Fanfiction Fridays: Felix Culpa by Ninjagrrl

I first read Felix Culpa back in 2008 when I was really into Naruto. I fell out of the series sometime around Shippuden, because I heard the show was about to jump into yet another filler arc, and well, I lost interest. I’ve only recently just gotten back into Naruto, and since I can no longer find all the episodes on YouTube, at least not in Japanese, I turned to fanfiction. Instantly, I remembered that not only does Felix Culpa exist, but that it was one of the better fics I had read for the series way back when.

kakashi-and-itachiThe fic starts after Naruto loses control over the nine-tailed fox spirit and attacks a whole bunch of people. Caught in the conflict is none other than Itachi, who, in his weakened state from the battle, is easily captured by Konoha.

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Fanfiction Fridays: Team 8 by S’TarKan

“I presume that Jiraiya has the contract for toads?” Kurenai asked.

Naruto nodded, and they both jumped as Shino dropped his folder on the floor. Shino quickly bent over and began gathering up his papers, shoving them haphazardly into the folder. When he straightened up, Kurenai thought she noticed a slight tremor in his hands. “Are you all right?” she asked.

Shino nodded. Then he turned to Naruto. “That would be a very formidable technique. That being the case, I will no doubt be forced to forfeit the match if we meet in the finals.”

“Forfeit?” Naruto asked, clearly dismayed. “But why?”

“Toads are incredibly voracious insectivores,” Shino explained, “capable of consuming a significant portion of their own body mass in a single night. If I attempted to use my kikai jutsu around them, I would stand to lose significant portions of my colonies in short order. Even if I were to defeat you, I would be effectively crippled in the process.”

“Oh,” Naruto said.

“However, you should not let that be your sole decision criterion,” Shino concluded. “As this should remain between you and Kurenai-sensei, I will bid you both good evening.”

With that, Shino left, and Kurenai wondered if it was her imagination or he was walking a little faster than usual. She shook her head and turned back to Naruto. “If you’d like some more information, I’ll see what I can find at the library.”

Naruto shook his head. “No way am I signing that scroll now,” he declared.

Kurenai merely raised an eyebrow and awaited his explanation.

“The old pervert was showing off when he demonstrated the technique,” Naruto began. “Some of those toads are really big. I wouldn’t dare try using them when we’re on a mission — one of them might eat Shino, just to get all his bugs.”

Kurenai blinked. “I see,” she said. That was definitely a novel reason not to learn a new jutsu. She only hoped Naruto didn’t later regret his thoughtfulness.

After fifteen long years, Naruto has finally, finally come to an end. I used to be really into the series, but as author Masashi Kishimoto continued to drag the story on and on, I eventually lost interest. However, some of my friends did not lose interest, and gave me blow-by-blow updates of the important plot twists as they unfolded (and ignored my complaints about the Uchiha, of which there were many). Finally, the last few chapters rolled around, and, intrigued despite myself, I read them. Spoiler alert: they covered exactly none of what I wanted them to cover. Yes, all my ships came true, but none of them made any sense! What about character development? What about the advancement of ninja ideals and society? What about my favorite clan, the Hyuuga?

It was time to delve even further into nostalgia. Feeling bitter about everything, I went into my fanfic bookmarks and hunted out one of my old Naruto fandom favorites: Team 8.

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Oh, My Pop Culture Buddha: The Path Toward Enlightenment in Naruto, Part 2

Welcome back! In Part 1 of this series, I categorized several characters from the anime/manga series Naruto as representative of the naraka (hell), preta (“hungry ghost”), and animal realms of the Buddhist “desire world”. This week, I’ll discuss the deva (god), asura (demigod), and human realms, as well as wrap up with what I think this means for the series’ interpretation of release from the cycle of Samsara. Spoilers ahead!

Naruto

Naruto the Ninja Buddha. Well, the Sage of the Six Paths was one too, but in Buddhism, each age has its own Buddha.

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Oh, My Pop Culture Buddha: The Path Toward Enlightenment in Naruto, Part 1

Let’s get one thing out of the way: I know my current favorite anime/manga series Naruto has tons of issues. I know its storytelling has been feeble for years now, it’s a total trainwreck from a feminist perspective, and it throws around religious references frivolously, like they’re sprinkles on a sundae.

But I have to give the series credit for being thematically consistent… perhaps even to the point of being overbearing. For a long time I thought the themes were generic values like teamwork, brotherhood, perseverance, and sacrifice. But as the narrative wore on, it became clearer and clearer how cyclical everything was: the endless cycle of war between the Senju and Uchiha, the cycle of each generation taking on the roles of the previous generation, and the literal cycle of reincarnation of the two sons of the Sage of the Six Paths. To understand this, we’re going to have to dive a little deeper than generic, fairly Western values. If I had been paying as much attention to translations of Japanese terms as I should have been, I would have realized far earlier that all these cycles are evoking a particular cycle, the cycle of Samsara: the endless loop of death and rebirth in Hindu and Buddhist belief. You see, “Rinnegan” translates to “Samsara eye”. And the Rinnegan is the pinnacle of all ocular powers, and the center of conflict for much of the second half of the series.

