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 26
Written by: Masashi Kishimoto
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: December 4, 2007
Volume 26 primarily focuses on the fight between Naruto and Sasuke at the Valley of the End. This section contains several flashbacks of the two before the beginning of the series as well as events that have taken place in the series up to this point. As the battle goes on, Naruto comes to the realization that Sasuke really does intend to kill him. As a reader, I felt bad for Naruto when he came to this realization because his friendship with Sasuke has meant a lot to him. It basically shakes him to the core. But even coming to this realization, Naruto is still determined to knock some sense into Sasuke and bring him back to the village. Never giving up is Naruto’s ninja way, after all.
But this battle is rather intense and very exciting. Just as it appears Sasuke has the upper hand, the Nine-Tailed Fox’s chakra starts leaking out of Naruto and giving him more power. Sasuke ends up having to go into his second state, and it becomes a battle between two highly powered shinobi.
During the last chapter of Volume 26, we see what’s happening with Shikamaru, Choji, Neji, Kiba, and Akamaru. Poor Shikamaru feels so guilty about what happened to his teammates that he wants to give up being a shinobi. His father uses some “tough love,” though, and makes Shikamaru realize that he shouldn’t quit and should set his mind to improving himself. Temari is with Shikamaru at the hospital, as they await word on how Choji is doing. During this scene, there’s a panel of Temari that grabbed my attention as she’s listening to Shikamaru’s father scolding him. In this particular panel, she almost looks sad. This panel really stands out because Temari is a character who usually looks so confident, so seeing this expression on her is a little surprising.
Speaking of the art, there are some really well drawn panels in Volume 26. The first of these is on the top of page 16, where Naruto has gotten out of the water. The water runs down his face in such a way that it looks like he’s crying, but considering what’s going on in this scene, tears would definitely be appropriate for Naruto. The panel on the top of page 64 also looks great, and it’s a significant panel because it’s when Sasuke puts on his Leaf Village headband and declares that he and Naruto have to fight so they can break their bond. Pages 118-119, where Naruto and Sasuke launch their final attack, also really stands out. Not only does it look impressive, but it has an “inverted” look to it that adds quite an effect to this final attack. There’s also several panels of Shikamaru that look good in the final scene, but the one that really caught my attention was the very last panel on page 187. Here, Shikamaru shows an emotional side of himself that we normally don’t get to see in the series
So we’ve just about reached the end of the Sasuke Retrieval Arc. There’s only one volume left before we move on to the stories that serve as the source material for the Naruto Shippuden anime. I really can’t say too much more, though, because I don’t want to accidentally provide “spoilers” of what’s to come in the story. That is the one drawback to being so much farther ahead in the anime than I am in the manga.
Even though I already know the story from watching the anime series, I’ve enjoyed seeing these events in their original manga form just as much as I did when I first saw them in the anime. It’s really impressed me to see just how closely the anime tried to use a similar look and feel as the manga.
If you’ve read and enjoyed the previous 25 volumes of the Naruto manga series, then I believe that you’ll enjoy reading Volume 26.
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