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For the last couple of months the series Naruto feels like it's coming to an end - at least to me it does, and I'm sure to many of you as well. One of the two main antagonists, Obito, has already been turned into a good guy again and now there's only really Madara left to defeat for everybody to be happy and live in peace (and boredom).
I know the series has a lot of haters, as does anything or anybody who's remotely popular or 'mainstream' in this world, but I'm actually still a fan. I admit, it's not as exciting as it once used to be (think Chunin exam, or fighting Akatsuki, in particular Hidan -> best fight ever) but it's still a great series.
Now, I have mixed feelings on this subject. If you have read or watched Bakuman, you'll know what I mean immediately... the question I'm posing is - what should be done with a series when it's reaching its end? Jump tends to stretch out series as long as possible when they're popular - think Dragon Ball, it could've ended after the 3rd Tenkaichi Budokai, or after Freeza, or after Cell, or... instead, it got milked so much they even created DBGT, without Toriyama even wanting to write it, all he did was watch over the anime to make sure they don't butcher it.
At least, that's one way of looking at it. I was quite young when I watched Dragon Ball and DBZ, so it never felt like it was being stretched out to me. I just wanted to continue watching this awesome series I really liked; as long as some of the main characters were in it, I was happy. Even then I thought DBGT was a bit lame, but SSJ4 easily made up for it.
What I'm trying to say is - I don't mind all that much when the life-cycle of a series gets prolonged. For those of you who are purists, you can stop reading Bleach after Aizen's defeat and you have a series with a 'good' ending. Everybody else can enjoy seeing their favorite manga characters for another couple years run in a weekly magazine, it's that simple.
So, going back to Naruto, I've been thinking for a while of possible ways for the series to keep going after they defeat Madara.
- For one, there's still Oro - and he's been acting weirdly compliant and awfully nice lately, and I don't quite buy the nice guy act yet. Turning him into the main antagonist may be a little lame though, since he's already held that position for a while and he'd need some serious power-ups, too. (like swallowing up Madara and evolving... lots of training arcs and defeating his minions to be followed)
- Then there's the classic possibility - a long time skip. Say, 15-20 years. The current generation's kids would take over and new, less powerful villains could be established. I know, it's not idea. I'd hate for the current main guys to have to make room for a new bunch of people - though I'd argue Dragon Ball didn't do too badly with this, but Naruto has a far bigger amount of people in it. It'd definitely be difficult, and I can well imagine most of you not liking this at all.
- The last possibility I have on my mind right now is another 'common enemy' type of character emerging. When you look at a map of the Naruto universe you'll notice that it doesn't cover all that much. The main countries seem to be positioned in one corner of the world, so there's still many other countries out there that might decide on attacking the Ninja-countries. Depending on what technologies those guys use, it could give the series Steampunk elements, or Ninjas vs Vikings, or...
Yeah I know, that last one doesn't sound too great. So! What do you think? Is the series best done justice by ending it after defeating this last bad guy and some touching scenes afterwards? Or would you rather it continued for another 10 years, alongside One Piece? What kind of story would you go with to make prolonging it plausible? My personal favorite would probably be a time skip, seeing the current main cast as grown ups and Naruto as Hokage for a few more years would definitely satisfy my inner fanboy the most. How about you?