Basic Shounen – An Epic Fail or A Necessary Evil

How would you feel if you met someone thinking Naruto was good anime? Would that person earn your dislike? Maybe lose a couple of respect points? Do you feel compelled to lash out and rage, shake them so hard that their minds might change (due to brain damage)? Are you suppressing the urge to bombard them with insults, “Narutard” being one of them?

Seriously, let’s take a step back, cool our otaku minds for a bit, and ask ourselves… Why the hate?

The Brief Summary

Busou Renkin

Most of us have heard of the term “shounen”. It refers to anime/manga targeted for a young male audience, usually action/adventure with a male lead. Some are old (i.e. Dragonball, Rurouni Kenshin) while others are new (Shaman King, Busou Renkin). However, what we are most familiar with, at least by name, are the ones that air(ed) on Adult Swim (i.e. Naruto, Bleach, and One Piece).

Epic Naruto action right here…

Many people are watching these shows. For some, they were the tenative first steps into the anime world. However, despite having a large viewership, there’s also a lot of dislike, bordering on hate at times. The term “Narutard” was generated to distinguish fans of one popular series, and it’s obviously not a compliment.

But seriously, where does all that negative sentiment come from? Is there something seriously wrong with the series but their faults are hidden from most viewers? How else is it possible to maintain so many fans if it gathers so much hostile attention? Or… Is it simply a mob mentality where people grossly exaggerate the shows’ faults? Join the bandwagon or get steamrolled by it?

My Take on Things

NOTE:
For ease of debate, I’m going to center my attention on Naruto.

I believe that most of it is just a fad, a common target that most otakus can associate with. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a fan of the Naruto anime, dropped it right before Shippuden came out, and barely keep up with its manga. I treat the series nothing more than something to waste my time on while waiting for other releases.

Back to the topic, what do I draw my opinion on? Well, I tried writing about this topic a while ago but with the intent to show the evils of Naruto. Sitting down with my laptop before me, my fingers blazed away until the first question. What exactly from Naruto don’t I like?

Yes, I admit I watched it in my (much) younger years

The plot?
It’s not too unique and we see this hero-buildup in many other series… Claymore (ok, bad example but it was decent before the kamikaze ending), Double Arts (main male protagonist Kiri), Tower of Druaga (Jil), etc. None of them got as much heat. In addition, the intended audience are teenagers and younger, males mostly. I remember when I was 5 years old and watching Power Rangers. If I had access to Naruto, I’m sure I would have liked it.

Annoying characters?
Big deal. They’re in every series. We always have at least one person we hate. In Evangelion, there was Asuka. In Code Geass, there’s Suzaku and Nina. In Naruto, we have Naruto himself, Sasuke, Sakura, and <insert more names here>. On the bright side, there’s the ever so cute Hinata and her undying love for the protagonist. Not all hope is lost.

Excessive amount of fillers?
First of all, that’s a production issue where they try to buy the manga artist more time. They’re not important, could stand alone by themselves, and shouldn’t be related with the main story. Granted, the Naruto anime did go overboard with the quantity… but faults within the fillers are not the same as faults within the show. They just share the same name (kind of like fanfictions). Do you take fillers seriously? I don’t. I might watch them but I wouldn’t pay too much attention.

People who watch it become corrupt fangirls/boys?
That’s another issue by itself. Fans are fans… though some take it in the wrong direction.

Conclusion

Whenever I bring this topic up in the chatroom, the flaming starts. I start envisioning a virtual mob of otakus bearing torches and pitchworks, running all over the countryside to hunt down and kill any and all fans. Was there any real reason for such a reaction? None that I could perceive. Is anti-Naruto mentality justified? Most likely not.

Naruto was never meant to be more than an entry anime. It has elements of all genres… but doesn’t specialize in any. We should treat “basic shounen” works as the stepping stone toward our final preferences, whether it be more action/adventure or comedy or drama.

Would I suggest Naruto to be watched? Certainly not. As an anime fan, it would be irresponsible for me to suggest something of low quality when there’s better shows to watch. However, the show does have some outstanding OP/EDs that caters to Jrock/Jpop fans. Do I think poorly of Naruto fans? No more than Deathnote fans… They just have different tastes and I (in general) respect that.

About My Personal Experience

Am I a Naruto fan? No.

Am I updated with Naruto-verse? For the most part.

Was I one of those people who flamed about Naruto? Admittedly, yes.

Have I mellowed out? Somewhat.

Will I continue to lash out against Naruto fans? Maybe.

The Infamous Stupid Sakura Project OPs

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3 Responses

  1. “How would you feel if you met someone thinking Naruto was good anime? Would that person earn your dislike? Maybe lose a couple of respect points? Do you feel compelled to lash out and rage, shake them so hard that their minds might change (due to brain damage)? Are you suppressing the urge to bombard them with insults, “Narutard” being one of them?”

    The way a person would respond to someone who think that Naruto is a very good anime is an indicator of maturity :)

  2. The problem is, some people react without really knowing the situation. With the Naruto example, I met flamers who later confessed never to have watched it. I just think that most of the reaction with “Narutard-ism” is over-exaggerated and over-hyped. Probably due to the popularity of the series, everyone has a common punching bag…

  3. Yes, flaming a work without seeing it is inappropriate.

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