Looking back on 2014, part 12: the end of an era

In all honesty, could it have been anything else?

If I look back on the time I’ve spent in the ACG fandom so far, Kishimoto Masashi’s Naruto is arguably the one work that has never been too far from my mind. I may have paused my reading of it from time to time, but it would never be long before I would pick it up again. And whilst I agree with some of the common complaints about how long it dragged on for, or how irritating certain characters could be, I’ve never really given up on seeing this through to the end.

And now that the main story has ended – and it is certainly very weird not to be sitting down to a new chapter of Naruto every week! – I can say that I’m glad I stuck with it. Whilst it has taken far longer than I anticipated when I first started reading it (in those days, the longest series I knew of ended around the 30-volume mark!), and whilst I won’t rave over it like I once did for another long-running manga, I’m happier with the final chapters than I thought I would be. There were some details I certainly didn’t expect (and which Kishimoto admits he added as he was working on the chapters), and there were others that I had always hoped I would one day see confirmed (e.g. Shikamaru x Temari!). For the record, though, whilst I was less certain of who Naruto would end up with because of all the troll-level hints he inserted into the manga over the years (he’s admitted it!), I’m totally on board for this:

…because they suit each other, nothing more, nothing less.

This isn’t the place for detailed arguments about why I’m happy with the ending. To summarise, however, no matter what anyone else might try to argue, this story has always been about one person, Uzumaki Naruto, and his bonds with the people around him. And amongst those bonds, the most important was the connection to the person he considered his best friend: Uchiha Sasuke. And to me, Kishimoto-sensei addressed this in the way that I’ve been expecting for many years – at least since their first major fight. Everything else did not need to be laid out in black and white, so the glimpse that we got of the future, one where Naruto has achieved his dream and the family that he always wanted, was plenty for me.

Well, that certainly brings back memories…

To finish off, let me do what most other fans satisfied with the ending have already done. To Kishimoto-sensei, despite all those bumps along the way, thank you for writing a story that has kept me invested and entertained for 15 years. Thanks are also due to your assistants and your editor, who have helped you on this journey. And I’m looking forward to the little extras that you have in store for us next year!

About karice
MAG fan, translator, and localization project manager. I also love musicals, travel and figure skating!

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