Sasuke, a badass ninja fueled by anger and vengeance, is poised to obliterate all who dare to mock the Uchiha! Yet in a world where the fan breaks during a heatwave, carnies rig their festival games and Itachi’s terrible eyesight ruins Christmas (again) CAN HE SUCCEED? ...eh, who gives a darn. It’ll be funny either way.
So. Sky’s blue, Pope’s Catholic, and Naruto’s got a sprawling, epic storyline that spans multiple continents, eras and ideals with its unforgettable cast and twist-laden plotline. A plotline that, despite the giant shonen-manga-standard explosions and the titular character’s sexy-jutsu antics, makes for a serious story about serious issues that takes itself very, very seriously.
And then Naruto: Chibi Sasuke’s Sharingan Legend comes along, takes one look at all that before it pulls a face and draws graffiti all over everything sacred.
As a gag manga, Chibi Sasuke comprises a collection of "what-if" scenarios about how this ninja’s power or that character’s personality would play out in a more comedic setting. What would Sasuke’s leisure time be like if he took everything in his life as seriously as his revenge quest? How good of a detective would he be if someone snarfed the takeout when no one was looking? How about exploring a world where everyone switched genders? We have answers, people!
Among other things, Chibi Sasuke delivers a razor-sharp reminder that each of Team Taka’s members is an emotionally unstable teenager with almost no common sense. Aside from Sasuke’s obsession with preserving the Uchiha’s reputation, Jugo goes kill-crazy at the worst times, Suigetsu can’t stop posturing and Karin…needs a cold shower. Or twenty.
It’s not just the four of them, of course—the Akatsuki, Orochimaru and Kabuto also make the scene. Naturally, they…erm, have their own interesting stories. How DOES an evil organization of super terrorists plotting world conquest show appreciation for its members after a tough year? What ARE the limits of Hidan’s healing abilities? And do Orochimaru’s skin-shedding powers come with a cost? Even more answers!
Aside from the goofy scenarios, the cutesy style sells much of the humor by itself. Sasuke’s endless brooding is as adorable as it is funny, and even Karin’s lustful behavior is way goofier when both she and her quarry are tiny people with giant heads. Heck, even Orochimaru and Pain’s intimidating designs become hilarious when you shrink ‘em down and give ‘em big ol’ eyeballs. And if Fleischer and Warner Bros. have taught us anything, there’s nothing better than a simplistic design for selling that good ol’ slapstick humor.
What makes this little comic work is that its mangaka, Kenji Taira, has both an appreciation for the original material and an excellent command of how comedy works in general. And for every joke that you’d need an encyclopedic knowledge of the main series to get, there are at least five would send a total Naruto newbie rolling on the floor.
Oh, and don’t get me wrong—the Uchiha aren’t funny. At all. Because you shouldn’t ever mock the Uchiha! *gulp*
Naruto: Chibi Sasuke's Sharingan Legend, based on Naruto by Masashi Kishimoto, story and art by Kenji Taira, is available HERE!
by Chris Turner
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