WARNING SPOILERS BELOW
I can't believe this... I really can't believe this...
Naruto is a manga that has been running for 15 years, I still remember catching up with the first seasons of the anime back when I was 12, I remember skipping the dreadful filler second half from the original series and going straight to Shippuuden, I remember ALL of it and it is suddenly over. Wow... feels like an entire era ending.
Anyway, Naruto was one of the first anime series I have ever watched (Dragon Ball being my first), and even though I had lost my interest and enjoyment in it for a very long time (I dropped it REALLY early when I had just started Shippuuden, it just wasn't doing it for me anymore), I still made an attempt at catching up with the manga because people told me it was ending and I wanted to see my late childhood fall apart just like that.
As for the actual review, Naruto started out as a fairly decent shounen manga, it told the story of a ninja called Naruto that was treated like shit by everyone else in the Hidden Leaf Village because he had the Nine-Tailed Fox sealed inside him. At first, he's completely useless and kinda annoying, all he really did at first was yelling "I'M GONNA BECOME THE HOKAGE" like if there was no tomorrow. And for those wondering, the Hokage is the ruler of the village.
He later teams up with two other classmates alongside a more experienced ninja and form a team that does the jobs assigned to them, while at the same time, each character has its own goals and intentions. The most notable, other than Naruto, is Sasuke, an old childhood rival that had lost his family when he was younger, eventually leading to him carefully planning to take revenge on the person behind it. At first, they do some stuff as a team and it is a fairly enjoyable story that does its job in a decent manner. Nothing too special, but also something that I could watch and still get a kick out of. Yes, Naruto was a bit annoying as a character, but that didn't keep him from being likeable, and the same goes for all the other characters.... at least for a while...
Eventually, Sasuke runs away and the story goes on a timeskip, which wasn't really a good idea as the story kinda jumped the shark at that point. Filled with asspulls such as the 99 different forms of the Rasengan and the treatment given to side characters, the story past the time skip had a MAJOR drop in quality, which caused me to eventually lose my interest in the series. Not to mention the treatment they gave to Sasuke, which initially was a character full of potential, only for it to be turned into the most despicable one of the cast that SOMEHOW still does a 180 on his mood. One second he is planning to destroy the village, the other he simply agrees to help Naruto defeat the big bad because.... crap, I don't even know anymore, I really think not even Kishimoto enjoyed what he was doing anymore at that point, just dragging the story more than it needed for the hell of it.
And Naruto himself did not get any better too, he was turned into one hell of a Mary Sue that just pulled random powers out of his arse because he had to defeat the evil villain at the end of the day. For crying out loud, even the worst Fairy Tail asspull is not as big as a lot of stuff I've seen here. I don't even think this was about bloody ninjas anymore because, as far as I'm aware, ninjas wouldn't just summon meteorites in a Final Fantasy manner. Eventually, even Naruto's iconic "I'M GONNA BECOME THE HOKAGE" was toned down and that's when I realized that these characters were no longer what they used to be. What about the rest of them? Pffffft, they were thrown to the side after the so notorious timeskip, it's like they weren't even there.
Another thing I have to point out is that the story simply couldn't keep one consistent bad guy. The timeskip arrives and we are left with Sasuke running away to eventually become a bad guy, a psychotic ninja that wants to achieve immortality and a secret society dedicated to capturing the Tailed Beasts such as Naruto's Nine-Tailed Fox. Wanna guess which one was the real big baddie? NONE OF THEM! Sasuke? He becomes a good guy after a while. Orochimaru? Same thing. Pain, the leader of Akatsuki? Turns out he was a puppet after all. Tobi, the guy behind him? Same thing, a puppet as well. Madara? Not this one either. Black Zetsu, the guy that never had any spotlight? Nope, also a puppet! As it turns out (And here comes a big spoiler), the real big bad just so happened to be the entity that created the energy force they use in their battles? How, because she was somehow resurrected...
Overall, Naruto is a manga that does a fair job on the first part, but completely blows it near the end. If you wanna know if it's worth reading? Not really, unless you are planning to stop just before the timeskip begins