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
Is this the beginning of the end for Sasuke Uchiha?
What if the promise you make somebody near and dear to you begins to wear you down and rip your emotions to shreds, would you still follow the promise through to the end? For Naruto Uzumaki, his shinobi way has always been that of keeping his promises and never going back on his word but with the peace of his beloved village would he go back on his promise?
Oh, but I’m getting ahead of myself here because Volume 49 of Naruto finds the young ninja in the hands of Cloud Village shinobi who have come to the Leaf Village looking for any information regarding Sasuke Uchiha. Clearly upset over Sasuke’s involvement in capturing Lord Killer Bee for that Akatsuki, the trio put the pressure on Naruto but not surprisingly – Naruto isn’t willing to sell his friend out. The result of his lack of cooperation leads Naruto to receive quite a beating while Sai witnesses it.
Meanwhile, a Gokage Summit has been called and heads of neighboring villages have been called to attend such as Lord Tsuchikage – the elderly leader of the Stone Village with a bad back – and the sexy Mizukage of the Mist Village. Even Gaara of the Sand Village has been called to attend upon the request of the current Raikage who happens to be the brother of Lord Killer Bee. Then there’s the new Leaf Village Hokage, Danzo, who takes his new position as if he had been waiting for this day all his life.
In fact, Danzo reveals something else in this volume about himself. Not only does he handle a group of attackers all by himself but he also shows what he has underneath the bandages wrapped around his head. Slowly the mystery of Danzo begins to unravel and even more so now that he will represent the Leaf Village in the Gokage Summit. Even with this new authority, though, he feels he might not have that strong of a hold on Sai.
Despite the beating he received, Naruto decides to try to intercept the Raikage and talk to him. Interestingly enough, Kakashi-sensei and Yamato don’t talk Naruto out of it and actually accompany him to meet with the Raikage. As for Sai, it is clear to him that Naruto is not only doing this for Sasuke’s sake but also for Sakura. Although he doesn’t know the specifics of Sakura’s “wish of a life-time,” he realizes something about Naruto that is painfully obvious. It actually leads him to have a conversation with Sakura that will change everything.
Naruto eventually does find the Raikage and makes his plea for Sasuke’s life but his pleas fall on deaf ears. It is clear that the Raikage is an ill-tempered man who favors swift justice and would rather risk going to war instead of looking for a more peaceful and diplomatic solution. This becomes evident during the summit that is moderated by a man named Mifune who makes a rather interesting suggestion. Why not unite the shinobi of all four lands in a united army against the Akatsuki?
I won’t spoil what happens at the summit after the suggestion is made but I will say that the Raikage is quick to point out that with the exception of his own land the others have utilized the Akatsuki at some point. One of the lands is even the birthplace of the Akatsuki. Speaking of surprises, another bomb is dropped when Naruto, Kakashi and Yamato learn of the possible identity of the Akatsuki leader. The rumor is confirmed when they are visited by this Akatsuki agent.
In the meantime, however, Sasuke and his crew find themselves awaiting the new Hokage’s appearance in the Land of Iron where the Gokage Summit is being held. Despite the fact that the land has no shinobi, there are armed samurai all over the place. Sasuke and his companions not only engage the samurai guards but also fight the Raikage after the meeting was interrupted by none other than the Akatsuki named Zetsu. Believe me when I say that the fight between Sasuke and the Raikage is fast, brutal and impressive.
If anything, though, Volume 49 is the possible beginning of the end of Sasuke Uchiha’s reign of hatred and vengeance. Shikamaru is the one who spells it out for Sakura about what the Leaf Village should do in order to preserve peace. It’s an emotional moment that not only hurts Sakura but also Ino who also had a major crush on Sasuke.
An unforgettable volume that is every bit as powerful as previous standout entries in this series, Volume 49 packs quite a wallop as Konoha shinobi as well as the rest of the ninja world declares Sasuke Uchiha an international threat that must be taken out. Emotions are high and Naruto finds himself on a quest to save a friend who is on a destructive path that could finally lead to his end. If Volume 50 is anything like this one, we are in for a shocker.
MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN
With the threat of the Pains behind them, the focus shifts on Sasuke Uchiha who is not considered a major threat by all villages and lands and is marked for death. Naruto, though, won’t allow this to happen out of their friendship and the promise he made Sakura. Unfortunately, Sasuke has decided to finally make a move on the new Leaf Village Hokage during an important summit and ends up taking on a powerful Raikage.
Naruto fans already know that Masashi Kishimoto definitely knows how to make fighting scenes look epic and the final chapter is definitely no exception.
Volume 49 of Naruto, simply put, is a compelling, emotional and yet another truly defining moment in the Naruto series that joins other monumental moments in Naruto’s life. As a friend and a young man who is determined to keep a promise, Naruto finds himself in a different kind of battle … one he might lose now that Sasuke is heading towards his inevitable demise. It doesn’t get any better than this, Naruto fans.
Review copy provided by VIZ Media