Naruto (NARUTO - ナルト -? romanized as NARUTO in Japan) is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Masashi Kishimoto with an anime adaptation. The main character, Naruto Uzumaki, is a loud, hyperactive, unpredictable adolescent ninja who constantly searches for recognition and aspires to become a Hokage, the ninja in the village acknowledged as the leader and the strongest of all.
Kishimoto first authored a one-shot of Naruto in the August 1997 issue of Akamaru Jump. The plot differed substantially in that Naruto was the son of the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox instead of being the container, and the story was placed in a more modern setting. This early version of Naruto already had the ability to transform into a sexy young woman - but when he did so, a fox tail sprouted. Kishimoto then rewrote the story to its current form, which was first published by Shueisha in 1999 in the 43rd issue of Japan's Shonen Jump magazine. As of volume 36, the manga has sold over 71 million copies in Japan. Viz Media publishes a translated version in the American Shonen Jump magazine. Naruto has become Viz's best-selling manga series. As of February 22, 2008, the first 27 volumes are available in English.
The first of two anime series, produced by Studio Pierrot and Aniplex, premiered across Japan on the terrestrial TV Tokyo network and the anime satellite television network Animax on October 3, 2002, and is still being aired. Viz also licensed the anime for North American production. The first series lasted nine seasons, while Naruto: Shippūden began its first on February 15, 2007.
Naruto debuted in the United States on Cartoon Network's Toonami programming block on September 10, 2005, and in Canada on YTV's Bionix on September 16, 2005. Naruto began showing in the UK on Jetix on July 22, 2006. It began showing on Toasted TV on January 12, 2007 in Australia, which features the German dub opening, although it could be watched on Cartoon Network in 2006.
Twelve years before the events at the focus of the series, the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox attacked Konohagakure. Powerful enough to raise tsunamis and flatten mountains with a swish of one of its tails, it raised chaos and slaughtered many people, until the leader of the Leaf Village – the Fourth Hokage – sacrificed his own life to seal the demon inside Naruto when he was a newborn. The Fourth Hokage, who was celebrated as a hero for sealing the demon fox away, wanted Naruto to be respected in a similar light by being the containment vessel for the demon fox.
The Leaf Village, however, shunned him, regarding Naruto as if he were the demon fox itself and mistreated him throughout most of his childhood. A decree made by the Third Hokage forbade anyone to discuss or mention the attack of the demon fox to anyone, even their own children. However, this did not stop them from treating him like an outcast and as a result he grew up an orphan without friends, family, or acknowledgment. He could not force people to befriend him, so he sought acknowledgment and attention the only way he knew – through pranks and mischief.
However, that soon changed after Naruto graduated from the Ninja Academy by using his Shadow Clone Technique, a technique from a forbidden scroll that he was tricked into stealing, to save his teacher, Iruka Umino, from the renegade ninja Mizuki. That encounter gave Naruto two insights: that he was the container of the demon fox, and that there was someone besides the Third Hokage who actually cared for and acknowledged him. His graduation from the academy opened a gateway to the events and people that would change and define his world, including his way of the ninja for the rest of his life.
The main story follows Naruto and his friends' personal growth and development as ninja, and emphasizes their interactions with each other and the influence of their backgrounds on their personalities. Naruto finds two friends and comrades in Sasuke Uchiha and Sakura Haruno, two fellow young ninja who are assigned with him to form a three-person team under an experienced sensei named Kakashi Hatake. Naruto also confides in other characters that he meets throughout the series as well. They learn new abilities, get to know each other and other villagers better, and experience a coming-of-age journey as Naruto dreams of becoming the Hokage of the Leaf Village.
Throughout all of the Naruto plot, strong emphasis on character development changes the plot, with very few things happening because of chance. At first, emphasis is placed on Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura, who are the members of Team 7. However, other characters are developed, such as Kakashi, Tsunade, and Jiraiya, as well as Naruto's peers in the other teams and villages. Several major villains come into play as well, the first being Zabuza Momochi, a missing-nin from Kirigakure, and his partner, Haku. Later, in the Chunin Exams arc, Orochimaru is introduced as an S-Class missing-nin at the top of Konoha's most wanted list. During this arc, three ninjas known as the Sand Siblings are introduced. These siblings are from Sunagakure and include Temari, Kankuro and Gaara. Later still, a mysterious organization called Akatsuki begins to pursue Naruto for the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox inside him.
In the original one shot of "Naruto," Naruto Uzumaki is the son of a powerful fox demon, whose spirit was sealed away by nine powerful warriors. Only one person, the current chief of the village of the demon fox spirits on Mt. Oinari with a large resemblance to the Third Hokage from the current series, survived, and he took on the duty of raising Naruto. Naruto, however, is mischievous and a trouble maker, pulling multiple pranks on others with each passing day. The village chief, angry, sends Naruto on special training to the human world to find a human friend he can trust, otherwise he would not be welcome to the village any longer.
