Review by: Edward Zacharias
Publisher: VIZ Media
Author: Masashi Kishimoto
Genre: Graphic Novel (Shonen Jump Manga)
MSRP: $7.95 US
Rating: T (Teen)
Release Date: Now available
A powerful lesson in pain, loss and why you should never underestimate your enemy.
Having recovered from the astonishing events of Volume 34 when Sasuke Uchiha is finally reintroduced to the series, Naruto is the type of manga that will hit you again with another shocker of a volume. Volume 36 of Naruto is another one of those volumes that will burn into your memory and rekindle your love for a series that doesn’t seem to run out of steam or unforgettable chapters.
In the last volume, Lady Tsunade began mobilizing the teams that would keep the Akatsuki from closing in on the Hidden Leaf Village as well as put an end to their plan to collect more Jinchuriki hosts. Leading one team that includes Shikamaru is Master Asuma Sarutobi who has a personal stake in the fate that befell the monks of the Fire Temple. One monk in particular concerns Asuma and it’s clear that the missing monk shares a connection with him.
Asuma’s first thought is that since the monk has a bounty on his head and the body isn’t in the temple then said body must be heading for the collection office. As it turns out, the Akatsuki duo of Hidan and the money-minded Kakuzu are collecting their bounty in the nearby collection office. We know that Hidan is more interested in pursuing his unusual religion’s blood rituals and Kakuzu feels that his partner’s mentality just doesn’t match the ideals of the Akatsuki. Since their introduction, the two are already beginning to be the more interesting of the Akatsuki.
Meanwhile, Naruto continues his training with Kakashi and Yamato. Having completed the difficult task of changing his chakra’s nature, Kakashi has come up with a new Jutsu that makes use of the Rasengan but in a way that even the Rasengan’s creator couldn’t pull off. Determined as ever, Naruto tackles the training a little too enthusiastically since he comes close to losing control of the Tailed Beast within him.
Oh, but Naruto isn’t the driving force behind this volume because the real attention-grabbing moment comes when Team Asuma finally reaches the collection office as Hidan and Kakuzu are leaving. Asuma attacks without hesitation, an act that even Shikamaru sees as uncharacteristic of his sensei. It is Hidan who pleads with Kakuzu to not step in as he battles Asuma and it becomes shockingly evident that Hidan is the type of opponent that will not be easily defeat or even killed. With the aid of two Jonin and Shikamaru’s Shadow Possession jutsu, Asuma manages to get the upper hand in the fight … or so he thinks.
It’s frightening how quickly the tables can be turned when you least expect it and this is what happens to Asuma when Hidan – who proves he really is an immortal – steps back into the battlefield to pull off a surprising counterattack using a jutsu that is just as chilling as the Akatsuki that pulled it off. You can also practically feel the desperation Shikamaru displays as he attempts to keep up with the intense battle. It doesn’t take too long for the brilliant young ninja to realize that they are outmatched by Hidan and Kakuzu.
Just how outmatched you will know by the end of the chapter. I won’t spoil what happens but let’s just say that it doesn’t end very pretty and it will most definitely take you by surprise. It’s clear that the new chapter in the Naruto saga does not pull any punches and things – as they say – will never be the same again. Aside from the heartbreaking conclusion to the Akatsuki battle, we also come to learn of this mysterious group’s real plans. You better believe we are so looking forward to the next volume.
What more can I say about Volume 36 of Naruto than it’s a monumental moment that is surely going to be one of those volumes that will quickly be just one of many unforgettable chapters of this manga series. Kishimoto has outdone himself yet again and we just can’t wait to see what he has in store for us in the coming volumes.
MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN
While Naruto continues his training and tackles a seemingly impossible new Jutsu, Asuma’s team tracks down the Akatsuki responsible for the massacre of a number of monks that also include a former teammate of Asuma’s. When they do catch up to the Akatsuki, Hidan and Kakuzu start a battle that will be remembered for a long time to come.
At risk of repeating myself, Kishimoto says more with one splash panel than he does with a dialogue balloon filled with dialogue. For example, the look on Kurenai’s face says it all near the end of one chapter.
Volume 36 of Naruto is yet another volume in the series that will truly stand out in every Naruto fan’s memories. It’s storytelling like that that reminds us why we fell in love with this manga in the first place and even more so when the Akatsuki battle has a shocking ending. Whatever you do – Naruto Fans – do not miss this volume.