VIZ Media Moves Up the Time for Release of Shonen Jump Manga and Adds the Undead Unluck Manga

VIZ Media has announced that it will now release new chapters of manga from Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump magazine on Sundays at 10:00 a.m. ET. In instances where Weekly Shonen Jump releases in Japan on days other than Mondays (the magazine often releases on Saturday when there is a Monday holiday in Japan), VIZ Media’s release time may change from the normal time.

The new release time equates to 12:00 a.m. on Mondays in Japan. Shueisha releases its Weekly Shonen Jump magazine digitally in Japan on Mondays at 5:00 a.m. JST.

Starting in December 2018 with the launch of VIZ Media’s new Shonen Jump service, VIZ published new chapters from Weekly Shonen Jump in English digitally on Sundays at 3:00 p.m. ET. This new system pushes up the release time by five hours.

Viz Media also announced that it will publish Yoshifumi Tozuka’s Undead Unluck manga in English. The manga will launch in Weekly Shonen Jump‘s eighth issue in Japan on January 20, 2020, and is the first of three new manga debuting in January 2020 and February 2020 in the magazine.

Source: ANN

VIZ Media’s Shonen Jump to Replace “Jump Start” Initiative With More Serializations

Anime News Network is reporting that VIZ Media will no longer run its “Jump Start” initiative for the new version of Shonen Jump, as the company will instead be picking up more series as regular serializations.

For its “Jump Start” initiative, VIZ’s English digital edition of Shonen Jump published only the first three chapters of a new manga from Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump simultaneously with the Japanese release. Sometimes popular manga that ran under this initiative would join the magazine’s regular lineup.

VIZ replaced its digital magazine with a Shonen Jump service, which offers new chapters for free and catalog chapters at a US$2/month subscription rate, on December 17, 2018. Several manga that previously ran as Jump Starts were upgraded to full serializations at that time.

Source: ANN

VIZ Media Makes Top Shonen Jump Manga Chapters Available for Free and Simultaneous With Japanese Debut

VIZ Media proudly announces a major new development for the company’s flagship imprint, SHONEN JUMP, and the world’s most popular digital manga magazine, Weekly Shonen Jump.

Beginning December 17, 2018, the current Weekly Shonen Jump magazine lineup of 13 series will be available to readers for free, including Boruto: Naruto Next Generations, My Hero Academia, One Piece, and more. Additional series join the simultaneous lineup, including Jujutsu Kaisen, Act-Age, Haikyu!!, and Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba. Combined with the current lineup, there will be a total of 25 free series, with all-new chapters published in English simultaneously with Japan. Fans can dive into the three latest chapters for hit series such as Dragon Ball Super, The Promised Neverland, Dr. Stone and more, with new series coming soon. For the upcoming simultaneous chapter release schedule, please visit https://viz.com/shonen-jump-chapter-schedule.

As a part of this evolution, Weekly Shonen Jump published its final digital magazine issue on December 10, 2018 and launched the SHONEN JUMP digital vault membership on December 17, 2018. This new SHONEN JUMP membership ($1.99 per month) grants readers seamless access to a substantial and continually updated digital vault that currently features more than 10,000 manga chapters from nearly 100 series – almost every ongoing and completed series SHONEN JUMP has published in English.

“We are extremely excited and proud to announce this bold evolution for SHONEN JUMP,” says Hisashi Sasaki, Global Vice President, SHONEN JUMP. “Fans want to catch their favorite stories the same day they debut in Japan for free, and accessing back chapters of popular SHONEN JUMP series has been one of the most requested features from our online readers. Our new model will make SHONEN JUMP the premiere showcase for manga content.”

Current Weekly Shonen Jump subscribers have been converted to the new membership and can now catch up with the latest series at any point, revisit classic favorites like Naruto, Bleach, Death Note and Nisekoi, as well as explore additional new titles that will be added on a regular basis.

A 7-day free trial membership is currently available at viz.com/sj-offer.

