Comic Book Spotlight of the Day: Naruto 3-in-1 Omnibus vol. 1 (Volumes 1-3) – May 2011 (Viz Media)

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TITLE: Naruto 3-in-1 Omnibus vol. 1 (Volumes 1-3)

YEAR: May 2011 (USA release)

COMPANY: Viz Media

Story and Art by Masashi Kishimoto

Since 1999, “Naruto” created by Masashi Kishimoto (“Karakuri”) has been one of the most popular manga, anime and video game series in Japan and has easily become a favorite best selling anime/manga series among fans all over the world.

Currently in Japan and also the United States, “Naruto” is currently in “Shippuden” mode focusing on an older teenage Naruto Uzumaki and for fans who were not around when “Naruto” was airing on television or were not around when the manga series was first released, some newer fans may have not had a chance to know how it all began.

Fortunately, Viz Media has released an omnibus for “Naruto” featuring three volumes in one 600-page graphic novel.

“Naruto” is a manga series based on a young boy with big dreams, a boy who dreams about becoming a hokage (the leader of a ninja village) and is very determined in getting stronger to prove that he can one day become a leader. The problem is that he is often teased, ridiculed because his ninja arts has not been like everyone else and because he is often ignored or teased, he has become a bit of a prankster/trouble maker for the village.

But the reason for the ridicule is because Naruto has the spirit of the Fox with Nine Tails sealed inside him.

The Fox Spirit was an evil spirit that it took several ninja clans, great shinobi’s to work together, sacrifice their life in order to make sure that the villages will continually thrive and survive the onslaught from the Fox Spirit and the Fourth Hokage, the champion of the village, Konoha, hidden in the leaves, would seal the Fox Tail spirit in a boy, the boy is Naruto Uzumaki.

And thus the reason why the village has treated Naruto with disdain.

While trying to pass a test to become a ninja, unfortunately Naruto’s ninja arts are so weak that he continually flunks. His teacher Iruka is a littler harsh on him but he really wants Naruto to pass. One day, one of the ninjas in Konoha lied to Naruto and told him that in order to pass and become a ninja, he would have to steal secret scrolls. Naruto, being the naive boy that he is, does so. The ninja who told him to steal it, then tells the village that Naruto has stolen the sacred scrolls of the village that have been under lock and key, in fear that someone can use the jitsu’s for the wrong purpose.

The thing is that Naruto did read one jitsu and has mastered it, he learned to create hundreds of doppelgangers of himself and uses it to protect his teacher Iruka from the ninja traitor. And with his new skills, he has passed to become a real ninja.

From this point on, Naruto Uzumaki joins Team Kakashi and becomes teammates with Sakura Haruno and Sasuke Uchiha. This will be the team that Naruto will train and go on adventures with but part of the problem is that the team is not exactly well-disciplined and it doesn’t help that Naruto and his teammate Sasuke get on each others nerves.

While these young ninja learn their training, during their first mission, they come in contact with a powerful enemy, Zabuza Momoichi, of the Land of the Mist and his consort Haku.

Will these young ninja who are still being trained, will they be ready to fight against Zabuza and Haku? And can these three young ninja work as a team or will they continue to fight as individuals?

Entertaining, fun and possibly one of the best manga series to appear on “Shonen Jump” since “Dragon Ball Z”.

As a long time reader of the Japanese Shonen Jump magazine and long time anime viewer/reviewer, the “Naruto” series was a bit of surprise when I first had the opportunity to read and watch the series. Mainly because of how entertaining and how well-written the series was but also how mangaka Masashi Kishimoto built upon its characters by character development, making you care of what is happening with the protagonist Naruto, his teammates and also becoming captivated by the world around him.

Naruto is the classic underdog. The boy that everyone seems to hate, the boy who just wants to fit in, the boy who wants to have friends and in some ways, many of us have a little of “Naruto” within us and having those emotions of dreaming big, even though you feel that everyone doesn’t expect much from you. Insecurities, sadness, being a practical joker, for me, I can identify with Naruto and feel his pain.

But what made me enjoy this series is seeing him persevere, working hard to prove that he is a capable ninja and most of all, his way of thinking helps to inspire those that come across him.

He may be goofy, he may seem lazy at times and also always hungry but he is also dependable and a teammate who will fight to protect you, a ninja who knows that he has a cursed beast inside him, that everyone fears and he lives with that pain.

And so these earlier stories, especially with the first three volumes, we eventually get to see how Naruto faces adversity but overcomes his challenges thanks to people who are willing to see how special he is and dedicate that time to drive him towards more positive directions and see him grow. To see him in a team setting and to see how he, Sasuke and Sakura will grow together, no matter what problems they may have earlier on.

With this first volume, we get to see how Naruto becomes a ninja, becomes part of Team Kakashi and also to go on his first major mission and fight in his first major battle against the deadly Zabuza and Haku.

For anyone getting into “Naruto”, this 3-in-1 omnibus is fantastic! For the price of less than two manga volumes, you are getting a total of three. And if you have only watched the anime series, “Naruto” fans may want to check out the manga series because there are a few scenes that didn’t appear on the anime series.

And also, throughout each volume, you get to read notes and even see sketches from series creator Masashi Kishimoto of how he originally drew Naruto (he had goggles) and also other early character designs for other characters and also thoughts that Kishimoto had at the time, for example, how he drew Sakura and how he’s not that good at drawing female characters and why her character appealed to him. Also, how he came up with certain names for the characters and how he feels about the names today.

Overall, if you have wanted to read the “Naruto” manga series from the very first volume, then “Naruto 3-in-1 Omnibus” is highly recommended!


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