While in the human world, Naruto meets the artist Kuroda, who trusted no one after his father's death, struggling to finish an important painting. After Kuroda's assistant, Takashi, is killed and the painting is stolen, Naruto is framed and arrested. Kuroda, however, sympathizes with Naruto enough to legally take all punishments that would have been given to Naruto. Naruto, attempting to repay Kuroda, searches for Takashi's murderer, eventually finding out that Matsushima, who hired Kuroda to make the painting, and his body guard plotted the whole affair and framed Naruto. Naruto defeats both of them with ease, and the two get arrested, with no one believing their stories about Naruto's abilities. Although Naruto befriends Kuroda, however, Kuroda is too busy to follow Naruto to Mt. Oinari, and thus Naruto leaves to continue his quest.
The original Naruto had a significant theming on friendship and trust. At the beginning of the story, neither Naruto or Kuroda trusted anyone, but by the end both befriended and trusted each other. Despite its high results in the reader poll after getting released, Kishimoto thought "[the] art stinks and the story's a mess!" Kishimoto also revealed that he was originally working on Karakuri for the Hop Step Award when, unsatisfied by the rough drafts, decided to work on something different instead, which later formed into Naruto.
When an interviewer asked Kishimoto if he had any message for his Anglophone audience, Kishimoto said "I feel sometimes that Naruto is too Japanese, with all the chakra and hand signs, but as you read it you'll find that it's fun."
From volume 28 onward, the series takes place two and a half years after the previous volume. While simply referred to as Part II in the manga, the anime gave this part of the series the name Naruto: Shippūden (ナルト 疾風伝? lit. Naruto: Hurricane Chronicles). To increase the gap between the manga and anime, so as to not allow the anime to catch up to the manga too quickly, the anime adds several filler arcs.
Naruto: Shippūden tells the story of a matured and older cast from the original series. After training for 2½ years with Jiraiya, Naruto returns to Konohagakure, reunites with the friends he left behind, and reforms Team 7, with Sai replacing Sasuke.
Unlike the original series, the organization of Akatsuki, which played a minor role earlier, takes on the main antagonist role in their attempts of world domination. All of Naruto's classmates have matured and improved in the ranks, some more than others.
- Main article: List of Naruto characters
Naruto has a large and colorful cast of characters, running a gamut of detailed histories and complex personalities, and allowing many of them their fair share in the spotlight; they also seem to grow and mature throughout the series, as it spans several years. As is fitting for a coming-of-age saga, Naruto's world constantly expands and thickens, and his social relations are no exception – during his introduction he has only his teacher and the village's leader for sympathetic figures, but as the story progresses, more and more people become a part of his story.
The students at the Ninja Academy, where the story begins, are split up into squads of three after their graduation and become Genin, rookie ninja. Each squad is assigned an experienced sensei. These core squads form a basis for the characters' interactions later in the series, where characters are chosen for missions for their team's strength and complementary skills; Naruto's squad 7 becomes the social frame where Naruto is acquainted with Sasuke and Sakura, and their sensei Kakashi, forming the core of his world-in-the-making. The other three-man teams of his former classmates form another such layer, as Naruto connects with them to various degrees, learning of their motives, vulnerabilities, and aspirations, often relating them to his own. The groups of three are not limited to the comrades Naruto's age – groups in the story in general come in threes and multiples of three with very few exceptions.
Sensei-student relationships play a significant role in the series; Naruto has a number of mentors with whom he trains and learns, most notably Iruka, the first ninja to recognize Naruto's existence, Kakashi, his team leader, and Jiraiya, and there are often running threads of tradition and tutelage binding together several generations. These role models provide guidance for their students not only in the ninja arts but also in a number of Japanese aesthetics and philosophical ideals. Techniques, ideals, and mentalities noticeably run in families, Naruto often being exposed to the abilities and traditions of generation-old clans in his village when friends from his own age group demonstrate them, or even achieve improvements of their own; it is poignantly noted that Naruto's generation is particularly talented.
Character names often borrow from Japanese folklore and literature (such as the names borrowed from the folktale Jiraiya Goketsu Monogatari), or are otherwise elaborate puns; often there is a noticeable influence of the story behind the name of a character.
Even though it debuted some time after the manga, the anime quickly caught up, since one anime episode usually covers one or two manga chapters. To prevent overlapping, the anime's producers tend to organize content from the manga chapters into long, uneventful sections followed by short bursts of action, sometimes adding filler content in between. By the time the last canonical arc of the anime concluded, it was quickly gaining on the manga and consequently switched to anime-only filler episodes to allow the manga to broaden the gap once more. Most of the filler episodes are stand-alone stories, with a few being part of arcs that are several episodes long. The filler episodes lasted for 85 episodes. After the series moved back into manga-adapted episodes, it was renamed Naruto: Shippūden. The new series premiered on February 15, 2007.
