Monday, July 22

Naruto

Naruto, a renowned Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Masashi Kishimoto, follows the journey of Naruto Uzumaki, a spirited young ninja. Naruto aspires to gain recognition from his peers and dreams of becoming the Hokage, the esteemed leader of his village. The story unfolds in two parts, with the first focusing on Naruto’s pre-teen years and the second delving into his teenage adventures. Masashi Kishimoto’s creative journey with Naruto began with two one-shot manga, “Karakuri” (1995) and “Naruto” (1997), which paved the way for the extensive manga series.

Serialized in Shueisha’s Weekly Shōnen Jump magazine from 1999 to 2014, the manga comprises 72 tankōbon volumes. The engaging story of Naruto was adapted into an anime television series produced by Pierrot and Aniplex. The anime aired 220 episodes from 2002 to 2007, and the English dub version found its way to Cartoon Network and YTV between 2005 and 2009. A sequel series titled “Naruto: Shippuden” premiered in 2007 and concluded in 2017, totaling 500 episodes. Both series garnered a massive international following.

The vast popularity of Naruto led to the development of eleven movies and twelve original video animations (OVAs) by Pierrot. An extensive range of merchandise, including light novels, video games, and trading cards, further expanded the franchise’s reach.

Viz Media acquired the rights to produce Naruto in North America and serialized it in their digital Weekly Shonen Jump magazine. The anime series was broadcast in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia, while the films and most OVAs also received international releases.

Naruto’s impact extends to being one of the best-selling manga series globally, with over 250 million copies in circulation across 47 countries and regions. It remains a standout success in Japan, with 153 million copies sold within the country and 97 million copies elsewhere. Viz Media’s English translations of the volumes have achieved recognition, appearing on the USA Today and The New York Times bestseller lists, with the seventh volume winning a Quill Award in 2006.

Critics and readers alike have praised Naruto for its compelling character development, strong storylines, and well-executed action sequences. The manga’s use of cultural references from Japanese mythology and Confucianism, coupled with its coming-of-age theme, further adds depth and richness to the narrative. Naruto’s legacy continues with the spin-off series “Boruto: Naruto Next Generations,” centered around Naruto’s son, Boruto Uzumaki, as he strives to forge his own path as a ninja.

Plot 

Naruto anime

The story of Naruto begins with a powerful fox known as the Nine-Tails attacking Konoha, the hidden leaf village in the Land of Fire. To protect the village, the Fourth Hokage, Minato Namikaze, sacrifices his life to seal the Nine-Tails inside his newborn son, Naruto Uzumaki. As a result, Naruto grows up as an outcast, scorned by the villagers for being the host of the feared beast.

For twelve years, Naruto remains unaware of the truth about the Nine-Tails until a renegade ninja, Mizuki, reveals the secret to him. Naruto proves his worth by defeating Mizuki in combat, earning the respect of his teacher, Iruka Umino.

Naruto eventually becomes a ninja and forms Team 7 alongside Sasuke Uchiha and Sakura Haruno, under the guidance of their elite sensei, Kakashi Hatake. Team 7 embarks on various missions, ranging from mundane tasks to life-threatening assignments.

During the Chunin Exams, a significant test for young ninja to advance to a higher rank, Konoha faces a threat from Orochimaru, a dangerous criminal. In the aftermath, the Third Hokage is killed, and Jiraiya declines the role of Fifth Hokage, searching for Tsunade to take on the position.

As the story unfolds, it is revealed that Sasuke has a personal vendetta against his older brother, Itachi, and seeks to gain power by joining Orochimaru. Despite Naruto’s efforts, he fails to bring Sasuke back to Konoha, leading him to embark on a journey with Jiraiya for training. Meanwhile, Sakura becomes Tsunade’s apprentice, determined to bring Sasuke home.

The narrative of Naruto delves into themes of friendship, perseverance, and the pursuit of dreams, as Naruto and his friends face numerous challenges and adversaries throughout their ninja journey. The series continues to captivate audiences with its thrilling action, compelling characters, and emotional storytelling.

