Genre: Graphic novel, fantasy, fiction, supernatural.
Audience: 6th-12th grade.
Read-Alouds: This Read-Aloud illustrates the treatment of women and how women are perceived by the antagonist.
The second Read-Aloud demonstrates the theme of sacrifice.
Summary: Naruto, who is training to be a Ninja, is the protagonist of Naruto volume 31. Naruto is a boisterous teenager that can strike up a conversation with anyone. The story starts out with Sakura and Granny Chiyo battling Sasori. During the battle, both Sakura and Granny are weakened and must battle Sasori or die! Meanwhile, Naruto and Kakashi (Naruto’s mentor teacher) must battle a Sharingan. A Sharingan is a Ninja with an uniquely rare yet powerful ability. Both groups must prevail to continue their journey to stop the ‘evil’ Ninjas.
Themes: One of the themes addressed in this graphic novel is the treatment of woman. When Sakura and Granny Chiyo are battling Sasori, he keeps on referring to woman as weak, and stupid beings. Through the prevailence of the women in the battle, the book portrays that women have the same capability as males. This demonstrates girl power.
Another theme that is seen in this manga is society’s influence. Sasori, the antagonist, was raised through the Ninja’s teachings. In the book, Granny Chiyo said “what made him like this was our sunagakure customs and teachings.” (73). Society has a huge impact on how someone turns out. Through customs and the learnings of a culture, people are molded.
The theme of sacrifice is portrayed in this graphic novel. During the battle, Sakura takes a fatal wound in the stomach for Granny Chiyo. She acts this way to save Granny. Granny had an antidote that could heal someone, and Sakura was telling Granny to take the antidote, but Granny used it on Sakura so she would live. Defeating Sasori is more important than their lives. Sakura and Granny Chiyo would sacrifice their lives if it meant Sasori is defeated.
Connections: Naruto has a lot of phantasmagoric elements. Due to the Japenese background and myths rooted in this graphic novel, I believe this novel would be paired nicely with Half World. In a classroom setting, I would suggest this book on a choice book list. Like I said for Half World, this story also demonstrates the hero complex. Comparing The Odyssey’s hero Odysseus with Naruto would encourage students to explore the hero complex.
Reaction: Naruto volume 31 was an interesting read. At first, I had to adjust to reading the book from right to left. The story was a little hard to follow during battles. There was so much happening through the drawings. After the first few pages of the manga, I got used to the format. I found it enjoyable. This was not the first time I’ve read a manga. My first experience with a manga was in fourth grade when I read Sailor Moon. My sister is a huge fan of Naruto and I have seen some of the episodes on television so it was interesting reading the manga.
Reception: One of the people on the Barnes and Nobles comment section wrote “anyone who enjoys a great action manga as well as a great manga in general must read this volume as well as previous volumes.” The graphic novel includes a lot of action scenes and is illustrated through the drawings and text. This novel portrays a lot of action through the story plot and the illustrations. People must infer what is happening while they are looking at the pictures and reading the text.
A comment on Amazon said “this particular issue was quite enjoyable for the depictions of fantasy ninja combat between the Puppeteer masters along with the significant character development within the story.” Through each manga, the story plot is furthered. This type of book encourages people to read more than one graphic novel. To find out what happens, the reader has to read the next manga. Graphic novels, especially mangas, encourage people to read.