Naruto Shippuden (FINALLY!) comes to an end with Episode #500; Boruto Anime to Premeire April 5

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10 years after Naruto Shippuden premeired, the final Episode aired on March 23, 2017. It is now truly the end of an era. Combined with the first Naruto Anime series, the franchise spanned nearly 650 episodes combined. A smash hit on both sides of the Pacific, Naruto burst onto the scene back in 2003 first in Japan and then came to the U.S. in 2004. With the stable of memorable characters, it goes without saying Naruto/Naruto Shippuden has more than earned its spot on the Top 10 List of Greatest Anime Of All Time.

While Naruto introduced the main and support characters and most of the recurring characters, Shippuden provided the backstory and the history of the Naruto Universe. The first part of the series opened with Naruto returning after training with Jiraiya for 3 years. He reunites with Sakura, who are joined by the socially awkward Sai. Former Anbu Yamato is appointed temporary leader of the reformed Team 7, which renewed its goal of finding the missing Sasuke Uchiha. The missing former member of Team 7 joined forces with Orochimaru to gain the power he would need to slay the man responsible for wiping out his clan: His brother Itachi, who had since joined the Akatsuki. The Akatsuki is a shadowy organization made up of powerful rogue ninja. Their goal is the capture all of the tailed beasts for a much larger and more sinister purpose.

Shippuden reveals the previously unknown story of Naruto’s origins and Kakashi’s past: Naruto’s father is actually the 4th Hokage, Minato Namikaze (which you should know if you read my blog post featuring him). Naruto’s mother Kushina Uzumaki comes from a clan that specializes in sealing and restraining chakra. She was chosen to be the Jinchuruki of Kurama, the Nine-Taled beast before Naruto. On the night Naruto was born, a mysterious man attacked the village. His goal: Release Kurama and unleash his power on the village, which he does for a time. With Kushina severely weakened from giving birth and having Kurama ripped out of her, Minato is left with no choice but to make their newborn son Naruto the next Jinchuruki. He seals half of Kurama’s power in Naruto and takes the other half with him to the grave.

The man responsible is later revealed to be Obito Uchiha, a former member of Minato’s first squad and one of Kakashi’s teammates. In a cruel twist of fate, Obito in revealed to have been manipulated to bringing Madara Uchiha back to life. That ended up being necessary along with assembling The Tailed Beasts to summon the world-ending Ten-Tailed Beast, which Madara summoned once before. This was all part of a much larger plan to bring back Kaguya, the Mother of Chakra who had been sealed away many eras ago. In the end, only Naruto and Sasuke’s combined powers are able to not only withstand her God-like power but ultimately reseal her and this time forever. With the world safe, Sasuke challenges Naruto to one final duel to decide who is the greatest and most powerful Shinobi in the world.

While it would be fair to say the series truly ended with Naruto and Sasuke’s final duel, the episodes that followed both provided closure for several memorable characters and ended with the wedding of Naruto and Hinata. Sasuke left the village to atone for his past crimes and manages to solve an intricate mystery involving exploding zombies. Shikamaru, on the other hand breaks up a town of cultists looking to end the peace the world is now enjoying. The last 7 episodes, which clearly take place after the events of The Last: Naruto The Movie focus on the village’s wedding plans for Naruto and Hinata.

…All this said, those waiting for the Dub will probably not see it until 2019 or 2020. It will take some time to say the least.

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The finale ended with confirmation Naruto’s son Boruto is getting his own Anime series. Boruto: Naruto Next Generations will premeire on Crunchyroll on April 5.

There are serious questions regarding Naruto’s status that may force a retcon of the storyline. This is a massive spoiler for those who don’t know but at some point in Boruto, Naruto is killed. Then it’s revealed Naruto isn’t really dead. Or something? Like I said, Naruto’s actual status in terms of Boruto is unknown since the Manga is apparently being rewritten to make things more clear. According to several insiders, the orignally planned death of Naruto is being retconned entirely because of the confusion around it. As for why I’m being vague, I haven’t read the Boruto Manga myself.

