Manga Review: Naruto Volume 20

Naruto Volume 20 is a manga by Masashi Kishimoto, and it was released in North America by Viz Media’s Shonen Jump imprint in 2007. The series is rated “T” for teens; from what I’ve read of the manga and from what I’ve seen of the anime series, I would agree with this rating.

Naruto Volume 20
Written by: Masashi Kishimoto
Publisher: Shueisha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: October 2, 2007

The main character of the series is Naruto Uzumaki; he’s the number one hyperactive knuckleheaded ninja in the Hidden Leaf Village. Naruto’s dream is to become the leader of his village one day and to be acknowledged by others. When Naruto was a baby, a fox demon was sealed inside of him; because of this, the adults in the village have shunned Naruto out of fear of the fox demon.

Volume 20 sees Tsunade, Jiraiya, and Naruto returning to the Hidden Leaf Village, and Tsunade declaring that she will become the Fifth Hokage. There’s a really good scene early on when Shikamaru learns that a woman will become the Fifth Hokage and he ends up getting a bit of a lecture from his father. Shortly after this, we learn that Shikamaru has been promoted to chunin, and was the only one from the Hidden Leaf Village to be promoted after the Chunin Exam. As expected, Shikamaru views the promotion and the work that goes with it as being “such a drag.”

We also get to see Tsunade’s medical ninjutsu at work. She’s able to easily heal both Sasuke and Kakashi. However, when she goes to examine Lee’s injuries that he received during his battle with Gaara in the Chunin Exam, she declares that he needs to give up on his dream of becoming a shinobi because of how bad his injuries are. She says that while she could perform surgery, he could die if she fails or he could be incapacitated for a long time if it’s a success. Lee spends a bit of Volume 20 in torment as he tries to decide whether or not he should have the surgery or give up on his dream of becoming a splendid shinobi.

Now that Sasuke has received treatment, he fumes at the fact that his brother Itachi was more interested in Naruto than he was in fighting Sasuke. When Naruto visits Sasuke in the hospital, Sasuke challenges Naruto to a fight on the roof. Naruto agrees, and the two of them are about to hit each other with their strongest attacks when Kakashi intervenes and causes them to hit a couple of nearby water towers. When Sasuke sees how much stronger Naruto’s Rasengan is compared to his Chidori, Sasuke’s even more upset and flees from the hospital. Near the end of the volume, Sasuke is approached by the Sound Ninja Four, who try to convince him to go with them and receive training from Orochimaru…

Between Lee’s storyline and Sasuke’s storyline, Volume 20 can be a rather intense read. This is the point in the series where Lee becomes a much more likable character for me; prior to this point, he came across more like an overconfident shinobi than a character that I would care about. In this volume, though, as I saw the anguish Lee undergoes and saw a little more of his backstory, I realized that Lee is actually a likable character. I actually felt really bad for him. Admittedly, I already knew all this from watching this part of the story in the anime, but those reactions are what I felt when I first saw this in the anime. But seeing it again in its original manga presentation was just as powerful as the first time I saw these scenes in the anime.

Sasuke, on the other hand, becomes a less sympathetic character in Volume 20. In a lot of respects, he ends up coming across a bit like a spoiled brat. Between the fact that Itachi was after Naruto and that Naruto appears to have become stronger, Sasuke gets rather pouty and moody. While he’s not exactly being chummy with the Sound Four at this point, you can tell that it’s likely that Sasuke could end up being influenced to go along with them. I already know the answer since I’ve seen this in the anime, so I don’t want to say anything more and inadvertently provide “spoilers.”

Even though Volume 20 is an intense read, it’s still an enjoyable read. It’s also very crucial for progressing the story. Even though I already know how the story is going to go from the anime, I still looked forward to seeing how these events were portrayed in the original manga source material.

If you’ve read and enjoyed the previous 19 volumes of the Naruto manga series, then I believe that you’ll enjoy reading Volume 20.

I wrote this review after reading a copy of Naruto Volume 20 that I checked out through the King County Library System.

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