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
The mysteries of Pain and the last message of a true master shinobi.
Disbelief … this is what I felt after I put down Volume 42 of Naruto.
As far as the latest Naruto volumes are concerned, the surprising twists and turns as well as the demise of various characters hasn’t affected me until the final chapters that chronicle the last moments of the Pervy Sage. Jiraiya’s last stand in enemy territory is exactly what we would expect from a man that – while easily distracted by attractive women – is the type of man willing to lay his life on the line in order to gather Intel on the enemy that threatens the village he loves.
In Volume 44, Naruto – who is haunted by the last words Itachi Uchiha ever spoke to him before Sasuke killed him – is summoned to Lady Tsunade’s office. It is there that Naruto receives the most shocking news. At first, he isn’t able to fully understand what is said to him. When he arrived he noticed that Jiraiya’s Sage Frog friends were in attendance as well as the elderly frog Lord Fukasaku … one of the two Great Sages of Mount Myoboku where Jiraiya once trained to become a Sage. Then they tell him that his mentor, the very man that was a lot like a grandfather to him, has died in battle.
Oh, but there’s more news. It seems that the Pervy Sage has managed to secure three key details during his dangerous mission. One of which we do not get to see but the other two are instrumental in unlocking the mysteries of the one called Pain as well as the Akatsuki threat. One thing is unmistakably clear, though, and that is that time is running out and the Hidden Leaf Village is in trouble.
While Sakura as well as Lady Tsunade’s trusted assistant, Shizune, are heading two separate investigations, Lady Tsunade entrusts Shikamaru with deciphering a numeric coded message Lord Jiraiya had managed to send before he met his demise. Shikamaru turns to the Cipher Corps to help him try to unlock the secret of the code. Meanwhile, Naruto isn’t dealing with the death of his mentor all too well as he begins to sulk. It isn’t until Iruka-sensei and Shikamaru comes along that he realizes there’s work to be done.
As Naruto and Shikamaru work on the coded message, Sasuke Uchiha is carrying out the plan that Madara Uchiha and the rest of the Akatsuki had set up. Sasuke and team Taka seek out Eight-Tails, an oddball Jinchuriki who won’t be headlining with hip-hop artist Jay-Z anytime soon. While seemingly clumsy and strange, Eight-Tails manages to keep up with Sasuke and his team in battle.
Meanwhile, in Konoha, the coded message is finally deciphered and it still doesn’t make much sense to the others. Pain might still be a mystery but there is still the two last clues left and the village must prepare itself for an Akatsuki assault. As Lord Fukasaku sees it, there’s something about Naruto that Jiraiya had seen in him and so he makes Naruto the deal of a lifetime. He is to come to Mount Myoboku to train in the Sage arts and only then will he be powerful enough to stop Pain.
The training, it seems, will not be easy seeing as there are consequences that might mean Naruto’s life. Of course, Naruto goes for it anyway but this time he’s not training for the obvious reasons … this time he trains to protect the village and to avenge his fallen teacher. On the other end, the Akatsuki are ready to make the journey to the Hidden Leaf Village. Yes, things are definitely going to get more interesting.
Taking a turn for the more dramatic, Volume 44 of Naruto marks the beginning of some dark times for Konoha as the mystery behind Lord Jiraiya’s death is slowly being deciphered. As the people most important to Jiraiya mourn his passing, time is running out for the village and yes Naruto goes back to train for what is surely going to be one some more interesting times ahead for this series.
MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN
As news of Lord Jiraiya’s death by the hands of the mysterious Pain reaches Lady Tsunade and Naruto, Shikamaru and Sakura lead an investigation with the only clues the Pervy Sage left with his toad companions. Meanwhile, Sasuke and his Taki teammates set their sights on the Eight-Tailed Jinchuriki and Naruto sets out to train with the Frog Sages.
Who would have thought that the most impressive and visually stunning fight sequences belong to Sasuke? Kishimoto’s art is still among the best.
The painful loss of a irreplaceable mentor and a trustworthy friend takes center stage in Volume 44 of Naruto while a thorough investigation begins to unravel Jiraiya’s code. On top of that, Sasuke is on the move and so is Pain so the next few volumes will be ones you will not want to miss. You did it again, Kishimoto-sensei.