There are few properties in pop culture that have had as big a cultural impact in their respective mediums like Naruto has. I mean, not too long ago I watched a grown man run behind a reporter in Area 51 while leaning forward with his arms behind his back (a movement done as a homage to the running style of the characters in the show; commonly referred to as the Naruto run).
If you are unfamiliar, Narutois a fictional character from the Japanese anime fantasy series Naruto and Naruto: Shippuden, based on the manga of the same name and created by Masashi Kishimoto. The series focuses on the adventures of a young ninja boy named Naruto Uzumaki, who upon having a demon sealed inside him at birth, attempts to gain the recognition of his peers while trying to become the leader of his village.
The shows themselves contain just over 700 episodes, which are based on hundreds of manga chapters and have resulted in the creation of several spin-off shows, multiple novels, video games, trading cards, and even an amusement park located in Japan. The series has amassed millions of fans around the globe and is widely regarded as one of the most popular anime/manga of all time. It is a series that I can, and have, spent hours discussing and immersing myself in.
But in lieu of boring the fine readers of this excellent blog with an analysis of the popular anime series, I thought I would instead attempt to bore the fine readers of this excellent blog with an analysis of the popular anime character… Let’s begin!
What makes the character so appealing and relatable for a lot of people — at least for me, anyway, was always in the character’s status as this ultimate underdog. From the very beginning of the show, Naruto is portrayed as being completely alone. He doesn’t have a family, is completely friendless, and is feared and reviled by almost everyone in his village. Granted, being the vessel of a giant nine-tailed demon fox capable of destroying the planet is not something most of us have had to deal with, but it’s the idea behind it that counts. It’s that feeling of isolation that sticks. The sense of ostracization for something you can’t control, being disliked or mocked for a part of you that you wish you could change but can’t, being left out for simply being you. That’s something a lot of people can empathize with, and in many cases, have had to deal with themselves. For a show about magic ninjas punching each other in the face, I think it does a pretty good job of humanizing a lot of the characters.
All that being said, there’s more to a great hero than just relatability and a sad back story. What adds to the charm and likeability of the character is his determination and desire to succeed, despite all of his shortcomings. At the start of the series, simply put, this kid just sucks. He isn’t very talented, he constantly fails in his craft, and he aspires to be the most successful person in a field he isn’t very good at. The show goes a long way to show that too. He’s marked as the worst student in the class, which in addition to being hated by everyone places his character at the rockiest of bottoms. It is through these traits that the titular character really shows his quality, Naruto always manages to pick himself up and rise above everything. He constantly tries, he never gives up, and despite everything that happens, he always stands up for the people who can’t defend themselves, which finally results in him going from the village loser to a hero who not only saves his village but the entire world as well. All of that is due to his determination, desire to succeed, and the kindness he exudes through his actions. These are traits that I always admired growing up while watching this show, and you can believe that they are the traits I continue to respect today.
Thank you for reading!
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