Fans can access the free digital chapters and unlock the SHONEN JUMP digital vault at shonenjump.com or with the SHONEN JUMP app for iPhone, iPad and Android-based devices. Current app users should download the latest version of the SJ app.

For more information on Shonen Jump, please visit viz.com/company-faq#sj.

Muhyo & Roji’s Bureau of Supernatural Investigation Sequel and Godzilla: Planet of Monsters Manga Scheduled for March 2018 on Shonen Jump +

The official website for the Shonen Jump + web magazine has announced that it will launch the new Muhyo & Roji’s Bureau of Supernatural Investigation sequel manga on March 19, 2018 and the Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters manga adaptation on March 29, 2018.

The website revealed that the new Muhyo and Roji sequel is titled Muhyo to Roji no Mahōritsu Sōdan Jimusho: Mazoku Magushi-hen (Muhyo & Roji’s Bureau of Supernatural Investigation: Magical Genus Magic Tool Master Chapter). Original creator Yoshiyuki Nishi is drawing the series, and it will follow Muhyo and his friends after they have grown a little after the conclusion of the first series. The original manga ran in Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump magazine from 2004 to 2008.

Youth Kurahashi is drawing the Godzilla: Kaijū Wakusei (Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters) manga based on the anime film of the same name. The film, the first in a trilogy, opened in Japanese theaters on November 17, 2017 and began streaming on Netflix worldwide on January 17, 2018. The manga will cover story material not in the anime, add original elements, and offer a glimpse into the “surprising past” of the characters.

Source: ANN

Manga Review: Bleach Volume 63

15-year-old Ichigo Kurosaki is the main character of the series, and he has the ability to see ghosts. After meeting a Soul Reaper named Rukia, his home is attacked by a Hollow. Rukia tries to transfer some of her powers to Ichigo so he can protect his family; however, he unintentionally absorbs all of her power. Ichigo defeats the Hollow and begins serving as a substitute Soul Reaper. In Volume Seven, Rukia was taken back to Soul Society to face punishment for transferring her powers to a human. Rukia faced execution, and Ichigo and his friends went to Soul Society to save her. During their time in Soul Society, it’s revealed that Aizen, Gin, and Tosen are traitors.

Bleach Volume 63
Written by: Tite Kubo
Publisher: Shueisha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: February 3, 2015

Ichigo meets Shinji Hirako, who reveals himself to be a Visored, a Soul Reaper who has obtained Hollow powers. Shinji keeps trying to recruit Ichigo into the Visoreds, but Ichigo refuses; however, he later goes to the Visoreds only so he can learn how to control the Hollow that is inside him. This story arc also introduces the Arrancar, Hollows who have removed their mask and gained Shinigami-like powers; they also work for Aizen, who is now in Hueco Mundo.  The ten highest-ranking Arrancar are known as Espada.

Orihime is threatened by an Arrancar named Ulquiorra, saying he’ll kill her friends if she doesn’t go with him. After the Soul Society declares they will do nothing to save Orihime, Ichigo and some of his friends go to Hueco Mundo to save her. This then leads to another story arc that sees the Soul Society fighting against the Espada; at the end of all this, Aizen is imprisoned and Ichigo loses his powers.

Ichigo then meets Ginjo, who offers to help Ichigo get his powers back and to develop Fullbring powers; however, Ginjo only wanted steal Ichigo’s powers. But thanks to help from Rukia, Ichigo gets his Soul Reaper powers back. War is then declared on Soul Society by The Wandenreich, who are a group of Quincies that survived a massacre centuries ago.

Volume 63 sees the war in full stride, with Soul Reapers fighting against the Quincies. This volume starts in the middle of the battle where Kensei and Roujuro are fighting against Mask De Masculine. Unfortunately, both of the Soul Reapers are knocked out of the battle. But Renji arrives, and there’s a very exciting battle between Renji and Mask De Masculine that takes place here, with Mask thinking that he’s defeated Renji, only for his opponent to appear again.

