Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

March 8, 2006

It’s Naruto’s World, We Just Sort of Largely Ignore Him and His Place In It


Word comes through the usual, understandable thumping-of-chest ways that the ninth volume of the Naruto manga series by Masashi Kishimoto has cracked the top 30 on a generalist USA Today book sales list. This is the best ever placement by a volume of manga. Naruto has been around for a while in manga form, serialized in Shonen Jump. When the anime hit cable television, there was a huge bump in interest kind of earthquake style up and down the then-available volumes. I could be wrong about this, but I think this is the first clear indication of what a new volume will do with the property's current audience.

My blogging skills stink this morning, so here's an upload of the press release in Word.


I'm not exactly sure why more North American comics fans don't embrace and talk about Naruto as the mainstream genre hit it's become; it rarely enters a lot of conversations. I imagine the divide between certain kinds of comics among certain types of comics fans is a lot wider than I thought, or the two areas are simply conceived of so differently that one is never spoken of in context with the other. Neither outlook is a crime, of course. The unfortunate thing about a mainstream comics-oriented mindset that doesn't easily embrace a hit like this is that Naruto is clever and accomplished, well-written in terms of escalating drama and linking character interaction to plot lines, and features the recurring visceral thrill of ninjas punching and stabbing each other a great deal of the time in very expressively drawn and not particularly groove-on-the-violence fashion. I don't think it's a transcendent work or an artistically significant one, but its virtues are rare enough I can't help feeling it would be nice if it more easily popped to mind when the discussions turned in its general direction. Not that it needs the boost.
posted 2:25 am PST | Permalink

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