Naruto Uzumaki as seen in Part I by Masashi Kishimoto
|First appearance||Naruto manga chapter 1|
|Notable relatives||Minato Namikaze (father)
Kushina Uzumaki (mother)
|Ninja team||Team 7|
Naruto Uzumaki (うずまき ナルト Uzumaki Naruto?) is a fictional character in the anime and manga franchise Naruto, created by Masashi Kishimoto. The central protagonist and title character of the series, he is a teenage ninja from the fictional village of Konohagakure. The villagers ridicule Naruto because of the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox—a malevolent creature that attacked Konohagakure—sealed in his body. To be recognized, he aspires to become the village's leader, the Hokage. His cheerful and boisterous personality lets him befriend other Konohagakure ninja, as well as ninja from other villages. Naruto appears in the series' films and in other media related to the franchise, including video games and original video animations.
When creating Naruto in the initial part of the series, Kishimoto kept the character "simple and stupid", while giving him many attributes of an ideal hero. Kishimoto added a harsh past to give him a side of darkness. Many times he has revised Naruto's image, providing the character with different clothes to appeal to Western audiences and make him easier to illustrate. Kishimoto changed his design for Part II of the storyline, which starts two-and-a-half years after Part I. Naruto is voiced by Junko Takeuchi in the original animated series and Maile Flanagan in the English adaptations.
Naruto has remained popular with the Naruto fan-base, placing high in popularity polls. Merchandise based on Naruto has been released, including figurines and keychains. Naruto's character has been praised by anime and manga publications. Although some saw him as a stereotypical manga and anime protagonist comparable to those in other shōnen manga, they have praised his personality and development as he avoids stereotypes.
Naruto Uzumaki is introduced as a dingus boy with blonde, spiky hair and blue eyes. He frequently wears an orange jumpsuit. Following his ninja graduation he also wore a headband that denotes his position as a ninja from Konohagakure. In Part II of the manga, which features an older Naruto, he wears a new outfit as a result of his physical growth. The Nine-Tailed Demon Fox sealed in Naruto influences his body, causing him to resemble the Fox over the course of his battles. While initially Naruto only shows small changes such as sharp teeth and claws, he later develops a red tail made of the Fox's vital energy, or chakra. The red chakra starts by surrounding his body; once four tails are manifested, Naruto's blood starts merging with the chakra, coloring his entire body red. As the sixth tail appears, Naruto appears to wear the Fox's skeleton. Once Naruto takes control of the Fox's chakra, he is able to maintain his regular form while using it. As a ninja, Naruto carries many weapons, but relies mostly on his ninja techniques while fighting, specializing in making clones of himself.
Introduced as a childish joker, Naruto seeks attention because he was being shunned in his childhood. To be respected, he resolves to become Konohagakure's Hokage and surpass all the previous leaders e.g. Dotun no matter the difficulties. While becoming a ninja, Naruto forms friendships he initially lacked, linking some of them to family relationships. Although Naruto sometimes finds himself unable to accomplish the tasks he proposes to do, characters believe that Naruto will be an excellent Hokage because of his positive impact on their lives.
Naruto is an orphan who, as a newborn, had the dangerous Nine-Tailed Demon Fox sealed within his body by the Fourth Hokage Minato Namikaze, the leader of Konoha's ninja force, at the cost of his own life. Because he became a Jinchuriki to the Nine Tails, Naruto was shunned by most of Konoha's residents during his early childhood. Since then, Naruto has commonly made jokes and played pranks to attract attention. Desiring what he lacked in early life, Naruto dreams of becoming a Hokage himself with the hope that it will bring him the villagers' recognition and respect. In an attempt to become a ninja, Naruto is horrified to learn of his Jinchuriki nature, but finds acceptance from his teacher Iruka Umino, whom he views as a father. After learning the powerful Shadow Clone Jutsu, an ability to creates physical copies of the user, Naruto becomes a ninja. He joins a ninja group under the leadership of Kakashi Hatake, where Naruto gains the friends he lacked during his childhood in his classmates who also joined the established Team 7: Sasuke Uchiha, with whom he has a rivalry with since they first met at the ninja academy, and Sakura Haruno, on whom he has a crush.
