Review: Naruto (2002)

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Distributed in Australia by:

10 Rules for Aspiring Ninja

  1. Be not afraid. The Bad Guy will not kill you until he has explained – in lengthy detail – how he is going to kill you.
  2. Be fair. Do not attempt to escape the Bad Guy’s clutches while he is explaining to you how he is going to kill you. Only when he is finished is it permissible for you to attempt an escape. If you do escape, make sure he finds it impossible to believe right before he dies.
  3. Be helpful. Do not use your special ninja powers until you have explained how they work, preferably using diagrams (It is permissible, if you are currently fighting for your life, to have team-mates or adversaries explain it for you).
  4. Be loquacious. It is not permissible to fight in the middle of a battle. This time is reserved for talking or analysing what is happening in detail. With diagrams.
  5. Be transparent. After a battle, it is imperative you walk back through it (again, with diagrams or ideally accompanied by flashbacks) and explain how you won. Or lost, depending on whether it was too late for you after the Bad Guy was through explaining how he was going to kill you.
  6. Be brave. When fighting someone bigger and stronger than you are, it is not permissible to look like you are going to win until the moment at which you almost certainly look like you are not. Did we mention, since you’re a kid, every opponent is going to be bigger and stronger? Get used to this.
  7. Be tenacious. You are expected and encouraged to make an impossible comeback only if A) you are almost dead, or B) someone else is almost dead. If ‘B’, and it is a person you care about, or even someone you just sort of know, it is permissible to either attempt to sacrifice yourself in order to win, or level up your unconscious and highly dangerous suppressed powers due to grief and/or stress.
  8. Be heard. Never speak where screaming will suffice. This crap about shinobi being silent and stealthy is a complete myth.
  9. Be mysterious. Never tell anyone why you are cranky, brooding, tormented, guilty, too-cheerful or desperate to protect the people you love. Ninja are not encouraged to share their source of angst with just anyone, you know.
  10. Above all, be determined. It’s not over until you’re dead, and you’re not dead until someone finds a body. If the fight has to drag on for seven episodes to determine this Schrodinger-like state of whether you live or die, win or lose, so be it. You are a ninja, and that is the way of things.

Or in other words, Naruto is great entertainment in all its fun, frustrating glory. It’s got so much going for it – fantastic action direction, a bunch of great characters, a nice even distribution of short and long-term story arcs, cool music, and angst and gags galore – that you’re bound to develop a nice, dependable love/hate relationship with it. Love it because it’s seriously damn cool; hate it because despite how predictable it can be, despite how almost every episode ends on a cliffhanger, you’ll still keep coming back for more.

And here endeth the lesson, for ninja and fans alike.

8 Bowls of Tasty Ramen out of 10.
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