Naruto is one of the most beloved animated series to come out of the 21st century. Millions of adults and children know this show, and have loved it for many years. Some grew up with it, while some are only just becoming acquainted with the anime masterpiece.
If you’re looking to get into the Naruto series, you may feel a little overwhelmed at the start. Do you start with the anime, or do you start with the manga? What’s the show about, and above all who is Naruto Shippuden?
Well, we’re glad you asked! Strap yourself in, reader, because we’re about to dive into one of the best shows that you will ever watch. Here’s everything that you need to know about Naruto Shippuden.
Who Created Naruto?
Let’s start at the beginning. What’s the history of this series? Who created it, why, and what was the inspiration behind it? Well it all started with a guy called Masashi Kishimoto, a manga artist who gained global fame thanks to the series we’re talking about today.
Kishimoto grew up with a great love of baseball and manga and watched another popular series, Dragon Ball, which would eventually become one of the inspirations for Naruto. He was a talented artist. When he was in school, however, Kishimoto’s fascination with drawing would end up resulting in his school work slipping to the side.
Thankfully it hardly mattered, as Kishimoto would become wildly successful in his life. He eventually ended up winning a contest thanks to his story called Karakuri, which translates to ‘Mechanism.’
He would then write the foundations for Naruto in his very next work which made its debut into the world in 1997. This work was a manga based on a fox that was masquerading as a human called Naruto.
As you can probably imagine, these two manga stories would go on to provide the basis for the hit series that we know and love today.
The Naruto manga that we know today would eventually make its way onto the shelves in 1999, two years after the original story. It would continue its run time until 2014.
It eventually became an anime that was created by Pierrot and Aniplex. It spanned 220 episodes in total and ran from 2002 – 2007 in Japan. Eventually it was adapted for an English dub and ran on Cartoon Network from 2005 – 2007.
A sequel to the original anime was later released, known as Naruto: Shippuden. It aired from 2007 – 2017 in Japan, and the English dub was released on Disney XD from 2009 – 2011 and later on Toonami.
Kishimoto took inspiration from a number of different kinds of media when he was creating Naruto, both when developing the characters and creating the plotline. For instance, he’s stated that the outfits in The Matrix partially inspired the clothing that Gaara, Temari and Kankurou wear in Naruto.
Since he was so fond of it, Kishimoto was also inspired by Dragon Ball – the character Goku served as a huge inspiration for the main character, Naruto. Another surprising inspiration is Godzilla!
Unsurprisingly, Naruto would also end up being the inspiration for other shows, both animated and live action. In fact, the creator of the movie Scott Pilgrim vs the World has said that the fight scenes in Naruto inspired the fight scenes in the movie. Naruto became so popular, in fact, that Adidas even made a series of Naruto inspired shows. In total, Naruto had 11 films, 26 novels, a trading card game, 3 artbooks, and lots of other memorabilia was also created in honor of the show and manga. It was a smash hit that continues to live on even today.
The Naruto Run
One thing that Naruto is quite widely known for is the ‘Naruto Run.’ This is a running style where the person leans their upper body forward and puts their arms stretched out behind the back.
It may seem bizarre that this style of running has become a meme in recent years, but there’s a story behind it. Back in 2019, an event was made on Facebook called ‘Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us.’
It was made as a joke, and part of the description for the Facebook page suggested that if participants did a ‘Naruto Run’ then they could outrun the bullets of the US Air Force.
The so-called Naruto run isn’t only shown in Naruto. It’s also present in a lot of other mediums such as Dr Slump and the Dragon Ball Series. You may even see it in live action media and video games.
As it turns out, Naruto running is actually a real style of running known in Japan as ninja bashiri, or ninja running. It’s not necessarily made to make someone run faster.
Instead it is designed to help the person to conserve their energy as they move.
It’s a style of running that’s often associated with martial artists and ninjas. Today, most people refer to this as the Naruto run. This is because characters in the show will often run in this way.
It was a useful style of running for a person who needed to have easy access with their sword, since he could run more efficiently with the sword behind their back and in their hand. It would save them having to draw their swords and waste time.
Behind The Name Naruto
Shakespeare once said:
‘What’s in a name?’
Well, as it turns out, quite a lot actually. According to Kishimoto, every single character’s name was very carefully chosen, including the name Naruto.
Naruto the show, of course, is named after its protagonist, Naruto.
Naruto’s full name is Naruto Uzumaki, and it basically means spiral fish cakes. In universe, he’s named after the fish cakes known as Narutomaki. Seems like an unfortunate name to some. The character also didn’t take his father’s surname, instead taking his mother’s.
The reason behind that ventures into spoiler territory! It’s likely too that the silliness of the name Naruto Uzumaki was in part inspired by Dragon Ball, where a few of the characters have somewhat silly names, for instance Gohan means rice, whereas Bulma means bloomers.
It would appear as though the name was partially chosen to keep up the lighthearted nature of the series, much like its contemporaries.
In Japanese, however, the name Naruto translates to whirlpool or maelstrom. It’s quite fitting based on his powers. The second season of the show, entitled Naruto Shippuden is especially telling in terms of the meaning, since Shippuden essentially translates to Hurricane Chronicles.
The name of the whole series refers to Naruto’s growth as he becomes a Hokage.
If you watch the Naruto anime or read the manga, you’ll see one phrase coming up quite frequently. There are a number of catchphrases uttered in the show by numerous characters, including Naruto himself, but the main one that you would hear mentioned is ‘Dattebayo’ if you were watching the original Japanese version.
