover Edition You Must Not Pass Up

If anything, VIZ Media’s current Collector’s Editions are killing my wallet but once you get your hands on one you’ll see why this is the edition that should be right there on your book shelf. Naruto is one of those series that not only deserves the Collector’s Edition treatment but practically demands one. If you’re anything like me, your First Edition copy is already well worn out. On top of the benefits of a hardcover with a really colorful dust jacket, the Collector’s Edition of Naruto’s first volume pays tribute to a long-running series that truly does deserve such a loyal fan following.

The first volume introduces a boy named Naruto Uzumaki who is seen in the Hidden Leaf Village as a social outcast thanks, mostly, to the fact that a dangerous demon spirit known as the Nine-Tailed Fox was imprisoned within Naruto when he was an infant. As a result, the people of the village looked down on the boy, never wanting to be close to him for fear of the spirit that nearly destroyed the very village. So what can you expect from Naruto but mischief and bad behavior.

In the first chapter, we find Naruto defacing the Mount Rushmore-like faces of the village’s past and present Hokage (leaders of the village). This is an act that not only irks the Third Hokage but worries just about the only person in the village that actually does care about Naruto … his teacher Iruka-sensei. On top of that, Naruto isn’t even able to make an impact in school as he fails to produce a proper duplicate of himself. While the rest of Naruto’s classmates move on to the next stage in Shinobi training – the Ninja Academy – Naruto is left behind.

When an offer is made by another teacher to gain admittance into the Academy, Naruto jumps at the chance by following orders. Asked to steal a scroll from the Hokage, Naruto manages to complete the task and learn its secrets … the multiple doppelganger technique (that fans now know as Shadow Clone Jutsu). Yet Mizuki-sensei had his own plans for the scroll when Iruka-sensei comes into the scene to put an end to his old friend’s plan for the sacred scroll. Mizuki not only reveals to Naruto what is locked within him and the damage the demon caused Iruka.

How can Iruka defend Naruto when the hidden demon in the boy is the cause of his pain? Iruka’s reply suddenly makes Naruto realize that he really isn’t alone or completely hated by everyone. In the end, Naruto comes to his sensei’s aid by using the multiple doppelganger technique effectively. This part of the chapter says a lot about the influence a good teacher/mentor can have even on a troublemaker like Naruto. It also plays a role in changing his life.

Having been given a passing grade after the night he saves Iruka, Naruto is given a headband and admittance into the Academy. It is here that we meet the students that will become Naruto’s closest allies. There is Sakura Haruno, a cute girl who Naruto has had a crush on ever since he laid eyes on her. Unfortunately for him, Sakura only has eyes on Sasuke Uchiha, the attractive-yet-brooding rising talent in the Academy. This fact leads to Naruto seeing Sasuke as his biggest rival. The three of them make up Squad 7 despite some disagreements between each of the members and it doesn’t help that Sakura finds Naruto completely irritating.

With the class broken up into three-man squads, each squad is also placed under the care of a master shinobi. In the case of Squad 7, the group is placed with Kakashi-sensei … a mysterious white-haired sensei who seems aloof and much rather continue reading his trashy novels than offering them his full attention. The fact is that Kakashi is a more hands-on instructor rather than one that bothers to give full explanations. When he does explain things its only to emphasize the point of his exercises.

Speaking of exercises, Kakashi sets up a training exercise that – if not completed successfully – would mean that the three would be kicked out of the Academy. Their objective is to take two bells dangling from his belt before lunchtime. It is here that not only does Kakashi-sensei shows his true skills but so does Sasuke. In the end, the results aren’t what the three expect.

The first volume of Naruto does reveal a lot about each of the main characters such as Sasuke who has his own reasons for wanting to excel as a ninja as well as what exactly happened the day the Nine-Tailed Fox was defeated by the Fourth Hokage. Kishimoto not only knows how to tell an action-packed tale but he is also able to add plenty of good humor as well. Comical moments such as Sakura hoping to be Sasuke’s first kiss only to have her dream crushed when Naruto and Sasuke accidentally press lips together are a hoot. It’s also interesting to see just has far the series has come in the art department. I have complaints about the early volumes but the art in Naruto has progressively become better and better.

The Collector’s Edition of Naruto, Volume 1, is actually a very pretty package thanks to all the Kishimoto art that is placed within the pages of this volume. It’s great to find color pages and original art from when before the series was picked up for publication as a manga series. Even the dust jacket cover is downright impressive.

It’s easy to recommend this hardcover edition of Volume 1 of Naruto and whether you already own a copy of the First Edition I can still safely say its worth the money to buy this one. Of the recent released Collector’s Editions, I must say that this is my favorite and you can believe it’s in my book shelf with other hardcover favorites. If you’re new to the world of Naruto, I highly recommend you pick this one up right away. If you aren’t new to Naruto, well, I still say pick this one up.

 

MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN

STORY: A+
It’s a timeless story of a young boy aspiring to be something better and watching this social misfit attempt to show everyone around him that he’s capable of reaching his goal is what makes this series so meaningful. Plus, Naruto is a hilarious kid you’ll enjoy following in this volume and the ones the follow. It’s a great start to a great series.

ART: A
Kishimoto’s art has come a long way as we can see from this first chapter. Still, the art stands out from other series and that’s a very good thing. This Collector’s Edition contains some eye-catching art from when before it was serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump and an awesome dust jacket cover.

OVERALL: A+
The Collector’s Edition of Naruto, Volume 1, is definitely well worth the price tag for its beautifully packaged design that’s fitting of such a great first volume. Naruto is a popular series and you’ll see exactly why after reading the first volume. This is definitely a volume you will want to have and one that would make a great gift for anyone who has yet to experience the Naruto phenomenon.

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