Manga Mondays — Naruto Volume 7: The Path You Should Tread

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***VizMedia did not have a hand in this post other than the publication of the series in the US. They did not provide me with a copy of this book to review. It was done for fun, not monetary gain.***

Volume 7 of Naruto picks up immedaitely where volume 6 left off. Ino, Shikamaru, and Choji are in the middle of protecting Sakura while she watches of Naruto and Sasuke. They take on the Sound Ninja for a time, until Lee’s teammates TenTen and Neji show up, but they aren’t even able to do a thing before Sasuke finally wakes up from being unconscious, but Sakura can tell something is not right with him. The mark Orochimaru had given him had spread over his body.

Sasuke’s first concern is to find who on earth beat Sakura so badly, and when Zaku, one of the Sound Nin, says it was him, Sasuke quickly starts to fight against him, ending with breaking Zaku’s arms before turning to take on Dosu. Sakura, though, stops Sasuke by hugging him from behind and telling him to stop, which causes the mark to recede and Sasuke to return to normal. The Sound Nin retreat after leaving their scroll of Team 7, things are calm once again.

Moving on from that, the story jumps backwards ten hours, to Anko stumbling through the forest and being found by the ANBU, who take her to the tower. She tells them that exams absolutely must continue because of Orochimaru’s threats, and there was no other way to prevent the descruction of the village at that time. Before anything else can be decided, another proctor for the exam comes in, telling Anko she absolutely had to see something, and plays a video for her, showing that the team from the Sand Village–Gaara, Temari, Kankurou–had completed the exam in just 97 minutes, a new record.

The story jumps even farther back at this point, to 50 minutes after the exam began, and shows Team 8 (Kiba and Akamaru, Hinata, Shino) making their way to the tower after getting their second scroll right away. They come across Gaara and his siblings fighting against a team from the Rain village, and get a glimpse at Gaara’s sand shield, which protects him from the needle rain that comes down on him.

Gaara, unscathed from the attack, takes the chance to trap the first Rain ninja in sand, and kills him without any hesitation, before doing the same to other Rain ninja. Kiba tells Hinata and Shino that Akamaru was warning them that the Rain ninja was in danger, and it was proven by Gaara’s willingness to just outright murder him.

The story returns to present time, and shows Team 7 trying to get some fish in order to be able to eat and continue trying to get their Earth Scroll. Whilte Sasuke goes to some water, Naruto and Sakura discuss the scrolls and Naruto is about to open the scroll, before Kabuto shows up and stops him. Sasuke comes back after a moment, obviouslt disappointed with Naruto and Sakura for trying to open the scroll, and then challenges Kabuto to a fight for their missing scroll, since Kabuto has both already.

Instead of fighting them, Kabuto leads Team 7 closer to the tower, telling them that it’s very likely the other teams, who have yet to get their set of scrolls, would be there with them, waiting to ambush. This is proven true itself, when the other group of Rain ninja show up with a large group of clones, ready to attack. A battle between them goes on all night, but when morning comes, Team 7 is finally able to defeat the Rain ninja and continue to the tower, finally completing the second part of the exam with their set of scrolls.

This was a pretty heavy volume, for being in the first tenth of the series. It shows how different Sasuke is now, with the Curse Mark on him, Sakura’s ability to quell that mark, and Naruto’s growth. It was a really good volume, and it even gives us a look at who Kabuto really is, and it’s just going to get deeper and heavier as things go on!

(Yes, this is a 3-in-1 volume. Everything until the end of Part 1 is now a 3-in-1 volume in my collection.)

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