Naruto is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Masashi Kishimoto. It tells the story of Naruto Uzumaki, a young ninja who seeks recognition from his peers and dreams of becoming the Hokage, the leader of his village. The story is told in two parts – the first set in Naruto’s pre-teen years, and the second in his teens. The series is based on two one-shot manga by Kishimoto: Karakuri (1995), which earned Kishimoto an honorable mention in Shueisha’s monthly Hop Step Award the following year, and Naruto (1997).
Naruto was serialized in Shueisha’s magazine, Weekly Shōnen Jump from 1999 to 2014, and released in tankōbon (book) form in 72 volumes. The manga was adapted into an anime television series produced by Pierrot and Aniplex, which broadcast 220 episodes in Japan from 2002 to 2007; the English adaptation of the series aired on Cartoon Network and YTV from 2005 to 2009. Naruto: Shippuden, a sequel to the original series, premiered in Japan in 2007, and ended in 2017, after 500 episodes. The English adaptation was broadcast on Disney XD from 2009 to 2011, airing the first 98 episodes, and then switched over to Adult Swim’s Toonami programming block in January 2014, starting over from the first episode. The English adaptation is still airing weekly on Adult Swim to this day. Besides the anime series, Pierrot has developed eleven movies and twelve original video animations (OVAs). Other Naruto-related merchandise includes light novels, video games, and trading cards developed by several companies.
Viz Media licensed the manga and anime for North American production and serialized Naruto in their digital Weekly Shonen Jump magazine. The anime series began airing in the United States and Canada in 2005, and in the United Kingdom and Australia in 2006 and 2007, respectively. The films and most OVAs from the series were also released by Viz, with the first film premiering in movie theaters. Viz Media began streaming the two anime series on their streaming service Neon Alley in December 2012. The story of Naruto continues with Naruto’s son, Boruto Uzumaki, in Boruto: Naruto Next Generations: Boruto wishes to create his own ninja way instead of following his father’s.
Naruto is the fourth best-selling manga series in history, selling 250 million copies worldwide in 46 countries. It has become one of Viz Media’s best-selling manga series; their English translations of the volumes have appeared on USA Today and The New York Times bestseller list several times, and the seventh volume won a Quill Award in 2006. Reviewers praised the manga’s character development, strong storylines, and well-executed fight scenes, though some felt the fight scenes slowed the story down. Critics noted that the manga, which has a coming-of-age theme, makes use of cultural references from Japanese mythology and Confucianism.
Several reviewers commented on the balance between fight scenes and plot development; A. E. Sparrow of IGN and Casey Brienza of Anime News Network (ANN) felt that the result was a strong storyline, but Carl Kimlinger, also writing for ANN, suggested that there were too many fights, which slowed down the plot. Kimlinger liked the character designs, and approved of the fight scenes themselves which also drew positive comments from Rik Spanjers, who felt that the excitement of the scenes depends on Kishimoto’s skill in depicting action. Javier Lugo, writing for Manga Life, agreed, describing the artwork as “dramatic, exciting, and just right for the story he’s telling”.
The anime and manga magazine Neo described Naruto’s character as “irksome”, but considered that the series’ “almost sickening addictiveness” was due to the quality of the characterization, and in Briana Lawrence’s opinion the growth of the characters gave Part II an adult feel. In a review of volume 28 Brienza also praised Part II’s storyline and characterization, though she commented that not every volume reached a high level of quality.
The fights across the Part II received praise, most notably Naruto’s and Sasuke’s, resulting in major changes into their character arcs. Meanwhile, the final battle between these two fighters in the finale earned major praise for the choreography and art provided as well as how in depth the two’s personalities were shown in the aftermath. Some writers criticized Kaguya being the least entertaining villain, making the showdown between Naruto and Sasuke more appealing as a result. The finale earned nearly perfect scores from both ANN and Comic Book Bin, with the latter acclaiming the popularity of the title character.
