Friday, December 11, 2020



[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

AUTHORS: Masashi Kishimoto and Mirei Miyamoto
TRANSLATION: Jocelyne Allen
DESIGN: Shawn Carrico
COVER: Shawn Carrico with Masashi Kishimoto
ISBN: 978-1-9747-1342-4; paperback (August 2020); Rated “T” for “Teen”
164pp, B&W, $10.99 U.S., $14.99 CAN, £7.99 U.K.

Naruto is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Masashi Kishimoto.  Naruto was serialized in the Japanese manga magazine, Weekly Shōnen Jump, from 1999 to 2014.  Naruto eventually became a media franchise, yielding anime television series and films, video games, various print and audio publications, and a wide range of merchandise.

Naruto focuses on the mischievious young shinobi (ninja), Uzumaki Naruto, from the shinobi Village of Konohagakure.  When he was a baby, Naruto's parents (father Minato and mother Kushina) imprisoned a nine-tailed fox spirit (Kurama) inside his infant body, making him something of an outcast.  Determined to gain the recognition of his peers, Naruto fought and eventually became “the Hokage,” the leader of his village.  Now, he is a husband, married to Hinata, and they have two children, a son named Boruto and a daughter named Himawari – also called “Hima.”

Naruto also yielded a series of light novels (a Japanese form of the short novel), which furthered the adventures of Naruto and also of Naruto and his family after the ending of the Naruto manga.  VIZ Media recently released the fifth Naruto novel, Naruto New Story: Family Day, which was originally published in May 2018, in a paperback, English-language edition.  VIZ's release is entitled Naruto's Story: Family Day, and it is published under the “Shonen Jump” imprint.

Written by Masashi Kishimoto and Mirei Miyamoto, Naruto's Story: Family Day opens in the office of the Seventh Hokage, Uzumaki Naruto.  Advisor to the Hokage, Nara Shikamaru, has just handed Naruto a document that he must read.  The village of Konohagakure (or “Konoha” for short) has had an influx of new residents.  These new townspeople want to give an official name to one of the village's standard holidays, in which the villagers enjoy a day off from work.

Thus, “Family Day” is born.  But how is a workaholic and very busy Hokage going to celebrate Family Day?  Is Naruto even going to have the day off?  Well, Naruto, three other wayward fathers, and one teacher will learn the true meaning and spirit of Family Day.

[This book includes a two-page, illustrated list of characters.]

THE LOWDOWN:  Naruto's Story: Family Day is comprised of four short stories and four interludes, one appearing after the end of each short story.  There is also a prologue and an epilogue.

The first story is “Racing Through Konoha,” and it stars Naruto and his daughter, Hima.  The father-daughter pair race through Konoha looking for the latest hot toy, the “Kuraa-ma.”  It does not matter that it is based on “Kurama,” the nine-tailed spirit inside her father, Hima really wants this toy.  Feeling guilty because he is so often busy at the office and not at home, Naruto believes that he has to obtain this almost impossible to find toy for his child.

“Racing Through Konoha” is the most straight forward of the four tales, and its message is simple.  Fathers should make time for their children, especially for their daughters.  In fact, the father-daughter relationship is the subject of all four stories, and “Racing Through Konoha” is the most heartfelt.

The second story is “Forms of Happiness.”  It stars Naruto's wife, Hinata, and her younger sister, Hanabi, and their elderly father, Hiashi Hyuga.  Hinata reluctantly joins Hanabi and Hyuga on their father's quest to make a legend of himself as a ninja, although his ninja mission days are long over.  Hyuga's quest seems to hinge on his need to impress his grandson, Ninata and Naruto's elder child, their son, Boruto, who is a big fan of the card game, “Extreme Ninja.”  Ninja legends are the subjects of these cards, and the bigger legend a ninja is the more rare his card is within card packs.

Cards featuring Hyuga's image are not particularly rare, and he believes that he if completes a new and important mission, his card rarity will be upgraded.  “Forms of Happiness” might seem to be about grandparent and grandchild relationships, but it is really about adult children and their elderly parents.  Mortality and the fact that both parent and child are aging hang over the story.  I like the story, and I admire Kishimoto and Miyamoto's willingness to discuss themes of aging and mortality in what is really a juvenile novel.

The third story is “Table for One.”  It stars Boruto's friend, Akimichi Cho-Cho, and her father, Akimichi Choji, who is known for being a fat ninja... who is constantly eating.  Choji's wife and Cho-Cho's mother, Karui, also stars in this story.  Cho-Cho and Choji enter an eating contest held at Family Day.  The story is good, but not great, and it is a kind of comic relief version of the father-daughter themes of this novel.

The fourth story is “Cold Flames and Roiling Fire,” and its stars longtime Naruto rival, Uchiha Sasuke, and his daughter, Sarada, and, in a lesser role, his wife, Sakura.  Sasuke, who is usually away from home on secret missions for Konoha, returns for a (very) short visit and discovers that his daughter, Sarada, is estranged from him.  Because of a series of mishaps and bad advice, the estrangement increases.  So what can Sasuke do to improve his relationship with his child?  Hopefully, his wife, Sakura, who is also a bit miffed at him, has the answer.

“Cold Flames and Roiling Fire” is a surprisingly edgy story.  The tartness between Sasuke and Sarada is unexpected, but what the authors offer the readers is a story in which the father has to work hard to repair and to build his relationship with his daughter.  I think this story was the best choice as the final entry in this novel.

The “Master Shino!” interludes star Ninja Academy teacher, Aburame Shino, and each one is also surprisingly heartfelt.  Not one of the four reads as if it were filler material.  All in all, I have to admit that I enjoyed reading Naruto's Story: Family Day much more than I thought I would.  I heartily recommend it to fans of Naruto.

I READS YOU RECOMMENDS:  Fans of Naruto and Boruto manga will want to read the “Shonen Jump” novel, Naruto's Story: Family Day.

7.5 out of 10

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

The text is copyright © 2020 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for syndication rights and fees.


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