During the battle, though, we see Renji have an important flashback to a conversation that he had with Ichibe. Here, it’s revealed that Renji’s zanpakuto had only revealed half of its name because it didn’t fully recognize Renji’s power. After the flashback, we hear Renji use Zabimaru’s full name, and his weapon becomes even stronger. Of course, this development ultimately turns the tide of the battle.

I’m sorry to say this, but Mask De Masculine scared me a little with his looks at the beginning of the volume, and then he absolutely frightened me when he powered up. Fortunately, we didn’t have to see him in that powered up form for long.

This volume also includes some backstory for Yhwach, the leader of the Quincies. We also see that Uryu is with the group and learn that he is to be Yhwach’s successor. Even though I knew about Uryu being with the Quincies from reading the more recent chapters that have appeared in Weekly Shonen Jump, I still found it jarring that he’s now with the Quincies, since I haven’t seen this happen in where I’ve gotten in the anime or the earlier volumes of the Bleach manga that I’ve already read. It can definitely be a problem when you’re at various different points in the story between the anime, the manga volumes, and Weekly Shonen Jump. At least this volume has started to help me piece together what I’ve been reading in Weekly Shonen Jump over the past year!

We then see Rukia encountering As Nodt and the two of them have a battle. During the battle, Rukia reveals the truth about Sode No Shitayuki. But just as things look bleak, Byakuya arrives; together, he and Rukia are able to take As Nodt down. Afterward, Rukia is taken aback by the praise that her brother gives her. Rukia’s reaction made for some good character development for her, as well as for Byakuya as well.

The final chapter sees Kotechi and Kusajishi are in confinement, and something calling itself “V” suddenly appears in the room; this is where Volume 63 ends. It turns out that the final two chapters that appeared in Volume 63 are the first two chapters of Bleach that I read in Weekly Shonen Jump when I first started reading the digital publication almost a year ago now.

Early on in Volume 63, it’s a very action-packed story, where the panels focus primarily on the fighting between the characters and there’s a minimal amount of dialogue. This especially makes the first chapter in the volume a very quick read. When Renji enters the battle, there’s still a lot of action, but the amount of dialogue goes up quite a bit. Even with the increase in the dialogue, the first 80 pages or so end up going by quickly. While there are battles later in the volume, the overall pacing of the volume slows down noticeably. But the slowdown was necessary, since important revelations and plot points were taking place, and the reader needed to be able to spend a little more time on those in order to get the full impact of what’s being said.

I can’t really speak for the first battle in this volume, since I jumped into the middle of it, but the other battles in this volume didn’t feel overly drawn out; drawing out the battles has become a problem in recent months in the serialized chapters of Bleach in Weekly Shonen Jump, so I’m glad that that wasn’t the case in Volume 63.

I can’t entirely place my finger on it, but there’s something different about the art in these more recent chapters than there was in the early chapters of the Bleach manga. In some respects, it feels like Kubo isn’t putting as much effort into the details in his drawings now and seems to be focusing more on the absolute basics. I have to admit that the more recent art that I’ve seen for this series has been disappointing to me, because I know Kubo can do better than this.

If you’re still following Bleach at this point and enjoy what you’ve been reading, then I would recommend reading Volume 63 in order to see how the story continues. If you’ve been following Bleach in Weekly Shonen Jump, then you’ll already know what’s going on and would probably only want to read Volume 63 if you like this part of the story and want to read it again.

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Manga Review: Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan Volume 25

Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan is a series that focuses on a young man who has grown up around a clan of yokai.

Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan Volume 25
Written by: Hiroshi Shiibashi
Publisher: Shueisha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: February 3, 2015

The main character of the series is Rikuo Nura. He is the grandson of Nurarihyon, the supreme commander of the Nura clan. The Nura clan is made up of yokai, but Nura is only one-quarter yokai, since his mother was a human. His grandfather intends for Rikuo to become the head of the Nura clan once his yokai powers are realized.

