The Naruto franchise is far from perfect. Even though I consider it to be one of my all-time favourites I am not blind to its many flaws. A sizable chunk of episodes are filler episodes, most of which are inexcusably awful (ninja ostriches, anybody?), and some of which actually interrupt canon arcs, utterly decimating any sense of tension and/or excitement. Not to mention the massive variation in production quality throughout its runtime…
However, I am willing to overlook these issues on the strength of the franchise’s characters alone. Naruto and Naruto Shippuuden have a huge and varied cast of characters, an impressive number of which are developed and have an interesting set of abilities and characteristics. But the best thing about these characters is their relationships with each other. Given that it’s Valentine’s Day this week, I thought I’d write about some of these. Sure, Valentine’s might be associated with romantic love, but that is just one of many kinds of love – and by no means the most important! Both Naruto and Naruto Shippuuden feature an assortment of different kinds of love and relationships, such as that between a parent and child, between friends, and, yes, between lovers. Below I list some of my favourites. Enjoy!
Now, before I begin, let me just say this: I’m straight (whoa, where is she going with this, right?), so I’m not about to start acting like the voice of the LGBTQ+ community. That would be kind of inappropriate! That said, something that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed about this year’s anime is that they’ve featured quite the assortment of gay and otherwise unconventional pairings. In fact, I’d suggest that many of these are some of the best pairings we’ve had this year, regardless of whether the characters’ feelings are mutual or one-sided.
Caterpillar Girl and Bad Texter Boy (let’s call it CGBTB, shall we?) is a single volume (or standalone) manga. It was first published in Japanese in 2017, but has only recently (this June, to be exact) been published in English. As such, CGBTB seems to not yet be widely known and cannot be found on MAL’s manga database. Since that’s the case, I’ll briefly summarise its premise to you here! Suzume’s a cute, smart, popular highschool girl, the kind of girl who seems to have it all, whereas her childhood friend, Akane, is brusque, socially awkward, and prefers his own company. Nevertheless, Suzume has loved Akane for a long, long time. So when she finally confesses her feelings to him and is rejected (“You’re too perfect”) she’s devastated! So much so that she feels her only option is to have herself transformed into a monstrous caterpillar creature to try and win Akane’s heart… Naturally!
CGBTB took me by surprise. Its premise is so outlandish that you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s probably some kind of weird (even by Japan’s standards) romcom. But, whilst there were cute and funny moments (who knew that caterpillars could be so moe?), CGBTB was predominantly a moving story full of lessons about love.