Cover of the first Japanese Naruto manga volume
|Genre||Action, Adventure, Fantasy|
|Naruto (pilot chapter)|
|Written by||Masashi Kishimoto|
|Written by||Masashi Kishimoto|
|Magazine||Weekly Shōnen Jump|
|Original run||November 1999 – ongoing|
|Volumes||62 (List of volumes)|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Hayato Date|
|Written by||Katsuyuki Sumisawa
|Music by||Musashi Project
|Network||Animax, TV Tokyo|
|Original run||October 3, 2002 – February 8, 2007|
|Episodes||220 (List of episodes)|
|Naruto: Innocent Heart, Demonic Blood|
|Written by||Masatoshi Kusakabe|
|Original video animation|
|Naruto: Find the Four-Leaf Red Clover!|
|Original video animation|
|Naruto: Mission: Protect the Waterfall Village!|
|Original video animation|
|Naruto: Hidden Leaf Village Grand Sports Festival|
|Directed by||Hayato Date|
|Released||August 21, 2004|
|Original video animation|
|Released||December 22, 2005|
|Original video animation|
|Naruto: The Cross Roads|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Hayato Date|
|Written by||Junki Takegami|
|Music by||Yasuharu Takanashi|
|Network||Animax, TV Tokyo|
|Original run||February 15, 2007 – ongoing|
|Episodes||291 (List of episodes)|
|Anime and Manga Portal|
Naruto (NARUTO—ナルト— NARUTO?) is an ongoing Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Masashi Kishimoto. The plot tells the story of Naruto Uzumaki, an adolescent ninja who constantly searches for recognition and dreams to become the Hokage, the ninja in his village who is acknowledged as the leader and the strongest of all. The series is based on a one-shot comic by Kishimoto that was published in the August 1997 issue of Akamaru Jump.
The manga was first published by Shueisha in 1999 in the 43rd issue of Japan’s Weekly Shōnen Jump magazine. Currently, the manga is still being serialized; fifty-nine tankōbon volumes have been released so far. The manga was later adapted into an anime, which was produced by Studio Pierrot and Aniplex. It premiered across Japan on the terrestrial TV Tokyo network and the anime satellite television network Animax on October 3, 2002. The first series lasted 220 episodes, while Naruto: Shippuden, a sequel to the original series, has been airing since February 15, 2007. In addition to the anime series, Studio Pierrot has developed eight movies for the series and several original video animations (OVAs). Other types of merchandise include light novels, video games and trading cards developed by several companies.
Viz Media has licensed the manga and anime for North American production. Viz has been publishing the series in their Shonen Jump magazine, and as well as the individual volumes. The anime series began airing in the United States and Canada in 2005, and later in the United Kingdom and Australia in 2006 and 2007, respectively. The films, as well as most OVAs from the series, have also been released by Viz, with the first film premiering in cinemas. The first DVD volume of Naruto: Shippuden was released by Viz in North America on September 29, 2009, and it started broadcast on Disney 😄 in October of the same year. Viz Media will begin streaming both series on their upcoming streaming service Neon Alley this fall.
Naruto is one of the best-selling manga series of all time having sold more than 126.5 million copies in Japan alone. Serialized in Viz’s Shonen Jump magazine, Naruto has become one of the company’s best-selling manga series. The English adaptation of the series has also appeared in the USA Today Booklist several times and volume 7 won the Quil Award in 2006. Reviewers from the series have praised the balance between fighting and comedy scenes, as well as the characters’ personalities, but have criticized it for using standard shōnen plot elements.
Twelve years before the start of the series, a powerful creature known as the Nine-tailed Demon Fox attacked the ninja village Konoha, killing many people. In response, the leader of Konoha– the Fourth Hokage– sacrificed his life to seal the demon inside the newborn Naruto Uzumaki. Konoha, however, regarded Naruto as if he were the demon fox itself and mistreated him throughout most of his childhood. A decree made by the current Kage, the Third Hokage, forbade anyone mention the attack of the demon fox to anyone else. This included Naruto, who was not aware of the demon inside of him. Years later, Naruto is tricked by the renegade ninja Mizuki into stealing a forbidden scroll that would teach him a secret ninja technique, but he is stopped by his teacher, Iruka Umino. When Iruka almost dies while protecting Naruto from Mizuki, who also reveals that he is the container of the Nine-Tailed Fox, Naruto uses the Jutsu he learned from the scroll that creates multiple clones of himself, Shadow Clone Technique, to defeat Mizuki.
