After Naruto ended, it’s safe to say that the fans were not pleased. We had been reading the series for years and finding a replacement would be difficult. Luckily, the author did a sequel series that ran for an extra 10 chapters which bought the world some time. It was a fun title and while it was incredibly short, it was still long enough to give us some hype and introduce new characters. Nothing can ever top the classic Naruto series in this franchise, but Naruto Gaiden is a sequel that is worthy of the Naruto name.
It’s been years since the final battle and you should be aware of Naruto’s current role, but I won’t spoil it in case you do not know. Sasuke was roaming the outside world when he was attacked by a kid who possessed the Sharingan. He quickly calls in Naruto to deal with this threat as he hints that a new villain who may be even stronger than the final boss of the Naruto manga could be around. Meanwhile, Sarada realizes that she doesn’t know much about her parents and decides to follow Naruto for some answers. Her friend decides to tag along and now we have the main cast for the series!
The art is quite good and it feels just like the main series. That’s a good thing as it gives the title a sense of continuity and this could easily have just been an epilogue volume to the main title. The action scenes are a lot of fun and the character designs…are not quite as good. They aren’t bad from an art stand point, but I still just don’t care for the new looks of Naruto and Sasuke. Most of the characters just look too old at this point. It’s just an age issue though and not every character was meant to become an adult.
It’s a little infamous that the villains in Naruto typically turn out to be heroes deep down. This title takes that even farther as Kabuto’s essentially seen the light and he’s allowed to be the teacher of a school. Orochimaru’s even gone past his evil days although it’s heavily implied that he’s still conducting illegal experiments. I don’t understand why Naruto and the others haven’t taken him down yet. Surely it wouldn’t be too much of an issue for the heroes right? Maybe he has diplomatic immunity or something like that. Even the ending continues this tradition. Now, it’s cool to see that the villains are able to turn over a new leaf and that they’re not totally evil, but such a thing needs development. The series didn’t have a whole lot of time to use on that, but it certainly would have been worth it if you ask me.
Naturally, Naruto and Sasuke are ultimately powerful at this point. So, how are any of the villains actually a threat? Well…they aren’t. The series tries to give the villains some hype and they do manage to look decently good against the two heroes at one point, but it’s only because they had plot hax and surprise on their side. In a fair fight, they wouldn’t last an instant here. Sarada is basically able to take these guys on with minimal effort so I wouldn’t put them on Akatsuki level, much less Uchiha tier.
Still, I did enjoy the fight scenes here. The artist is certainly experienced with them by this point and you’ll see a lot of epic speed effects during the fights. Everything has a good amount of detail and the intensity of the fights is the main reason as to why I enjoyed the series a lot. The actual plot about finding out who Sarada’s parents were wasn’t quite as interesting since I’m sure that we suspected who they were from the start. Especially once the series was confirmed to only be 10 chapters as it had to wrap up quickly.
Perhaps, a little too quickly. The ending is very rushed and the main villain goes down in a single hit. I would have liked a bigger fight, but it’s implied that the true villain is still out there. Sasuke had been mentioning that this could all just be part of a bigger scheme. The Boruto movie is apparently an epilogue to this series in a way and the trailer did look fairly awesome so it’s safe to say that the true fights are just beginning. Naruto and Sasuke may have finally met their match this time!
Naruto was a good main character here. He was sympathetic to the villains without actually letting them get by him. Naruto shows why he is still one of the strongest characters in the series even if he has apparently stopped training and grown weaker like Gohan from DBZ. While Sarada is the main character of the series, Naruto gets a good role and he looks good aside from one loss. Likewise, Sasuke manages to be a decent character, but I don’t like his generic design. One of the plots also just doesn’t work since he’s a loner and I can’t really see that changing anytime soon despite what the manga would have you believe. He’s the Shonen Rival and that’s how he should stay. For the most part, he does a good job of handling that reputation and his Sharingan powers are impressive as always. He doesn’t get to fight as much as Naruto, but Sasuke still gets his props.
Sakura doesn’t fight as often as the other two members anymore, but we see that she still has a decent amount of power at her disposal. Would she have defeated the villains without Naruto and Sasuke? I don’t think so, but she was badly outnumbered so we can let it slide. Sarada’s partner was one of the weak links of the series. Her gimmicks just aren’t funny and she’s constantly hoping that someone else is her father. The ending helps to wrap this up so that plot is over, but her attempts at humor didn’t really do the series any justice. Luckily, her role is rather small so it doesn’t really affect the series in a negative way. It’s a very minor con.
Boruto’s role is incredibly small, but he’s getting his own movie so he didn’t need to appear here right? He seems decent in this title except for the fact that he doesn’t run away from the village to help everyone. That’s what a real hero would do. Sarada can be rather unreasonable and dramatic at times, but she’s a good character for the most part. She’s certainly adept at fighting and Sarada appears to be turning into a hot blooded rival type of character. That would work out quite well and I’m hoping that’s how her character develops. She may still overreact at times, but it’s manageable and she’s still better than Boruto and her friend for now. While she probably can’t hold her own series as much as Naruto, she won’t need too since Naruto and friends will still be around.
Meanwhile, Shin is basically the main villain along with a lot of clone versions of him. (He’s already a clone though) I like the design, but he’s not very interesting. His goals are generic and he basically just wants to destroy everyone. His goals and motivations barely make any sense and when you have to beg the enemy for help…you know that you’re in a tough spot. With his Sharingan abilities, you’d think that he would be an impressive fighter, but the way that he goes out is rather anticlimactic. He’s not really meant to be likable, interesting, or cool since this is such a short series, but I still feel like he could have been better. Ah well, at least he wasn’t a downright bad villain.
Overall, Naruto Gaiden was a fun little sequel to Naruto. As it was only 10 chapters, the pacing was nice and quick. We got to see the old characters once again and had a chance to see the aftermath of what happened during the main series. It was a lot of fun and there really wasn’t anything wrong with the series. The ending was a little rushed and the villain wasn’t too cool, but the series couldn’t be perfect. Given the length constraints, I thought that Naruto Gaiden was a blast. If you enjoyed Naruto, then you should definitely like this one. If you’re entering this series fresh to the Naruto franchise, then you’ll still have a blast with all of the suspense and intrigue throughout. Now, I’m ready for the Boruto film!