It's been two years since #Naruto released its last manga chapter and now, #NarutoShippuden finally caught up to it with episode 479 "Naruto Uzumaki!" having been released in October. While Naruto Shippuden will continue to release episodes that focus on the post-war events, fans can't help but feel bittersweet all over again. The 15 years of Naruto's journey in becoming a great shinobi are (pretty much) over — for real. If you're a hardcore Naruto fan like me, then you understand how all this feels. Alas, another huge part of our childhood has ended.
Naruto fans have probably seen #RockLeeAndHisNinjaPals (full title: Naruto SD: Rock Lee no Seishun Full-Power Ninden), but for those of you who haven't heard of the spin-off series, there's only one thing you need to know about it: It'll make you cry from laughing. Have a glimpse of the show and its absolutely adorable opening theme:
Rock Lee and His Ninja Pals is a Naruto Shippuden spin-off series that aired from 2012 to 2013. It's legit alright, the show is based on its manga (yes, it has its own manga) created by Kenji Taira and it retains the same voice actors from Naruto Shippuden. Sadly, the spin-off series was short-lived, having only lasted for one season, consisting of 51 episodes. If you've seen this show or will be seeing it for the first time, you understand why it deserves a revival. Here are five main points that sum up the endless list of reasons why it deserves more seasons:
1. It's A Cute, Fun, Lighthearted Series
Like any other anime show, the Naruto series is known for covering themes such as friendship, love, and pain. These stir up all sorts of emotions through a dramatic yet relatable presentation. Unlike the main series, Rock Lee and His Ninja Pals present these topics in a comical approach. Sure, it's comedic, but the message is still there and surprisingly, you'll relate with it much more (because life has more happy moments than dramatic).
If you're in the mood to watch the "happy-and-not-depressing" episodes of Naruto Shippuden, try watching Lee's spin-off instead; this show will relieve your stress and post-anime-depression.
2. It's Completely Random And Often Breaks The Fourth Wall
Just by looking at the chibi versions of your favorite characters, you'll already have an idea of how much of a parody Lee's spin-off is. The art style may be different, but the story takes place in the same setting and the characters retain their personalities from the main series. The only differences are the frequent mentions and appearances of modern-day cultural references that you certainly won't find in the Naruto universe. You'd be surprised by how convenient and practical modern tech is in the shinobi world. I could hint at some, but I'd rather not spoil the fun for those who haven't seen the show — it's a lot funnier the first time around!
3. It's All About Team Gai
Let's face it: Team Gai is totally underrated! I've had my fair share of bias when it comes to the other teams of Konoha 11, but I also got bored with them at some point. As much as I loved seeing more of the other teams' back stories, I wish Team Gai had more exposure. Thank Kami for this spin-off. It's only right that they had their own series to make up for their lack of appearance in Shippuden. Shout out to Tenten's fans — she's finally given more of the limelight!
4. Orochimaru Shows More Of His Weird Side (In A Good Way)
Of all the antagonists in the Naruto series, Orochimaru is definitely the creepiest (at least in my opinion). He might not be the most terrifying, but he sure knows how to give everyone the heebee-jeebies. Unlike the other antagonists from the main series, Orochimaru's character is flexible enough to be the resident villain of a comedic spin-off. Sorry, Madara Uchiha — you may have owned the spotlight in the main series, but you're just too dangerous for this one.
Of course, what's a mad villain without a trusty (and most likely, insane) sidekick? Naruto fans know very well that the only person who was loyal — scratch that, who has stayed the longest with Orochimaru — is Kabuto (they're literally snakes, loyalty is NOT their thing). Together, they bring chaos and color (yes, you read that right) upon Lee and his friends. Normally, they'd go attacking Konoha or obsess over Sasuke, but you know, this isn't the main series; Team Gai's the star and they handle things differently (or different-Lee — get it?)
If #Pokemon has their Team Rocket, Rock Lee and His Ninja Pals has their... well, they don't really have an official name. Team OroKabu, perhaps? You'd be surprised with the creative schemes they come up with.
Lastly, the most important reason of all:
5. Neji Is Alive!
Pretty much everyone is alive in the spin-off, but compared to others, the impact of Neji's death is definitely one of most shocking, painful, and unacceptable realities of the main series. I guess you can say that this spin-off is somewhat a form of a genjutsu where you get to live in a world that'll make you happy.
ANYWAY, heartbreaking thoughts aside. Since the spin-off plays around with the characters' personalities, the more serious the characters are in the main series, the more ridiculous they are portrayed in the spin-off. Best part? They stay in character, regardless of how crazy the circumstance is (a result of Lee's crazy antics, of course).
For instance: In the main series Neji is portrayed as a cool, smart, and reserved shinobi. In this spin-off, he still is, but thanks to Lee's unique way of handling a situation, Neji goes through all sorts of crazy shenanigans just to save their butts from trouble and embarrassment. Oh, and he's overly protective of Hinata here, by the way.
The chances of Rock Lee and His Ninja Pals having a revival is highly unlikely, but still, we fans hope that we see our favorite characters on screen again. If only there was a jutsu to transport yourself in the shinobi world.
BONUS: For all those who haven't seen this show yet, Yamato's hidden everywhere in all episodes — be sure to an eye out for his cameos!