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Manga Review: Naruto – The Seventh Hokage and the Scarlet Spring

As the genin graduation exam approaches, twelve-year-old Uchiha Sarada walks home alone, feeling jealous of her classmates for being able to train with their fathers for the upcoming exam.

Life haven’t always been normal for Sarada. In fact, she hasn’t seen her own father, Uchiha Sasuke, for her entire life. With the possibility that Haruno Sakura may not even be her mother, Sarada wasn’t going to let the truth escape behind her back. Determined to hunt her father down, she was on a quest to unveil the truth herself. Where was Sasuke? Why hasn’t her father come home? What does it mean to be a ninja? What is the truth behind her birth? Is Sakura even her mum at all?

In the meantime, Sasuke encounters a mysterious boy possessing the Sharingan and donning the crest of the Uchiha clan. Alerting Uzumaki Naruto — now the Seventh Hokage of Konohagakure — about this new enemy, Naruto decides to meet up with Sasuke in order to defeat the enemy before a catastrophe breaks out. Overhearing Naruto’s plan to reunite with Sasuke, Sarada decides to tail Naruto into the woods (accompanied by Chōchō) in order to get answers.

In a radical shonen first, we see a female taking the reigns as the leading character in Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto sequel, THE SEVENTH HOKAGE AND THE SCARLET SPRING. While Kishimoto could have easily formed a sequel about Naruto and Hinata’s precocious son, Uzumaki Boruto, it is to our utmost surprise that this spin-off manga has the spotlight shining on Uchiha Sarada instead.

Yes, Masashi Kishimoto’s love affair with the Uchiha family continues but don’t let that dissuade you from this spin-off series. Not only is it refreshing to see a female as the main character but Uchiha Sarada is everything that we could wish for in a protagonist. Possessing Haruno Sakura’s monstrous strength and Sasuke’s Sharingan powers, Sarada is not to be toyed with. She is mysterious, cynical, attentive, and constantly questioning the world around her. Compared to Boruto’s one-dimensional personality, Sarada is the stronger (and badass) protagonist out of the two as we rather go on a quest to unveil the truth about her birth than follow Boruto and his shenanigans.

Following the overthrow of Uchiha Madara and the Akatsuki organisation, the finale of Naruto saw a rare opportunity for renewal across the Five Great Shinobi Countries. Unfortunately, not everyone sought peace. A new enemy has now suddenly emerged not in the form of one person, but hundreds of clones. And of course, who else better to interfere with the enemy’s plans than our ultimate bromance couple, Naruto and Sasuke?

With surprising appearances by former terrorists Orochimaru, Karin, Jugo and Suigetsu, The Seventh Hokage and the Scarlet Spring was shaping to be the beginning of an ominous master plan waiting to befall on the shinobi world. Who are these new enemies? Who created the clones? What was their purpose? To the audience’s disappointment, the new enemy ended up being Orochimaru’s rejected group of experimental clones that decided to go rogue on its own accord. Unlike the evil mastermind Orochimaru, the clones’ purpose of revenge is rather bland and unmotivated — which was sort of expected from a one-volume series.

That doesn’t go to say that the narrative itself wasn’t eventful. Continuing the spirit of the Naruto series, hardcore fans will be blessed by Kishimoto’s trademark elements packed into the one volume — light-hearted comedy, detailed artwork, heartfelt flashbacks, mind-blowing action, cool shots of Naruto and Sasuke on the foreground, and an eccentric mystery that is triggered by this new enemy.

These bland antagonists might be the story’s biggest weakness but the whole concept of a new enemy was never exactly on our radar. As much as we wanted to know more about the clones, our undying attention have always leaned towards Sarada’s quest from the start. 

Despite Sasuke’s mistreatment towards Sakura in the past, it is clear in The Seventh Hokage and the Scarlet Spring that Sakura and Sasuke share a solid bond that fans haven’t seen before. Many fans might be still confused by Kishimoto’s complex-yet-unhealthy pairing of these two characters but this spin-off flawlessly (and quietly) sets out to prove why they are a compatible item.

Offering a unique insight into the Uchiha family, not only are we taken into the Uchiha household but we also witness intimate moments between Sakura and Sasuke that will take you by surprise. Even if Sasuke has abandoned his family for a majority of Sarada’s childhood, we absolutely admire Sakura’s independence more than ever as she will always love and respect Sasuke, regardless of his past and goals. Realising that her parents will do anything for her, the audience is at peace when Sarada decides to put faith in her parents’ odd marriage, despite Sasuke’s paternal abandonment.

Overall: Fans of the Naruto universe will appreciate Masashi Kishimoto’s spin-off series THE SEVENTH HOKAGE AND THE SCARLET SPRING. Despite the story’s predictable conclusion, the identity of Sarada’s real mother will come as a shock to many fans along the way. With plenty of Naruto humour, action and suspense from start to finish, we absolutely recommend this spin-off manga to all Naruto fans out there. 

Rating: 8.5/10

THE SEVENTH HOKAGE AND THE SCARLET SPRING IS NOW ON SALE. YOU CAN VIEW MORE INFO ON MADMAN ENTERTAINMENT’S SITE [HERE]
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