Naruto is assigned alongside Sasuke Uchiha, whom he often competes against, and Sakura Haruno, whom he has a crush on, to form a three-person team named Team 7 under an experienced and severe sensei, the elite ninja Kakashi Hatake. Like all the ninja teams from every village, Team 7 is charged with completing missions requested by villagers, such as doing chores or being bodyguards. After several missions, most notably their mission to Wave Country as Tazuna the bridge builder’s guards, Kakashi allows Team 7 to participate in a ninja exam in which they can advance to a higher rank, and thus, take part in more difficult missions. During the exams, Orochimaru, a criminal at the top of Konoha’s most wanted list, attacks Konoha and kills the Third Hokage in an act of revenge. This forces one of the three legendary ninja, Jiraiya, to search for his former teammate Tsunade, who has been nominated to become the Fifth Hokage. During the search, it is revealed that Orochimaru desires to acquire Sasuke due to his powerful genetic heritage, the Sharingan. Believing Orochimaru will be able to give him the strength needed to kill his brother Itachi, who destroyed his clan, Sasuke eventually joins him after a humiliating defeat at his brother’s hands. Tsunade sends a group of ninja including Naruto to make Sasuke return to Konoha, but Naruto is unable to defeat him and bring him back to the village. Naruto does not give up on Sasuke, however, and he leaves Konoha to train for two and a half years under Jiraiya’s tutelage in order to prepare himself for the next time he encounters Sasuke.
After the training period, a criminal organization called Akatsuki attempts to capture the nine powerful tailed beasts that are sealed within people—including the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox sealed inside of Naruto. Several ninjas from Konoha, including Team 7, fight against the Akatsuki members and search for their teammate Sasuke. Although they manage to save Gaara, the host of the One-Tailed beast, Akatsuki is successful in capturing the other seven creatures whose hosts die in the process. In the meantime, Sasuke betrays Orochimaru and faces Itachi to take revenge. After Itachi dies in battle, Sasuke is told by the Akatsuki founder and leader Tobi that Itachi was ordered by Konoha’s leadership to destroy his clan. Saddened with this revelation, Sasuke joins forces with Akatsuki to kill Konoha’s superiors who orchestrated the Uchihas’ elimination.
Meanwhile, as several Akatsuki members are defeated by the Konoha ninjas, their figurehead leader, Pain, invades the village to capture Naruto. However, Naruto defeats him and convinces him to abandon the Akatsuki. With Pain’s eventual death, Tobi-disguised as one of Konoha’s founding fathers Madara Uchiha-announces that he wants to obtain all nine of the tailed beasts in order to perform an illusion powerful enough to control all of humanity. The leaders of the five ninja villages refuse to aid him, and instead, join forces to confront him and his allies. This results into a fourth ninja world war between the unified armies of the Five Great Countries collectively known as the “Ninja Alliance Army” and Akatsuki’s forces. During the conflict, it is revealed that Tobi is actually Obito Uchiha, Kakashi’s former teammate who was supposed to be dead, but he was saved by the real Madara Uchiha and has been working under him ever since.
Masashi Kishimoto first created a one-shot of Naruto for August 1997 issue of Akamaru Jump. Despite its high positive results in the reader poll, Kishimoto thought “[the] art stinks and the story’s a mess!” Kishimoto was originally working on Karakuri for the Hop Step Award when, unsatisfied by the rough drafts, he decided to work on something different, which later formed into the manga series Naruto. Kishimoto has expressed concerns that the use of chakras and hand signs makes Naruto too Japanese, but still believes it to be an enjoyable read. When asked about what was Naruto‘s main theme during Part I, Kishimoto answered that it is how people accept each other citing Naruto’s development across the series. Kishimoto said that since he was unable to focus on romance during Part I, he was to emphasize it more in Part II, the part of the manga beginning with volume 28, despite finding it difficult.
