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Naruto Fans Prove How The Sasuke Retrieval Arc Epitomizes The Best In The Series

Masashi Kishimoto's "Naruto" series is permeated with riveting story arcs. One of the longest manga and anime series, especially if one counts the sequel "Boruto: Naruto Next Generations," this shonen has no shortage of memorable moments that have imprinted themselves in fans' memories. In a Reddit post, a fan shares praise for the Sasuke Retrieval arc, one of the last ones in the original "Naruto" series that ended in 2007 in Japan, with its English dub ending two years afterward.

In this arc, Naruto and a team of other young Konoha shinobi attempt to get Sasuke back from the clutches of the Legendary Sanin Orochimaru and his minions. To this effect, the teen ninja must battle against Orochimaru's lackeys, who are denominated as the Sound Five. In the end, Naruto is the only one to reach and come face-to-face with his rival/best friend, as the rest stay behind to hold off their enemies. However, their fateful encounter goes south, and the two end up fighting an intense battle, with Sasuke coming out victorious and Naruto unconscious. Tragically, even after everyone gives their very best, the mission to recover their friend is not successful.

The aforementioned Reddit post aims to show off what the user perceives as "the beauty" of this particular arc. Judging by the many comments on the thread, other fans demonstrate not only their agreement but also provide concrete explanations as to why this arc "was fire through and through."

What was great about this arc and Naruto's early days

The post includes four screenshots of moments that took place during the Sasuke Retrieval Arc. Going from left to right, the first picture shows the main members of the team sent out to get Sasuke back: Kiba, Choji, Shikamaru, Naruto, and Neji. The following picture shows the strongest of Orochimaru's followers, Kimimaro, when he's going against Naruto — or rather, many Narutos. The third picture corresponds to what was arguably one of Choji's most spectacular moments in the spotlight. And finally, the last picture shows the aftermath of Rock Lee and Gaara's battle against Kimimaro.

"OG Naruto utilized the Side Characters the Best," wrote u/0utplay45 in the thread, a sentiment that seems to be shared by many others. "Facts man everyone felt important," replied ROHAN6968. "This is how great OG Naruto was," commented u/orbzism. "This wasn't even the best arc, and it's still pure fire. I miss OG Naruto."

Indeed, in this particular arc, every single ninja involved played a paramount role in helping Naruto reach Sasuke. That being said, fans are also alluding to the fact that the original "Naruto" series — unlike its successor "Naruto: Shippuden" — treated its many side characters with more care, attention, and reverence. Hence why many fans believe there was a decline in quality and downright poor writing later on in the series.

"I prefer it over Shippuden," wrote u/PapaOogie, "but I have not seen many share this opinion. I loved how OG Naruto gave all the characters time to shine, not just Naruto and Sasuke." Another fan also commented that in the original, "The world doesn't seem so bloated, and the non-Naruto, non-Sasuke characters actually get a lot of time to shine."

What's not to love?

In an older Reddit post, not everyone unanimously loved this arc. The original poster argues that the Sasuke Retrieval arc "was annoying, repetitive, and barely a challenge for" our heroes. To this argument, another fan replies, "Wasn't a challenge for them? 2 barely won and the other 2 needed saving." Indeed, if it weren't for the three Sand Village shinobi coming to the rescue, there is no telling what would have happened to some of Naruto's comrades.

Still, the responses ultimately suggest the majority does see many positive aspects in this portion of the story and, by extension, the first half of the series. In this same post, one fan lists what they perceive as all the great things about this arc, while another writes a long and in-depth explanation as to why what was great "wasn't just the Sasuke retrieval arc, but Part 1 as a whole." Back in the other more recent and more popular post, u/sheehdndnd gives a concrete example as to why "Shippuden" failed a few of its characters: "They have such a great character development to Lee and neji and then don't know what happened to them in shippuden."

This lack of development seems to be one of the main criticisms fans have of the later part of the "Naruto" series. Certain characters — like the mentioned Rock Lee and Neji Hyuga — took a backseat and never fully returned to the spotlight, at least not in any way that was as momentous as, for instance, some of the fights in the Chuunin Exams and in the Sasuke Retrieval mission. If you feel the same about this difference between the first and second half of the series, it seems you're not alone.