On one of my visits to Japan, a comment
by my Japanese guide brought me crashing down to Earth. She asked me what
my favourite anime/manga was, to which I replied Inu-Yasha (it was at the
time) and she answered 'oh my ten year old nephew likes that!' Ok, I knew
that Shonen/Shojo titles are enjoyed by all ages outside of Japan, but still!
Incidents like this make one realise that a lot of manga available in the West
is aimed squarely at kids and young teens and
is definitely one such manga. Although it has a wide fanbase consisting of
all ages, its target audience is young teens. It is important to bear this
in mind before reading Naruto: The Official Fanbook.
What struck me first about this
fanbook is the sheer amount of information that it contains.
Japanese fanbooks aren't like Western fanbooks as they contain more text
then pictures. The first section - countries and hidden shinobi
villages - gives the reader a good idea what to expect from the rest of
the book. It contains small snippets of information, albeit stuff
a Naruto fan would already know, which serve as a good reminder
for those who haven't read volume one of the manga in a while. The
book then goes on to analyse the Konoha ninja uniform, headbands,
weapons and scrolls. It essentially tells you what they are, how
they are used and who uses them - again a summing up. Moving onto
character files, these do offer some unknown information (ninjas have a
registration number?) but there is only five and all Konoha ninja.
More information on characters such as Zabuza and Gaara would have been
welcome. The book continues telling information you already know
before getting to the interesting stuff, three quarters in.
Naruto creator and artist Masashi Kishimoto has created his own
character profile, speaking of his likes/dislikes and influences.
The timeline of this life is insightful, speaking of key events from his
birth until the serialisation of
Naruto. There also an interview, in which Kishimoto
talks of his love for
Dragon Ball and how his manga career began.
A full colour fold-out poster showing the main protagonists of Naruto, which has a map of Konoha on the other side. Its a pretty rubbish map though - it has no location names on it!