REVIEW: ‘Naruto: Shikamaru’s Story – Mourning Clouds’

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Naruto: Shikamaru’s Story – Mourning Clouds

Naruto: Shikamaru’s Story – Mourning Clouds is a new light novel by author Takahashi Yano that puts the spotlight on Shikamaru Nara, a fan favorite from the original Naruto days. Naruto: Shikamaru’s Story – Mourning Clouds is published under VIZ Media’s Shonen Jump imprint, with English translation from Jocelyn Allen and cover/interior design by Shawn Carrico.

Naruto: Shikamaru’s Story – Mourning Clouds takes place during Boruto’s Mujina Bandits Arc, showing what Shikamaru and Naruto were up to while Boruto and the gang babysat Tento. Unbeknownst to many in the world of shinobi, a fifth great ninja war is slowly bubbling to the surface. In order to save his son from living through a war, Shikamaru must pull out all of his political and diplomatic prowess to smooth over relations between the great nations.

The light novel, split into four sections over 159 pages, sees the world of Naruto through an oft unexplored genre in shonen series: political drama. Instead of gripping ninja battles full of flashy Jutsu and overpowered eyes, every conflict in Naruto: Shikamaru’s Story – Mourning Clouds is settled with words. Though this might not sound like a formula that would translate very well to the world of Naruto, Yano pulls it off almost flawlessly. Whenever Shikamaru is meeting with an important induvial or accompanying Naruto through meetings with the Five Kage, the tension is almost palpable.

Naruto: Shikamaru’s Story – Mourning Clouds feels at home in the wider Naruto canon. Yano clearly has a good understanding of the world and characters, something that will make veteran fans feel at home within the light novel. It feels as if Yano intended the light novel to be read by newcomers to the series as well, however, as just about every Naruto specific term is explained right after the first time it is mentioned. Though this might be nice for newcomers to the series, it gets annoying after a while if you already have an understanding of Naruto’s world. Seeing as how this light novel takes place deep into the Naruto story, however, I don’t really see this being anyone’s first piece of Naruto fiction.

After reading Naruto: Shikamaru’s Story – Mourning Clouds, I feel like I understand Shikamaru much more as a character. Shikamaru has always been a favorite character among Naruto fans, so seeing things through his perspective is a nice change in pace from the usual Uzumaki formula. Throughout the light novel, readers see how Shikamaru juggles being second in command in Konohagakure with family life. Seeing him struggle to keep up with his workload, try to connect with his family, and try to prevent a world war feels oddly relatable and leads to a number of touching moments that will make any longtime fan smile.

Though Yano does a fantastic job setting up a tense political showdown within the first four sections of Naruto: Shikamaru’s Story – Mourning Clouds, the conclusion feels a little anti-climatic and rushed. Though the ending makes sense, just a little bit more detail or payoff would have helped the light novel feel more worth reading. Finally, Seeing spelling errors and grammatical mistakes in an officially published work is always disappointing. Simple spelling issues pop up a noticeable amount in the novel, an oversight that could have been fixed with just a little more time in editing.

Overall, Naruto: Shikamaru’s Story – Mourning Clouds is a fantastic addition to the Naruto universe. It makes Shikamaru feel more relatable than ever and delivers constant, riveting political intrigue that makes it a joy to read. Though the ending feels just a bit anticlimactic, the ride to it still makes this light novel worth your time.

Naruto: Shikamaru’s Story – Mourning Clouds is available now wherever books are sold.

Naruto: Shikamaru’s Story – Mourning Clouds
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TL;DR

Overall, Naruto: Shikamaru’s Story – Mourning Clouds is a fantastic addition to the Naruto universe. It makes Shikamaru feel more relatable than ever and delivers constant, riveting political intrigue that makes it a joy to read. Though the ending feels just a bit anticlimactic, the ride to it still makes this light novel worth your time.