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Title:
  Naruto: The Official Fanbook

Distributor:  Viz Media

Creator: Masashi Kishimoto

Suggested Retail Price (SRP): 8.99

Number of Pages: 262

ISBN-10: 1-4215-1844-2

ISBN-13: 1-4215-1844-9

Reviewer: Tom (Webmaster)

 

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 Naruto 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. 

After a few snippets on Kishimoto's life comes the highlight of this book - the original Naruto short story from 1997, published for the first time in English.  Although the story is an average one, it is certainly interesting that the underlying theme of Naruto - friendship - is present.  There are also some character differences, namely Naruto is a fox masquerading as a human, rather then a human possessed by one.  Although predictable, the story is entertaining and a great way to round off this book. 

 
Despite becoming informative and entertaining is the latter quarter, Naruto: The Official Fanbook pretty much consists of information you will already know.  There are some quizzes and games included, but these are of the spot the difference ilk that will only appeal to younger readers.  There some interesting asides though, such as how to make Hyorogan (military ration pellets), a selection of fanart and the real-life Rock Lee feats are funny (my friend dislocated his shoulder - he is Rock Lee!!). 

Essentially, this is a book which sums up the early years of Naruto (up to around volume 18), occasionally giving some new information.  I found only the last quarter to be worth reading, as it actually tells the reader new things.  Younger readers will enjoy the fun quizzes and games, older readers will enjoy the interview and original short story.  If you are 13 or under, add one to the overall score. 

Extras:

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! 

Ratings

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