The new Naruto manga train continues with VIZ Media and Shonen Jump publishing Naruto: Konoha’s Story – The Steam Ninja Scrolls. Like the Sasuke Story, Konoha’s Story is an adaption of a light novel in that Masashi Kishimoto worked with Shō Hinata on the original story with Natsuo Sai working with them as the artist for the manga adaption. But unlike Sasuke Story, Konoha’s Story – The Steam Ninja Scrolls takes place during the Blank Period in the Naruto timeline. With this story, we will follow Mirai Sarutobi during her early days as a Konoha shinobi. Mirai Sarutobi has a big legacy to live up to with her grandfather, Hiruzen Sarutobi, being the Third Hokage and her parents, Asuma and Kurenai Sarutobi, having been well-renowned ninjas. Let’s see how it all begins with the first chapter of Naruto: Konoha’s Story – The Steam Ninja Scrolls.
Writers: Masasi Kishimoto and Shō Hinata
Artist: Natsuo Sai
After finding a missing cat for her Genin mission Mirai Sarutobi realizes that she has been separated from her teammates.
While making her way back Mirai hears someone saying “The era of the shinobi has ended.” Quietly sneaking around Mirai discovers the person saying this is Mezu, a former Konoha shinobi in the Bingo Book.
Mezu spots and sneaks behind Mirai but scoffs at her for just being a kid. Mirai stands up to Mezu saying that he betrayed Konoha to become an assassin.
Hearing that Mirai knows who he is Mezu summons his followers and prepares to kill her. Mirai acts quickly by using Demonic Illusion: Tree Binding Death. Mezu is able to break free from the Genjutsu and brushes all of Mirai’s attacks aside.
When Mezu grabs Mirai and prepares to kill her Shikamaru Nara uses Shadow Imitation Shuriken ninjutsu to stop Mezu. Shikamaru easily dodges all of Mezu’s followers’ attacks and goes after Mezu. After one of his followers breaks him out of Shikamaru’s ninjutsu Mezu escapes with his followers.
Mirai says they should go after them but Shikamaru says not to worry.
Deeper in the forest Mezu and his followers run into Sixth Hokage Kakashi Hatake. Kakashi easily defeats Mezu and his followers.
After everything is resolved Mirai apologizes to Shikamaru for being so weak. Shikamura says that recognizing you are not ready to take on a more powerful foe shows that Mirai is indeed on the road to becoming a great shinobi.
Later, back at Konohagakure, while reviewing what happened Kakashi comments to Shikamaru that he would like to take a vacation. Shikamaru says that is not a good idea.
Years later, Mirai, sometime after achieving the Chūnin rank, is assigned to escort Kakashi (who has retired and passed the title of Hokage to Naruto) and Might Guy on their vacation to the Land of Hot Water
Naruto: Konoha’s Story – The Steam Ninja Scrolls immediately makes sure that the reader’s attention is on the star of this manga: Mirai Sarutobi. Where this first chapter stands apart from the Sasuke Story manga is that Mirai Sarutobi was a minor character in the original Naruto manga. With that, there is a lot more room to work with Mirai Sarutobi as a fresh character to give time to develop, especially for those who haven’t read the light novel or watched Boruto.
This first chapter of Naruto: Konoha’s Story – The Steam Ninja Scrolls works well as a prologue that focuses on the early days of Mirai as a Genin ninja. Having the series start at this point rather than when she is already a Chūnin, like she is in Boruto, gets over how we will be going along for the journey with Mirai. Do we get a quick time jump by the end? Yes, but it was very important to get an idea of what is a driving force of Mirai’s character from the time she started her ninja journey.
Making Mirai’s character arc important is how Naruto: Konoha’s Story – The Steam Ninja Scrolls starts with Mirai thinking about her grandfather and father before going on a mission with her Genin team. This helps to immediately frame her motivation as part of the Sarutobi Clan legacy that was established through what Hiruzen, the Third Hokage, Hiruzen, and Konohamaru do in the original Naruto series. This also goes to show how when Mirai later steps up to an assassin way beyond her current level in Mezu it is because she is an inheritor of the Will of Fire.
Speaking on the Mezu it was also a cool thing to see that Mirai’s instinct in this fight is to use the Demonic Illusion: Tree Binding Death that her mother, Kurenai, likely taught her. It all ties into how Mirai is part of a strong lineage on both sides of her parents. And even without saying it the teachings from her mother are strongly within Mirai in her ninja journey.
While Mirai does end up losing to Mezu it is important that Masasi Kishimoto and Shō Hinata emphasized that this was an important moment in Mirai’s life. Shikamaru honestly talking with his protégé made this moment work as well as it did. Having gone through his own share of traumatic experiences Shikamaru knew he had to both be honest and supportive at this moment. That is not an easy thing to balance but Shikamaru accomplishing that shows his own growth as he has become an adult and leader of the next generation of Konoha ninjas.
It shows how Mirai is someone with a ton of potential for growth. This whole story in the first chapter was really about getting to that understanding of Mirai’s character before the bigger adventure this series will be about. Doing that while continuing the promise Shikamaru made to Kurenai to make Mirai his protégé in honor of Asuma was a touching thing to see happen.
The story also does a good job of showing how there are still threats in the world. Even though the various nations are now united after the events of the Fourth Shinobi World War there are still bad people in the world. And Mezu as the first villain we see in this series establishes a mindset that can be the next big threat in the world of Naruto. That is those who want to end the whole era of ninjas. That’s an idea we see play in the present with the Boruto series. So it’ll be interesting if we see Mezu or other villains from the Bingo Book play a role in this story to further that idea.
The chapter ending with Mirai, after becoming a Chūnin, being assigned to be Kakashi and Guy’s bodyguard is a good hook ending. For one we will now get to see Mirai take on threats that could come after two top-tier ninjas. Second, we get more of Kakashi and Guy just hanging out as friends, which was always a highlight in the original Naruto series. This gives a lot of potential for an action-packed story that will have fun dialogue as well.
Naruto: Konoha’s Story – The Steam Ninja Scrolls is off to a strong start with its first chapter. Focusing on Mirai Sarutobi’s ninja journey from the beginning was a good way to set the stage for a story that has the potential to be both compelling and fun to read. Mirai herself is quickly established as a character you can easily get behind and want to see her achieve her dreams of becoming a great shinobi just like others in the Sarutobi Clan. If you are a Naruto fan be sure to check this series out.
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10