Gō Itō, a professor in the manga department of Tokyo Polytechnic University, compared the series’ development to the manga of Dragon Ball, saying that both manga present good illustrations of three-dimensional body movements that capture the characters’ martial arts very well. Gō felt readers could empathize with the characters in Naruto via their inner monologue during battles.
The series also influenced the movie Scott Pilgrim vs. The World with director Edgar Wright saying he was inspired by how whenever there is a “killer move” in the manga, there is an impact in the background following any technique’s usage. When the manga ended, multiple authors from the magazine expressed congratulations to Kishimoto’s work. The fight scenes in general earned acclaim for how well written they are, something game developer CyberConnect2 took into account when developing the Naruto games.
The manga has sold 250 million copies worldwide, making it the fourth best-selling manga series in history. More than half of the sales were in Japan, with the remaining sales from 46 other countries. It has become one of North American publisher Viz Media’s best-selling manga series; their translation of the series appeared on USA Today and The New York Times bestseller lists several times, and volume seven of the manga won the Quill Award for graphic novel in 2006. It was included in the fiction section of Teacher Librarian‘s recommended list for 2008, and School Library Journal described it as an essential manga for school libraries. Volume 28 of the manga reached 17th place in the USA Today Booklist in its first week of release in March 2008, only two places short of the record for a manga, held by Fruits Basket. The volume had one of the biggest debut weeks of any manga in years, becoming the top-selling manga volume of 2008 and the second best-selling book in North America. In 2010, Viz, the publisher, commented on the loyalty of readers, who reliably continued to buy the manga as the volume count went over 40.
In April 2007, volume 14 earned Viz the Manga Trade Paperback of the Year Gem Award from Diamond Comic Distributors. The manga was nominated for Favorite Manga Series in Nickelodeon Magazine‘s 2009 Comics Awards. In February 2015, Asahi Shimbun announced that Naruto was one of nine nominees for the nineteenth annual Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize, and the following month Kishimoto was the winner of Rookie of the Year for the series in the Japanese government’s Agency for Cultural Affairs 2014 Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology Fine Arts Recommendation Awards. Responding to Naruto‘s success, Kishimoto said in Naruto Collector Winter 2007/2008 that he was “very glad that the American audience has accepted and understood ninja. It shows that the American audience has good taste […] because it means they can accept something previously unfamiliar to them.”
Naruto Shippuden has been ranked several times as one of the most watched series in Japan. The first DVD compilation released by Viz received a nomination from the American Anime Awards for best package design. As of 2019, Viz Media has sold more than 3 million Naruto anime home video units, while Naruto is also a top digital streaming performer on Hulu.
A powerful fox known as the Nine-Tails attacks Konoha, the hidden leaf village in the Land of Fire, one of the Five Great Shinobi Countries in the Ninja World. In response, the leader of Konoha and the Fourth Hokage, Minato Namikaze (with his wife Kushina Uzumaki) seals the fox inside the body of his newborn son, Naruto Uzumaki, making Naruto a host of the beast; this costs Naruto’s father his life, and the Third Hokage returns from retirement to become leader of Konoha again. Naruto is often ridiculed by the Konoha villagers for being the host of the Nine-Tails. Because of a decree made by the Third Hokage forbidding anyone to mention these events, Naruto knows nothing about the Nine-Tails until 12 years later, when Mizuki, a renegade ninja, reveals the truth to Naruto. Naruto then defeats Mizuki in combat, earning the respect of his teacher Iruka Umino.
Shortly afterwards, Naruto becomes a ninja and joins with Sasuke Uchiha, against whom he often competes, and Sakura Haruno, on whom he has a crush, to form Team 7, under an experienced sensei, the elite ninja Kakashi Hatake. Like all the ninja teams from every village, Team 7 completes missions requested by the villagers, ranging from doing chores and being bodyguards to performing assassinations.
