An article about why Naruto could never win a Pokergame and what that actually means
(If you don't want to hear Spoilers of Gamble Fish or Naruto then stop reading here...)
If you think about it, then Naruto is one of these mangas that should've ended a long time ago - but didn't. And now thousands of readers ask themselves whether they read Naruto or whether it's another manga with the very same art...
It all began with the tale of the Senju and Uchiha. Well, it doesn't quite began at that point but there it was really obvious for the first time: "Naruto" as a whole has changed. But what has changed?
So let's remember at first how Naruto began: A boy, called Naruto, hated by everyone because he had some kind of a supernatural beast inside him wants to become Hokage. Of course he's a total idiot as far as it concerns any kind of skill which is necessary to actually become Hokage. So you really think at this point, this story will be about Naruto how he becomes Hokage against all likelihood. There were also Sub-Plots like the part that deems Narutos effort more worthy than Sasukes raw talent. Yeah, Sasuke was rival and friend in one. One could easily interpret him as the kind of mirrorimage that shows how great Naruto really is. But everything was easy to understand and one could almost picture the whole thing from beginning to end without reading the manga: It was simple but effective entertainment.
Of course, there are the villains, the great setting, explaining everything, the problems, the challenges that need to be overcome but the most important thing was Narutos development to a character that should be Hokage and not only one who wants to become one. And of course it's a Shounen-Manga, so there are battles and these are important because they challenge the characters, force them into some kind of angsty monologue which ultimately reveals the "righteous path of virtue and goodness" (and yeah, often it would sound as sophisticated as I phrased it) to them. By that the characters become what they want to be - there are sacrifices, problems and harsh battles but in the end everything can be turned around with the right attitude. That's what Naruto was about... A moralistic story about becoming a good person by doing the right thing.
And then it came: The change... Well, if I would have to pinpoint an exact place where it began I would choose the start of the "Shippuuden"-Part (after the great timeskip). It would all begin with Akatsuki. There are already quite a few things that in retrospect strike me as odd considering how I defined Naruto before: First there's the part that Akatsuki isn't only a threat to Konoha but to the whole Shinobi-World, second they begin to directly involve Naruto himself, third the reason why Naruto fights against Akatsuki is Jiraiyas "Grand Vision Of World Peace" (it takes much idealism to believe something like that and that the maincharacter is one of these idiots makes the story very idealistic). And fourth there's Sasuke... but to the fourth point later. For now the first three points: So what's wrong with them?
Well... remember how I wrote that Naruto wants to become Hokage? So let's think about the plot from "Shippuuden" on: Does Naruto need to be Hokage? Were there any occasions where you as reader thought that it would be good if Naruto would be a Hokage right now or that the plot openly suggests that Naruto needs to be Hokage to do what he wants to do? Rather everything tries to tell us that ranks aren't important at all... Naruto himself is the best example with his great influence without being Hokage. I mean, after Danzou as "unrightful" Hokage went to the Kage-Meeting with his two guards, Naruto followed him with Kakashi and Yamato (see the similarity?)... It's like Naruto is already Hokage and then there's that part at the beginning that tries to tell us that Naruto is that kind of loser that has no hope of becoming anything meaningful. Sure, he needs to grow but it was always effort that defined that process but now we see him mastering the greatest techniques (Sage Arts for example), we are got explained that his father is the fourth Hokage and Madara indirectly indicated Naruto to be the spiritual reincarnation of the first Senju - and he's still 18 or something like that. How could anyone think that such a person could not end up being a Hokage?
And there's Sasuke... He was a rival, a negative relativity of Narutos ideals but what is he now? He's the most important person beside Naruto and to make him even more important, Narutos main goal is "rescuing" him (whatever that exactly means...). Sasuke himself in that matter seems childish and he's the only character that hasn't changed in any way since the beginning, rather his childishness creates problems but doesn't solve any. Never he tried to solve things, he always made them worse and more problematic and by doing so one time too often he became the brotherly "damsel in distress" for Naruto, Sasuke became the person who always found a way to get involved with problems (like ending a revenge, better said, seeing it solved by itself, he began the next revenge at once instead of thinking about the last one). And Sasuke is an Uchiha, a clan whose importance has risen as fast as the series has changed. The Sharingan became the most powerful thing in the Universe and now the Uchiha are the fated enemies of the Senju, making the Naruto-Sasuke-matter a fated conflict. Fate... It has neither to do with effort nor with talent - it is a totally different matter that changes the plot irreversible.
All that struggling of Naruto, that fighting against the odds - it was for nothing... It was all fate anyway... There was no struggling, only the hard road which is called fate. So Naruto has become different but that doesn't make it boring. What makes it boring is Kishis seemingly incapability of writing a plot according to those changes.
And there we come to "Gamble Fish", that rather unknown manga which is exactly the type of Shounen-Manga Naruto has become: The Battle-driven type. Simple plot, simple rather unchanging types of characters and a straight line of battles with an aim. Naruto is just that right now: It all aims towards the Sasuke-Naruto-Confrontation. Everything prepares that fight, even Madara, the former "Ultimate Villain" of the story disgraces himself as the old storyteller who explains to the youngsters how everything has been fate all along. Akastuki is practically non-existant, it was there but in the end it was only a temporary threat preparing the stage for Naruto and Sasuke. Naruto doesn't aim towards being Hokage bot towards fighting (or whatever he wants to do) with Sasuke and Sasuke is the already explained "damsel in distress" who does all the stuff you only sigh about when thinking it through as reader. But where Gamble Fish tries to entertains readers with smarteness, what has Naruto to offer? The setting hasn't any value, has been changed a thousand times to make the fights more exciting, the characters are stuck in their aims and everything that could be done is something the reader can easily predict and when not it mostly means that the setting has been changed again to get another plot twist. Whereas Gamble Fish tries to be smart with gambling for a colossal amount of money, Naruto doesn't gamble in any way, it simply tries to arrive at that Sasuke-Naruto-Confrontation as fast as possible... and the way it presents itself is very unimaginative but rather it feels forced. Naruto is forced to be that way because at the beginning it really wasn't that kind of a story...
Will be continued in Part II...
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