Naruto, Volume 1

cover image for Naruto Volume 1Masashi Kishimoto (2003) Naruto, Volume 1. San Francisco, CA: VIZ Media LLC

[So, in Naruto’s world, girls only exist as characters/students in ninja school so that they can moon over the boys and be oogled at by boys? Not because they can actually do any ninja tricks? Good to know.


Now that that is out of my system….]

While I was not terribly impressed by the story, I can definitely see why it’s so popular, especially among younger teen boys.  Naruto thinks and acts pretty much how I’d imagine most teen boys see themselves – misunderstood and mocked by the powerful and popular, yet destined for greatness despite his/their humble beginnings.  Er, supposed humble beginnings, for the orphan Naruto is not so ordinary after all.  Like Luke Skywalker and all other Joseph Campbell-esque heroes before him, there is a secret behind his birth that has life-changing implications for Naruto – and those around him.

There isn’t much here that hasn’t been seen in various forms before (at least, not in the first volume anyway) but there is a lot of action and Naruto himself is engaging and easy to relate to – even if the rest of the characters feel a little more cardboard than necessary.  Overall, Naruto’s story will feel downright epiphanic to tween boys who feel beset upon by the world, as all tweens are wont to feel at times.

Note: there is female nudity in this volume – with sensitive areas strategically covered by hair and wisps of smoke – but, imho, the main problem with the nudity in this volume is more how the story portrays women/girls overall rather than the presence of sexualized content.  However, Naruto is a popular character among even younger boys, and it’s useful to remember that the original (translated) story may not be appropriate for every young Naruto fan.

Best for ages 10-14.