After several missions, including a major one in the Land of Waves, Kakashi allows Team 7 to take a ninja exam, enabling them to advance to a higher rank and take on more difficult missions, known as Chunin Exams. During the exams, Orochimaru, a wanted criminal, invades Konoha and kills the Third Hokage for revenge. Jiraiya, one of the three legendary ninjas, declines the title of Fifth Hokage and searches with Naruto for Tsunade whom he chooses to become Fifth Hokage instead.
During the search, it is revealed that Orochimaru wishes to train Sasuke because of his powerful genetic heritage, the Sharingan. After Sasuke attempts and fails to kill his older brother Itachi when he showed up in Konoha to kidnap Naruto, he joins Orochimaru, hoping to gain from him the strength needed to kill Itachi. The story takes a turn when Sasuke leaves the Konoha village and when Tsunade finds out, she sends a group of ninja, including Naruto, to retrieve Sasuke, but Naruto is unable to persuade or force him to come back. Naruto and Sakura do not give up on Sasuke: Naruto leaves Konoha to receive training from Jiraiya to prepare himself for the next time he encounters Sasuke, while Sakura becomes Tsunade’s apprentice.
Two and a half years later, Naruto returns from his training with Jiraiya. The Akatsuki starts kidnapping the hosts of the powerful Tailed Beasts. Team 7 and other Leaf ninja fight against them and search for their teammate Sasuke. The Akatsuki succeeds in capturing and extracting seven of the Tailed Beasts, killing all the hosts except Gaara, who is now the Kazekage. Meanwhile, Sasuke betrays Orochimaru and faces Itachi to take revenge. After Itachi dies in battle, Sasuke learns from the Akatsuki founder Tobi that Itachi received an order from Konoha’s superiors to destroy his clan to prevent a coup. He accepted it on the condition that he would be allowed to spare Sasuke. Saddened by this revelation, Sasuke joins the Akatsuki to destroy Konoha in revenge. As Konoha ninjas defeat several Akatsuki members, the Akatsuki figurehead leader, Nagato, kills Jiraiya and devastates Konoha, but Naruto defeats and redeems him, earning the village’s respect and admiration.
With Nagato’s death, Tobi, disguised as Madara Uchiha (one of Konoha’s founding fathers), announces that he wants to capture all nine Tailed Beasts to perform an illusion powerful enough to control all humanity and achieve world peace. The leaders of the five ninja villages refuse to help him and instead join forces to confront Tobi and his allies. That decision results in a Fourth Shinobi World War between the combined armies of the Five Great Countries (known as the Allied Shinobi Forces) and Akatsuki’s forces of zombie-like ninjas. The Five Kage try to keep Naruto, unaware of the war, in a secret island turtle near Kumogakure (Hidden Cloud Village), but Naruto finds out and escapes from the island with Killer Bee, the host of the Eight-Tails. At that time, Naruto—along with the help of Killer Bee—gains control of his Tailed Beast and the two of them head for the battlefield.
During the conflict, it is revealed that Tobi is Obito Uchiha, a former teammate of Kakashi’s who was thought to be dead. The real Madara saved Obito’s life, and they have since collaborated. As Sasuke learns the history of Konoha, including the circumstances that led to his clan’s downfall, he decides to protect the village and rejoins Naruto and Sakura to thwart Madara and Obito’s plans. However, Madara’s body ends up possessed by Kaguya Otsutsuki, an ancient princess who intends to subdue all humanity. A reformed Obito sacrifices himself to help Team 7 stop her. Once Kaguya is sealed, Madara dies as well. Sasuke takes advantage of the situation and takes control of all the Tailed Beasts, as he reveals his goal of ending the current village system. Naruto confronts Sasuke to dissuade him from his plan, and after they almost kill each other in a final battle, Sasuke admits defeat and reforms. After the war, Kakashi becomes the Sixth Hokage and pardons Sasuke for his crimes. Years later, Kakashi steps down while Naruto marries Hinata Hyuga and becomes the Seventh Hokage, raising the next generation.