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Naruto had everything right. The characters, the setting, the fights,even good art.
For the first third of the series, it worked right. The protagonist was kind of a brat, but the supporting cast kept the manga strong, and Orochimaru and Gaara are still two of the most scary and threatening villains to ever grace comics/manga.
Then Shippuden came along. For the first arc, things were right, and I was even surprised by the growth of Sakura's character, and I was pleasantly surprised by the use of equivalent exchange.
What happened? The author wasted characters. The majority of the supporting cast was shoved in the background, and interesting villains were defeated in very anticlimactic ways.
For the last third of the series, things "really" came down. Characters being derailed, Deus and Diabolus Ex machinas, and an incredibly boring repetition of the formula "Evil Counterpart of Naruto with good intentions" villain to the point of previsibility.
Also, the manga got preachy. Around the Immortals Arc, the main villain commented about how ninjas can't properly prosper in times of peace. Just like his evil plan at the time, the author apparently forgot this to keep shoving down our throats the "peace and love" message that the main character can't shut up about.
It got to the point that we're supposed to feel sorry for villains that killed hundreds or thousands of people(Or a few innocent guards) just because they had an sad childhood or adolescence and had "good intentions".
The only villain of the(incredibly long) final act to don't be treated like this is a woman. This need an explanation. The escalation of power in this manga was especially bad in his last three years. And when this abysm of power between "semi-gods" and "the rest" was formed, no women were in the semi-gods group, except this villain. Accusations of sexism were inevitable.
If this manga hadn't been so "soft" with his villains for his last third, Naruto calling the only female "semi-god" heartless should not sound so sexist. But it sounds.
So, is Naruto good? Should you read it?
My answer is "no". This manga had potential. But it wasted it. Now it's time to move on, and expect that the next WSJ phenomenon doesn't end as bad as this.
And that's kind of the thing, for the first 3rd of the series the author took most of it's material from other sources, most obviously Hunter × Hunter.
I liked the series up until Kakuzu, after about that point, it became absolutely awful, and even more so after the Pain arc ended.
@marcellX Hunter x Huter started in 1998. Naruto had a pilot chapter in 1997.
@Hammer Of Justice
I never understood why people try to pass that as a rebutal every time someone points what I said out. Yes, Naruto had a oneshot in 1997. It\'s completely different than what the serialization came to be. That argument only works if the taken/inspired or however one might call it, was in said pilot.
Naruto the series started in late 1999. Hunter X Hunter was already in the Heaven\'s Arena arc by the time it started.
@marcellX Out of curiosity, what material specifically did Naruto pull from Hunter X Hunter? I've only seen thirty-some episodes of the latter.
Kurapika is a pretty boy that acts calm and calculating but has anger management issues. Driven by revenge of his clan, who gain powers when their eyes turn red. So basically blonde Sasuke. Even the chuunin exam seems like a simplified hunter exam, taking unique ideas like final/real question of the first test having the same point as the quizzing lady\'s but phrased differently or the second test with the heaven and earth scrolls basically being the 4th stage number tag hunt.
@marcellX I recalled the parallels between Kurapika and Sasuke.
I completely forgot about the quizzing lady. I thought the point of that was not making a Sadistic Choice, or there being no easy answers, or... something...
The point of the final question, I thought, was that shinobi must sacrifice everything for their mission. Whether that was driven home properly is another issue.
If anything, the quizzing lady seems more akin to Kakashi\'s test about teamwork, comrades, and not being forced into a bad situation.
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