I've been thinking about doing a review for this manga for a very long time and the more I postponed it the smaller the grade became, I have a kind of love/hate relationship with this manga and being the series that got me in to anime and manga it is a bit more personal I'd say, well I've read/watched DBZ before it and some others but I wasn't very familiar with the whole manga/anime thing, in fact I don't think I even knew what the were, but I was small back then and well that's enough about me, let's get on with the manga.
The first part of the manga was really great, in fact if I was going to give it a grade based on that it would probably get a 8, it had a lot of diverse characters with a lot of different techniques, they all had their stories and were well developed, much more so then most supporting cast in any other manga I'd read at that point and even after it's still rare that I find one that is as good in that respect.
The story in the first part was not amazing, it was however good and it had a focus, it moved forward and knew where it wanted to get, it was straight forward and it told a story of discrimination, sadness, hard work, friend, etc. , it was well told and it made you want to read it.
The villain in the first part was also great, he was evil, no I actually want to save the world or create peace but I'm misunderstood, he was pure evil, a freak and a bastard that wanted to gain power and destroy the village that exiled him, he was easy to hate and made for a very good villain, he was also much more threatening and scary really.
The growth of the characters was well paced in the first part and it made sense, there were no tricks and little to no shortcuts, there were less huge powerups and characters needed to do more than just spam one ability usually.
When the second part started I actually thought it would be good, it's hard to blame me though since it started quite nice, there was action, drama and generally the plot was moving on, there was a purpose and it wasn't just about getting more powerups so that you can show them off and then go get some more powerups.
However not long in to the second part it became obvious that most of the supporting cast were all but forgotten and so probably the main strength of the manga up until that part was just squashed, now you'd think that with this there would be more focus on the main character Naruto cause it is named after him right ? well... not so much, naruto doesn't show up that much either, not only that but he doesn't really develop further in fact for the most part he was probably more mature in part one and the worse thing is that when you think he's grown up, when you finally think he's changed he goes and does something silly or stupid just for some random scene that tries to be amusing, I said try because it isn't.
The only points at witch you'll see naruto in this manga is when he's training or when he's showing off what he gained through training, other then that you'll only see him be humiliated by the author by doing something stupid and thus nullifying his entire progress up to that point.
Now you may ask, if the supporting cast isn't shown much and naruto isn't shown much then what the hell is ? The answer is simple, Sasuke, you see enough of him in the second part to make you puke, and it is even worse because as with naruto his character is much worse in part 2, by the time I'm writing this review he's raving, powerhungry lunatic that's blindly set on revenge based on what some other stupid character told him, so he's basically a brainless puppet for someone just as stupid as he is.
The plot in the second part is just all over the place, and worse it is ridiculous, you'd think that with the war that's going on atm it would become better but no.. it just continues to disappoint.
That's not to say that there are no good points in part 2, there are some here and there, the occasional 1 in 5/8 chapters that's actually good, and the entire pain arc was really good up until the end where it just shit all over itself.
The main villain in part 2 is also a very bad joke.
So what is Naruto ? it had potential but it basically became a benchmark for mediocrity, it's not that bad, but it's just average, run of the mill, and it's sad because it could have been so much more.