When I was a kid, I used to watch bits and pieces of Naruto– not the whole thing, understand, just whatever happened to be on Cartoon Network at the time. Today, I’m right glad that I didn’t stick with it, because… cough… Orochimaru…. cough… would’ve freaked me out and given me nightmares for sure, as a kid (trust me, I almost had nightmares about bloodbending after seeing that “Puppetmaster” ep of ATLA. ). But a couple of my closest, anime-nutty friends recently got hooked on the series, and I decided, why not do the same, since most or all of Season 1 was on Netflix? So I restarted watching, and boy, did the memories come rolling back to me (I specifically remember Gaara when he was a mega-Creep and had the basic serial killer mindset, him transforming and threatening to suffocate Sakura, and also the sparring match between Hinata– love that name, BTW– and Neji Hyuga.). I noticed a lot of things I don’t think I would’ve easily picked up on as a child, as far as the series goes:
- The Music. “Naruto” is special in the fact that it conveys a large range of different themes for different scenes. There’s training music, the ever determined, “I can do it!” music, the laid-back and chill music, the creepy music (usually used with bad guy scenes, or with something/someone creepy. Made with wind chimes and a few other instruments.), and the villain’s (Orochimaru’s) personal theme (which is a creepily played organ, somewhat similar to the music in “Revenge of the Sith,” when Yoda and Darth Hideous– sorry, Sideous– are battling in the Senate room.). It is impressive and gives you all the right vibes.
- The Characters. These characters are all portrayed realistically, personality-wise (aside from all that junk about Chakra, powers, etc.). There is genuine character growth, and while some confrontations are shiver-inducing or nail-biting, others make me literally LOL, or, in the cases of Sakura and Sasuke, or Shikamaru and Temari, squeal softly, “I ship it!”
- Me Talking aloud to characters on-screen. No, I am not crazy. It takes a lot for me to become like one of my kid brothers, talking, yapping, scolding, and squealing at the screen. “Naruto” is one of the rarities that has actually succeeded in getting me to do it. I cheer characters on when they fight opponents/baddies, softly yell and want to wring their sorry necks when they do something really stupid (‘I’m sorry, Sasuke, I really, really don’t think it’s a good idea to go looking for the same sadistically evil snake guy who tried killing you and your teammates, who now vampirized you in a way and wants to take over your body. ‘*Sasuke goes anyways* ‘Annnnndddd, he’s officially lost it, ladies and gents.’), get slightly choked up if something really, really sad happens, squeal if there’s an obvious shipping scene, and, the rarest reaction of them all, the “I CALLED IT!” reaction (when you knew something good/important was gonna happen, i.e., Sakura feeling like a burden because she’s not a good fighter, so she seeks to become a medical ninja instead. Totally called it.).
- The Villians. Other than yelping, “CREEPER ALERT!” when Orochimaru, the primary antagonist, enters the scene, I recently noticed something about him(aside from the fact that he’s genuinely very creepy, likes mocking and using people, and generally should be avoided at all costs.). He has a lot– I mean a LOT– in common with both Voldemort from “Harry Potter” and Satan himself: They all have some kind of fondness/connection to snakes; all mark their followers with some sinister mark; both Voldemort and Orochimaru are white-skinned and have snake-like eyes; both Voldemort and Orochimaru go by “lord” in their inner circles (Satan probably does too, BUT since his henchgoons are also selfish, some of em probably use it somewhat sarcastically. LOL); the list goes on. They are all very fond of just using people for their own devious, nefarious purposes, even if that means lying with a persuasive tongue, and think nothing of killing of letting their most loyal followers be killed if it means fruition of their goals or if said followers become a “hindrance” somehow; Orochimaru and Satan openly applaud the latter behavior in others as well, in fact. Also, I learned how much it really, really gets on my nerves if a villain calls a female protagonist, “honey,” sweetie,” “sweetheart,” or any other “pet names”. Especially “my dear” (which, might I add, Orochimaru said to Sakura openly not once but thrice in the dub, while mocking her and talking about his right-hand man “putting her out of her misery”– ironically, when she told him to wait as he turned to go– so she could ask about Sasuke– he got that LOOK in his eye, the same look that he had when Sasuke came to call, the look that goes like, “Oh goody, we may just have a volunteer for a new baddie.” *gags and shivers simultaneously*). I am not YOUR anything, ya creep, and if you so much as come within a 200 mile radius of me, I will kick your sorry heinie so fast you’ll think you were in a time warp!!!! (Thank you, “Calvin and Hobbes”) …. It might be worth mentioning that pet names by random, real-life strangers also creep me out, and should be avoided at all costs. You are not my boyfriend. Deal with it.
- A Too-Neat Blend of Godly Virtues and Morals, and Less Than Godly Virtues. They’re sometimes a bit subtle, but if you pay attention, you’ll know which ones don’t “feel” right, the ones God would probably stamp an “X” on. An example would be Rock Lee trying to achieve it all simply through hard work, which breaks my heart. Of course, I keep in mind that it’s a secular anime, but still. Hard work, without God, can only get you so far, as Lee realizes repeatedly (while he’s very powerful, he often ends up looking to friends for additional help, or gets his rear badly whooped.). On the other hand, it also emphasizes some Godly virtues, such as loving others and befriending/looking out for those who have no one(“Do not take advantage of the widow or the fatherless. If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry.” Exodus 22:22-23, NIV.), as well as going all-out to save your friends, even at the risk of your own life (“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13, NIV.). Shikamaru even states, at the beginning of their Sasuke Retrieval Mission, that although he didn’t really care for Sasuke as a person, he is still a comrade, nonetheless, and Shikmaru will gladly lay his life down for him– another Biblical virtue. However, the anime still carelessly approaches topics such as fate, predestination, free will, etc, and I personally feel Christians should not turn their brains completely off while watching animes like this, and should use good discernment while viewing.
All this being said, if you can withstand some parts (Jiraiya’s “research,” some blood and violence, ungodly virtues, technical demon possession– keep in mind to the makers of “Naruto” and other animes that the term, “demon” is different from our definition, unfortunately; to them it’s more like “spirit”–and creepy bad guys with persuasive tongues) and use good judgement, I think it’s a very good anime. I can’t wait to see Naruto and Hinata’s, Sakura and Sasuke’s, and even Orochimaru’s kids in a future season (ironically, I’m told from the Naruto Wiki that Mitsuki, Orochimaru’s “kid” and Boruto, Naruto and Hinata’s kid, are BFFs How’s that for a paradox?).
Have you watched “Naruto” yet? What did you make of it?
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