I noticed that my part 1 was a huge spoiler to those who haven’t read the manga before, so I decide to continue “spoiling” (eh…?)
5. Jiraiya vs. Pain
Pain actually refers to the name of a group that has seven different ninjas. To be more precise, the group is actually six corpses of dead ninjas controlled by one ninja named Nagato.
Jiraiya became the master of Nagato and his friends, Yahiko and Konan after a war he fought in Amegakure. His three apprentices were all orphans from the war. Jiraiya felt sorry for them and decided to stay in Amegakure and teach them instead of going back home to Konohagakure (Village of Leaves). He managed to raise the three orphans and taught them ninjutsu. At that time, he has already discovered Nagato’s unusual eye power, Rinnegan, and he believes that he may have the power to change the ninja world, since Rinnegan was only heard to be possessed by the Hermit of Six Paths, the creator of chakra and ninshu.
Jiraiya runs into Konan first during his intel collection. He has a small battle with her and is pleased to see that his former student has grown. Then Pain appears, and Jiraiya is a little shaken when he sees Yahiko’s face with Rinnegan. He realizes that all six Pain members have Rinnegans and each possesses one different power. During the fight, he also manages to find out that all six members are not living human but bodies remote controlled by someone.
Unfortunately, Jiraiya is not able to carry the information he gathered back to Konoha. He only has the chance to encode it and write it on the back of one of his summoning beast, a frog (Kuchiyose no Jutsu).
The part that touched me the most is Jiraiya’s memory of the time he taught Nagato, Yahiko, and Konan ninjutsu. He takes great effort to make up his mind of killing his former students. Additionally, during his monologue in the manga before his death, Jiraiya recalls how “his life was a failure”: he failed to protect his master and his most favorite student; he has no great contribution to the ninja world. However, as a student of the third Hokage, he managed to train his most favorite student, Minato, to become the fourth Hokage. He also managed to pass on the will of peace and understanding to Naruto, the protagonist of this manga. Jiraiya is a true ninja: he does not long for fame or power, but serves silently in the shadow.
4. Team Seven vs. Zabuza and Haku
This is one of the very first battles that appears in the manga. Team seven is led by Kakashi. The team members are his students, Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura, who have just become ninjas. They are given a mission of escorting an engineer back to his home country. However, on their way, they meet Zabuza Momochi and Haku who have the mission of assassinating the engineer. The first battle is epic, and the readers get a good sense of how Kakashi earned the name “copy ninja.”
Zabuza faked his death during the first encounter with the help of Haku, his assistant. They secretly planned revenge on team seven. During their second battle, Zabuza takes on Kakashi again, and Haku faces Sasuke and Naruto. During their battle, however, Naruto learned that Zabuza and Haku are hired by someone who wants the engineer dead instead of having something personal with him. Zabuza and Haku are actually honest ninjas who fight and live for their own dreams.
Both Zabuza and Haku died during that battle. However, I believe most readers are impressed by their determination toward their dreams.
3. Sasuke vs. Itachi
This is probably one of the most famous battles, even to people with little knowledge in Naruto. Sasuke appears at the start of the manga as an avenger (not that kind of avengers you read in the Marvel Universe). He introduces himself as someone who “lives to kill ‘that man’.” The man he refers to is his elder brother—Itachi Uchiha.
Due to reasons so complicated that I cannot elaborate in this part, Itachi killed everyone in his clan, including his parents. However, he was unable to kill his little brother, Sasuke, because he loves him so much. He told Sasuke to hate him, and to use this hatred to grow.
Sasuke lived in his brother’s shadow for years, and he finally found him and managed to revenge. However, later Sasuke learned that the whole “revenge battle” was already been planned by his brother. He got to know about why his brother had to kill everyone in his clan during that night, and why his brother left him alive. The revenge was planned by Itachi to relieve him of his sins and to grant his brother a new power—Mangekyou Sharingan—an strong eye power unique to the Uchiha clan, and can only be obtained after generating strong emotions like witnessing or even killing best friends or loved ones. Itachi loved and cared his little brother until the last moment of his life.
2. Kakashi+Obito+Rin vs. Stone Village Ninjas
I guess this is the only battle where the antagonists don’t matter at all. I’ll be talking about Kakashi, Obito, and Rin all the time. This battle occurs right before the beginning of Naruto Shippuden in the manga. This part of the story is called Kakashi Gaiden, which is solely about how Kakashi got his Sharingan despite not being one of the Uchiha clans.
The story happens where Kakashi, Obito, and Rin has to separate with their master Minato to work on different missions during a war. Rin is captured by the enemy during the operation. Kakashi and Obito have opposite opinions on whether to rescue Rin or to finish the task they are given. Despite being clumsy and not really good at ninja techniques, Obito insists on going to rescue Rin (even alone). He tells Kakashi that “although ninjas who violates rules are called ‘trash’, ninjas who give up on their peers and teammates are even worse than trash” His talk changes Kakashi completely and that sentence becomes a motto Kakashi later lives up to.
During the rescue, however, one of their enemies uses a technique that collapses the whole cave on them. In order to save Kakashi, Obito pushes him away, but he is smashed by a boulder. With only half of his body outside the boulder, Obito knows he cannot hold much longer. He gives his left eye to Kakashi as a gift to replace Kakashi’s injured left eye and died peacefully. Since Obito is one of the Uchiha clan, Kakashi gains the ability of Sharingan.
1. Minato & Kushina vs. Kurama
This one is full of parents love to their son. Kushina and Minato are Naruto’s parents. They save their child with their lives.
Kushina, as Jinchuuriki of Kyubi (the tail beast Kurama is sealed inside her), is about to give birth to Naruto. However, she is kidnapped by Minato’s former apprentice Obito (reason too complicated to explain, in fact, it took the author almost 15 years to explain this), and Kurama is dragged out of her body.
The enraged Kyubi begins to destroy the village Konoha. Minato, as the fourth Hokage, gets its attention away from the village and moves the battle field to open areas.
Knowing that they cannot defeat Kyubi themselves, Minato and Kushina choose to sacrifice themselves and save the village. With the help of his wife, Kushina, Minato sacrificed his life to seal half of Kyubi’s strength inside him. With his dying strength, he sealed the rest of the nine-tail beast in his son’s body, hoping that one day Naruto can harness Kurama’s power.
My favorite part is when Kushina tells baby Naruto to eat more vegetables and grow up healthy like a mom usually does. Except that this is her first chance yet her last chance to say something to her son. Naruto is lucky to have parents who love him so much. I cannot help crying when I see this scene for the first time during the ninth Naruto movie. Among the 10 battles I picked, this is the only one that I shed tears for.
I know that there are mistakes in details of the plots, but it has been a while since I go over the whole manga scrutinizing every page. Also, opinions may differ about my ranking among Naruto fans, I have trouble arranging my top five myself (except for the first). Finally, I apologize for being a “spoiler” to those who haven’t gone through the manga but have already read through both parts of my review. I’m also sorry for those who are confused due to lack of background knowledge, but it just takes too much space to explain things like Buddhism tales and Japanese folk lore. In the end, I hope everyone who has gone this far enjoyed reading this review.
Haoru Yang 逍遥仙人
May 24, 2015 Beijing