REVIEW: ‘Naruto’ Chapters #699-700 (1999)

Naruto (1999)

Chapter 699-700 [Double Finale Review!!]
Story & Art by Masashi Kishimoto
Chapters: 699-700 (of 700)

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: Just like that, Naruto by Masashi Kishimoto comes to an end. It has been an intriguing ride, and it feels sort of sad having just started to review the series weekly and suddenly I have to stop. It’s okay though, there’s most definitely more to come – from other series, and of more Naruto, but we’ll get to that.

If you’ll allow me, instead of just flat out reviewing these last two chapters I’m just going to talk; about them and touch a bit about my history with this series. This is just a very big deal for me that it’s ending. Naruto wasn’t my first anime, and I was already a fan of anime by the time it started here in America. But I remember being pretty young and buying monthly Shounen Jump when it was just coming over to America and still in physical print. There was this series about ninja that looked very interesting, and I started reading it alongside One Piece, Yu-Gi-Oh, Dragon Ball Z and other titles.

The anime then began and it became my life for a long time. I was reading the manga and watching the anime, and I was really big into it. Act 1 of Naruto (everything up until Sasuke originally leaving the village) is still, in my mind, A+ storytelling overall. My ships were Naruto x Hinata, and I fell in love with Hinata, Gaara, Tsunade, and Jiraiya. Still my four favorite characters. I even joined a forum where I was a part of original Naruto storytelling RPs, and I made great friends I still have to this day.

In other words, this series was a godsend for me. And it was one I had ended up investing the most of my effort into that I had ever out into experiencing a story.

Somewhere down the road though, I became disenchanted by it. I had stopped watching the anime just after the first Naruto: Shippuuden arc with Gaara so that I could focus on reading the manga and get caught up. At that time the manga was well ahead of the anime and  I wanted to know what happened next. I spent 6 months getting caught up, and it may have been Naruto burnout, or I was just maturing as a storyteller in my own right/entertainment viewer, but somewhere during the Pain arc I realized that this series just wasn’t as good as it used to be.

And then ever since the Pain arc, I’ve hated almost everything I read. But damn it,  I wanted to know how this series would end. Also, I didn’t hate everything, just most stuff.

So, if I’m beginning to complain, why am I even bringing all this up? Because the series is over and it’s time for Kishimoto to face up for everything he’s done. Was the ending satisfying? After all these years, and all these headaches, did it achieve what he set out to do?

In the last few weeks leading up to the grand finale, Naruto vs. Sasuke had been, oddly enough, a breath of fresh air. It felt like Naruto again. It felt good, it felt great. And now it’s over. In the last few chapters we get a lot of reconciliation, a lot of revelations. Not many “answers” per se to personal lingering questions, but I decided to throw those out by the time I read the last two chapters.

So, keeping all that in mind… Kishimoto… you did good!

You really did damn good. The last two chapters are a lot of fun, and really put a big smile on my face more times than one. Chapter 699 sees Naruto and Sasuke working together save everyone from the infinite tsukuyomi, or infinite dream-state. As time passes, people mourn for their lost ones, and a new Hokage steps into play. Surprisingly, it isn’t Naruto, but Kakashi who steps into the village leader shoes. Kakashi is officially the 6th Hokage. And I think that was the smartest thing to do.
It wouldn’t have made sense or Naruto to step up to Hokage following directly after a war when he’s still to inexperienced as a person to take on the role. Kakashi has had years and years to become the kind of leader Konoha needs, and I was really happy to see him get that honor. Tsunade isn’t dead though, she just stepped down.

Sasuke wasn’t branded a traitor and imprisoned or life like he should’ve been, both Kakashi and Naruto spoke up from him and because he helped saved the world, in the end, he was pardoned. And while I am more than certain there are those who hate Sasuke, I will admit this was a smart way to go about fixing that little conundrum in Sasuke’s story. There really wasn’t much about this chapter I disliked.

Chapter 700, the final chapter, sees us jump forward in time to an undisclosed amount of years. The world is at peace, and everyone has calmed down. People have gotten married and had kids, and those kids are now old enough to begin causing their own pranks and problems. While this final chapter wasn’t absolutely perfect, and we didn’t get to see how everyone turned out, it was still very exciting to see how everyone in the main cast ended up. And how their kids came to look.

The fanboy moment for me was finding out that Naruto x Hinata was officially a thing(!), and they have two adorable, yet one of them is bratty Naruto the 2nd, kids. Bolt and Himawari. There are several other pairings, but I’ll save those for you readers to find out. This was the big one for me. Naruto is the 7th Hokage after Kakashi stepped down, and this felt like the right way to handle that situation. If anyone was going to hand over the reigns of the kingdom to Naruto, it was going to be the man who knew more than most exactly how much this boy dreamed of one day leading his village.

Some of the things Ii didn’t like about the ending was that I felt it could’ve been longer, there are still several major players from the series that we don’t know how the ended up, like Yamato and Orochimaru. And in one of the final panels we see this huge bustling city, a skyline, behind the village hidden in the leaves and I have to think… how far in the future did we really jump? Or was that panel just kind of showing what the ninja world was coming to? No one can build that kind of skyline in, I dunno, 13 years? Let’s just assume we jumped that far ahead, shall we?

Anyways, I’m babbling. Naruto has ended, and to be perfectly honest it was a damn good ending. For a series that’s been going for 15 years Kishimoto really did pull it off. I am so happy to get to confirm that. But wait, the story isn’t over yet! No way, no sir!

It has been announced that next spring a new mini-series will start as a spin-off to the main Naruto series. No confirmation on what this new story is about, but my guess is it’ll be on the kids. That seems like the most appropriate place to take it. There is also coming in December “The Last -Naruto the Movie-” – and yes that is the official title – that takes place either just before or after the last chapter. Because all the character designs for that movie are the same as the character designs for all the adult Naruto characters, plus the kids. There will also be new novels coming soon that will focus on side-characters of the series, I guess to show what they’re up to in this new era of peace.

I’ll definitely be checking out all of these if possible. Although, hopefully they won’t last too long.

That’s all, folks! Until next time, in the land of the dancing leaves…

Final Score: 4.5 Ninjas Hidden in the Leaves 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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