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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Naruto Isn't Over:

Today the 700th and final chapter of Naruto came out.  It's set in some indistinct future time where a lot has changed since last we saw our merry band.  It reminds me a lot of Dragon Ball's final chapter, which is set ten years after the end of the Buu arc.  This peek into the future tells us a lot.  Kakashi became the sixth Hokage, but eventually got old and retired.  Naruto became the 7th Hokage, finally catching up with Gaara who's still been the Kazekage all this time.  The Tsuchikage is the granddaughter of the previous Tsuchikage.  The Mist Kage is the last member of the seven swordsmen of the mist, the Cloud Kage is Darui.  Tsunade is still alive, which is pretty impressive given all the 'accelerated aging' she's gone through.  She still looks as young as ever.  What a broken ability Tsunade has.  :).

Ino paired up with Sai, Sakura with Sasuke, Naruto with Hinata, Shikamaru with Temari, Lee with Ten-ten (?), and Chouji with somebody best not mentioned for the sake of sparing our eyes the infernal ugliness of his demonspawn.  Everyone has at least one child, and Naruto has at least two, a boy and a girl who both look adorable.  The five Kage still rule their own respective kingdoms, but it appears times have been peaceful for quite a while.  The skyline of the Fire village is now overrun with modern skyscrapers after all.  They must have jumped into the industrial revolution sometime while we weren't watching.  Naruto has even mastered the teleport jutsu that his father the 4th was famed for, there's no telling how strong he is at this point, but I really doubt any further villains will want to tussle with him anymore.

However, all is not well in the land of Naruto.  Sasuke seems to have noticed something ominous as he wandered the world.  He must still not feel at ease in Konaha given everything that's happened between the Senju and Uchiha.  Oh well, so long as he stays long enough to give his daughter tips in Ninjutsu like his dad did for him I'm okay with things.  What will this new development be?  Something Bolt and the other kids will have to face in their future?  We'll probably find out this spring, when the Naruto 'new era' kicks off.

That's right, Naruto isn't over.  A new manga spinoff has already been promised, as has a sequel movie that was written by Kishimoto and thus canon.  As more time passes, no doubt more new things will be announced, like a new video game that goes all the way to the last battle instead of stopping right before the end like the current Naruto Revolution game does.  And of course, most importantly, the television anime still has to cover the remaining manga material, which should take it well into 2015 to complete.

I don't want Naruto to be over.  Naruto is so great it should never end.  It should just go on and on, forever.  Even if the television series ends, even when all the movies come out, even after all the video games are discontinued, even when the manga spinoffs themselves come to a halt, Naruto should just go on and on.  It should burn on in all our hearts, it should remain fresh in our memories, it should be in our thoughts, our prayers and our dreams.  Naruto isn't going to die until the sun burns out, billions of years from now, because from generation to generation, Naruto will always be passed down as one of the greatest stories ever told.  So long as there is a humankind left to inherit this tale, the tale will live on, never forgotten, never out of mind, never out of our hearts, it will become a legend even greater than Shakespeare, even greater than Homer, and stand forever in the annals of mankind as a testament to how great we can truly be.

I've always wanted Sasuke x Sakura and Naruto x Hinata, so I'm really happy the author decided to write it that way.  Both of those girls' devotion stood the test of time, even though it was never rewarded and was always a distant dream.  It's an inspiration to see such strong and steady feelings in a woman's heart, and it encourages everyone to emulate those two by the fact that they were both rewarded with exactly what they wanted since they were practically five years old.  This is a love story I can get behind.  Looking back on the long path and the many detours those four had to endure before they could reach this happy romantic ending with love and marriage and children, it really makes you proud that they hung in there all the way to the end and never gave up.  Now if only Orihime would get with Ichigo all the romantic pairings would be complete. . .  >>

14% of all human beings who have ever lived in Earth's history are currently alive and able to read/watch/play Naruto right now.  Out of these 14%, these seven billion people, Masashi Kishimoto sits at the top with the greatest masterpiece in human history.  If One Piece ever gets to its ending, no doubt it will eventually get to claim that title, but that's still ten years away according to Eichiro Oda.  For now, we have only one genuinely finished work, from start to finish, that has actually been completed with the modern enlightened world's philosophy firmly grasped.  Our thinking has advanced a long ways since Jane Austen, but unfortunately there haven't been any decent storytellers who could write the modern world's way of thinking as well as she wrote hers.  Star Wars is inchoate.  Lord of the Rings is out of step with modern thinking and actually a romantic yearning for the past.  Twilight, Harry Potter, and the like are simply infantile.  Wheel of Time's author died before he could finish the story, so it can never be the modern masterpiece it should have been.  Comic book movies have a lot of flash and dazzle, but 1/1,000,000,000,000 the soul and heart that can be found in Naruto.  Cross Game isn't epic enough in scale to even register in the competition.  Clannad, Little Busters and the like ultimately only appeal to a niche audience.  Dragon Ball is extremely simplistic and never really goes beyond the excitement of fighting for its own sake.  The world didn't really change its way of thinking until at least 1970, in terms of racial and gender equality, the unimportance of religion or nationality, democracy, capitalism, etc, etc.  This modern world simply didn't have a 'voice' yet that could speak truth to a more evolved and rational generation.  Naruto is the first completed masterpiece speaking with the language and ideals and values of this new modern world.  That's why it per force has to be the greatest masterpiece we have to offer -- everything before our time is worthless, because everyone in the past all made the same stupid embarrassing mistakes we can never take seriously from our vantage point anymore.  And yet everything in the present is either too short or too narrow to really champion our soul as a whole.  One love story pales in comparison to an entire world war fought over the course of six generations of ninjas growing up one after the other in one giant chain of tragic causality broken by the courage of one young man who chose never to give up, no matter what.

Likewise, one mysterious murder incident, or one geass with the power to control people's minds, or one grail war, or one high school rock band, can't fully display the wishes and aspirations and feelings and hopes of the entire world.  Only a story about an entire world can embrace the complexity and depth of the whole world's collective unconscious.  Naruto has done something no one else has, and only a few other people are even trying to accomplish -- (One Piece, Sword Art Online, Fairy Tail, Index/Railgun, Crest of the Stars, Negima, and 12 Kingdoms come to mind, but none of them are finished so it's hard to judge whether they'll ever succeed or not in the end)  There's a lot of people on Earth, so it's to be expected that only an epic series with 700 chapters in length could ever do them justice.

Even if a new series, better than Naruto, were to start today, it would take around 20-30 years for that work of art to complete itself and out stage its predecessor.  Naruto started in 1997 and will at least last another couple of years' worth of new content past today.  Even if there is some fabled new artist who can make the future quickly forget about Naruto as some sort of obsolescent also-ran, no one alive in this generation will know, because it will take so long to finish this 'better' work that none of us will get to see the ending anymore, and a series with an ending is automatically twice as good as any series without an ending.  Just look how badly Wheel of Time turned out when Memory of Light was written by someone else.  That halved the quality of the entire series right there.

I don't see a new work of art ever beating Naruto.  Shows that are currently running still have a chance, because they also have a chance to finish within a reasonable time frame, but an entirely new show no one has even heard of yet?  It's just not going to happen.  There just aren't that many geniuses running around the planet getting ready to make a masterpiece like Naruto waiting around.  Even Kishimoto's brother can only make 666 Satan.  I think this generation is going to have to content itself with watching and rewatching and rewatching and rewatching and rewatching again nothing but Naruto, Naruto, Naruto.  This is the gem we were given.  We aren't going to get any more like it.  So all that's left is to say "thank you" and appreciate this series with all our hearts moving forward, for the rest of time.

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