Friday, February 19, 2010

Book-A-Day 2010 # 16 (2/19) -- Naruto 42-44 by Masashi Kishimoto

This is going to be, very nearly, a complete waste of a "Book-A-Day" post, since I don't have much to say about three books this far into an ongoing series.

But, on the other hand, I am sticking three books into one "Book-A-Day" post, so I feel I should get credit for that.

So I've been reading Naruto for a couple of years now -- getting all of them from the library as I can snatch them away from pimply-faced boys in hoodies, which is not very often -- because it's just a good example of a adventure serial: full of larger-than-life characters that are easy to tell apart (even if readers like me can't always remember everyone's names) having battles across a big landscape (that isn't so complicated as to require a map) and engaging in never-ending "Aha! You thought that, did you? Well, you were wrong, because you did not know thus-and-such!" conversations that endlessly expand, deepen, and recomplicate the backstory. At some point it will become too complicated for any but the most rabid fans to keep up with, but it's not there yet; the core focus of the series is still on Naruto and his old best friend Sasuke, even as Kishimoto keeps them apart for thousands of pages at a time (and then has them fight when they do meet, of course -- this is a ninja comic).

In these volumes, what I half-expected to happen does happen to Naruto's mentor -- not that it was a difficult thing to guess, what always happens to mentors in adventure stories? -- and Sasuke has his own gigantic battle with his arch-nemesis...his own older brother! (Imagine thrilling Republic-serial music here.) Then Sasuke gets a lecture about the true history of his clan that takes up most of the oversized Vol. 43 -- but Kishimoto keeps it interesting, so I'm not complaining. Finally, # 44 has Naruto head off to train -- ninja comics are almost as much about training sequences as they are about hundred-page-long fights and extended flashback-laded exposition -- so that he can battle some or all of the various nasty folks that want to do him wrong.

I figure, at the present pace, that this current big storyline will run another thousand pages or so -- say, to about Vol. 50. And I'll probably keep reading it as long as the library keeps buying it, which you can take as you will.

(Oh, and I chose the cover for # 44 to illustrate this post because it was the most giant-toad-eriffic. I am all about the massive day-glow talking frogs with eyeliner here at Antick Musings.)

Book-A-Day 2010: The Epic Index
Listening to: Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan - Black Mountain
via FoxyTunes

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