Not yet, anyway. I just wanted to finish watching Naruto Shippuden first. Now that I have, I’ll get started reading some Boruto on my iPad ^_^

Before I forget: Boruto and Sarada (Sasuke and Sakura’s daughter) are both playable characters in Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 (PC, PS4 and Xbox One).

Best Opening, Fight Scene and Weird Characters of 2016!

…We’re gonna kick this bad boy off with a BANG.

Best Opening: Twin Star Exorcists (Third Opening)

 

The song is titled Sync and is by the group LOL.

Combined with the animated footage, it sets the tone for the plot of the third arc of the Anime (which I won’t spoil here). It’s a nice fusion of pop and hip hop. The anime itself premiered earlier this year as well. You can watch it on Crunchyroll (still in progress).

Runner Up: One Punch Man

 

The Song is The Hero !! by The JAM Project

I know what you’re probably thinking: “How in the holy hell did Saitama NOT win this category?!”

The truth is this was in the running for Best AMV AND best Fight Sequence in addition to Best OP. I decided to give all three categories to others but I did want to give OPM some love off the bat. Besides, you WILL see Saitama mentioned for sure in at least one other category ^_^

…This concludes Best OP 2016. On to the next category:

 

Best Fight Scene: Hisoka vs. Kastro (Hunter x Hunter)
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I recently watched the 2-episode fight as it aired on Toonami. Without spoiling the outcome, Hisoka breaks down what happened after the fight while being treated for the injuries he sustained in the fight. I chose this fight as this year’s winner simply because of the buildup, how it ended and the explaination afterward.

I don’t want to give anything away so I’ll leave it at that.

Runner-Up: Naruto and Sasuke’s Final Fight (Naruto Shippuden)

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…If we didn’t already know the outcome thanks to Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 and The Last: Naruto The Movie this would have won Best Fight Scene 2016. The problem, of course is we already knew the fight was going to happen and it was going to end in a tie. Based on that, it didn’t feel right to award them Best Fight even though everything else was done right. The problem is even non-Naruto fans knew this was going to happen. LOL.

For those who don’t know, Sasuke challenges Naruto to one final battle after they seal away Kagura. The battle, which spans several episodes ends in a draw with Naruto and Sasuke losing an arm each (Tsunade uses the cells of the 1st Hokage to grow a new arm for both of them later).

…This concludes Best Fight Scenes of 2016. On to the next category:

Best Male Weird Character: Augus Mikazuki (Moble Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans)

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…While it goes without saying Mikazuki is one cool dude, he’s also a lose cannon. He’s got a 2-track mind: Fighting and Orga though he is working on socializing a bit more. He doesn’t hold much of an interest in anything outside those two areas. It’s very….WEIRD for the lead protagonist. That’s the best way I can think of putting it. LOL.

Runner Up: Tetsuya Kuroko (Kuroko’s Basketball)

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…Those who read my review of the anime knows I watched the whole series earlier this year. Kuroko’s quite the interesting basketball player. He uses his lack of presence to become invisible on the court. He’s become so good at it, he can literally hide in plain sight. LOL.

The main reason I did not give Kuroko the win in this category is because he will be mentioned in at least one other category.

 

Best Female Weird Character: Chidori (Ninja Girl and Samurai Master)

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The Anime is 5 minutes per episode yet there’s alot going on in each one. The anime is a satirical version of Nobunaga’s campaign. The story focuses on Chidori, a child ninja and her dedication to serving her naster, Nobunaga Oda. Chidori is very skilled despire her young age but she’s simple-minded and clueless outside that. This makes for some interesting interactions with basically everyone.

