Guest writer: Mars#8919

The popular anime/manga Naruto is well known for its lovable characters, amazing storyline, and for its iconic art style. With Naruto’s booming success, it’s important to know the face and process behind the story.

The Story

Before Naruto Uzumaki’s birth, a giant demon known as the Kyuubi, the Nine-Tailed Fox, attacked the village of Konohagakure (the Hidden Leaf Village) causing chaos and corruption. To stop the Kyuubi’s rampage, the village’s leader, the Fourth Hokage, sacrificed his life to seal the atrocious beast inside the newborn Naruto.

Now, Naruto is a hyperactive knucklehead ninja living in Konohagakure. Shunned because of the demon inside of him, Naruto struggles to fit in and find his place in the village, while his raging ambitions and burning desire to become the Hokage of the village lead him to thrilling adventures, great new friends, and also to some dangerous foes.

It’s rather awkward to talk about what makes Naruto appealing to audiences, but I think his being a knucklehead gives him an appeal

– Masashi Kishimoto, the creator of Naruto

Weekly Shonen Jump No. 43, 1999

The adventure-filled shonen anime takes the viewer on Naruto’s journey through his early life as an ambitious ninja. Even if Naruto takes place in a fantasy world with nonexistent characters and unrealistic circumstances, the characters are strangely relatable with the same goals and feelings as us, the viewers.

By watching and reading Naruto, viewers will learn many different and valuable life lessons through all of the characters and through Naruto’s inspiring story. It spreads the universal messages of friendship, acceptance, hard work, and of pathing your own way in the world.. Even if Naruto is fictional and unrealistic, it shares many of the same aspects of our lives, such as family, friends, and life long goals–all key themes in this anime.

Masashi Kishimoto

Masashi Kishimoto was born on November 9th, 1974. During his childhood, Kishimoto would draw characters from the anime shows he watched, such as Kinnikuman and Dragon Ball. He began to idolize the creator of Dragon Ball, Akira Toriyama, as he had watched and read many of his animes and mangas such as Dragon Ball and Dr. Slump.

As he entered high school, he began to lose interest in anime and manga. However, after seeing an animated film called Akira, he became intrigued with the way the illustration was made and wished to make his own manga, inspired by Katsuhiro Otomo’s style.

Masashi Kishimoto
Source | Further reading

His Inspiration

Kishimoto was inspired by the manga and anime he watched as a child and had always aspired to be like his favorite mangakas. The movie Akira especially inspired him to pursue his dreams of creating manga.

Family also played a big aspect in what inspired him. His twin brother had always drawn with him, their styles of manga both reflecting off of each other. Some people have even accused them of copying each other’s art and stories, but Seshi noted that this is because they were influenced by the same things when they were younger and the similarities were not intentional. During the series publication, Kishimoto got married and had a son, which influenced certain aspects of the Naruto series.

Trial and Error

karakuri cover art
Karakuri cover page

During his last years of school, Kishimoto attended an art college with the ambition of becoming a manga artist and in his second year of college, he began drawing manga for magazine contests. Kishimoto wanted to draw a manga for Weekly Shonen Jump but figured his art style was not suitable for the magazine.

Soon after, Kishimoto then started researching different animators and their works to see how the Shonen art style was employed. He later met with Tetsuya Nishio, designer of the anime adaptation of Ninku, who he considered a big influence. With the new knowledge he had gained, Kishimoto noted that his art started to resemble the style seen in Shonen series.

Kishimoto’s first successful manga pilot was the one-shot Karakuri (“Mechanism”) which he submitted to Shueisha (a publishing company) in 1995. The manga is about Kuri, a member of an elite defense unit called Karakuri whose job is to fight against the “Rodio”, blood-red eyed creatures being controlled by implant technology in the nervous system originally used to fight off a deadly virus. Karakuri earned Kishimoto an honorable mention in Shueisha’s “Hot Step Award” in 1996, which was promising for a young artist.

Naruto Hiden Mina no Sho Official Premium Fan Book

He was then assigned an editor, Kosuke Yahagi, and together they worked on some rejected drafts, one of which was a slice of life (Wandering Detour), and the other was an action manga (Asian Punk).

While redeveloping Karakuri, Kishimoto was offered a one-shot in Weekly Shonen Jump in 1997. The new Karakuri debuted in 1998, but was called off shortly after from bad reader reviews caused by the deadline being rushed. Following the failure of Karakuri, Kishimoto began working on a more seinen style of manga with drafts for a baseball manga (Baseball King) and a mafia manga (Mario) hoping to find better luck with it. His editor persuaded him to give the shonen genre one more shot. He began working on a fantasy one-shot called Magic Mushroom, but stopped when Yahagi asked him to instead develop storyboards for serialization. The two decided to submit a version of Naruto with a reworked story and produced storyboards for the first few chapters, winning a spot in the magazine.

In September 1999, the serialized version of Naruto premiered in Weekly Shonen Jump and quickly became a hit.

Naruto’s Success

Naruto has sold over 113 million copies of the manga in Japan and over 95 million copies in the US, followed by over 93 million copies worldwide (outside of Japan and the United States), making total sales for the series approximately 301 million copies. It’s the third best selling manga series of all times, passed only by One Piece and Dragon Ball. Naruto was adapted into two animated series, Naruto and Naruto Shippuden and also has multiple movies in the series, as well as some video games.

The series ended on November 10th, 2014 after more than 15 years of serialization, with a total of 700 chapters in 72 volumes.

Even though it has ended, it is still loved by all of his fans, old and new. Even though Kishimoto’s earlier mangas were not a success, he kept trying until he succeeded.

From his story is important to learn that there is no easy road to success, so you have to persevere and keep learning until you get there.

Naruto was a big part of my childhood, igniting a spark of passion for anime and manga. It is definitely one of my favorite animes and deserves all of the recognition it gets. It’s well-made with a creative plot and with lovable characters which have stayed with me throughout the years. What Kishimoto has created is something amazing which deserves all of the attention that Naruto has & will continue to get.


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