When originally creating the Naruto story, Kishimoto looked to other shōnen manga as influences for his work, although he attempted to make his characters as unique as possible. He based it off of Japanese culture The separation of the characters into different teams was intended to give each group a specific flavor. Kishimoto wished for each member to be “extreme,” having a high amount of aptitude in one given attribute yet be talentless in another.” The insertion of villains into the story was largely to have them act as a counterpoint to the characters’ moral values. Kishimoto has admitted that this focus on illustrating the difference in values is central to his creation of villains to the point that, “I don’t really think about them in combat.” When drawing the characters, Kishimoto consistently follows a five-step process: concept and rough sketch, drafting, inking, shading, and coloring. These steps are followed when he is drawing the actual manga and making the color illustrations that commonly adorn the cover of tankōbon, the cover of Weekly Shōnen Jump, or other media, but the toolkit he utilizes occasionally changes. For instance, he utilized an airbrush for one illustration for a Weekly Shōnen Jump cover, but decided not to use it for future drawings largely due to the cleanup required. For Part II, Kishimoto said that he attempted to not “overdo the typical manga style” by not including “too much deformation” and keeping the panel layouts to make it easy for the reader to follow the plot. Kishomoto said his drawing style changed from “the classic manga look to something a bit more realistic.”
Kishimoto added that, as Naruto takes place in a “Japanese fantasy world,” he has set certain rules, in a systematic way so that he could easily “convey the story.” Kishimoto wanted to “draw on” the Chinese zodiac tradition, which had a long-standing presence in Japan; the zodiac hand signs originate from this. When Kishimoto was creating the setting of the Naruto manga, he initially concentrated on the designs for village of Konohagakure, the primary setting of the series. Kishimoto asserts that his design for Konohagakure was created “pretty spontaneously without much thought”, but admits that the scenery is based on his home in the Okayama prefecture in Japan. Without a specific time period, Kishimoto included modern elements in the series such as convenience stores, but specifically excluded projectile weapons and vehicles from the storyline. For reference materials, Kishimoto performs his own research into Japanese culture and alludes to it in his work. Regarding technology Kishimoto said that Naruto would not have any firearms. He said he may include automobiles, aircraft and “low-processing” computers; Kishimoto specified the computers would “maybe” be eight-bit and that they would “definitely not” be sixteen-bit.
Regarding the series’ length, Kishimoto was surprised when the series reached its tenth volume as a result of its popularity. He has also stated that he has a visual idea of the last chapter of the series, including the text and the story. However, he notes that it may take a long time to end the series since “there are still so many things that need to be resolved.” Additionally, he commented that he doesn’t know when will the story ends since there are still many things to solve.
Naruto premiered in Shueisha’s Weekly Shōnen Jump magazine in 1999. The first 238 chapters are known as Part I, and constitute the first part of the Naruto storyline. Manga chapters 239 to 244 comprise a gaiden series focusing on the background of the character Kakashi Hatake. All subsequent chapters belong to Part II, which continues the storyline in Part I after a three year time gap. Besides the regular Naruto manga, a spin-off series focused in the character of Rock Lee started being published in Shueisha’s Super Strong Jump since December 2010.
The Naruto manga is serialized in North America by Viz Media in their manga anthology magazine Shonen Jump, with the first chapter of the English adaptation published in the January 2003 issue. To compensate for the gap between the Japanese and English adaptations of the manga, Viz implemented its “Naruto Nation” campaign, where it released three volumes a month in the last four months of 2007 in order to close said gap. Cammie Allen, Viz’s product manager, commented that, their main reason for the schedule was to catch up to the Japanese release schedule to give their readers a similar experience to that of Japanese readers. A similar campaign was planned for 2009, with eleven volumes from Part II of the series being released between February and April in order to catch up to the Japanese serialization. Starting with the release of volume forty-five in July, Viz began releasing Naruto on a quarterly basis.
As of November 2011, 58 tankōbon have been released by Shueisha in Japan, with the first twenty-seven tankōbon containing Part I, and the remaining thirty belonging to Part II. The first tankōbon was released on March 3, 2000. In addition, several tankōbon, each containing ani-manga based one of the Naruto movies, have been released by Shueisha. In Japanese, Shueisha has also released the series for cell-phone download on their website Shueisha Manga Capsule.
Viz has released 59 volumes of the English adaptation of the manga with the first being published on August 16, 2003. In addition, Viz Media released all twenty-seven volumes in a boxed set, thus constituting the entirety of the Naruto storyline before Part II on November 13, 2007. On May 3, 2011, Viz started collecting the series in format in which each volume contains three from the original format.
Directed by Hayato Date and produced by Studio Pierrot and TV Tokyo, the Naruto anime adaptation premiered in Japan on TV Tokyo October 3, 2002, and ran for 220 episodes until its conclusion on February 8, 2007. The first 135 episodes are adapted from the first twenty-seven volumes of the manga, while the remaining eighty episodes are original episodes that utilize plot elements not seen in the original manga. Beginning on April 29, 2009, the original Naruto anime began a rerun on Wednesdays and Thursdays (until the fourth week September 2009 when it changed to just Wednesdays) in HDTV with new opening and ending themes under the name Shōnen Hen (少年篇?, “Youth Version”).