Since Rikuo grew up around yokai, he thought they were cool and didn’t realize that humans thought that yokai didn’t exist. One day, Nurarihyon announces his intention to make Rikuo the next head of the clan at a meeting. This doesn’t go over well Gagoze, a high-ranking yokai; he tries to kill Rikuo while he’s on the school bus. Rikuo actually missed the bus, so he goes to help the kids trapped in the bus. During a confrontation with Gagoze, Rikuo suddenly transforms and taps into his yokai powers. Unfortunately, he has no memory of this happening afterward.

The story fast forwards a few years, and Rikuo wants to embrace his human side and no longer desires to become the next head of the clan. Meanwhile, Rikuo finds himself recruited into a new club at school that is dedicated to tracking down yokai, because the head of the club wants to find the yokai who saved his life during the bus accident that happened earlier in the story.

I have to admit that prior to reading Volume 25, I have only read the first volume of Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan. I understood a little bit about what was going on, and I was able to piece some things together as I read the story in this volume. While it could be hard for me to follow what was going on at times, I think I have the basic gist of what happened during the climax that led to the conclusion of the series.

Volume 25 is the final volume for Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, and a lot has changed since the beginning of the series. One of the major changes is that Rikuo comes to terms with his yokai blood and takes on the position of the Third Head of the Nura Clan. Of course, Rikuo now has multiple factions after him to try to stop him or to usurp his position.

This volume includes the final two chapters of the series, which are full of confrontations that ultimately help to bring about the end of the story. These chapters are also very action-oriented, and there several pages where there’s much more focus on the action than on dialogue.

The climax sees Hagoromo-Gitsune, an ayakashi, going up against her son, Abe no Seimei (who is determined to take control of the world). But when it looks as if Seimei will have the upper hand, Rikuo, who has transformed into his yokai form, appears with his allies and makes an uneasy alliance with Hagoromo-Gitsune. But together, the two of them work to take down Seimei; and in the process, secrets are revealed. The very end of the story is narrated by Yuki-Onna as a letter she’s written to Rikuo, and it lets the reader see what has happened to the various characters after the final battle. I thought this made for a nice way to end the manga, especially for readers who have followed this series all the way to this point.

There are also a total of five bonus stories included in Volume 25, and most of them are set after the end of the main series. Three of the stories are serious in nature, while two are more on the comedic side. Four of the stories focus on Rikuo, while the fifth one focuses on Ryuji. I enjoyed all but one of these stories, which was one of the comedic ones. This particular story shows Rikuo getting drunk at a celebration and flirting with just about every female there. While there was a second comedic story, at least the other one truly added something of value to the characters it featured; this was also true for the three serious stories. The Rikuo getting drunk story just felt weak when compared to the other four stories included in Volume 25.

Even though I’ve only read the first and last volumes of Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, I really got the sense after reading Volume 25 that this was a nice send-off for the series and the characters. I expect that long-time readers of the series may also feel the same way. And after reading Volume 25, I think I need to find time to read Volumes Two through 24 in order to fill in that huge gap and learn how the story reached the point it did in Volume 25.

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Manga Review: Naruto Volume 27

Naruto Volume 27 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 27
Written by: Masashi Kishimoto
Publisher: Shueisha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: December 4, 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. 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. Unfortunately, they fail in their mission.

Volume 27 spends the first three chapters wrapping up the Sasuke Retrieval Arc. Naruto tries to reassure Sakura that he will bring Sasuke back someday because he never goes back on his word. After hearing this, Sakura realizes that primarily what she’s done up until now was cry for help. She decides she wants to become more than that and asks Tsunade, the Fifth Hokage, to take her on as an apprentice. Tsunade agrees, and we see Sakura begin her training. This is a very important developmental milestone for Sakura; while she’s declared a couple of times that she wants to become stronger, she only did token gestures to make to it seem like she was doing something. Taking the step to become Tsunade’s apprentice is a big one for her and she’s truly showing that she’s ready to do what it takes to become more than just the girl constantly crying and asking Naruto for help.