While going through an exam to increase his ninja rank, Naruto meets the legendary ninja Jiraiya and learns how to summon toads to aid him in battle and to control part of the Nine Tails's chakra energy. The exams are interrupted as a result of the invasion of Konohagakure by the criminal Orochimaru and the ninja of Sunagakure, with Naruto defeating the sand village's One Tail Jinchuriki Gaara and convincing him of a better way to live. Shortly afterward, Naruto discovers the Akatsuki, a criminal organization that seeks to extract the Nine-Tails from his body. Though Jiraiya drives them off during this first meeting, learning its member Itachi is both Sasuke's brother and the man who killed their family, the Akatsuki still plan to kidnap Naruto. While accompanying Jiraiya to find a new leader for the village, Naruto also learns the Rasengan, a sphere of chakra for offensive purposes. When Sasuke leaves the village to join Orochimaru's forces to obtain the power to kill Itachi, Naruto becomes part of a rescue team to retrieve him. Naruto and Sasuke ultimately have a one-on-one battle, though neither can convince himself to finish off the other. The two go their separate ways, but Naruto does not give up on Sasuke, leaving Konoha with Jiraiya to prepare himself for his next encounter with Sasuke and the Akatsuki.
After his two and a half years of training, Naruto returns to Konoha as begins to deal more actively with the Akatsuki threat by first saving Gaara from their clutches. To fight them, Naruto trains with Kakashi to infuse the Rasengan with his own wind-element chakra, creating the Rasen-Shuriken attack that proves instrumental in the downfall of the Akatsuki member Kakuzu. Despite being targeted by the Akatsuki, Naruto dedicates himself to finding and retrieving Sasuke as he eventually deposes of Orochimaru and starts acting on his vengeance-driven whims. Over time, though resisting the urge to use the creature's power, the Nine Tails's influence over him expands to the point where he begins to lose his rationality as more chakra manifests in the form of tails to the point the Tailed Beast can take control of his body.
After learning that Jiraiya has been killed by the Akatsuki leader, Pain, Naruto prepares for a future encounter by learning toad-style Senjutsu, a power-enhancing ability involving the gathering of natural energy. When they finally face off, Naruto defeats Pain and convinces him to quit Akatsuki. At that time, Naruto learns that the Fourth Hokage was his father who sealed the Fox so that Naruto could use it to defeat the Akatsuki founder Tobi who was behind the Fox's attack on Konohagakure.
When Naruto discovers Sasuke's past role within the Akatsuki, his friend learning that Itachi acted in the village's interests, he decides to confront Sasuke in battle which could end in both their deaths should Naruto be unable to save him. As a result, he prepares himself for the upcoming fights by becoming a student under the Eight Tails' host Killer Bee to take full control of the Nine-Tails' powers. He succeeds with help from his late mother, Kushina Uzumaki, who placed a chakra imprint of herself within the seal. When Naruto learns that all his comrades are battling Tobi's army to protect him, he takes Killer Bee to join the battle, eventually cooperating with the Nine-Tails to engage Tobi before learning of his identity as Obito Uchiha, a student under his father alongside Kakashi. Across the battle, Naruto joins forces with the ninja army to defeat Obito. However, Naruto loses Kurama when it is taken by Obito's ally, Madara Uchiha, and is left nearly dead. While a reformed Obito transfers Kurama's Yin half into him, Naruto meets the first ninja: the Sage of the Six Paths, in his subconscious and learns he is the most recent reincarnation of the sage's youngest son Asura who founded the Senju Clan. Naruto then receives the Sage's power to defeat Madara together with Sasuke, with Naruto gaining Sage Jutsu abilities to use multiple chakra natures in his attacks.
In other media
As the series' title character, Naruto appears in every movie in the series. He typically appears as the lead character on a mission with comrades from Konohagakure. Naruto: Shippūden the Movie marks the first appearance of Naruto in his Part II appearance. He also appears in all four original video animations produced for the series: helping his friend Konohamaru Sarutobi find a four-leaf clover in the first; escorting a ninja to his village and fighting the criminal who stole the village's "Hero's Water" in the second;, participating in a tournament in the third and working with Team 7 in the fourth one. He appears as a supporting character in the spin-off manga titled Rock Lee and his Ninja Pals where his fellow Konohagakure ninja Rock Lee is the main character.