Episodes from the series have been published in DVD. The first DVD series has been the only one to be collected in VHS format. There are a total of five series, with each of the including four episodes per volume. The series has also been collected in a series of three DVD boxes during 2009. The newest DVD series is Naruto The Best Scene which collects scenes from the first 135 episodes from the anime.
Viz licensed the anime series for broadcast and distribution in the Region 1 market. The English adaptation of the anime began airing on September 10, 2005 and finished on January 31, 2009, with 209 episodes aired. The episodes have been shown on Cartoon Network’s Toonami (United States), YTV’s Bionix (Canada) and Jetix‘s (United Kingdom) programming blocks. Beginning on March 28, 2006, Viz released the series on DVD. While the first 26 volumes contain four episodes, since DVD volumes have five episodes. Uncut editions are compiled in DVD Box Sets, each containing 12-15 episodes, with some variation based around story arcs. In the American broadcast, references to alcohol, Japanese culture, sexual innuendo, and the appearance of blood and death were sometimes reduced for the broadcast, but left in, in the DVD editions. Other networks make additional content edits apart from the edits done by Cartoon Network, such as Jetix’s stricter censoring of blood, language, smoking and the like. The series has also been licensed to the websites Hulu, Joost, and Crunchyroll, which air episodes online with the original Japanese audio tracks and English subtitles. The last Naruto episode aired on YTV’s Bionix block on December 6, 2009 at 12:30am ET.
- Opening and Ending Themes
|Nº||Music Theme||Episodes||Nº||Music Theme||Episodes|
(by Hound Dog)
(by Asian Kung-Fu Generation)
|3||“Kanashimi wo Yasashisa ni”
(by Little by Little)
(by Orange Range)
(by FLOW )
|78-102||5||“Ima Made Nando Mo”
(by The Mass Missile)
|103-128||7||“Mountain a Gogo Two”
(by Captain Stridum)
|8||“Hajimete Kimi to Shabetta”
|6||“No Boy, No Cry”
(by Stance Punks)
(by No Regret Life)
(by Analog Fish)
|154-178||11||“Soba ni iru Kara”
(by Ore Ska Band)
(by Hearts Grow)
Naruto: Shippuden (NARUTO -ナルト- 疾風伝 Naruto Shippūden?, lit. “Naruto: Hurricane Chronicles”) is the ongoing sequel to the original Naruto anime and covers the Naruto manga from volume twenty-eight on. The TV adaptation of Naruto: Shippuden debuted in Japan on February 15, 2007 on TV Tokyo. It is developed by Studio Pierrot and directed by Hayato Date. ABS-CBN is the first TV network outside Japan to broadcast Naruto: Shippuden; it aired the first 40 episodes of Naruto: Shippuden, running the show through March 19, 2008. On January 8, 2009, TV Tokyo began broadcasting new episodes via internet streaming directly to monthly subscribers. Each streamed episode is made available online within an hour of its Japanese premiere and includes English subtitles. Viz began streaming English subtitled episodes on January 2, 2009, on its official website for the series. The uploaded episodes include both previously released episodes and the new episodes from Japan. Since October 2009, the English dub of Naruto: Shippuden started airing weekly on Disney 😄.
The series is being released to Region 2 DVD in Japan with four or five episodes per disc. There are currently four series of DVD releases divided by story arc. There is also a special feature included with the seventh Naruto: Shippuden compilation DVD based on the second ending of the series called Hurricane! “Konoha Academy” Chronicles. Besides the regular DVD series, on December 16, 2009 Kakashi Chronicles: Boys’ Life on the Battlefield (カカシ外伝～戦場のボーイズライフ～ Kakashi Gaiden ~Senjō no Bōizu Raifu~?) was released featuring episodes 119-120 which are set during Kakashi Hatake‘s childhood.
The first North American DVD of the series was released on September 29, 2009. Only the first fifty-three episodes were collected in this format that ended with the 12th volume released on August 10, 2010. Following episodes have been released as part of DVD boxes that started release on January 26, 2010 with the first season. In the United Kingdom, the series is licensed by Manga Entertainment who released the first DVD collection on June 14, 2010.
- Opening and Ending Themes
|Nº||Music Theme||Episodes||Nº||Music Theme||Episodes|
|1||“Hero’s Come Back!!”
