This review contains spoilers from the One shot manga; if you haven’t caught up with the current material, please do so before you read this review. Now without any further ado, let’s begin!
After the MASSIVE success of the Narutop 99, which had an estimated Four million six hundred thousand votes worldwide! And the winner was “Minato Namikaze.” I was rooting for him and Hashirama Senju, as we know little about his Senjutsu-based abilities and Wood release.
Nevertheless, we were presented with a short heartwarming story of the origins of “The Rasengan” and how Minato observed a literal Bijū dama and came up with such a phenomenal Jutsu.
As we begin reading, we are thrown into an intense scene full of flying debris and the horrified members of the Team Six squad and their Mentor, Jiraiya, as they have unfortunately crossed paths with Roshi and Han—the Jinchūrikis of Son Gokū and Kokuō (Four and Five Tails).
And they barely escape thanks to Minato’s Flying Thunder God Technique, and from there, Minato worries about Kushina Uzumaki as she is his love interest and wants to protect her.
Minato sets out to create a Jutsu she can use if she is ever drafted into the war and also to replicate the actual biju dama.
We then switch to Kushina Uzumaki, waking up from a nightmare and her going about her Mundane life alone, constantly supervised, and worst of all, she is trapped within an Uzumaki-shaped Barrier.
In just the beginning of this Manga, we are welcomed with Symbolisms ranging from Butterfly and Kushina “trapped” inside an “Uzumaki crest Barrier” start building the foundation for the story’s core themes of how all of us are trapped in a tough spot and speaks it through Kushina.
Sure, despite this IS Minato’s one shot, we need to understand that not every time a specific character has to be the “main character” as how we all envision one.
Sometimes we can still perfectly blend them as someone is the key to another character’s struggles; for example, Son Gokū helped and believed in his son, Gohan, to get stronger and believe in him to take centre stage and defeat Perfect Cell, which Gohan did.
So, this is how Minato is also placed into this story as we follow his and Kushina’s journey while mainly learning more about her past and what Mito showed her when she felt trapped and how she could replace that hole she felt with love.
“If you have the will to climb, you should be able to find love.”
This was beautifully portrayed with a long Monologue of Mito walking up the Uzumaki Tower’s stairs to the Hokage rock’s site.
Now this concept of her climbing up a spiral to reach “heaven” does have a deeper meaning. For starters, in the story, when Mito brings the young Kushina to the Uzumaki tower she explains that the crest within strengthens the barrier outside, and the Uzumaki (spiral) remains flat and unchanged.
In contrast, the spiral staircase is a metaphor for “Helix,” a three-dimensional figure that goes in circles but rises.
We are explained that a spiral, while remaining unchanged, gains an altitude rising above and earning itself a new form or, in this case, a “view” that Mito held very close to her heart.
Thus welcoming to the site of the Hokage rock under Hashirama’s face.
This concept also is very similar to how in Buddhism, through meditation and earning a new perspective of life, one’s views about it completely change, allowing them to symbolically “become one with everything”.
Thus rising above the spiral is the constant reincarnation and flying above and achieving enlightenment.
Mito shows a young Kushina what fills her heart at times of despair.
So similarly, if we are trapped in a constant cycle of burdens and make efforts to rise above these burdens with the help of someone we love, we too begin to experience life differently; eventually, we reach our version of “inner peace.”
Coming back to our fellow protagonist, Minato, who also seemed to be stuck in a spiral of his own as we see him unable to give the right amount of chakra to form his new Jutsu.
And in a hilarious fashion, we see him finding out through Jiraiya about his two curls but after Jiraiya shows him the two equal popsicles.
It clicks to Minato that he needs to add equal amounts of it on both opposing sides to form his… uh “Halo Frozen Dessert Hair Whirl Jiraiya Twin Formula Sphere”… yup one can only imagine what he’d have come up with for Naruto.
Minato shows his resolve for Kushina.
The Climax is the most powerful one in Minato and Kushina’s relationship and a personal push for Kushina as a character as she now understands the profound words of her predecessor.
