Narutaru has almost left me at a loss for words. This is one of the most deeply enjoyable anime series I’ve watched recently. Yes, I am quite serious. I know the reputation of the anime as a dark, sadistic, disgusting show that looks like it should be for children. As every other reviewer has pointed out, this show is definitely not made for a child to watch.
In terms of writing, one of the ways of describing a story is as one of the four terms that make up the acronym MICE: Milieu, Idea, Character, Event. To work from the back end, an Event story is something that is focused around something that happens. A Character story is something that is focused on a strong character. An Idea story is based on, you guessed it, an idea. Narutaru, however, in my estimation is a story based firmly in the Milieu category: a story of a world, a world that is very similar to ours. Almost exactly similar, in terms of psychology. The idea of children with “power” has been explored in many contexts before. Lord of the Flies is the archtypical example; for us otakus, I recommend Infinite Ryvius as a good anime example.
Some people will point out that the story rotates around Shiina. That’s true – and the Lord of the Rings rotated around Frodo and the Ring, but it was a story about the world of Middle-Earth. Narutaru is about the modern world with a slight twist. The characters are secondary to the vision of the world. It starts like a “oh look! I’ve found a shaped-star thing! It seems it likes me!” and soon it changes to “oh look! My shaped-star thing kills other humans!” Actually, there’s a little problem with the storyline, since it ends very fast, giving the impression that it was done in a hurry. Not everything is explained, and some plots are left incomplete. But, even so, it’s not so difficult to understand what’s going on. Plus, a later search on the web for the comic’s plot might be a good idea.
But Narutaru isn’t about the characters. This world is one in which a tormented soul can fight back with enough force that moral consequences become merely theoretical. Let’s face it: we’ve all muttered under our breath that we’d like to obliterate someone from the face of the earth. We’d like to see that jackass tailgater get into a fiery accident. We’d like to see the bully get his face pounded in until he stops moving. We’d like to get our long, drawn out psychological revenge on the girl who broke our heart years and years ago. But we don’t. Why not? Morality and inability.
You can compare narutaru with a rollercoaster ride. The first part, going up, is kind of boring in the beginning, but exiting at last, as the height continues to increase and you start to realize that it is going to continue with a loop, a corkscrew, sharp turns, and all of that with dazzling speed. If you are at the top of the looping, you scream from exitement and just want more, and more, so that the disappointment is even greater when the carts just stop in what seems like the middle of the ride, and you have to get out, without feeling really satisfied. This is the biggest flaw of the show. The storyline seems very good, but it just stops so suddenly at last, so unfinished, that you can’t suppress a feeling of disappointment when you’ve closed the last episode. Is this it? No, there seems to be a follow-up, but don’t ask me for the details. I hope it gives some answers though, about the origin of the Dragonets for example.
Anyhow. If you’re looking for gore and violence, you’re not going to find a huge amount of it here. There’s not much in the way of graphic violence period, and what little there is comes at the end of the series. If you’re looking for horror and drama, go watch Higurashi. If you’re looking for a show that’s going to bother you…this one will do it. I know I’m going to be asking myself a few hard questions. I wonder how terrifying the answers are going to be.