When Jiraiya comes to visit Naruto, he tries to dissuade Naruto from going after Sasuke. But Naruto makes it clear that Sasuke is his friend and that he’s not giving up on him. In the end, Jiraiya decides to take Naruto on a training journey so Naruto can become stronger in order to take on the Akatsuki and maybe to even try to save Sasuke. The third chapter of the volume ends with Naruto and Jiraiya heading out on their journey as the other ninjas Naruto’s age return to their training and normal lives in the village. Getting to see how the others are doing makes for a nice epilogue for the first part of the Naruto manga series, since the second part begins in Volume 28.

The remainder of the volume features Kakashi Chronicles ~Boys’ Life on the Battlefield~. This story is set when Kakashi was much younger, right at the time he was promoted to Jonin. We get to know the other two members of his team, Rin and Obito. Kakashi is a very different person at this point, and we learn through an explanation from Kakashi’s master why Kakashi is acting the way he is. This story not only provides some background on Kakashi, but it also explains how he got an eye with Sharingan. I had actually already seen this story in the Naruto Shippuden anime, but it moved me just as much reading it in the manga now as it did when I first saw it in the anime. I loved seeing how Obito was ultimately the one to open Kakashi’s eyes and make him realize that the way he’d been acting wasn’t entirely right; it’s also thanks to Obito why Kakashi is the way we know him now in the series. There’s a very touching scene near the end of the story with Kakashi and his teammates right near the end of it.

Probably the strangest thing for me when reading Kakashi Chronicles is getting used to seeing Kakashi as a much younger character because there are enough differences between this younger Kakashi and the Kakashi that we see in the regular series. The others really don’t bother me, since most of them haven’t appeared in the manga before now. When it came to the art in Kakashi Chronicles, there was one page that really caught my eye: it’s a full body picture of Obito on page 144. It’s very striking to look at, and it really stands out in comparison to the panels on the page next to it.

Even though I already know what’s going to happen from watching the anime series, I’ve enjoyed reading 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 and manga look and feel at times..

If you’ve read and enjoyed the previous 26 volumes of the Naruto manga series, then I believe that you’ll enjoy reading Volume 27. The conclusion of the first part of the Naruto manga, as well as Kakashi Chronicles, makes this volume a great read.

I wrote this review after reading a copy of Naruto Volume 27 that I checked out through the King County Library System.

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VIZ Media Launching Yu-Gi-Oh! 3-in-1 Omnibus Series

VIZ Media has announced that the company will be launching Kazuki Takahashi’s Yu-Gi-Oh! manga series in a new 3-in-1 omnibus series on February 3, 2015 under its Shonen Jump imprint. The series is rated “T” for teens and will carry an MSRP of $14.99 U.S./$16.99 CAN. The omnibus editions will cover the entire 38-volume series and will be published quarterly for a total of 13 volumes.

Tenth-grader Yugi always had his head in some game – until he solved the Millennium Puzzle, an Egyptian artifact containing the spirit of a master gambler from the age of the pharaohs! Possessed by the puzzle, Yugi becomes Yu-Gi-Oh, the King of Games, and challenges evildoers to the Shadow Games…weird games with high stakes and high risks!

The games begin in the opening Yu-Gi-Oh! omnibus volume. Meet Seto Kaiba, master of the world’s most dangerous collectible card game. When Kaiba discovers that Yugi’s grandfather owns the incredibly rare “Blue-Eyes White Dragon” card, he will stop at nothing to get it…even if he has to duel with Yugi’s dark alter ego Yu-Gi-Oh! Then, out of the sands of Egypt, the mystic Shadi has come to test Yugi’s powers, which will give Yugi his greatest challenge yet. If he loses, his best friends will die!

