Well I can say that I’ve had an absolutely wonderful Christmas, and I certainly hope that you’ve had an equally as wonderful Christmas as well. I’d be splattering smiley-face emoticons everywhere, but I feel like that just isn’t too right. As for the final installment in our Twelve Days of Christmas series, this last one is a bit out of the ordinary with regards to it’s topic.
TWELVE ANGSTY NINJA: Naruto & Naruto: Shippuden
Naruto and Naruto: Shippuden aren’t anything that I would ever dream to talk about here; they are not exactly quality shows and often become bogged down in their own pile of crap. Yet all the same I simply had to include them in my Twelve Days of Christmas list for the pure reason of how significant they’ve been to my year.
Solely in the year of 2012 I’ve watched every episode of Naruto up to the end, and every episode of Shippuden up to episode two-hundred seventy-eight for a combined tally of five-hundred seven episodes of (what is essentially) the same anime. On a pure numbers basis that is huge, constituting an entire third of my MAL anime episodes. I’ve watched about one-hundred ninety-four hours of Naruto. I’ve watched eight more times of Naruto than of Kunihiko Ikuhara’s work. I’ve watched the equivalent of Haruhi eighteen times over. (I’m going to stop with the numbers game now because it’s making me slightly sick.) And all in a year! I’ve committed so much of my time to a single franchise in such a comparatively small time frame, and that is most certainly worth a mention.
There is, however, another reason to me including Naruto on my list, and that would be the reason that I’ve actually bothered to watch five-hundred some episodes of this anime. Despite it’s horrible sexism, misogyny, clichéd delivery, tropic plot (trope-ic, not tropical), wish-fulfillment narrative, pacing issues, character narrative disservice, and etc, I’ve still watched it. Rather it is because of its basic appeal to the egoism and wish-fulfillment of an underdog narrative that I have watched it. There is something about watching a character grow and evolve and struggle that makes you fall in love in despite of the narrative’s larger issues. And after a while, that attachment just grows to be just as strong and meaningful as the ones I’ve developed towards characters that exist in much better plots. Did I cry harder when Naruto met Kushina while trying to tame Kurama or when Shouma gave himself up in place of Ringo during the Transfer of Fate? I’ll tell you, I cried just as hard both times.
The appeal of Naruto lies somewhere in how basic it is; somewhere deep down, underneath all of the bullshit like how sexist the story is and how annoying Naruto himself is early on. I will be the first one to tell you how shit it is, how much it could be improved on, how much should be changed to better further the point Masashi Kishimoto is trying to get across. But, at the end of the day, I have unexpectedly fell in love with a show I should by all rights be hating, and I have to give it props for that.
Merry Christmas everyone!