by Nate Ming/Anonymooo
It’s almost impossible to find a long-running shounen series without flashbacks–from a storytelling perspective they allow an author to give exposition in the form of narrative, and from a fiscal perspective it allows a series to go on longer, because once the flashback is done then the story can go on and lead to another character with another flashback.
Naruto is a series that has a lot of flashbacks but surprisingly doesn’t overuse them. Minor characters are given a voice and a history due to well-timed flashbacks, and characters we thought we knew are given greater depth. Sometimes, just a few lines of explanation don’t do a character’s history justice–sometimes we have to see it for ourselves.
#5- Rock Lee: The Genius of Hard Work (episode 25)
-Nothing is ever quite so crushing as working hard to do succeed, but ultimately failing. Rock Lee has nothing special about him, except he’s willing to put in more effort and more work than anyone else. His story sometimes hurts to watch, but in the end we have no choice but to give the humble badass his due when he really shows us what he’s made of.
#4- Nagato’s Pain (Naruto Shippuden 172-173)
-Mustache-twirling villains get old after a while. Evil for the sake of evil will only get people so interested (see also: Orochimaru), so when a major villain gets a major story plug, you’ve already got us hooked. It also helps that Nagato’s heartbreaking story hits during one of the most traumatic, emotional battles yet in the series.
#3- A Final Farewell (episode 80)
-The Third Hokage was somebody we had grown to respect and appreciate and even fear by the end of the Chunin Exam. He wasn’t with us for very long when you consider the current length of the series, but seeing the entire cast gathered at his funeral, each of them remembering him in their own way brought out our memories of the character and how we finally had to realize that he was gone.
#2- All for the Sake of His Little Brother (Naruto Shippuden episodes 140-141)
-As one of the most influential antagonists to the series’ story, and the driving force behind Sasuke’s goals, it was a real gut-shot to see just why his brother murdered his entire clan. A lot of fans said there had to be more behind the massacre of the Uchiha, and there was. Honestly, even now I’m not so sure if it’s something I wanted to hear.
#1- Kakashi Gaiden: A Boy’s Life on the Battlefield (Naruto Shippuden episodes 119-120)
-We didn’t know much about Kakashi. We knew he was a personal student of the Fourth Hokage, he was formerly an elite ANBU operative, and that he somehow obtained the deadly Sharingan eye while not being a member of the Uchiha clan. Suffice to say, this is one hell of a story. Short but impossibly exciting, it makes the series’ premiere jounin someone we care about even more.