Runner Up: Maoyu (Maoyu)
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…For those who are wondering, he’s pointing at the fake horns she’s holding.Maoyu (Japanese for Demon King) almost won this category but didn’t because there is a method to her madness. Everything about her from the opening episode leaves you baffled. She clearly has both the skills and the willingness to advnacne human civilization in the name of peace. Despite being labeled the eneny of humanity, it turns out she doesn’t hate humans after all. In fact, she wants to champion peace between humans and demons. LOL.

 

…This concludes Best Weird Character 2016!

Next up: Best Romance, Best Romantic Scene and Best Couple!

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A Decade Later, Naruto is still going strong (Anime and Manga)

There are only a handful of Anime that can claim huge success in both profit and popularity on both sides of the Pacific. Naruto is one of two Anime–the other being Dragonball Z–that has captivated two generations of fans though for slightly different reasons. In Dragonball Z’s case it was because so much emphasis was placed on marketing the Anime first and marketing everything else second. I’ll give DBZ it’s due in a separate blog post though. In the case of Naruto, it’s because of how they handed the Anime/Manga split.

Contrary to a popular belief I’ve seen floating around the internet, the decision to split the Anime brand in two as Naruto and Naruto Shippuden had nothing to do with the fact Naruto Shippuden was being aired on Disney XD (and now Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim Saturday nights). At the time, the Manga had long since closed the door on Naruto as a preteen and introduced him as an older, (slightly) more focused teenage ninja. The spine for the Manga changes from White to Black to show the transition from Young Naruto to Teen Naruto.

Anyway, the series is still in progress and shows no signs of slowing down. For those who never watched Naruto and/or read the Manga or haven’t been keeping track in a while: Get a Crunchyroll account and get caught up. New Members can sign up for Premium all access for free for two weeks. Another reason to get Crunchyroll specifically is new episodes are made available the same day they air in Japan. It doesn’t get any better than that!

Anywho, yeah. Things have certainly become interesting in the series. The Manga and Amime are both written simulataneously and unlike Bleach there’s no filler Arcs in the Naruto Anime. There’s been some flashback episodes airing throughout Shippuden but the way it’s done it doesn’t feel like filler and instead feels like it adds more depth to the existing storyline, characters or new characters introduced.

One such flashback double episode I ended up renewing my Crunchyroll Premium status for last month was The Birth of Naruto:

It’s also chronicled in Volume 53 of the Manga, which I got three weeks ago. The double episode that reveals Kushina Uzumaki’s early life and the tragedy that befell her and her husband 4th Hokage Minato Namikaze on the day Naruto was born made his parents instant fan favorites. In hindsight, references to Minato and Kushina have been in plain sight from the beginning. The most obvious one is Naruto’s clothes: Naruto’s clothes are orange. His mother’s Red hair and aggressive temperment were what she was most known for while his father’s hair is yellow and was known for his speed.

Since the Manga and TV series are both still in syndication the brand will keep going strong. When it finally does ends, it will join Dragonball Z as one of the most iconic Anime and Manga of all time. Although the main focus is Naruto there is a stable of supporting cast that have been allowed to shine and build huge fanbases all over the world: Sausuke Uchiha, Sakura Haruno, Kakashi Hatake, Sai, Gaara, Yamato and so on.

To be transparent, I HATED the fandom until I saw Episodes 247 and 248 of Naruto Shuppuden and read Volume 53. I thought the series was ok at the most but honestly didn’t get the rabid fan boy/girl -ism I saw that came with the most…enthusiastic fans of the series. I’ve come to appreciate the fans a bit more but don’t go expecting me to cosplay as a favorite character at Anime Boston!

Watching the series evolve over the last decade certainly has been fun. Unlike DBZ you’re not being smothered with a new game every two years and unlike Bleach the fillers are few and far inbetween. Shippers are chomping at the bit to see what’s in store for Naruto, Sausuke and Sakura in particular. They’re usually shipped as Sakura with Naruto or Sausuke though Sakura/Sausuke has been the most popular from the very beginning.