(by HOME MADE Kazoku)
|2||“Mitch: to You All”
(by Long Shot Party)
(by Little by Little)
(by MATCHY with QUESTION?)
(by Ikimono Gakari)
|54-77||5||“Sunao na Niji”
(by Nico Touches the Walls)
(by Joe Inoue)
|78-102||7||“Long Kiss Good Bye”
(by Dev Parade)
|5||“Hotaru no Hikari”
(by Ikimono Gakari)
(by Super Beaver)
|7||“Toumei Datta Sekai”
(by Motohiro Hata)
(by Ore Ska Band)
(by Nico Touches the Walls)
|180-205||15||“U’ Can do It”
|16||“Mayonaka no Orchestra”
(by Aqua Timez)
(by HOME MADE Kazoku)
|18||“Yokubou o Sakebe!!”
|231-256||19||“Place to Try”
|20||“By My Side”
(by THE CRO-MAGNONS)
|22||“Kono Koe Karashite”
(by AISHA Feat. CHENON)
(by 7!! Seven Oops)
Rock Lee & His Ninja Pals
In February 2012, Shueisha announced that the spin-off manga Rock Lee no Seishun Full-Power Ninden would receive an anime adaptation. Produced by Studio Pierrot, the series premiered in TV Tokyo on April 3, 2012. Crunchyroll simulcasted the series’ premiere in their website and will also stream its following episodes.
The Naruto soundtracks were composed and arranged by Toshio Masuda. The first, titled Naruto Original Soundtrack, was released on April 3, 2003 and contained twenty-two tracks that appeared during the first season of the anime. The second, called Naruto Original Soundtrack II was released on March 18, 2004 and contained nineteen tracks. The third, called Naruto Original Soundtrack III was released on April 27, 2005 and contained twenty-three tracks.
A series of two soundtracks containing all the opening and ending themes of the series, titled Naruto: Best Hit Collection and Naruto: Best Hit Collection II were released on November 17, 2004 and August 2, 2006, respectively. Of all tracks of the series, eight were selected and released as a CD called Naruto in Rock -The Very Best Hit Collection Instrumental Version- that was released on December 19, 2007. Each of the three movies of the first anime series has a soundtrack that was released near its release date. On October 12, 2011, a CD collecting the themes from Naruto Shōnen Hen was also released. Various Drama CD series have also been released in which the voice actors play original episodes.
The soundtracks of Naruto: Shippuden have been produced by Yasuharu Takanashi. Although in a few Shippuden episodes did feature tracks from the first series. The first, Naruto Shippūden Original Soundtrack was released on December 9, 2007. The second CD, Naruto Shippuden Original Soundtrack II, was published on December 16, 2009. Naruto All Stars was released on July 23, 2008 and consists of ten original Naruto songs remixed and sung by characters from the series. Ten themes from the two series were also collected in the DVD box Naruto Super Hits 2006-2008 released on July 23, 2008. Each of the films from the sequel also had their soundtracks, with the first released on August 1, 2007.
Original video animations
There are five Naruto original video animations (OVAs). The first two, Find the Crimson Four-Leaf Clover! and Mission: Protect the Waterfall Village!, were aired at the Shōnen Jump Jump Festa 2003 and Jump Festa 2004, respectively, and were later released on DVD in Australia under the title “Naruto Jump Festa Collection”. The English localization of the second OVA was released on DVD by Viz on May 22, 2007 in USA under the title “Naruto – The Lost Story”. The third OVA, Konoha Annual Sports Festival, is a short video released with the first Naruto movie. In North America, the OVA was included in the “Deluxe Edition” DVD from the first film. The fourth OVA, Finally a clash! Jonin VS Genin!! Indiscriminate grand melee tournament meeting!!, was released on a bonus disc with the Japanese edition of the Naruto: Ultimate Ninja 3 video game for the PlayStation 2. The fifth OVA, Naruto: The Cross Roads, was featured at the Jump Festa 2010. It is focused in Team 7 after their encounter with Zabuza and Haku. A short OVA was also included within the DVD “Naruto x UT Original DVD” released on January 1, 2011 as promoted by UNIQLO.
The series has also led to eight films; with the first three situated during the first anime series, the remaining from Naruto: Shippūden. The first film, Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow, was released on August 21, 2004 in Japan. It tells how Team 7 is dispatched to the Land of Snow to protect the actors during the shooting of the new Princess Fuun movie, to whom Naruto became a fan. As a bonus, the short original video animation Konoha Annual Sports Festival was included with the Japanese release of the film. It premiered on June 6, 2007 in the United States.
