A slow news week on the writing front allows me to play a bit for my Saturday post. I’m watching Naruto with my sons, which is something I’ve always dreamed of doing. That got me to thinking, “What were my five favorite arcs?”
By arc, I mean a storyline from beginning to end. Maybe one day I’ll do “episodes” or “fights,” but since we just recently finished my number one, I wanted to do this list.
SPOILER ALERT! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED! READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!
This spans the entire Naruto Saga, both Shippuden and the original. You might be shocked by some I leave out. How did I make the list. I just sat there for a few minutes and wondered which five would come to mind. The first five that came up won. That doesn’t mean there weren’t great arcs, but these arcs jumped out at me.
Number 5: The Quest to Save Gaara: I don’t know about you all, but I cry every time Gaara wakes up and sees all those people surrounding him. I have a soft spot for redemption stories, and to see how far Gaara had come was just a great way to really kick off the Shippuden ark. Sure, there was a lot of waiting and way more exposition than I wanted, but we also get Kakashi’s magekyo and the cool puppet fight. It falls short because of the exposition, but it’s definitely worthy of the top five for me.
Number 4: The Chunin Exams: The first reason I love this arc is the sheer number of great fights. If you consider the exams to be from the test of confidence to the end of the Gaara fight, you have a lot of action to go with. I’d rank this in the top five alone just for Gaara, but his fight with Rock Lee and the saga with the third is more emotional to me than I suppose others. The action of each fight and Gaara’s story puts this in the top five, but the lag (how long did that monkey hold that stupid sword for?) it doesn’t get any farther than number four. This is the saga where you learn about the rookie nine and Guy’s team. We meet Lee, who I love. We see Naruto grow and Sasuke’s arc truly begin.
Number 3: The Naruto Bridge: I don’t know if anyone else would put this on their top five, but I don’t think I fall in love with this show if I don’t watch that arc. This is the story where we first see the power of the fox. This is where Naruto chooses his ninja way. This is where Sasuke and Naruto begin their rivalry and start to grow together. I also have a soft spot for mentors and students or adopted father roles. As far as a true introduction to the show, I really thought this was a nice launching point for the series. I put this above the Chunin Exams because those exams made us wait an awful long time for the cool stuff. Sure, it was cool when things happened, but man I we every bit as frustrated with the lag of the backstories and that third fight. The Naruto Bridge story was complete and concise, and I give it higher marks for that.
Number 2: The Asuma Ark: The Rasenshuriken alone would have been enough to get on the list, but man, Shikamaru shines! The way he plotted out that whole fight before even leaving the village is just masterful! The fights are great. Asuma’s death was so tragic (though not the most tragic). Seeing all this come together made for such a rewarding end and a beautiful set up for future arcs.
Number 1: The Pain Arc: Now, I consider this to be from Jiraiya’s entrance to the hidden rain to Nagato’s Rebirth, you have what I feel is unquestionably the saddest death, the greatest hero moment (Naruto’s return), the best fight amid a host of cool fights, and Konohamaru uses the Rasengan! I haven’t even stopped to talk about Minato’s appearance and reveal. Most fans had this theory pegged, but that didn’t make it any less satisfying.
I’m sure there are at least two arcs you all feel should go on this list that aren’t here, and I’m not saying they were bad. They’d definitely be on a top ten list, but these always pop right into my head when I think about Naruto. But feel free to give me your list.
Thanks for watching,