- Story: Masashi Kishimoto.
- Art: Masashi Kishimoto.
- Released: March 7, 2006.
- Imprint: SHONEN JUMP.
- Pages: 184.
The preliminary matches of the Chunin exams are still under way. Ino and Sakura give it all they’ve got and incapacitate each other, thus ending the 4th match. In the 5th match Temari makes short work of Tenten, and advances to the next part of the exam. In the 6th match Shikamaru corners Tsuchi, and uses his shadow possession jutsu to knock her unconscious. Naruto and Kiba fight in the 7th match. After a long and grueling battle, Naruto is victorious and advances. The 8th match explodes with Neji and Hinata fighting to the death. Though Hinata does her best, Neji nearly kills her, and advances to the next part of the exam. In the final match Gaara and Rock Lee meet in combat. The victor is yet to be decided.
This volume was packed with action spanning across 8 matches. Personally I do not like to disclose spoilers, but in this case they were needed to shed light on the developments of the series. In this volume we witnessed some amazing techniques, and several characters had developments. Sakura managed to overcome Ino’s signature jutsu and kept fighting. Shikamaru showcased his tactical abilities. Naruto developed a new technique that he unleashed on Kiba. Hinata refused to give up even after facing insurmountable odds. Quite a lot has happened and developed in this volume.
In it unclear as to what skills Rock Lee possesses, but Might Guy claims that he is one of the strongest fighters in the village. Perhaps in the next volume we will catch a glimpse of what Rock Lee is capable of during his fight with Gaara. I am anxious to see what he can do considering the last time we witnessed his skills was during his fight with Sasuke. Given all of developments and action in this volume, the series continues to develop in unforeseen ways. During the fights we learn a lot about the history of the Hyuga clan and, why Neji despises the main branch so much. Learning of this information makes it difficult to not side with Neji as he clings tightly to the destiny of himself and, others. This aspect is an excellent reason in itself to read this volume. Masterful writing as to be expected.
It is worth noting that most of all the participants in the Chunin exam are from Konoha. This fact stands to prove that win or lose, these ninjas are second to none in terms of skill, strength, and ability. We are still early in this series and there is plenty of time for the skills of all of these ninjas to improve. Among all of the fighting this volume also had a certain tone of emotion entwined within it. Masashi is highly skilled when it comes to subliminally inserting an emotional undertone into his work. It was heartbreaking watching Hinata get pummeled as well as learn of Neji’s past.
Naruto volume 9 focused more on the action aspect, and that is acceptable given the plot at this time. Even with all of the action, the writing did not get stale and continued to introduce new plot points, and story elements. I am so excited to see how Rock Lee can stack up against the deadly, and mysterious Gaara. Hopefully neither character is wounded too badly so that they may continue on in the series. Naruto volume 9 was a fantastic read and continues the trend of leaving me wanting more. I highly recommend this volume, and series.