Thus deciding to rise above the burdens that held her back to fight alongside Minato.
In this Climax, I was also so happy to see Kurama appear. One of the details I like about Kurama’s character is how he genuinely is more upfront about not trusting humans, giving us a possible nod as well to the time when the beast was controlled by Madara.
And this also was the first time Minato used his Eight Trigrams seal to strengthen Kushina’s seal further, earning praise from Kurama and stating him to be just as a prodigy on the levels of the late Hashirama.
This is because, despite not being an Uzumaki, he could study his host’s seal and further modify it.
This moment may also be a foreshadowing of how, later, Minato was able to bind his and Kushina’s chakras into a seal for Naruto to gain control of Kurama and tame his hatred whilst redoing the seal if the fox lets loose.
An Astral projection of Minato facing off against Kurama with his newly formed Jutsu
The chapter ends with Minato waking up at the hospital, and yes, it did remind me of how Sakura embraced Sasuke. And as we reach how Kushina takes Minato to the same Uzumaki tower and comes up with “Rasengan” spawning from the “Rasen” the helix created by the rising stairs.
As I conclude this chapter, I would like to write down my thoughts on what I disliked and why. I hoped to learn more about Minato’s history, where he came from, and how he figured out the Flying Thunder God technique.
I would also have wanted to see how Jiraiya and Minato first met. Despite us getting a glimpse of their dynamic, it still did not feel very fleshed out as this IS Minato’s story and having to see glimpses of where he first started to jump to a more prodigious student figuring out a complex Jutsu.
This, in my opinion, would have been a great start, but that does not mean I do not like Kushina’s story because if you are going to focus on both characters. It would have made sense to show their journey and how both continued to push each other having a powerful start like that is necessary for a more impactful ending.
However, I do understand that this is supposed to be a short story and not a short manga. Still, when you have certain critical characters, you might want to flesh out how they are similar if they both are close to each other.
For example, Hashirama and Madara were both war-raised Shinobi who have lost many of their siblings, which is why both connected as friends and went on to make Konoha.
These interactions and personal experiences are what made many friendships in the Naruto universe so impactful, which is why I found it disappointing that Minato did not get a connecting backstory to Kushina.
Especially the way Kushina did with her relationship with her “senpai” Mito and gaining the philosophy of love to form a bond with Minato which in return helped her come up with “Rasengan”.
As Kushina names the Rasengan, she sees Mito’s words come to fruition as she is able to find love,
showing Minato’s face line up with the Hokage rock, symbolizing what Mito once wished for her
Similarly, Minato came up with his Jutsu, and his and Kushina’s relationship would set the foundations for him as a shinobi to refine the technique.
As a conclusion to his Character arc, I would have loved to see him finally teach and pass down this technique to Kushina, even if it meant there was a brief time skip, which would have made much more sense as to why he chose to refine it in those three years further.
Lastly, the symbolisms, such as the butterfly are a representation of Mito’s philosophy of having the will to rise above to find love.
Kushina being encased in her spiral, to her running out of it to find love, are great additions to further foreshadow Kushina’s success and surprise fans who would later go back and see these small details.
Not to mention having to see Kakashi, Guy and Obito from their academy days make a cameo appearance.
I liked Minato’s teammates getting their tiny appearance. Still, I would’ve wanted to see how, as a three-man squad, Minato’s team would fight against enemy Shinobi on the front lines of the war, as it wasn’t given much attention.
Still, I would’ve personally given an introductory background and establishing shot to tell the views at what point this story is set in instead of directly leaping in.
As I conclude with my review, I loved the story, and while it isn’t the best one out of Kishimoto’s mind, I’d still say it’s a good story; it had its issues, but in the end, it was able to tie in both characters not in the way I wanted.
Nevertheless, now we know how the name “Rasengan” came to be.
If you enjoyed this review, please, be sure to comment on what other novels or arcs you’d want me to review. If you disagree or have your thoughts to share, please do leave a comment on what your thoughts were. The one-shot is accessible on the “Manga Plus” app, so give it a spin (pun intended).