When Boys Become Men

Let us, Naruto fans remember when our beloved genins started to be men, in Sasuke's Retrieval Arc.

Naruto Series without a doubt one of the most popular and successful anime's out there. First published in 1999 and then broadcast on TV in 2000, Masashi Kisimoto's masterpiece has been a massive hit and arguably the show that introduce the world of anime to a global scale. One of the major reasons for Naruto's success is that it manages to arouse as much interest in its side characters as the main characters.

Sasuke's retrieval arc, from episodes 107 to 135, serves up to fans the long waited character growth for Naruto's generation. For the first time in the series, fans can watch the new generation of the Hidden Leaf Village in action, on their own. Due to the recent attack on Konoha, all upper-level ninjas of the village had to fulfill different missions. Hence, in a time of crisis, which is the last member of the Uchiha clan leaves the village, the task of bringing him back falls to the newly appointed chunin (team captain) Shikamaru and his rashly assembled team of genins.

Aside from Naruto, which is the obvious choice for the team, Choji, Kiba, and Neji are also selected for the recovery team. Shikamaru's tactical genius shows itself from the beginning, forming the team so quickly that even the no:1 rookie of the Konoha, Hyuuga Neji impressed with his leadership skills. Hence, not even Shikamaru's intelligence cannot predict what awaits them. Known as the Sound Five, Orochimaru's elite unit of upper-level ninjas (jonin) has been sent to accompany Sasuke. Shikamaru's team quickly acknowledges the difference between them and their opponent, aside from the raw power, murderous intent, and experience. Nonetheless, there is a saying that goes '' hard times creates strong men'', which has proven to be true by the top rookies of Konoha.

The mission escalated very quickly to one-on-one combat for each side, a death match between the superior and the determined. Every member of Shikamaru's recovery team faced off against an opponent to catch up with Sasuke. If anyone expects a casual fight between the good and the bad, and the good one manages somehow to beat the bad guy, Masashi Kishimoto just loves to prove people wrong. Although nearly every member prevails against their opponents, it's certainly not an easy fight. Both Choji and Neji beat their opponents, but as a result, they are both severely injured and nearly gripped by death. Kiba, Naruto, and Shikamaru are also fought bravely but cannot overcome their enemy, and about to be murdered. The only reason they still breathing is that the trio of Sand Village comes to their aid. Sasuke's recovery team does everything they can and even more, only Shikamaru was able to walk when the team returns to the village. Nonetheless, Sasuke achieves what he wants, even if the price is taking his best friend, Naruto's life.

Overall, Sasuke's Retrieval Arc is one of the arcs that make the Naruto Series special; breaks down the notion ''good guys will always prevail'', puts the fans on an emotional roller coaster by nearly killing everyone on the team, shows the true meaning of being a ninja in Narutoverse, and lastly, serve up to the fans that the rookie teenagers are starting to be men.