“This new omnibus is a great way to dive into all the action of the original Yu-Gi-Oh! manga series for the very first time, or revisit it in a whole new way – undivided and in its entirety,” says Erica Yee, Editor. “Yu-Gi-Oh! remains the Number 1 trading card game property in the world, and the popularity of the property has also spawned several top-rated anime series, bestselling video games, and a vast array of action figures and other collectables. We look forward to even more fans discovering this tremendous manga series with the new 3-in-1 editions.”

YU-GI-OH! © 1996 by Kazuki Takahashi/SHUEISHA Inc.

Manga Review: Toriko Volume 25

Toriko Volume 25 is a manga by Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro, and it was published in North America by VIZ Media’s Shonen Jump imprint in 2014. The series is rated “T” for teens; from what I’ve read between this volume and the more recent chapters published in Weekly Shonen Jump. I would agree with this rating.

Toriko Volume 25
Written by: Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro
Publisher: Shueisha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: December 2, 2014

The main character of the series is Toriko, a Gourmet Hunter who’s on a search to find the most precious foods in the world in order to create his full-course meal. He has inhuman ability that gives him incredible strength, as well as an extensive knowledge of the animal kingdom that helps him to capture ferocious, evasive, and rare beasts. He is accompanied by a timid chef named Komatsu, who travels with Toriko in order to improve his culinary skills and find rare ingredients. Toriko and his friends are often fighting against the Gourmet Corps, who want to take control of the world’s food supply and to find a highly sought-after ingredient called GOD.

At the beginning of Volume 25, Komatsu has qualified to compete with other top chefs at the Cooking Festival. Komatsu and his opponent, Zaus, are in the first competition. They’re supposed to compete in a blind cooking contest, where they are in complete and utter darkness and have to rely on their smell, instincts, and experience to find and prepare their ingredients. Before they can get very far in the competition, they are interrupted by the arrival of the Gourmet Corps. The Gourmet Corps is made up of characters who look even freakier than Toriko and his friends when they’ve powered up, and that’s really saying something!

Once the Gourmet Corps shows up, the remainder of the volume focuses on the battle that takes place during the Cooking Festival. Not only do members of the Corps battle it out with Toriko, his friends, and members of IGO, but they also try to capture the chefs at the festival. By the end of the volume, there are several battles that are focused on that feature Toriko, Sunny, Coco, and a group of members of the IGO.

During Sunny and Tommy’s fight, there was a great backstory scene for Sunny. Not only did it give the reader some background information on this character, it also provides the answer to what Sunny is struggling with at that point in his battle.

While I know a little bit about Toriko from reading chapters of the series for almost a year in Weekly Shonen Jump, this story takes place before the chapters I’ve read. Because of this, I found myself feeling a little lost at times, especially trying to follow who is who in the Gourmet Corps. And my confusion on the members of the Gourmet Corps could make it hard to follow the battles. In that respect, my confusion did hamper my enjoyment of this volume. But this shouldn’t be an issue for readers who have followed Toriko from the beginning and know the characters and what’s happened in the series up to this point.

There was a lot of action in this volume, so there were plenty of panels featuring speed lines. But there was a really good close-up panel of Sunny at the top of page 178. Not only was it drawn with great detail, but Shimabukuro also used shadows to good effect as well. This particular panel almost looks as if Sunny might suddenly jump right off of the page.

Toriko is definitely a shonen fighting manga, so readers who enjoy similar series, such as Naruto and One Piece, may find something to enjoy in this series as well. And for readers who are already fans of Toriko and have been following the series, I expect that they will enjoy and get a lot out of Volume 25.

I wrote this review after reading a review copy of Toriko Volume 25 that was provided to me by VIZ Media.

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Manga Review: Naruto Volume 26

Naruto Volume 26 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 26
Written by: Masashi Kishimoto
Publisher: Shueisha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: December 4, 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. 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.

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 bringing 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; 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.

I wrote this review after reading a copy of Naruto Volume 26 that I checked out through the King County Library System.

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