It was followed by Legend of the Stone of Gelel, which was released in theaters in Japan on August 6, 2005. The film involves Naruto, Shikamaru and Sakura during a ninja mission in which they are involved in a war between the Sunagakure village and a large number of armored warriors. Unlike its predecessor, Legend of the Stone of Gelel did not see a theatrical release in the United States, and was direct-to-video instead. It aired on Cartoon Network on July 26, 2008 and then was released to DVD July 29, 2008.
The third film, Guardians of the Crescent Moon Kingdom, was originally released on August 5, 2006. It shows how Naruto, Sakura, Lee, and Kakashi are assigned to protect the future prince of the Land of Moon, Hikaru Tsuki. The English dub of the movie aired on Cartoon Network and was released to DVD on November 11, 2008. On July 3, 2008, Sony released a Japanese DVD Box containing the first three movies.
The series’ fourth film, Naruto Shippuden: the Movie, was released on August 4, 2007, and chronicles Naruto’s assignment to protect the priest Shion who starts having visions of his death. The fifth film, Naruto Shippuden The Movie: Bonds, was released on August 2, 2008. It tells how ninja from the Sky Country attack Konoha and to stop them, Naruto and Sasuke join forces although the latter has already left two years ago. The next film is Naruto Shippūden The Movie: Inheritors of the Will of Fire, which premiered in Japan on August 1, 2009. Naruto Shippuden The Movie: The Lost Tower followed it in Japan on July 31, 2010, while Naruto the Movie: Blood Prison is the latest film as of 2012. A new movie, Naruto the Movie: Road to Ninja will be out at July 28, 2012.
Three Naruto light novels, written by Masatoshi Kusakabe, have been published in Japan by Shueisha, while the first two were released in English in North America by Viz. The first, Naruto: Innocent Heart, Demonic Blood (白の童子、血風の鬼人?), retells Team 7’s mission in which they encounter the assassins Zabuza and Haku. It was released on December 16, 2002 in Japan and November 21, 2006 in North America. The second novel Naruto: Mission: Protect the Waterfall Village! (滝隠れの死闘 オレが英雄だってばよ！ Takigakure no Shitō Ore ga Eiyū dattebayo!?, lit. The Waterfall Village’s Fight to the Death I am the Hero!), based on the 2nd original video animation of the anime, was published on December 15, 2003 in Japan and October 16, 2007 in the United States. A novel titled Naruto: Tales of a Gutsy Ninja (NARUTO―ナルト―ド根性忍伝 Naruto: Dokonjō Ninden?) was published on August 4, 2009. It’s presented as the in-universe novel written by Naruto’s master Jiraiya, and follows the adventures of a fictional shinobi named Naruto Musasabi, who served as Naruto’s namesake. Novelizations of the two Naruto films, Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow and Blood Prison, have also been published in Japan.
Viz has also published new novels called Chapter Books written by Tracey West, and with illustrations from the manga. Unlike the series, the novels are aimed to children aged 7 to 10 years old. The first two novels were released on October 7, 2008 and currently at least 11 novel have been published.
Naruto video games have appeared on various consoles from Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft. Most of them are fighting games in which the player controls one of a select few characters directly based upon their counterparts in the Naruto anime and manga. The player pits their character against another character controlled by the game’s AI or by another player, depending on the mode that the player is in. The objective is to reduce the opponent’s health to zero using basic attacks and special techniques unique to each character that are derived from techniques they use in the Naruto anime or manga. The very first Naruto video game was Naruto: Konoha Ninpōchō, which was released in Japan on March 27, 2003, for the WonderSwan Color. Most Naruto video games have been released only in Japan. The first games released outside Japan were the Naruto: Gekitou Ninja Taisen series and the Naruto: Saikyou Ninja Daikesshu series, released in North America under the titles of Naruto: Clash of Ninja and Naruto: Ninja Council. In January 2012, Namco Bandai announced that they have sold 10 million Naruto games worldwide.
Trading card game
Naruto Collectible Card Game (NARUTOカードゲーム Naruto Kādo Gēmu?, lit. Naruto CardGame) is a collectible card game based around the Naruto series. Produced by Bandai, the game was first introduced in Japan in February 2003. Bandai began releasing the game in English in North America in April 2006. The game is played between two players requiring players use a customized deck of fifty cards from the set, a game mat, an item to act as a “turn marker” for noting whose turn it is, and a “Ninja Blade Coin” which is primarily used to flip for making decisions. In order to win, a player must either earn ten “battle rewards” through their actions in the game, or they must cause the other player to exhaust their deck.