The anime generally remains true to the manga, usually changing only minor details (causes of death, loss of limbs, and other injuries have been lessened in the anime) or expanding on parts skipped by the manga. The filler arcs, though unreferenced in the manga (save for a few scant scenes), deal with the breaks between story arcs, most prominently the period between the mission to retrieve Sasuke and Naruto's departure from Leaf Village at the end of the original series. The filler arcs also often shine the spotlight on minor characters that have received little narrative attention otherwise.
New episodes, animated by Studio Pierrot, air weekly on TV Tokyo in Japan during the Golden Time slot (Japan's equivalent of prime time in the US). As of October 5, 2006, it shows on Thursday nights. The series has also spawned four movies, Naruto the Movie, Naruto the Movie 2, Naruto the Movie 3, and Naruto: Shippūden the Movie. The first three are available on DVD, while the fourth one was released in theatres on August 4 2007. It has also been confirmed that there will be a fifth Naruto movie in the summer of 2008.
On September 10, 2005, Naruto had its hour-long premiere in the U.S. on Cartoon Network's Toonami. The first episode of Naruto premiered in Canada on YTV on September 16, 2005. In the United Kingdom, Naruto premiered on Jetix on July 22, 2006. In Australia and New Zealand it premiered on Cartoon Network on September 27, 2006. It also began showing on Toasted TV on January 12, 2007, in Australia.
In the US, Naruto references to alcohol, Japanese culture, and even blood and death, remain in the English version, though they are sometimes reduced for the broadcast. Other networks make additional content edits apart from the edits done by Cartoon Network, such as Jetix's more strict censoring of blood, language, smoking and the like.
Some of the first and most popular websites targeted at English speaking audiences were established shortly after the first English manga volume was released in August 2003. Like many other manga and anime titles, Naruto has also spawned its own collectible card game.
Prior to the anime's North American debut in 2005, several scanlation and fansub groups translated the series and made it available for free download on the internet. Despite North American companies' perceived tendency to prosecute fansubbing groups more frequently than Japanese companies, there are some that have continued to translate new Naruto episodes due to the extremely large gap between the English and Japanese versions.
Although the early part of the series has been called "childish" and "goofy", with a focus on toilet humor, "formulaic battles" and a simplistic plot, the series later developed in maturity and complexity.
Volume 7 of the manga has recently won a Quill Award for best graphic novel in North America. In TV Asahi's latest top 100 Anime Ranking, Naruto ranked 17th on the list. Naruto (the TV series) has also won an award in other countries. It won the Best Full-Length Animation Program Award in the Third UStv Awards held in the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, Philippines. The manga also appeared several times in the "USA Today Booklist" with the volume 28 at 17th during its release week, being the highest position ever held by any book in the series.
- ↑ Revealed in the American Shonen Jump, December 2007 • vol. 5, issue 12, page 56. Retrieved on 2007-11-17.
- ↑ SJ Runs Yu-Gi-Oh's End, Slam Dunk's Debut, Naruto's Origin (May 11, 2007). Retrieved on 2007-11-18.
- ↑ Template:Cite press release
- ↑ Template:Cite press release
- ↑ Kishimoto, Masashi (2003). "Chapter 1", Naruto, Volume 1. Viz Media. ISBN 1-56931-900-6.
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 Kishimoto, Masashi (2003). "Chapter 8", Naruto, Volume 2. Viz Media. ISBN 1-59116-178-9.
- ↑ Shonen Jump Special Collector Edition (Free Collector's Edition). No. 00 2005 Viz Media, page 68.
- ↑ Naruto Shippūden (TV). Anime News Network. Retrieved on 2008-02-04.
- ↑ Kishimoto, Masashi (2003). "Chapter 3", Naruto, Volume 1. Viz Media. ISBN 1-56931-900-6.
- ↑ Naruto names' origins and meanings. Retrieved on 2006-04-14.
- ↑ Naruto review. IGN. Retrieved on 2007-01-06.
- ↑ Licensed Anime @ AnimeSuki. Retrieved on 2006-10-31.
- ↑ Naruto Special: Battle at Hidden Falls. I am the Hero!. Anime News Network.
- ↑ Nominees for the Graphic Novel category. Retrieved on 2006-08-27.
- ↑ Japan's Favorite TV Anime. Retrieved on 2006-12-22.
- ↑ Studio 23 tops USTv Awards.
- ↑ A Quiet Week for Manga on Booklist. Anime News Network.
- ↑ Naruto 11 Breaks Booklist Record. Anime News Network.
- ↑ USA Today Booklist, March 3–9: Highest-Ranking Naruto. Anime News Network.
- Viz Media's Naruto site (USA).
- Shonen Jump's Naruto page (USA).
- Cartoon Network's Naruto page (USA).
- YTV's Naruto page (Canada).
- Manga Entertainment's Naruto microsite (UK)
- Jetix's Naruto page (UK)
- Madman Entertainment's Official Naruto page (Australia)
- Naruto Collectible card game site (USA).
- Naruto at the Internet Movie Database
- Naruto: Shippûden at the Internet Movie Database
- Template:Ann anime
- Template:Ann manga
- Naruto at the Open Directory Project