REVIEW: ‘Naruto’ Chapter 696 (1999)

Naruto (1999)

Chapter 696
Story & Art by Masashi Kishimoto
Chapters: 696-Ongoing

Summary: Naruto is a young ninja-in-training, having grown up in the Village Hidden in the Leaves, who is shunned and isolated from those around him because of the mysterious beast lurking inside of him. This causes Naruto great pain, but he decides to work past it in order to become the greatest ninja that ever lived. Along the way he makes many friends and enemies. Can Naruto do it?

[MAJOR Spoilers from this point on…]

Review: No one will ever be able to accuse Kishimoto of not going out in style. If anything, this final fight between Naruto and Sasuke has become nothing but style. It’s loud, bombastic, and pure shounen fashion. With big attacks, even bigger “final forms” and all the kage bunshin no jutsu’s you can shake a stick at. Only a few chapters to go, and Kishimoto is pulling out all the stops to bring Naruto’s spiritual journey with Sasuke to maximum closure.

In the latest chapter we’re still getting flashbacks to them as kids, and being shown once again how their beginnings shaped their fates. Now, while the flashbacks are not as obnoxious this time around as they were last chapter – and that’s a definite good thing – we’re still getting them and that’s still a problem. He doesn’t have much room left, and Kishimoto should be filling every page with as much action as he can if this final fight is all that there is left to do.

I’m not going to harp on the flashbacks though, again they’re really at a minimum this time compared to last chapter. And hopefully there won’t be any flashbacks at all next chapter. What we do get in spades is more talking, but thankfully Naruto is unsuccessful in talking Sasuke out of wanting to become evil. I was really hoping he would fail, as awful at that sounds, because it’s been Naruto’s greatest superpower up until now. Sasuke isn’t listening, and that leads into some great action this chapter.

Speaking of Sasuke, he’s been quite the bundle of joy to watch this series. Kishimoto once said Sasuke was his favorite character from the series, and to be honest it shows. The final story arc in actuality is more about Sasuke’s folly than it is Naruto’s bravery. Sasuke as a character has gone from growing up a loner and hating his brother Itachi for destroying their clan, to eventually loving his brother and wanting to follow in his footsteps. Itachi did an evil deed and burdened the hatred of the Leaf Village for their own good, and now Sasuke plans to do that very thing for the world. The wheels of fate turn, and turn…

Naruto on the other hand has been a character who has rarely changed over the course of this series. Even now, all he wants to do is save the world, his friends, and become Hokage. He refuses to kill Sasuke no matter how much Sasuke goads him to do it, and as much as I commend Naruto on not wanting to… it may be his downfall to not do it. I used to think Kishimoto would never end the series with Naruto’s death, but after a lot of thinking there’s at least one route I could see the ending taking.

With so few chapters left, there’s always the possibility it will end with both Naruto and Sasuke killing one another. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Kishimoto has been killing it with the art during this fight, he’s really pulling out all the stops. Sasuke’s new Susanoo form though isn’t as captivating as it could be though, and that’s rather sad. I liked his previous form with it better. Still though, the action has been pretty amazing to witness and Kishimoto has decided to let the art really speak for itself. Naruto’s bijuu form is pretty stellar, and I wonder if we’ll see an evolution of it before the end comes.

Overall not a bad chapter. I’m going to give it high score, but there’s still that inkling in the back of my head that though I have been enjoying this fight… what will it really amount to in the end? For now though, this chapter on its own… I quite dig it.

Final Score: 4 Tailed Beasts out of 5


DERRICK-image

Derrick is a born and raised otaku with a love for comics, anime, manga and movies. The full list is pretty long, but that’s just the basics. Stories set in space are his bread and butter.

You can find more of his writing at IndieComix.net

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