The cards are released in named sets, called “series” in the form of four different 50-card preconstructed box sets. Each set includes a starter deck, the game mat, a turn-counter, and one stainless steel “Ninja Blade Coin”. Additional cards are made available in 10-card booster packs, and deck sets, primarily for retailers, contain all four box sets available for each series. Cards for each set are also made available in collectible tins, containing several booster packs and exclusive promotional cards in a metal box. By October 2006, seventeen series had been released in Japan spanning 417 unique cards. As of August 2008, ten of these series have been released in North America.
Art and guidebooks
Several supplementary books of the Naruto series have been released. An artbook named The Art of Naruto: Uzumaki contains illustration from the Part I manga and was released in both Japan and the United States. For the Part II manga, an interactive book called PAINT JUMP: Art of Naruto was released by Shueisha on April 4, 2008. The latest artbook was published on July 3, 2009 under the name of Naruto with its English version released on October 26, 2010.
A series of guidebooks for the Part I called First Official Data Book (秘伝·臨の書キャラクターオフィシャルデータBOOK Hiden: Rin no Sho Character Official Data Book?) and Second Official Data Book (秘伝·闘の書キャラクターオフィシャルデータBOOK Hiden: Tō no Sho Character Official Data Book?) were released only in Japan focusing on Part I. The third databook, Character Official Data Book Hiden Sha no Sho (秘伝・者の書 ― キャラクターオフィシャルデータBOOK Hiden: Sha no Sho – Kyarakutā ofisharu dēta book ?) was released on September 4, 2008, and adapted Part II from the manga. These books contain character profiles, Jutsu guides and drafts made by Kishimoto. The third book will be released by Viz on January 10, 2012. For the anime, a series of guidebook called Naruto anime profiles were also released. These books contain information about the production of the anime episodes and explanation of the characters designs. On October 4, 2002, it was released a manga fanbook named Secret: Writings from the Warriors Official Fanbook (秘伝・兵の書 ― オフィシャルファンBOOK Hiden: Hei no Sho – Ofisharu fan book?). Viz published it in North America on February 19, 2008 under the name of Naruto: The Official Fanbook. Another fanbook was released to conmemmorate the series’ 10th anniversary. It includes illustrations of Naruto Uzumaki by other manga artists, a novel, Kishimoto’s one-shot named Karakuri and an interview between Kishimoto and Yoshihiro Togashi.
Naruto has been well received in both Japan and the United States. As of 2007, the manga has sold over 71 million copies in Japan, while in 2008 it increased to 89 million. In April 2010, Shueisha announced Naruto sold 100.4 million copies, becoming the fifth manga from Shueisha that sold more than 100 million. In 2011 its sales increased to over 113 million copies, and by February 2012 it had sold over 126.5 million, becoming Shueisha’s fourth best-selling manga series. During 2008, volume 43 sold 1.1 million copies becoming the 9th best-selling comic from Japan. Volumes 41, 42 and 44 also ranked within the top 20, but had smaller sold copies. In total, the manga sold 4.2 million copies in Japan during 2008, becoming the 2nd best-selling series. In the first half from 2009, it ranked as the 3rd best-seller manga from Japan, having sold 3.4 million copies. In such period, volume 45 ranked 5th with 1.1 million sold copies, while volume 46 ranked 9th, having sold 864,708 copies and volume 44 at 40th place.
The Naruto manga series has become one of Viz’s top properties, accounting for nearly 10% of all manga sales in 2006. Gonzalo Ferreyra, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Viz, noted that the volumes’s sales of Naruto astonished him as the attrition on the series is relatively low. ICv2 has listed it as the top manga property from North America several times. The seventh volume of Viz’s release became the first manga win a Quill Award when it claimed the award for “Best Graphic Novel” in 2006. The manga also appeared in the USA Today Booklist with volume 11 holding the title of the highest ranked manga series on the list, until it was surpassed by volume 28, which claimed the 17th rank in its first week of release in March 2008. Volume 28 also had one of the biggest debut weeks of any manga in years, becoming the top selling manga volume of 2008 as well as the second best-seller book in North America. During its release, volume 29 ranked #57, while the volume 28 had dropped to #139. In April 2007, volume 14 earned Viz the “Manga Trade Paperback of the Year” Gem Award from Diamond Comic Distributors. The manga series also became the top manga property from 2008 in the United States with 31 volumes having been published during the chart. Searches for the word “Naruto” were #7 on the Yahoo! web search engine’s list of the top 10 most popular search terms of 2008, and #4 from 2007. 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.”
