We saw Naruto again 15 years later, and it’s still so cool

This monument of Japanese culture has always enjoyed undeniable success since the early 2000s, with multiple spin-off series and other dedicated films. 15 years after its finale, the original Naruto anime remains a reference, which has laid many foundations, without being devoid of flaws.

“Kage Bunshin no Jutsu” ! And bim, here are dozens of ready-to-use clones. Used to troll his comrades, triumph in a merciless fight or simply to show off, Naruto’s flagship technique has remained cult in the hearts of millions of fans, who dream of using their chakra like the famous ninja.

Strangely divided into two distinct series, with Shippuden secondly, the adaptation of one of the best-selling manga in the world remains a timeless classic. narutothe first series broadcast between 2002 and 2007, has many advantages and in particular brilliantly laid the foundations for the more adult sequel, Shippuden. So what is a viewing of this series worth, 15 years later, in 2022? We did the test by rediscovering the series available on Netflixwhich will make you want to devour ramen.

Naruto, a not so common hero

At first glance, the character of Naruto may seem classic: we follow the emergence of an unexpected hero, alongside his friends and mentors, who are as kind as they are loving. Naruto’s goal is to become the best ninja of all time and eventually obtain the title of Hokage, the leader of his home village, Konoha. Obviously, his journey will be strewn with pitfalls but it is based on a relatively new element for the time: the hero is clearly not gifted.

Compared to other characters in the series like Rock Lee (the best, no debate possible), Sasuke or Shikamaru, we must admit that Naruto’s level seems far below. He is far from the invincible protagonists with superhuman strength. On the contrary, the teenager misses a lot of his training, regularly finishes last in decisive tests and always imagines more jokes with each episode. His evolution is only established at the very end of the series, which allows us to identify with this somewhat lost, solitary character who knows failure. No wonder thousands of cosplayers emulate her legendary style at every convention.

Naruto is not a character like the others // Source: Netflix

Incredible music

“I wanna rock, ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh…” naruto has another significant asset: an absolutely perfect soundtrack, made up of iconic pieces from the episodes, but alsoopenings and D’endings particularly well chosen. All fans of the series remember The Raising Fighting Spirit when Naruto finally triumphs in a fight, Grief and Sorrow which accompanies every moment emotions or the very first credits on the song Rocks.

Heady musical compositions that bring a lot to the whole series and still haunt our ears years after viewing (tested and approved by the author of these lines). If the titles are not always used at the right time during the episodes, they are still positioned among the best anime soundtracks of all time, without any hesitation. Small special mention to Avengerwhich regularly emphasizes the strategy sequences, but also to the simply terrifying Orochimaru theme.

A gallery of charismatic villains

Speaking of Orochimaru, naruto clearly wouldn’t have the same flavor without its formidable adversaries. In the manga’s first major arc, there is no shortage of cruel antagonists. The most frightening of them is undoubtedly Orochimaru, whose threat will continue to weigh in Shippuden, after the end of the first series. Willing to do anything to obtain more power, the sinister member of the three legendary ninjas imposed himself with his snake tongue and his slow tone of voice.

But other fascinating opponents compete with Naruto during the 220 episodes of the series: the overwhelming Haku in the first season, the inhuman Gaara from the second, the mysterious Itachi from the fourth… In short, the Japanese cartoon can boast of featuring villains with complex backstories and motivations.

Orochimaru will haunt your nightmares // Source: Netflix

Where are the female characters?

On the other hand, where naruto fails all the way, it’s on the construction of its female characters. If the theme did not necessarily mark us 15 years ago, it can only jump out at us in 2022. We are still waiting for Sakura, Ino or Hinata to have a psychology worthy of the name. Apart from Tsunade, who manages to save the day a little with her narrative arc badassthe treatment of women is simply a disaster.

When they’re not fighting for a man, their only line of dialogue is on behalf of their (truthful) male colleagues. Honestly, this aspect of the series is very unpleasant, especially since it combines with a very annoying fatphobia. The character of Chôji, for example, deserved much better. However, naruto knows how to intelligently address themes such as school bullying, the quest for identity or team spirit, but she seems to have forgotten the fundamentals of feminism in the locker room.

Tsunade, the only badass female character in the series // Source: Netflix

Unforgettable fights

Gaara vs Rock Lee, Naruto vs Sasuke, Shikamaru vs Temari… The battles of the series are overall very great successes. naruto manages to perfectly combine duels of great emotional intensity. The fights are generally well paced and push us to stay, episode after episode, to know the outcome.

The characters imagined by the author of the manga, Masashi Kishimoto, also shine thanks to their very original and sought-after abilities and special powers. Taijutsu, Ninjutsu… Each protagonist has his very particular and sufficiently diversified techniques for each confrontation to have its share of reversals of shocking situations. It is clearly one of the successes of the series, which has not aged an inch on this point.

The best fight of the series: Gaara vs Lee // Source: Netflix

A rhythm that remains wobbly

Like many Japanese anime series, naruto unfortunately suffers from a lack of rhythm that is sometimes too obvious. Its nine seasons are thus filled with episodes fillers, whose plots do not match those of the original manga. Several guides are available online to save you hours of unnecessary viewing, such asAnime Filler List.

We sometimes fall asleep, like Naruto // Source: Tenor
We sometimes fall asleep, like Naruto // Source: Tenor

But even in so-called “canon” episodes, boredom can quickly set in. Lots of sequences are pointless, several story arcs move at a snail’s pace, and flashbacks are used to the point of nausea. Some sequences are even reused in the same episode, in case we have forgotten the events of the last 10 minutes… A frankly lame construction, which sometimes prevents us from being fully captivated by the fates of the characters. Despite everything, don’t miss this institution of pop culture, which will make you shiver as much as shed little tears.

Source: Numerama editing