Naruto is a playable character in the Naruto video games. In several titles, it is possible to access a special version of him enhanced with the power from the Nine-Tailed Fox. In several games from the Ultimate Ninja series he is playable with his own versions of Rock Lee and Might Guy's techniques while wearing their costume. Naruto Shippūden: Gekitou Ninja Taisen EX marks the first appearance of Naruto in his Part II appearance in a video game. For the series' 10th anniversary, Masashi Kishimoto made an illustration of Naruto as Hokage. This portrayal of Naruto later appears as a secret character in the game Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2. He appears in several crossover video games that feature Naruto fighting against characters from other manga; these games include Battle Stadium D.O.N, Jump Super Stars and Jump Ultimate Stars. A Naruto avatar made a guest appearance in the MMORPG Second Life for a Jump Festa promotion titled Jumpland@Second Life. In Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z Naruto's costume is set to appear as an alternate costume for Goku.
Creation and conception
In the creation of Naruto, Kishimoto incorporated traits he felt made an ideal hero: a straightforward way of thinking, a mischievous side, and attributes possessed by Goku from the Dragon Ball franchise. Aiming to keep Naruto "simple and stupid", Kishimoto avoided modeling Naruto after anyone in particular, instead conceiving him as naïve with a dark side induced by his harsh past. Despite this, he is always optimistic, a trait Kishimoto says makes him unique. Naruto's personality is, by and large, childish; the creator tries to convey this trait in his illustrations. On the manga cover of volume 10, for example, Naruto is depicted mimicking a turtle as a child might do. Naruto was Kishimoto's first published manga, and he focused on how Naruto's facial expressions would appear in difficult situations, trying make them consistent.
During the series' publication, Kishimoto got married and had children which influenced Naruto's character. This resulted in Naruto shortly meeting his parents and learning of their sacrifices to help him control the Fox inside him so that he could protect the world in their place. As a result, Naruto appreciated his life more and learned how his parents loved him, something the author wanted the character to feel based on his own experience as a father. Naruto's growth across the series surprised the author due to how the acknowledgement he receives from other characters allows the character even further.
Naruto's wardrobe is based on clothing that Kishimoto wore when he was younger. According to Kishimoto, a pre-existing design would not have made Naruto unique, whereas something original would have made him too distinctive. Because Naruto is associated with spirals in terms of objects he uses, the designer incorporated swirl patterns into the costume. Initial illustrations depicted Naruto in boots, but Kishimoto replaced these with sandals, because he enjoys drawing toes. The goggles that Naruto used to wear were replaced with a hitai-ite, or shinobi headband, because they were too time-consuming to draw. One of the most difficult design choices was the color palette of Naruto's outfit. The orange in his costume makes Naruto "pop" and the blue parts are often used as complements. Kishimoto apologized to the anime staff for Naruto's design, considering it too difficult to translate to animation.
Kishimoto was satisfied that he gave his character blond hair and blue eyes, something rarely seen in Japanese. Therefore Naruto, along with the immense popularity the series has gained, comes naturally to the readers and international audiences with blond hair and blue eyes. Moreover, the editor of the American magazine Shonen Jump implied that these traits may have made the characters more appealing to Western audiences. Kishimoto most identifies with Naruto of all of the series' characters. When asked why Naruto's favorite food is ramen instead of kitsune udon, Kishimoto said that he personally liked eating ramen. In the Naruto: Clash of Ninja video game series, Naruto is playable in various stages of the Demon Fox's manifestation, characterized by a red-colored chakra. Kishimoto took inspiration from the games' presentation of these forms, imitating one of them for the manga cover of volume 26. When designing Naruto for his Part II appearance, Kishimoto drew Naruto's forehead-protector wider to make his eyebrows easier to draw, something that had bothered him in his previous design. He also noted that Naruto's pants made the character look too childish. To remedy this, Kishimoto designed Naruto's pants to roll up, giving him a more mature appearance.
In the original Japanese versions of Naruto, Naruto often ends his sentences with the addendum "-ttebayo" (which achieves an effect similar to ending a sentence with "you know?" in English). Kishimoto wanted to give Naruto a childlike catchphrase, and "dattebayo" came to mind; the creator believed that the phrase complements Naruto's character, and serves as a verbal tic that portrays him in a brat-ish manner. Throughout the first episodes of the English dub version, "dattebayo" and "-ttebayo" were replaced with the phrase "Believe it!", both to mirror the effect and to match the character's lip movements.
