I’ve seen a lot of anime throughout the years. I’ve seen what people call the ‘good stuff’, I’ve seen the ‘bad stuff’. In time, I realized and accepted that not everyone is going to like something, or dislike it. No matter what the anime (or movie, or book, or game, etc.) it boils down to personal preference. So, how do you know if you’d like something you’ve never seen but heard so much about? When I first started Naruto, I saw the potential in it. From the first episode, they presented a distinct setting with distinct characters. Sure, archetypes were being followed (the boy dreaming of becoming big, the old grandfatherly figure, the teacher, the rival). The first episode showed emotion and depth to its main character and what he will struggle with, along with the dynamics of his interaction with other characters and their quirks.
Cut about ten episodes later, the plot arc currently being followed felt to me like it was not going to matter much to the main story. Some episodes had drawn out battles, and I got that feeling that the anime would be the type where they would go from different area to different area, developing their skills and learning moral lessons and such, but there would be no grand plot, no B story, that tied the series together. I also worried it would fall into mediocrity. Without giving anything away, by the end of that arc (about 19 episodes in), my mind was changed.
Having seen all of the series up to the current episodes, I can say at least for myself that at its best Naruto is a deeper anime than some give credit to, and can be quite addicting. A strong focus is on its characters as they develop throughout the series and there are moments of real emotion, tragedy, intensity and even just amusement. It’s not perfect, as there are slow times in the series (and the cartoon suffers from tricks to get as many episodes out of the original story as they can), and I won’t say everyone will end up liking it but I can say it had unexpectedly become one of my favorite anime.
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