Massive spoilers for everything up to volume 31, which is as far as I've read so please don't spoil me for later events.

1. I am still recovering from volume 31, which is why I have not, as yet, read any farther. Plus I am sad that I can now read up to the point where it's ongoing in a day.

2. It only now occurred to me that all three of Team Seven have now been trained individually by the three legendary ninja: Naruto by Jiraiya, Sakura by Tsunade, and Sasuke... well... presumably Orochimaru is doing something with him and I hope it's just training. I wonder if Sakura can now summon a giant slug.

3. I wish Kishimoto was... not better at female characters, exactly, I really like some of them... more interested in having more of them who are neither conspicuously weak nor obsessed with a particular boy. This is especially noticeable when Shikamaru is assembling his team to go after Sasuke. I could write it off as "Shikamaru is still in the 'ew, girl cooties' stage," but that does not speak well of his abilities as a leader, and his choices of kunoichi were Sakura (weak, at that point), Hinata (ditto), Ino (ditto), and Ten-Ten... have we ever actually seen Ten-Ten do anything?

It is also curious that we see ninja fathers but no ninja mothers, and female ninja are mostly medics. Kishimoto seems to have a lot of unexamined assumptions about gender.

4. I gather that there is a point at which the anime diverges from the manga. Is that because the anime had to continue past the point when it had been drawn? When does that happen? Has the Sand Village arc been animated?

5. Kishimoto's heroes are way more interesting than his villains, which is the reverse of a lot of Western action series. So far the only bad guy who I find at all compelling as a character is Uchiha Itachi. But I am longing to see more of the now-teenage Konoha ninjas. (OK, I did find Gaara intriguing even when he was a psycho killer, but I suspect that was because Kishimoto always intended him to become sympathetic, and so some of that, somehow, shone through.)

ETA 6. I got so caught up in what was happening to the characters on an emotional level that this slipped my mind-- but what actually killed Gaara was that Shukaku got sucked out of him, right? So... no, don't tell me, I assume it will be revealed... did reviving him also put Shukaku back in him? Or is he now without a demon? And if so, did he lose his sand powers? Or would he still have whatever he had without Shukaku, much as Naruto can draw on his own chakra without using the Kyuubi's? And if Shukaku is gone, is he loose, or out in the ether waiting for a new host?

Again, don't actually answer any of that unless it's still up in the air. I am only at volume 31, etc.

(This is actually what I meant to write when I started writing-- I am clearly losing my mind.)
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