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Manga Review: "Naruto" Vol., 1

Natalie is a writer who works at her local library. She enjoys writing reviews, watching anime and TV shows, and playing video games.

"Naruto" Volume 1 official manga cover.

"Naruto" Volume 1 official manga cover.

Quick Info

Author: Masashi Kishimoto
Publisher: Viz Media
Published: August 6, 2003
Page count: 192
Availability: in print, buy on RightStufAnime and Amazon, buy 3 in 1 on RIghtStufAnime and Amazon, read on the Shonen Jump app

Story Summary

Naruto is a very popular Shonen manga published by Viz Media. It tells the story of a young, mischievous ninja named Naruto who lives in the Konohagakure, or the Village Hidden in the Leaves. He pulls pranks for attention and fails in his ninja studies. He wants to become the Hokage, or village leader and protector, and the strongest ninja in the village.

The story involves him trying to pass his ninja classes and failing. But he learns a new technique hoping that he will be able to pass and become a full-fledged ninja.

The Worst First Impression of a Protagonist

The story is decent, and when I mean decent, it’s not the best story I’ve ever read. I have watched the anime, or some of it anyway, and I found the character to be rather annoying in either medium.

Naruto has the most annoying introduction of a Shonen protagonist I’ve seen in a long time. Naruto fans don’t like that opinion. He’s whiny, bratty, annoying, and seems very lazy because he doesn’t like the classroom setting. He also doesn’t pay attention and makes very dumb decisions.

However, as the story continues he has character development, but it is not in this volume.

What kept me reading was Kakashi being annoying by Cell 7 in the story and voicing my opinions of these characters. And I like Naruto’s story, it’s just that he had the worst first impression of any Shonen protagonist I’ve read in a long time.

The Manga Has a Lot of Exposition

I did notice how much exposition the manga has because it has to explain how the world works and Ninjutsu. It is understandable and I do like how it explains the various ninjutsus used in the world of Naruto.

The volume does feel a little exposition-heavy, but since this is a brand-new world they do have to explain how stuff works, and the school setting is very convenient for exposition, even if it’s a little annoying.

Naruto is annoyed by Sasuke, as usual.

Naruto is annoyed by Sasuke, as usual.

The Artwork Is Decent

The artwork is all right, not really stunning, but Masashi Kishimoto is a decent writer and artist and his work does improve as the story goes, but his work feels really rushed and hurried and it doesn’t look as good as it could be.

The artwork isn’t the most amazing art I’ve seen, but it looks nice so it visually keeps me invested, the “centerfold Jutsu” or “sexy Jutsu” is annoying, but Naruto eventually stops using it because of his character growth.

The art does look good and I like the character designs because I can distinguish characters and tell who’s who.

I also like the fight scenes in this manga, the artwork looks very good and is very well-drawn. The fights are where the manga shines and they are entertaining to look at.

This isn’t the most amazing art you’ll ever see, but at least it’s decent. The artwork is the most impressive aspect of the manga, with all the unique character designs.

Overall, the art is good and does improve but it’s not the most impressive manga art I’ve seen. Masashi Kishimoto did improve his art over the years so it’s nice to know that the artwork improves.

The Main Characters Are Annoying

The characters are all right, although they seem to be one-dimensional at the moment, Naruto is a brat, Sakura is a bratty fangirl for Sasuke and Sasuke is the emotionless stoic. Kakashi is the teacher and he’s the character that kept me invested in Naruto because he voiced all my complaints to the characters.

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He’s a likable character and while it took a while for the main cast to grow in me, they did not have likable starts, except for maybe Sasuke, a character that is the “rule of cool”. He did get his emo first impression from the early volumes.

While many fans find the main leads likable from the start, I was not one of them. They had to grow on me with time and character growth.

I don’t love Naruto but I like it, this volume did keep my attention.

Parental Content Warning

As for the content of this manga, it has a little bit of language but mainly has violence and blood. It also has Naruto’s “Sexy Jutsu” that turns him into a nude female form; everything is censored with steam though.

Sasuke attacks Kakashi as they try to pass their ninja exam.

Sasuke attacks Kakashi as they try to pass their ninja exam.

Reader Poll

It's Off to a Decent Start, But It's not Amazing

Naruto is off to a decent start, it’s not the best or worst manga I’ve read, it’s just all right, it’s worth checking out, but blind buying it is not recommended. The recommendation I can give you is that if you enjoyed the anime and want to experience Naruto without filler, then get this from the library or buy it. If you’re a diehard Naruto fan you’ll probably want this but an average fan should just see if your local library has it, because they probably do since it’s very popular.

I still stand by my opinion that Naruto has the worst first impression for a Shonen protagonist. Naruto’s obnoxious traits are the first thing we see about him. While some people may see that as an endearing trait, I don’t, I just see him as annoying.

But Sakura and Sasuke are annoying in their own ways too. But there are characters that call them out on their obnoxious and annoying behavior and I think that’s good, that’s what kept me reading the manga.

I do feel the manga is off to a good start and I can see why people enjoyed it, but every story starts somewhere and I will continue reading the manga.

Quick Summary

What Works:What Doesn't Work:

Decent story, characters, and world-building

Some of the characters are annoying

Decent artwork

The artwork isn't the best in some places

The story has a lot of potential

My Grade: C

I do recommend reading Naruto, however, I will not be buying Naruto physically because it’s a very long manga. However, I have access to the Shonen Jump app and I can read the manga whenever I want. I will be reviewing the entire Naruto series.

Naruto might not be the must-buy series for everyone, but it is readily available due to its immense popularity. It’s on the shelves of local libraries if you don’t want to pay the subscription for Shonen Jump.

I recommend borrowing it from your local library if you want to read Naruto, mainstream popularity makes it easy to start reading. Naruto’s worldwide popularity is very impressive and I understand why people enjoy the character, even if I wasn’t very impressed by him in this volume.

It is a decent read that is worth your time but not necessarily your money. It is a Shonen manga that has all the typical Shonen tropes that fans enjoy. It’s also a decent beginner manga, although if you don’t like fanservice, you’ll be annoyed.

Don’t feel you have to purchase the manga unless you love it since it’s readily available both in the Shonen Jump app and your local library due to having mainstream popularity. While it’s not the most famous Shonen, it’s still very popular. I don’t love the manga but I don’t hate it so much that I want to drop it.

This manga won’t be for everyone so if you drop it, I understand since I was not impressed when I first started the manga. Don’t feel you have to read it because it’s popular. This isn’t a manga everyone will enjoy, especially if your first impression of the main character is being annoyed by him.

It may not have been my best first impression of the story, but I’m going to continue reading Naruto. It’s worth my time but not my money, except for my Shonen Jump app subscription.

My Rating

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

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