In a World... rife with Ninja, one boy seeks to become the greatest ninja there ever was. That boy is Naruto Uzumaki, a twelve-year-old ninja-in-training who tries to make up for his disadvantages with enthusiasm and sheer determination.
However, Naruto's cheerful disposition hides a dark secret: when he was but a baby, his hometown of "The Village Hidden In the Leaves" (Konohagakure) was attacked by a monstrous creature known as the "Nine-Tailed Fox" (Kyūbi). The beast was eventually subdued, but not before it had killed many of the strongest ninja of the village. Furthermore, the beast had to be sealed and contained inside the infant Naruto's body, and the boy has had to grow up with the stigma of basically being a living prison for a malevolent monster.
But like any good Shōnen protagonist, Naruto doesn't let this slow him down. He continues to pursue his ambition of becoming the next Hokage ("Fire Shadow", a title for the head ninja of his village). The manga Naruto, written by Masashi Kishimoto, follows the story of his pursuit of greatness, with the help of his teammates (angst-ridden Anti-Hero Sasuke and hot-headed Tsundere Sakura), and eventually moves to encompass their struggles against Big Bads such as Orochimaru, ruthless leader of the rival village of Otogakure ("Village Hidden in the Sound"), and the S-Class criminal organization Akatsuki.
The English dub ran on Cartoon Network's Toonami in the U.S. When the news first spread that Naruto was hitting the States, despite the fanbase's fears, 4Kids had little, if any interest. But Viz Media had plenty of interest, since they scooped up the license and dubbed it for the U.S. audiences. At first, it seemed like it would be marketed as a kiddie show with blood — Never Say "Die" was in full effect — but the Wave Country arc onwards saw free usage of the words "kill", "die", etc.
Cartoon Network stopped airing the show when there were only 11 episodes of filler left, but thankfully by that time there were alternate means to watch — an official English-subtitled version of the anime was available for a subscription fee as little as an hour after the Japanese broadcast and is still available for free on Naruto's official website. For American users, Hulu features all the episodes. (If, like many of us, you don't live in the U.S., you can also watch Naruto for free at Crunchyroll.)
In case you hadn't gathered yet, Naruto was the most popular manga/anime in America during the mid-to-late Noughties and early Tens, outselling all other series by a significant margin, just like Dragon Ball Z was during The '90s. In 2013, it was still among the top-selling series, and consistently remained in the top five until it approached its ending, when it started slowly dropping into the top ten.
On February 8, 2007, the original anime ended after 220 episodes, of which 96 were filler and 85 of those were infamously consecutive. The continuation, Naruto: Shippuden, debuted on February 15, 2007. It focused on the further adventures of the now-16-year-old Naruto.
In what many view as the End of an Age, the Naruto manga ended on November 10th 2014, finishing its remarkable 15-year run and becoming the first of the Big Three to reach its epilogue. The ending of Shippuden three years later concluded the entire Naruto series on a staggeringly high 720 episodes played over the course of fifteen years.
This isn't the end of the franchise, though. A 10-chapter continuation mini-series, titled Naruto Gaiden: The Seventh Hokage and the Scarlet Spring, and a series of side-story Naruto Hiden novels were published in the spring of 2015, with the full sequel series Boruto beginning its run the subsequent spring. These are all part of the "Naruto New Era Opening Project," which seeks to continue the Naruto franchise in various ways. Furthermore, Lionsgate has expressed interest in developing a Live-Action Adaptation of the series, with Michael Gracey in talks to direct the project.
There are many story arcs, not including filler:
- Introduction Arc (Volumes 1-2; Chapters 1-8), (Episodes 1-5)
- Land of Waves Arc (Volumes 2-4; Chapters 9-33), (Episodes 6-19)
- Chunin Exam Arc (Volumes 4-13; Chapters 34-114), (Episodes 20-67)
- Invasion of Konoha Arc (Volumes 13-16; Chapters 115-138), (Episodes 68-80)
- Search for Tsunade Arc (Volumes 16-19; Chapters 139-171), (Episodes 81-100)
- Sasuke Retrieval Arc (Volumes 20-27; Chapters 172-238), (Episodes 107-135)
- Kakashi Gaiden (Volume 27; Chapters 239-244), (Shippuden Episodes 119-120)
- Kazekage Rescue Arc (Volumes 28-32; Chapters 245-281), (Shippuden Episodes 1-32)
- Sasuke and Sai Arc (Volumes 32-35; Chapters 282-310), (Shippuden Episodes 33-53)
- Hidan and Kakuzu Arc (Volumes 35-38; Chapters 311-342), (Shippuden Episodes 72-89)
- Itachi Pursuit Arc (Volumes 38-43; Chapters 343-402), (Shippuden Episodes 113-118, 121-143)
- Invasion of Pain Arc (Volumes 44-48; Chapters 403-449), (Shippuden Episodes 152-175)
- Five Kage Summit Arc (Volumes 48-52; Chapters 450-488), (Shippuden Episodes 197-219)
- Shinobi World War Arc (Volumes 52-72; Chapters 489-699), (Shippuden Episodes 220-222, 243-302, 321-346, 362-393, 414-426, 458-479)
- Epilogue (Volume 72; Chapter 700), (Shippuden Episodes 484-500)
See the recap page for information about these arcs.
For spinoff series and video games, see Franchise.Naruto.
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"A ninja must see through deception."