Never have I loathed the concept of the Dead Fic
so much as in this case. Time and Again
and Here and Now
may not be perfect Naruto
fanfics (in general they're rather too much Darker And Edgier
and Bloodier And Gorier
and there have been a number of unfortunate deviations from canon) but they're actually superior stories
to the actual Naruto
manga. Apart from a bit of a slow start, the story told in these two fics is simply superb
with real drama, mystery and likeable characters far beyond anything Kishimoto himself has been capable of.
Flaws? OK, it gets off to a really slow start- it takes Naruto 2 chapters to stop being a prick to everyone because he doesn't believe they're real (this should have been resolved in the first chapter after the prologue) and his schtick about not being able to control his 12-year old body enough to even walk down the street in a straight line for the first several chapters gets old really
fast and really doesn't add that much to the story. But aside from that, the only real flaw with the story is that Here and Now
is a Dead Fic
- which is an absolute tragedy. The characterisations of Sasuke, Sakura and Hinata especially are exceptional -it takes quite a lot of effort to make a character as fundamentally unlikeable as Sasuke appealing without completely rewriting his entire personality- and the author also manages to write a really good Naruto, who still makes dumb oversights because no matter how old and embittered he gets, he's still an Idiot Hero
at heart. And he also writes possibly the most evil Orochimaru ever. The story is packed with Crowners of all types and is something I can reread over and over again.
It's a minor blessing that the last written chapter of Here and Now
ends on a least a minor conclusion of the current arc, wrapping up the immediate fights and preventing it from being too much of a cliffhanger ending, but that doesn't change how annoying it is that the story hasn't been updated in 2 1/2 years and probably never will be again. I'd sooner see this fic continued that Naruto
itself, so it's a crying shame that that probably won't happen. Still, what exists is a fantastic story which every Naruto
fan should check out.