So, here we are. The masterpiece that was the Naruto manga ended the story of Naruto Uzumaki at chapter 700. Like me, most fans were sad to see a beloved piece of their weekly reading material disappear. However, this was not the end. The weekly anime continues and the announcement of the “Naruto Project” would continue to provide us with Naruto content for years to come. The “Naruto Shin Jidai Kaimaku Project” promises a slew of spin-off manga, novels and movies to entertain the mourning Naruto fans. Since the release of chapter 700, the first bit of spin-off manga has arrived. Two chapters of “Naruto Gaiden: The Seventh Hokage and the Scarlet Spring” are out and here are my thoughts on these chapters:
Beware! spoilers ahead…
This chapter instantly throws readers back into the setting and premise of the first few chapters of the original Naruto manga. This story kicks off with the next generation of academy students about to take the genin qualification exam, not unlike the first series. The chapter begins in a class room filled with new, yet familiar faces, and I can’t help but imagine the buckets of nostalgia flowing off the pages. Readers are given a first look at Sai/Ino’s, Chouji/Karui’s, Shikamaru/Temari’s, Naruto/Hinata’s and seemingly Sasuke/Sakura’s kids. Along with an unnamed kid, and an adult Shino. The story immediately shifts focus onto Sarada, the daughter of Sasuke who is questioning why she even has to become a ninja. She seems to have a close relationship with Chouchou, daughter of chouji, who is seemingly having some daddy issues. Not unlike Sarada, who has never met her father and is having trouble understanding what it is to be an Uchiha. The two are interrupted by an older Chouji, who now has a typical beer-bellied father design, but I can dig it. The chapter then cuts to Boruto in a fight with his father, Naruto, now the Seventh Hokage. As well as Sai training his kid, Inojin. Sarada meets up with Boruto as he is hiding from his father and she agrees to lead Naruto of his trail. As Boruto thanks Sarada, they are interrupted by an older Shikamaru, adviser to the hokage, who begins scolding the young boy for wasting his father’s time. Shikamaru then shadow-manipulates Boruto and ask’s his son, Shikadai, to inform Naruto’s clone. Meanwhile, Sarada is further conflicted and saddened by not having a her father’s presence while seeing all the dads of Konoha tending to their kids whilst her father had left when she was a baby. Sarada returns home to an older Sakura who now seems to have been relegated to a stay-at-home mom and inquires into whether Sasuke had glasses like hers. Sakura brushes the question off, quite suspiciously, but is angered when Sarada accuses her of not being married to Sasuke. Sakura reassures her but her violent outburst decimates their home to rubble and Sakura faints. This woman is just so useless. After a brief chat with Shizune at the hospital, Sarada returns to her broken down home to retrieve a picture of her father and mother only to find that the picture was originally of the old Taka group with Sasuke, Suigetsu and Karin with Sakura later tacked-on. Sarada notices Karin’s glasses, and I could virtually hear the glass shattering. we are then met with a Panel of Sasuke who notices something, hm.
I adored the nostalgia filled first few pages of this spin-off and was reminded of the humble beginnings of the original manga which is a stark contrast to the world-altering end. While I dig Shino’s futuristic look, I am confused as to why he is an instructor at the academy. Despite being overlooked in many respects, even by Hishimoto-san, which I think is a troll move. Shino’s deductive capabilities and skill set would make him much more useful in the field, particularly as a tracker or information gatherer. Either there is no need for his combat capabilities at present or his skills were just ignored, in which case, this character was trolled by Kishimoto. Shikadai seems to be a Shikamaru clone, which is a bit dissapointing, I would have preferred if he had his mother’s more forward personality. It would be interesting to see Shikamaru’s level IQ on a more confident and go-getter personality. Boruto also seems like a Naruto clone but he was not the focus of this chapter so it is unclear yet. But he does seem to be having similar issues to Sarada, although his father is close, he is really busy and does not have time to attend to him. Chouchou seems like a teenage girl obsessed with losing weight and embarrassed by her father but is unaware that her problems are insignificant compared to those of Sarada. The new kid, who was unamed in this chapter but we now know as Mitsuki is so far a mystery. Along with Inojin who’s character was not that fleshed out. Chouji and Shizune seem more-or-less the same whilst Shikamaru seems to have become a bit more hardened and serious. Sakura is as useless as ever, but seems to be hiding something from her “child” and the reader. I am glad that the focus of this manga is on Sarada and not Boruto which adds some nuance to the story and universe. Although, there are some parallels to the original because initially: a main theme in the story was Naruto was searching for Sasuke who is now being a core focus for Sarada. Similarly with Boruto, despite having a living father, Boruto struggles with the absence of a full-time father-figure in his life causing him to become rebellious, a theme in the original manga. The end of the chapter manages to reveal some intriguing mysteries about Sarada’s origin and what Sasuke is doing away from Konoha. My interest is piqued and I could not wait to see what would go down next. I rate this chapter a resounding OLIVER TWIST/10, please sir, may I have some more?
This post was originally on the otakugamertist WordPress site which I closed to start this new site.
Image credits: Shueisha, VIZ media, Weekly Shōnen Jump, Imgur