Naruto Volume 32
By Masashi Kishimoto
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Action
Price: $7.95
Rating: ★★★★½

A new ninja causes trouble among the ranks of Team Kakashi when they return from the battle against Sasori.  The secrets this stranger hides could be disastrous for Naruto.  Meanwhile, Naruto’s old nemesis Orochimaru has troubles of his own-his stronghold may be infiltrated by a spy!

After saying their goodbyes at the Sand Village, Teams Kakashi and Guy return to the Hidden Leaf.  Kakashi is laid up since his new jutsu takes so much out of him, so a new leader is needed for the team as well as member to even it out to four members.  There’s only six days left until the rondevou Sasori told them about.  Naruto goes searching out his old friends to get them to join, and we see Choji, Shino, Kiba and Hinata.  But the team has already been decided.  Sai, a member of the Foundation of the Black Ops is chosen, and Yamato, also Black Ops, is chosen to lead.  Sai gets on Naruto’s nerves immediately, and on Sakura’s only a few moments later.  But, in order to accomplish the mission, both try to tolerate Sai.

Several new characters are introduced in this volume.  Danzo is hard line military and doesn’t like the pacifist ways of the Hokages of the Hidden Leaf village have been leading them to.  He’s obviously has some ulterior motive as he weasels Sai onto the team.  Sai is a bit of a mystery.  Seemingly without emotion, he says the wrong things all the time and seems only mildly curious to the emotions he encounters from Sakura and Naruto.  His fake smile is obvious and a little creepy.  He also has a second secret mission from Danzo.  Yamato is the best of the new additions so far.  He has a gentle face that can turn downright ominous with a creepy voice, which he uses on Naruto a lot to keep him in line.  It’s very funny.  He uses a woodstyle of ninjistu that the First Hokage was said to only have mastered, making him a bit of a mystery as well.

The story throughout most of this volume is about trying to get Sakura, Naruto and Sai to be a team, but little success comes from it.  Sai seems passive-aggressive with his harsh words but blank looks.  Naruto shows he’s matured just a little as he still gets angry with Sai, but shows his determination by stating he’ll work with anyone, even Sai, to save Sasuke.  It’s a little surprising to see that scene, but good at the same time.  Naruto can still be surprising.

This new arc is starting off slow, emphasising the new team members, helping to establish them with the audience as well as in the team.  There are some good scenes, such as the farewell at the Sand Village, Naruto meeting up with old friends and the hot springs.  But for the most part, this is a breather before jumping back into the action.  It a good read, but not on the level of the past 4 volumes.

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