Naruto 1 by Masashi Kishimoto: C+

From the back cover:
In another world, ninja are the ultimate power—and in the village of Konohagakure live the stealthiest ninja in the world. But twelve years ago Konohagakure was attacked by a fearsome threat—a nine-tailed fox demon which claimed the life of the Hokage, the village champion. Today, peace has returned, and a troublemaking orphan named Uzumaki Naruto is struggling to graduate from the Ninja Academy. His goal: to become the next Hokage. But unknown to Naruto and his classmates, within him is a terrifying force…

Our library has all of the English volumes of Naruto so far, so I thought I’d see what the fuss is all about. Many of the gimmicks were overused or crude or both, Sakura’s love fixation bothers me, and Naruto went from needing a smacking to inspiring his future rival far too quickly, but still… there’s something about this title that makes me want to give it at least one more volume before making up my mind.

It’s not any kind of fondness for Naruto himself, but some of the side characters are likeable or interesting (Iruka-sensei and Sasuke) and I like the ninja academy idea and the glimpses we’ve seen of Konohagakure. It’s a weird mesh of modern and historical design, and I’m curious to see whether they explain how things developed that way in that world. Lastly, there’s occasionally these little bits of omniscient narration that give off a fairy tale, Princess Bride sort of vibe that I like.

There’s potential here. Maybe there’ll be fewer nosebleeds in the next volume.

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