I have recently started to watch Naruto Shippuden again, after almost two years, and I am still amazed at the magnetic appeal of that anime set in a fictitious medieval Japan, that transcends culture, age, or even language ( For the full effect, I watch it in Japanese, subbed in English ).
It is so refreshing to watch a plot that is so, so far away from the themes popular culture scriptwriters use to grab attention and keep the viewer hooked: sex, lies, betrayal, pregnancy, gossip, bling, money, and more sex. Naruto’s core theme is values, true, back to basic, real values: courage, friendship, loyalty, patriotism, determination, intelligence, valour, strategy, forward thinking, humour. Young ninjas get trained by their Senseis and learn various jutsus to defend their country against evil. Their ambition is to become better skilled ninjas to be able to serve their country and protect their people. The plot is so intricate, the characters so well crafted out and the details so fascinating that it is impossible not to get hooked up on it. If you like Japanese culture like me, words like ramen, chakra, jutsu, sensei, razengan, raikiri, byakugan will be a joy to the ear.
One of my favourite character is Hatake Kakashi, who is Naruto’s sensei. That guy is the definition of cool. He was born an elite, and he wears a mysterious mask that hides three quarters of his face. He is nonchalant, finds every possible occasion to read his book, and seems bored the rest of the time. We never know what is beneath his mask or why he wears it. Another interesting character is Sasuke Uchiha, another born elite whose only purpose in life is to get revenge for the murder of his family by his brother Itachi. He leaves Konoha (Naruto’s village) to join Orochimaru (evil) to be able to get the strongest he can get to defeat his brother. He is also Naruto’s best friend, as well as his archnemesis.
I wonder what children nowadays dream about, or would be ready to fight for. The new iphone4s or to strike against longer school hours or against their parents removing cable tv? Maybe, like my generation, they would enter a phase when they would decide to fight for a greener planet ( I still try to do that ) or rebel against their parents or teachers because of their old school thinking ( I still do that, though less ). I guess the hippie generation fought against a more unifying cause, against war. But what should the Mauritian teenager seriously dream about, or fight for? Less apathy for sure, more resolve definitely, and more action maybe …