During the casting for the Japanese version of the animated adaptations, the staff sought a male voice actor for Naruto. Junko Takeuchi, a female actress, was instead chosen following a large number of auditions that involved male actors. Before recording the first episode, Takeuchi noticed several lines from the script that ended with exclamations points which helped her define Naruto's voice. She noted difficulties in transitioning from the young Naruto to the older Naruto in the animated adaptation of Part II, as she had to record the first episode after the time skip only one week after voicing the character from before the time skip. This concerned the character's growth as Naruto started acting more mature in contrast to his attitude of a child. It was difficult for Takeuchi to voice Naruto in his Nine-Tailed Demon Fox form and during the fight against Sasuke, due to the suffering Naruto was going through. Nine years after first voicing the character, while still finding it tough to voice Naruto, Takeuchi's opinion regarding him changed to "a very reliable young man". She admires his ability to prioritize and calmly make important decisions, and believes these traits will inspire viewers worldwide.
The producers of the English anime stated that Naruto was the most difficult character to cast, adding that Maile Flanagan "has Naruto down, from the mischievous side, that precocious twelve year old we learn to love, to the serious side." Flanagan did not listen to Junko Takeuchi's performance of Naruto because she did not want to imitate it, stating: "I wanted to create my own voice for the character."
In every official Weekly Shōnen Jump popularity poll of the series, Naruto ranks in the top five characters and as of the beginning of 2012 has been in first place twice. In 2006, Naruto lost his top-two status to the characters Deidara, Kakashi and Sasuke in the magazine's sixth poll. In the 2011 poll, Naruto was once again in first place. Merchandise has been modeled after Naruto, including key chains, and action figures. In the 2009 Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation Awards, Junko Takeuchi won "Best Voice Actress (Japanese)" for her work as Naruto. Naruto placed sixth in IGN's Top 25 Anime Characters of All Time with writer Chris Mackenzie stating that although "Naruto actually isn't the most popular character in his own series most of the time", he is "the engine that powers the franchise". In the 2011 Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition, he was voted as the twenty-ninth best character appearing in video games. While working for CyberConnect2 in the making of the .hack games, character designer Yoshiyuki Sadamoto used Naruto as a model for .hack's protagonist, Kite. Incidentally, shortly afterwards CyberConnect2 started developing the Naruto: Ultimate Ninja games although Sadamoto recalls he was unaware of such fact. CyberConnect2 CEO Hiroshi Matsuyama also participated in the Paris Marathon 2012 while cosplaying as Naruto celebrating the release of a new video game.
Naruto's character has received mostly positive critical response in printed and online publications. Praise was given by Joseph Szadkowski of The Washington Times who noted that Naruto "has become a pop-culture sensation." Naruto's character was analyzed by GameSpot's Joe Dodson who noted that Naruto, despite having an "ideal" life, still suffers from severe isolation. Nevertheless, he was praised for his optimistic personality by Carl Kimlinger from Anime News Network (A.N.N.). Writers from Mania Entertainment labeled him as a "good lead character" with good overall development despite certain initial problems. Writing for Popular Culture in Counseling, Psychotherapy, and Play-Based Interventions, Lawrence Rubin stated that while Naruto has an optimistic and hyperactive personality, the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox within his body symbolizes his negative emotions. Rubin concluded that Naruto's fights to protect the village help him become a "complete and mature person". On the other hand, Christina Carpenter of T.H.E.M. Anime Reviews disagreed with other writers, noting that while Naruto is a "likable enough scamp", his type of character has been done before in many anime and manga series. His relationships with the other characters have been deemed as appealing by IGN's Charles White and Jason Van Horn, most notably his rivalry with Sasuke, as it shows "signs of maturity" in Naruto. However, his desire to retrieve Sasuke following the end of Part I received criticism as a result of his subsequent suffering.
Carl Kimlinger of Anime News Network said that while Naruto's initial fight scenes are lacking when compared to others, his encounter with Gaara is one of his best moments because it surpassed most shōnen stereotypes, owing to Naruto's tactics. A.N.N.'s Theron Martin and Mania Entertainment's Justin Rich made similar comments. The character's final fight against Sasuke in the end of Part I received like responses, due to the fighting styles employed, and the character development resulting from their rivalry. The enormous physical changes caused by the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox have also been the focus of critics, as Naruto's loss of control causes him to become a bigger threat to his loved ones than series' antagonists. Carlo Santos of Anime News Network commented on the character's growth in Part II, specifically his fight against Pain in which Naruto's comments on peace and the means by which it is achieved touch on philosophical themes never seen in a shōnen series. Chris Beveridge from Mania Entertainment noted a change in Naruto's attitude as he acts more calm and serious than in previous story arcs. Naruto's new Senjutsu style was praised as was his careful preparation for the fight against Pain, which resulted in a big display of Naruto's skills.
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Media related to Naruto Uzumaki at Wikimedia Commons