In the mid-1990s, Masashi Kishimoto started a manga about an aspiring ninja named Naruto. This little project sprang into a multi-decade shonen manga epic. As with all popular things, millions adored it while a vocal minority couldn't wait for it all to end.
When Naruto ended, it felt like the end of an era. Masashi Kishimoto could have just sat back and lived off the royalties of the manga and anime series for the rest of his days. But no. After taking a break, the legendary creator has announced his new project: Samurai 8.
Many fans see this as a chance for Kishimoto to attempt a new story after Naruto drove him to the breaking point. Others hope that, while now liberated from expectations, Kishimoto can create something even better. Other fans hope for a fun action manga.
Still, there are a few things you can expect from the Naruto creator's new project — Samurai 8.
10. It Will Draw From Japanese Folklore...Then Go Wild
Obviously, with a title like Samurai 8, Kishimoto's newest project aims to use samurai the same way Kishimoto previously used ninja for Naruto. It seems to be Kishimoto's signature to take iconography from Japanese culture, only to spin off into a creative, insane direction.
The only art we have of Samurai 8 features characters swinging swords around like crazy, slicing and carving through adversaries. However, this in no way means we're going to see samurai who bare any resemblance to the real historical figures. This won't be Rurouni Kenshin.
9. Samurai 8 Will Use Sci-Fi Like Naruto Used Fantasy
Naruto is not a ninja series. It's a series about wizards. As the series went on, stealth and espionage became deemphasized, resulting in epic fights that required less and less strategy, and more and more insane magical powers.
It is reasonable to assume, then, that the Naruto creator's new project will use science fiction the same way. Samurai 8 will feature cyborgs and other oddities, but what else? Aliens? Spacecraft? We don't know much at this point. Except, of course...
8. People Are Getting Limbs Cut Off
Naruto wasn't a bloodless series. There was a lot of gore and violence throughout the series. However, it seems that the sci-fi elements of Samurai 8 may allow Kishimoto to go completely bonkers with the violence since several characters in the early teaser images are sporting cybernetic limbs.
This means at least a few characters are getting their's cut off, which means Kishimoto can have the characters just carve each other open without really worrying about long-term consequences. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing remains to be seen.
The artwork promoting Samurai 8 featured plenty of headbands. It seems as though the Naruto creator can't resist adding some headbands into his art. Maybe it's stylistic; maybe he can't shake the habit; or maybe Kishimoto has figured out a new way to insert his obsession with headbands into a new project.
It remains to be seen if headbands will be incorporated in a sci-fi manner. Perhaps they'll be used to offer some extra vision or, like Ghost in the Shell's headsets, allow them to hack into foreign machines.
6. These Look Young
It is easy to forget as older fans of Kishimoto's work, but Naruto was always written and illustrated with young teens in mind. They are the core demographic. Samurai 8 appears to keep this in mind, as all the characters are designed to look rather young.
While fans who grew up with Naruto might be hoping for a mature show to match their aged tastes, it is important to remember that, in all likelihood, Samurai 8 is going to appeal to younger fans as Naruto appealed to us when we first discovered it. Do not expect a mature or intensely introspective shonen manga like Rurouni Kenshin, though.
5. The Early Chapters Won't Have Editorial Constraints
Let's talk about a reality that all shōnen manga undergo: editorial influence. This can be good or bad, but many successful manga series are influenced by editors. Akira Toriyama, for example, never wanted Dragon Ball to go past the Frieza Saga. The editors made him go on, and Tite Kubo had to wrestle with Shōnen Jump's editorial staff throughout Bleach's history.
Naruto, in many ways, was just as influenced by editorial decisions, as the manga went on and became a bigger deal. While Kishimoto is a successful name, Samurai 8 will, especially early on, be allowed to live or die on its own merits. Because of this, the early chapters won't be as drastically influenced by editorial mandate as later chapters will because the editors have no audience reactions to drive their editorial decisions.
So we may get...
4. Chapters Like Early Naruto... Or Late Naruto
It is not uncommon to hear fans say that they liked Naruto up until the end of the Sasuke Retrieval Arc. That was the turning point for the series. Fans of the earlier series enjoyed the variety of plot threads and the focus on teenagers coming to terms with their world and themselves... Meanwhile, older fans seem to like the epic warfare, intense combat, and large stakes/hype moments.
Samurai 8 will probably either feel like a return to form for the Naruto creator or like a continuation of everything he has written and drawn for the last 10 years. Either it will feel remarkably free and light from dramatic constraints, or it is going to start in a war and feel like it's stuck there forever.
3. It Will Have To Compete For Popularity
Shōnen Jump titles live and die by their popularity. Most manga started in Shōnen Jump do not last the year. Tite Kubo barely kept Bleach alive for as long as he did based on name recognition for the title alone.
Kishimoto might be Naruto's creator, but that doesn't mean much here. Samurai 8 is its own title. It will be hyped up immediately, but that hype can't sustain it throughout its entire run. It will need to validate its existence. If it doesn't meet expectations, it's getting cut.
This is especially true considering that One Piece is still the number one title at Shōnen Jump, and relative newcomers like My Hero Academia and Black Clover have taken the niches once held by Naruto. If Samurai 8 is going to remain in Shōnen Jump, it will have to try to be as popular as at least one of those three. This isn't very likely, however, because...
2. It Will Be Over-Hyped
Samurai 8 may be incredible, but it will still be over-hyped. It's the Naruto creator's new project. It doesn't matter how good or how bad it will be. It's going to be over-hyped, and it will disappoint people, even if it's fantastic. Naruto is a generational experience; people grew up with it. That means that people have high hopes that Kishimoto's next project is good. These expectations may be too high for their own good, though.
Still, and let's be honest...
1. You Will Read It
If there's one thing you can expect about Samurai 8, it is this: you're reading it. It doesn't matter what the plot is or what happens — you're gonna read it.
And not just the first few chapters, either. Sure, a few of you may drop it early on, but a lot of you won't. I know I said it has to compete with a lot of popular shōnen manga, but don't worry about that; you're clearly gonna keep that manga popular enough for it to last a year. Maybe even two to 10 years. And you're gonna see it.... A lot of it. It's gonna get an anime, probably even a video game. And it's going to become entangled with plot threads and probably a zany tournament arc.
But quite frankly? You're gonna read Samurai 8. And you're gonna get a lot more of Samurai 8.
Welcome to the next few years of your life, courtesy of the Naruto creator.