It’s fair to say that Naruto is one of the most successful manga franchises of all time, so anything from creator Masashi Kishimoto is going to garner attention. After debuting Boruto, Kishimoto is back with an all-new manga: Samurai 8: The Tale of Hachimaru.
Samurai 8 is written by Kishimoto and illustrated by Akira Okubo, one of Kishimoto’s former assistants. The first chapter was released in Japan on May 12, and VIZ Media responded by publishing the English translation the same day (digitally only, of course). The 72-page opening chapter, available through the Shonen Jump website or app, introduces us to a Naruto-ish boy named Hachimaru. Hachimaru likes to play video games and live in a fantasy life, because in the real world he has so many health and allergy problems that he has to be hooked up to a giant machine. What he really wants is to be a samurai (sound a little like Naruto and the Hokage?) but health reasons forbid it.
This isn’t your historical, accurate depiction of samurai. Samurai 8 is a science fiction manga, and here samurai are cyborgs. So when Hachimaru gets a chance to become said samurai, he takes it, because it can give him an opportunity to change his body.
While the art doesn’t have the same Naruto look, and while Samurai 8 is definitely a different story, you can still get some of the Naruto feels from it. There’s the vibrant boy who wants more than what life can typically give. There’s the action and adventure. There are the obligatory shonen fight scenes. But there’s also philosophical discussions, even this early in the series. So it has the well-known mixture of action, a spunky lead and deeper meaning beneath the story.
So far only the first chapter is available, but VIZ will be continuing to release the chapters digitally at the same time as Japan. That means a new chapter will be available each week. Fans of Naruto or shonen manga in general can check it out to see where this little samurai ends up!
Danica Davidson, along with Japanese mangaka Rena Saiya, is the author of Manga Art for Intermediates. In addition to showing how to draw manga character types in detail, the book describes how professional Japanese manga creators work, including common techniques and what drawing utensils they use.