Okay, so the characters in Naruto are caught in the cycle of Samsara, so what? Well, there’s a lot to Samsara. In some branches of Buddhism, there are six realms of existence within the world of “desire” (Sanskrit kāma-dhātu) into which one can be reborn while within the cycle of Samsara: the god or deva realm, the asura or demigod realm, the human realm, the animal realm, the preta or “hungry ghost” realm, and the naraka or hell realm. These words will sound familiar to any readers/viewers of Naruto; the Six Paths that Pain/Nagato used (with his Rinnegan) are named after them. But even more deeply than that, I think there is at least one character in the series who represents each of the realms. The good news is that all of the characters I will discuss below are “getting better”, moving closer toward enlightenment—i.e., toward breaking free from the cycle of Samsara. In this first of a two-part series, I’ll discuss characters representing the naraka, preta, and animal realms. Spoilers for all of Naruto below!

Six Paths of Pain

Believe it or not, the Six Paths of Pain are not the embodiments of the Buddhist six realms. They just have powers marginally related to their names.

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Fanfiction Fridays: It’s Not Always About the Romance

Every Valentine’s Day, we at Lady Geek Girl and Friends vote on and compile a huge list of our favorite pairings to share with our readers. (This is not that post. Check back around noon.) However, we also always do a post that takes some of the emphasis off romantic love, because we are strong proponents of the idea that while having a significant other is cool, it isn’t the be-all end-all of life or this day in particular. We’ve listed our favorite platonic duos and our favorite unattached anime characters over the past two years, but since V-Day conveniently falls on a Friday this year, we’re taking the opportunity to share five awesome fanfics where the focus is not on romance. Enjoy!

Warning: some fics involve spoilers for their respective series, specifically Shingeki no Kyojin (and, like, Harry Potter and The Avengers if you somehow haven’t read/seen those).

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Manga Mondays: Rock Lee’s Springtime of Youth

rock lee's spring time of youthHere’s what I think when I read this series: What. Da. Hell?

Rock Lee’s Springtime of Youth is a spin-off of Naruto that focuses on one of Naruto’s peers named Rock Lee. Everyone is chibi and the series takes place in the past so everyone is there and carefree and happy. And did I mention they’re all chibi?

Most chapters are episodic in nature so you can pick up the series at practically any point and just start reading. You won’t miss much. And if you have an unabated passion for Naruto then you will probably find a place in your heart for this one.

That’s where the plus sides end, however. It’s like every bad Hetalia episode put back to back (and I know I’m going to get torn a new one for saying that). Everyone and everything is completely ridiculous and it loses all appeal after approximately two pages. I love Hetalia, but what I think balances out the craziness of it all is that it is a political commentary (which is what I truly love about Hetalia). RLSToY doesn’t have some greater message to achieve balance. It’s over-the-top for the sake of being over-the-top.

rock lee's spring time of youth2Actually, RLSToY exists to make money. It’s a way of earning a couple more bucks for Shounen Jump and it’s blatant; no effort was made to hide this. If you want to make a series solely for earning the money, at least make it interesting. Most of the plots of RLSToY make for very dumb stories. If you want me to read a spin-off, make it better than fanfiction I can find online.

So if you are a diehard Naruto fan and somehow don’t know about this, check it out. If you don’t fall into that category, you’re better off staying away.

Manga Mondays: The One Piece Journey Continues

one_piece_anime_ice_cream_nico_robin_namiPart 1
Part 2

Well, after my last One Piece post, I kinda/sorta said I wouldn’t read it again. However, during a bout with a cold and nothing better to do, I picked it back up again. And it finally made me realize what’s wrong with this series.

Say what you want about the complicated and elongated plots of Naruto and Bleach, but they always seem like they are heading somewhere for a reason (well, maybe excluding the random-as-hell fight between Unohana and Kenpachi in Bleach). In One Piece, they’re just wandering and doing whatever. There is no concrete, overarching plot direction. Yeah they’re supposedly looking for the One Piece, but in the 250+ chapters I’ve been reading it now, they’ve only mentioned it a handful of times. In addition, everything in One Piece is too drawn out. Not to continue to compare One Piece to Bleach and Naruto, but the other two series keep having things happen. One Piece devoted an entire chapter to drinking pumpkin juice for (seemingly) no other reason than pumpkin juice is delicious. It’s just so slow.

one piece sky islandAnyway, I’m in the middle of the sky island bit with God and and those priest people and fighting and things. That’s all I know, which I guess is part three of the problem. The things they should explain, they don’t, and instead devote serious page time to pumpkin juice. I have no idea who half of the sky people are at this point.

Part of me really wants to love Nico Robin, but the other part doesn’t know enough about her to like her. She’s there, and I love that she’s the nerd of the group, but she’s distant. There are ways to be a “distant” character and still be lovable (Raven from Teen Titans is the only example coming into my head right now, but I’m sure there are others). Robin doesn’t seem all that likable, which makes me sad because I usually like characters like her.

Now I don’t want to end every One Piece post with a cliff hanger of “Will I keep reading?!” because I think I will continue to keep it up for now. But the series better start showing why everybody loves it so much soon, or else I might stop.

one piece