Naruto: Shippuden

After two and a half years of intense training with Jiraiya, Naruto returns to Konoha. However, a dangerous organization known as the Akatsuki has begun kidnapping the powerful Tailed Beasts. Naruto, along with Team 7 and other Leaf ninja, engage in battles against the Akatsuki and embark on a quest to find their missing teammate, Sasuke.

During this time, the Akatsuki successfully captures and extracts several Tailed Beasts, leading to devastating consequences for their hosts. Sasuke, driven by his desire for revenge, confronts and defeats his older brother, Itachi, only to learn the truth behind his clan’s massacre. Itachi had been ordered by Konoha’s leaders to carry out the act to prevent a coup, and he agreed to do so in exchange for sparing Sasuke’s life. Devastated by this revelation, Sasuke seeks vengeance against Konoha and joins forces with the Akatsuki.

Tobi, the Akatsuki’s figurehead leader, reveals his plan to capture all nine Tailed Beasts and create a powerful illusion to control humanity and establish world peace. In response, the leaders of the five ninja villages unite to form the Allied Shinobi Forces and confront the Akatsuki. A Fourth Shinobi World War ensues, with Naruto, now aware of the conflict, joining the battle alongside Killer Bee, the Eight-Tails’ host.

As the war unfolds, it is revealed that Tobi is actually Obito Uchiha, a former teammate of Kakashi believed to be dead. Obito and Madara Uchiha, another legendary figure, have been working together to achieve their goals. Sasuke, upon learning the history of Konoha and the truth about his clan, decides to protect the village and joins forces with Naruto and Sakura to thwart Madara and Obito’s plans.

During the final confrontation, Kaguya Otsutsuki emerges as the true antagonist, possessing Madara’s body. Obito, now reformed, sacrifices himself to aid Team 7 in stopping Kaguya. Eventually, Sasuke takes control of all the Tailed Beasts, intending to end the current village system. Naruto confronts Sasuke in a final battle to dissuade him from his plan. In the end, Sasuke admits defeat and reforms his ways.

Following the war, Kakashi becomes the Sixth Hokage and pardons Sasuke for his past crimes. Years later, Naruto becomes the Seventh Hokage and marries Hinata Hyuga, starting a family and leading the village into a new era of peace and prosperity. The story concludes with the next generation of ninjas taking center stage.

Development

Masashi Kishimoto’s journey with the creation of Naruto began in 1995 with the release of Karakuri, a one-shot manga that earned recognition in the Hop Step Award the following year. After being dissatisfied with the drafts for a follow-up, Kishimoto explored various concepts, including a version of Naruto as a chef, which never materialized.

The idea of Naruto as a child who could transform into a fox emerged, leading Kishimoto to create a one-shot based on this concept for the summer 1997 issue of Akamaru Jump. Despite positive feedback, Kishimoto was unhappy with the art and storyline, prompting him to rework the concept into a story about ninjas.

Before Naruto’s serialization in Weekly Shōnen Jump, Kishimoto had initially planned the first eight chapters, with a focus on intricate background art illustrating the Konoha village. However, as the series debuted, the emphasis shifted to the characters, and the background art became less detailed.

Kishimoto had concerns that the concept of chakra, the energy source used by the ninjas in Naruto, might make the series too Japanese-centric. Nevertheless, he believed it would still be an enjoyable read for audiences. Throughout the series, Kishimoto’s love for Godzilla inspired the introduction of the tailed beasts mythology, giving him an opportunity to draw monsters.

The central theme in Part I of Naruto revolves around how people accept one another, with Naruto’s character development serving as a prime example. As the story progressed into Part II, Kishimoto focused on keeping panel layouts and plot easy for readers to follow, and he aimed to create a style that was slightly more realistic than the classic manga look.

During Part II, Kishimoto aimed to conclude the arc involving Sasuke Uchiha’s search for his brother, Itachi, within a single volume, leading to a higher number of chapters in volume 43. He apologized to readers for the increased cost of volume 43 due to its larger size. Despite the challenges and decisions along the way, Naruto went on to become a beloved and iconic manga series, touching the hearts of readers worldwide.