Manga Review: Naruto Volume 22

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. He started proving himself a little during the Chunin Exam, and has started receiving training from Jiraiya, one of the three Legendary Sannin. At this point, Naruto, along with Shikamaru, Choji, Neji, Kiba, and Akamaru, are trying to get Naruto’s teammate Sasuke back from Orochimaru.

Naruto Volume 22
Written by: Masashi Kishimoto
Publisher: Shueisha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: November 6, 2007

Volume 22 sees the very end of Choji’s fight with Jirobo, and then moves on the others as they pursue the remaining members of the Sound Four. When they catch up, it results in Neji staying behind in order to battle with Kidomaru, the member of the Sound Four who can create webs made out of chakra.

Once it’s down to Kidomaru and Neji, the majority of the volume spends its time focusing on their battle. At first, it appears that Neji’s Byakugan can protect him, but after a while, Kidomaru discovers Neji’s blind spot.

When it comes to the battle between these two characters, I really enjoyed reading it to see how the tension and excitement built up over the course of the manga telling. Even though I already knew what would happen because I’d seen the anime, it still kept my interest as I saw these events again in the original manga telling. The fight may take a while, but it never feels like it was stretched out at all simply to make it longer. The pacing was just right, and the battle reaches a great climax that manages to trick the reader as to what really happened.

One of my favorite parts of this battle, though, was near the end when Neji has flashbacks to his and Naruto’s battle during the Chunin Exam. Remembering Naruto’s words to him from that battle gives Neji the strength and the will to continue going against Kidomaru, even when it seems that all hope has been lost. It’s during this scene that Neji truly acknowledges Naruto as a fellow shinobi. I honestly believe that this volume of Naruto shows some incredible character progression for Neji. While the progression started during the Chunin Exam arc, it doesn’t totally happen until this point in the story.

Near the end of the volume, Orochimaru is at the point that he needs to transfer to another body, even though Sasuke hasn’t arrived yet. Also, we are introduced to Kimimaro, a man who had once been a member of the Sound Ninja Five and was supposed to have been Orochimaru’s next vessel for the transference. Kimimaro declares that he was to be of use to Orochimaru by protecting his new vessel. Unfortunately, we never get to see Kimimaro’s face during Volume 22. I know from the anime series that we will, and I expect that will happen at some point during Volume 23. I don’t want to say too much more at this point, at the risk of potentially providing “spoilers.”

Even though I’ve already seen the story from watching the anime series, seeing it again in a manga form is just as good as when I saw it on television. By seeing the original manga source material, I could see that the anime was rather faithful to the story as it was presented in the manga.

If you’ve read and enjoyed the previous 21 volumes of the Naruto manga series, then I believe that you’ll enjoy reading Volume 22.

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