The two or three of you anime/manga fans out there who haven’t had long-ongoing contact with Shounen Jump mainstay Naruto by Kishimoto Masashi—this one goes out to you.
Naruto tells the story of a no-good orphan kid (named Naruto) who wants to be recognized as the Hokage, the best ninja in his village. He’s been ostracized his entire life for reasons he’s not quite sure of. It turns out that a demon attacked the village when Naruto was a baby, and the Hokage at the time had sealed the demon inside Naruto. The villagers all see Naruto as the demon inside him instead of the lonely kid he is.
Naruto eventually starts to prove himself to others, make friends with the other kids in his class, and gain the respect of his teachers and the village. However, he is hurt deeply when his best friend Sasuke abandons him and the village in search of revenge for his family’s murderer. Naruto makes his new mission to bring Sasuke back to the village and redeem him, and… that’s pretty much the story so far, if you can smush 600+ chapters into about a hundred words of summary.
I started reading Naruto way back in high school, and I’m in grad school now, so I… wow, I have spent more than a third of my life reading it. Yikes. Because of that, Naruto will always have a special place in my heart and all. But I’m not gonna sit here and suggest that you read it. It’s got some great story arcs, and some great character development, but it is (as of last week) 616 chapters and still ongoing, and that’s a hell of a commitment for someone starting out.
And, although it’s one of the big three of shounen right now along with Bleach and One Piece, I don’t feel like it’s doing anything too exciting or new to set it apart from the typical tournament-style shounen fare. It’s been a long time since any plot twist has taken me by surprise, and at this point I’m only reading it every week out of a sake of obligation.
The plot has reached what I think will be its final arc in the manga, but in true shounen style this arc has lasted probably fifty chapters already and will probably last at least another fifty before it’s done. Even so, if you’re going to read it, I’d suggest you wait it out and read the whole thing once it’s over.