The series has received praise and criticism by several reviewers. A. E. Sparrow from IGN noted how some manga volumes focus only in certain characters to the point the number of fans increases. He also praised the way that Kishimoto manages to make a remarkable combination of fighting scenes, comedy and good artwork. The anime and manga magazine Neo described Naruto’s character as “irksome”, but attributed the series’ “almost sickening addictiveness” to its level of characterization. Carl Kimlinger from Anime News Network (ANN) praised the designs of the characters, since every one shows their unique way of acting and appearance. He also noted how even the “goofiest looking character” can act “damn cool” when he fights. However, Kimlinger noted that in some volumes there are several fights, so the plot is not able to develop, but he praised how each of the battles were emotional. The series has also been praised for remaining enjoyable after several volumes by Javier Lugo from mangalife, who also praised the antagonists as well as the fights scenes from the manga. Kishimoto’s artwork was also commented by Lugo as it makes the story “dramatic, exciting, and just right for the story he’s telling”. The start of Part II has been praised in another review by Casey Brienza from ANN. She noted how well the characters were developed as they had new appearances and abilities. Brienza also praised the balance between plot and action scenes allowing the readers the enjoy the volume. However, she noted that it is not frequent that all the volumes have the same quality. Briana Lawrence from Mania Entertainment added that in Part II, the manga feels “adult” due to the growth from various of the characters. However, Viz’s translations were criticized for being “inconsistent” due to the change of some Japanese terms to English, while other words were left intact.
In TV Asahi‘s latest top 100 Anime Ranking from October 2006, Naruto ranked 17th on the list. Naruto Shippuden has ranked several times as one of most watched series in Japan. The Naruto anime adaptation won the “Best Full-Length Animation Program Award” in the Third UStv Awards held in the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, Philippines. The first of the DVD compilations containing thirteen episodes, released by Viz was nominated at the American Anime Awards for best package design. It also ranked as the third best-seller anime property from all 2008. Naruto was named “Best Full Animated Program” at the USTv Student’s Choice Awards 2009 held at the UST Medicine Auditorium on February 19, 2009. In ICv2’s “Top 10 Anime Properties” from the first half of 2009, Naruto ranked as the second best anime franchise. The episodes from Naruto: Shippuden have appeared various times in Japanese Anime TV Ranking. DVD sales from Naruto: Shippuden have also been good, having appeared several times in the Japanese Animation DVD Ranking. The freely streamed episodes from Naruto: Shippuden have an average of 160,000 viewers a week. Naruto has also been 20th among shows and channels from Hulu in February from 2009. In Joost, it was first during the same month. In February, Naruto: Shippuden was first among the animated shows on Joost while Naruto stayed second.
The Naruto anime was listed as the 38th best animated show in IGN’s Top 100 Animated Series. Reviewers noted that the primary focus of the series was on the fighting since they consider that the fight scenes are more dedicated than backgrounds. The music has also been noted to be a good match with the fighting scenes though it sometimes interferes with the dialogues. Martin Theron from ANN criticized the series for long fights, but he also noted that most of them break the “stereotypical shōnen concepts.” The soundtracks have been praised for enhancing the excitement and mood of the storytelling. Although Christina Carpenter of T.H.E.M. Anime Reviews considered the characters from the series as “likeable”, she commented that most of them did not surpass the “stereotypics” that appear in shōnen manga. She also considered Kishimoto “an average artist at best” and derided the poor transition of his artistic style into animation. Despite this, the second reviewer from T.H.E.M. Anime Reviews, Derrick L. Tucker, admitted that when the animators were at their best, they produced “artistic renderings that leave little to be desired on the part of fans of the manga”, but concluded the animation was “a mixed bag”. He also added that while fights were entertaining, due to the large number of them, the plot takes time to continue.
Naruto: Shippuden received a good response from Activeanime’s David C. Jones who commented on the new character designs and the improved animation. Jones also felt the series to be more serious and dramatic. The series was noted by ANN to have a more serious tone, and a good balance between comedy and drama in the first original episodes made specifically for the TV series. Unlike the panned fillers from Naruto, Naruto: Shippuden‘s have been praised thanks to its likable storylines and connection with the main plot. While the pacing for the first episodes has been criticized for being slow, the delivery and development in the interactions between the characters has received positive comments.
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