Review by: Eduardo Zacarias
Publisher: VIZ Media
Author: Masashi Kishimoto
Genre: Graphic Novel (Shonen Jump Manga)
MSRP: $9.99 US
Rating: T (Teen)
Release Date: Available Now
The Pain within and how to cope with it.
How do you measure the true strength of a natural-born leader?
Naruto answers this question in Volume 48 as he not only continues to walk the path that he himself has set for him but also do what is true to himself in order to protect the people and things that matter most. This volume says a lot about Naruto and how far he has come since the first volume as we witness one of the most monumental and surprisingly uplifting moments in the life of Naruto Uzumaki.
The battle against the Pains was not an easy one but with one good shot in it is Naruto who comes on top as the last Pain if finally taken down. This wasn’t a thrilling victory, not with so many of Leaf ninja dead and Konoha reduced to rubble. Naruto, well aware that there is a Pain Master who has been manipulating the other Pains out there and he uses a Chakra conductor to discover the location of the one pulling all the strings. At last, he will put an end to the attackers and face off against the ones responsible for his Master’s death.
Naruto makes it clear that he wants to confront the Pain Master on his own despite elders advising against it but the young ninja goes anyway and finds a tree made of Konan’s special paper. It is there that Naruto comes face-to-face with Nagato, the true Pain Master. Strapped to an unusual device, Nagato has been bringing his comrades back to life while Konan watched over him. He is the one who had helped slay Lord Jiraiya … the man who had trained him and his two closest friends. He is the one that Naruto had sworn to find and kill to avenge Jiraiya’s death.
Instead of carrying out his bloody revenge, Naruto wishes to hear Nagato’s side of the story. This request astounds Naruto’s foe who was expecting a fight but instead finds a boy who already realized the truth about revenge. You see, the path of revenge never really ends because it is nothing more than just a cycle of violence that will continue endlessly. That’s deep stuff and the fact that Naruto agrees and approaches this situation non-violently says a lot about him.
Nagato’s story is, incidentally, filled with pain and loss. He was orphaned during a time of war and was the witness to his parents’ deaths by the hands of Leaf shinobi. Alone, starving and with nowhere else to go, the boy named Nagato sound companionship in a pair of war orphans named Konan and Yahiko who took Nagato in as one of their own. It was Yahiko who filled Nagato and Konan’s head filled with dreams of obtaining power to bring peace to the world and to put a stop to the endless cycle of violence. It’s a noble dream but it was just that … a dream and nothing more.
Then a man came into their lives that changed everything. As we have seen a while back, it was Jiraiya who took the three under his wing and trained them Jiraiya saw the potential in Nagato who possessed the powerful ocular Jutsu called the Rinnegan. Unfortunately, after Master Jiraiya left them, the three became well known and then the target of betrayal. Tragedy twisted Nagato into something else altogether and it became clear that Jiraiya’s trust in him and the fight for peace were nothing more than just wishful thinking.
This leads us to now and after having heard Nagato’s tragic story it is Naruto who comes to a decision that changes everything. His words echo words that are familiar to Nagato because they belong to Master Jiraiya whose book, “Tales of a Gutsy Shinobi,” who reveals the Pervy Sage’s true inspiration for the book. In the end, Nagato comes to a realization that makes even him believe not only in Jiraiya but in Naruto enough that he does something that is too incredible that I just won’t mention here.
Let’s just say that the people we watched die during the encounter are back among the living such as Kakashi-sensei (who has a beautifully touching moment in the same chapter) and Naruto comes back a hero. After having seen him as the boy everyone thought would bring about the destruction of the village become the beloved hero it just doesn’t get any better than seeing the warm reception they give him.
Meanwhile, Lady Tsunade is in a comatose state and the village – what is left of it – is in need of leadership. The Council proposes their candidate that seems like the only option seeing as Orochimaru was evil and Lord Jiraiya is dead. However, another candidate surfaces and wins the election. It is none other than Danzo and as his first order he accepts the decree that was presented to him by three shinobi from the Cloud Village. The decree is an order for the elimination of none other than Sasuke Uchiha.
Word reaches Naruto, Sakura and Kakashi by way of Sai and before both Naruto and Sakura can go to confront the new Leaf Hokage, the three Cloud ninja confront them. It is then that they learn the awful truth about their once comrade. Sasuke is a member of the Akatsuki and he was the one captured their master … Eight-Tails. The sentence for such a crime is death and unknowingly to Sasuke, a change in plans sends the boy on a new mission.
Volume 48 of Naruto marks a new chapter as the boy who wants to be Hokage stands alone and makes a decision that changes everything. You know he has made the first step into become a grand leader when the enemy starts believing in him as well and, as such, we witness Naruto take a step closer to manhood. Meanwhile, a new Hokage opens up another major problem as Sasuke becomes the hunter and the hunted.
MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN
In the final battle between Pain, Naruto seeks out the Pain Master who has been pulling all the strings all along and is the one responsible for the death of Lord Jiraiya. However, in an interesting twist of events, Naruto does the most unexpected thing … he listens to the enemy’s side of the story and makes an interesting decision. Meanwhile, with Lady Tsunade in a coma, a new Hokage is selected and gives his authorization to hunt down Sasuke Uchiha.
Once again, Kishimoto-sensei continues to astonish us with his beautiful artwork and the emotion he conveys visuals says more than you can imagine.
In a series with awesome Jutsu-filled ninja battles and bloody revenge-seeking characters, Volume 48 of Naruto shows us that Naruto has come a long way and takes yet another big step in the role of leader. It’s like witnessing a boy become a man right before your eyes as the young shinobi makes one of the most hardest yet interesting decisions of his life.
Review copy provided by VIZ Media