The sixth volume of the Naruto 3-in-1 releases combines Volumes 16, 17, and 18 of the Naruto manga into one volume.

Naruto Omnibus Volume Six
Written by: Masashi Kishimoto
Publisher: Shueisha Inc.
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: September 3, 2013

Volume 16 opens with the conclusion of Naruto and Gaara’s battle, and it ultimately ends in a draw. Afterward, Naruto starts making Gaara realize that he understands the pain and loneliness that Gaara has dealt with for all these years. And right at the end of this section of the story, the reader is given a hint that perhaps Gaara may try to change.

Since I’ve seen all of the Naruto anime at this point, I can say with complete certainty that this encounter between Naruto and Gaara is an important turning point for Gaara, and that it’s referenced several times over the course of the series’ run. The parallels between Naruto and Gaara’s childhoods are quite striking, and it hits the reader just how differently these two had turned out even though they both dealt with being shunned by their respective villages as kids.

Meanwhile, during the battle in Konoha, the Third Hokage dies during his fight with Orochimaru. However, before he dies, the Third Hokage damages Orochimaru’s arms to the point that he can no longer weave signs. Since Orochimaru can no longer weave signs, he’s unable to use any of the jutsu that he’s accumulated over the years. It feels kind of karmic in a way, but this action by the Third Hokage ultimately sets the path for what Orochimaru does later in this omnibus.

During the memorial for the Third Hokage, there’s a very touching flashback that Iruka has. He remembers a time when he was grieving his parents’ deaths and how the Third Hokage comforted him and gave words of encouragement. Now as an adult, Iruka finds himself saying similar things to Konohamaru and Naruto that the Third Hokage had said to him in his flashback. Some of the poetic imagery in the dialogue here adds a nice touch to this scene.

After the memorial for the Third Hokage, Jiraiya is approached about becoming the Fifth Hokage. He turns down the offer and suggests that Tsunade, the third member of the Legendary Sannin, would be a much better fit for the role. Jiraiya volunteers to search for Tsunade and gets the elders to agree to let Naruto accompany him on his mission. Jiraiya uses this journey as an opportunity to teach Naruto a new jutsu, but it’s not just any jutsu. It’s a high level jutsu that was created and perfected by the Fourth Hokage.

At the same time, Sasuke’s older brother, Itachi Uchiha, and his partner in the Akatsuki, Kisame Hoshigaki, arrive in the Hidden Leaf Village. Their arrival leads to a fight against Asuma, Kurenai, and Kakashi. This battle displays the power of Itachi’s Sharingan when he uses it against Kakashi, which causes Kakashi to collapse. Guy jumps into the fray to help out, but before he can do anything, Itachi and Kisame leave because they still have a mission they need to accomplish.

After Sasuke learns that Itachi has been in the village, he leaves to look for his older brother. His storyline and Naruto’s come together when Itachi and Kisame try to accomplish their mission… capturing Naruto. Sasuke finds them just in time and tries to exact his revenge. Not surprisingly, Sasuke’s revenge doesn’t go as planned, since there’s still quite the skill gap between the two brothers. Jiraiya arrives just in time and tries to trap Itachi and Kisame, but they still manage to escape.

But before Sasuke finds Itachi, Kisame, and Naruto, he has a flashback to his childhood. This flashback finally provides the backstory for what happened to Sasuke’s clan, as well as why he has such a burning desire to have revenge on Itachi. This flashback not only helps to flesh out Sasuke’s character a little more, it also helps the reader start to feel a little bit of sympathy for him.

After such a heavy storyline, the focus becomes a little more light-hearted as Naruto tries to master the tasks that Jiraiya gives him in order to begin mastering the jutsu. This light-hearted tone is a welcome change of pace after having a lot of this omnibus up to this point being much more serious in nature.

This is also the point where the reader is introduced to Tsunade, a female shinobi who is known for her medical ninjutsu and for her gambling problem. She and her attendant Shizune are approached by Orochimaru and Kabuto, who want Tsunade to use her medical ninjutsu to heal Orochimaru’s arms. She becomes angry when she learns that her former comrade killed the Third Hokage, but Orochimaru tempts Tsunade with an offer: if she heals him, he can bring her dead brother and lover back to life by using the forbidden reanimation jutsu. Orochimaru gives Tsunade a week to make up her mind, and she’s told what she needs to do if she says yes.

Later, Tsunade and Shizune run into Jiraiya and Naruto, and Jiraiya informs Tsunade of the elders’ request for her to become the Fifth Hokage. She automatically says no and scoffs at the idea by insulting some of the previous Hokage in the process. This offends Naruto, and he tries to battle Tsunade. Of course, he doesn’t win, but he surprises Tsunade by trying to use the Rasengan (the jutsu that Jiraiya has been trying to teach Naruto). Tsunade makes a wager with Naruto: she’ll give him a week to master the Rasengan. If he does, she’ll give him the necklace she has that belonged to her grandfather, the First Hokage. Naruto accepts the wager.

After this, Shizune explains to Naruto the story of Tsunade and how the necklace is tied in with the deaths of Tsunade’s brother and lover. As part of this, the reader is shown what happened in the past. It’s revealed that Tsunade was a much different person in her youth, and that time, as well as her circumstances, have changed her.

Just when you start feeling sympathy for Tsunade, we learn that she’s done a couple of things that make it look like she’ll be taking Orochimaru up on his offer. The volume ends with Tsunade meeting up with Orochimaru, but the reader is left in suspense as to what she actually plans to do. I know it just happened to work out that this was the way the 18th volume originally ended, but this was a great way to end this sixth omnibus, because it leaves the reader wanting to come back and find out what happens next. Since this omnibus combines three volumes, Tsunade’s story was built up over the course of it, instead of the breaks that originally happened between volumes, so it makes this cliffhanger even more effective.

Even though I’m already familiar with this story from watching the Naruto anime series, I still enjoy the story and have many of the same reactions I had when I saw it for the first time. The overarching story of Naruto at this point was still developing, but enough elements had been introduced to make it a riveting read. One of the strengths of this franchise is how Kishimoto developed gripping backstories for quite a few of the main characters in the series.

If you’re a fan of the Naruto manga and haven’t purchased the series yet for your collection, your main options for getting it at this point are to either track down all of the individual volumes or to collect these 3-in-1 omnibus releases. For me, at least, it makes more sense at this point to get these omnibus releases since there’s ultimately fewer of them I need to track down for my collection to be complete.