Soon after The Handmaid’s Tale was announced as next year’s One Book, the Northwestern administration decided they might as well also unveil the 2019-2020 One Book: all 72 volumes of the Naruto manga. The selection of the popular Japanese Magna series, which contrasts heavily with the comparatively academic One Book choices from previous years, came as a complete surprise to everybody.
In an email to the student body, Nancy M. Cunniff, the director of the One Book One Northwestern program, elaborated on the university’s unique choice. “We know people don’t really read the One Book,” she explained, “but if it is filled with drawings of lovable ninja adolescents and their enlightening journeys to become the greatest Hokage the village has ever had, what college student could possibly pass that up?”
The mass email also delved into various programming ideas, including “cons, cosplay opportunities, and, of course, various discussion panels.” There also will be study tables to help students learn and practice reading from right to left, a challenge Cunniff ensures “is worth it for the meaningful storyline and accompanying thoughtful analysis.”
When asked about this curious decision, members of the Northwestern community exhibited mixed feelings. Jeffrey Weber, WCAS ‘20, enthusiastically stated, “I’m so jealous this wasn’t my year’s One Book! I plan on lying that I’m a freshman so that I can reread the manga and attend the events. I’ve been crafting my Sasuke Uchiha cosplay for ages, and I can’t believe I’ll finally have a school-sponsored event to wear it to.”
McCormick Sophomore Shirley Kinney, on the other hand, felt bad for the Class of ‘23. “If people in the class of ’22 want to blow off reading The Handmaid’s Tale, they can just watch the 10-episode TV series,” she explained. But if the freshmen in the class of ’23 want to do try that, they have to get through 220 episodes of the original anime and then 500 episodes of the sequel. God, I’d just end up reading the actual book at that point.”
The conclusion of the One Book One Northwestern email described that this is only the beginning of an upcoming transition for the program. “Ideally, within the next few years, we will also have One Books that were made into movies, not just TV shows. Did you know that Shrek was based off a picture book? Boy, does the Class of ‘27 have something to look forward to!”