The English dub of the show translates this to ‘believe it’ – if you watch the show enough, you’re sure to end up saying ‘believe it’ in response to pretty much any question you get asked by other people around you! Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the right translation.
In fact, there technically isn’t a correct translation, since the original phrase is simply a form of emphasis at the end of a sentence. It’s just part of Japanese speech, in this case almost like a verbal tic. It’s technically a nonsense word.
His mother in the show has the same habit, instead saying ‘dattebane.’ She would usually say this when she was angry. Likewise, Naruto’s son Boruto has his own catchphrase very similar to his father’s – dattebasa.
Of course, these aren’t the only catchphrases in the world. At the beginning of Naruto, the character Sasuke would say ‘usuratonkachi’ if he had a particular problem with Naruto’s attitude at the time. It’s designed to be used as an insult. Sakura would use the phrase ‘shannaro’ which is another nonsense word.
The phrase dattebayo is essentially there to show Naruto’s determination and how motivated it is, but it can also come across as childish or restless in its delivery. It’s a great addition to the dialect that can show a lot about his character.
Behind The Nine-Tailed Fox Spirit
Foxes are seen everywhere in Naruto. Specifically, there are many tailed beasts in the series, and the most prominent of all is the nine-tailed fox spirit.
Here’s the thing: it turns out that a lot of people aren’t overly fond of Naruto in his home village. Why is that? Well, it’s because his body is actually the host of the nine-tailed fox, which is a yokai. Yokai means ‘mysterious phenomena’ and it’s a term that links back to Japanese mythology.
Wait, what? What is this nine-tailed fox, anyhow?
Well, the fox was initially inside of Naruto’s mother’s body, but the fox was unleashed during Naruto’s birth, and eventually the beast would be transferred to Naruto’s body after his mother became unwell. It was necessary to seal away the yokai – named Kurama – as the whole village was terrified of it and it caused mass destruction for Konoha.
The nine-tailed fox is the most powerful one of all of the foxes. It is partially thanks to the fox that Naruto has his awesome powers, since the seal to contain the fox was created in a way that it would allow Naruto to harness its power.
A lot of information about the nine-tailed fox does delve into spoiler territory, but rest assured, it will be cropping up again in this article. In the meantime though, what exactly was the inspiration between this mythical beast?
Japanese mythology! As you will come to learn, foxes are rather prominent in Japanese folklore, and the nine tailed fox in particular has appeared in lots of different kinds of media, including Pokemon, the video game Okami and so much more.
How Naruto Draws On Myth And Legend
Naruto draws upon a lot of different things in order to be the story that it is. In particular, it incorporates myth and legend into its story. The two most prominent things worth noting here are the elements of Fire, Water, Lightning, Earth and Wind, and the Kitsune.
In addition to this, the show also draws upon religion and confucianism – not exactly myth or legend, but still important to talk about.
In Naruto, there are five elements. All of the main Great Nations in Naruto are named after one of these elements. There is the Land of Lightning, the Land of Fire, Land of Water, Land of Wind and Land of Earth. The Shinobi in Naruto are capable of harnessing the powers of these elements – it is known as a person’s Chakra Nature.
The five elements of nature have been around for a long time. It’s a theory that’s existed for many thousands of years, dating back to ancient civilization. In essence, the five elements of nature consist of earth, air, fire, water and space. Not exactly the same as the elements that we see in Naruto!
Alternatively, there are also five elements in Chinese philosophy, which are wood, earth, fire, water and metal. You often see these elements integrated into Chinese astrology.
For instance, you may hear a particular astrological year called the Year of the Metal Ox (Which was last in 2021). The elements are all said to be closely linked to a person and their body – if the elements aren’t aligned, it can cause havoc for the person in question.
Naruto also references Kitsune, a prominent type of creature in Japanese mythology. As we mentioned earlier, Naruto has the nine-tailed fox inside of him, which makes him a jinchuriki. The nine-tailed fox is a type of kitsune. Kitsune is a word that translates in English to ‘fox’ – pretty fitting, no?
Japanese folklore dictates that kitsune can change into humans at will, and these creatures are often known for their trickery. They are said to have magical powers, enhanced intelligence and can live for an exceptionally long time.
It is said that you can tell how old a kitsune is based on the amount of tails it has. This can tell you a lot about the fox’s intelligence, power and their age. It’s also believed that if you removed the tails of the fox, you would defeat it.
As you can probably imagine, based on this the nine-tailed fox is one of the most powerful beasts of all.
It’s not just the kitsune, either. Naruto also draws upon other mythology, and also religion. In specific, Naruto incorporates a lot of Shintoism into its story. The story incorporates Shinto deities into the mix, particularly Amaterasu, Tsukiyomi and Susano-O. It also uses ninja techniques related to the eyes that are closely linked to some ancient concepts regarding magic.
Naruto is also heavily influenced by something called Confucianism. This is a kind of philosophy that was initially coined by Kong Zhongini, who lived from 551-479 BC. Western people would be more likely to know him by the name Confucius, which is where the name Confucianism comes from.
It’s not exactly surprising that Confucian values are so prevalent in Naruto, since they had a tremendous impact on Chinese and Japanese valued as a whole.
The gist of Confucianism is that people should be compassionate and love those around them, staying away from any decisions that may harm those around us.
Many Japanese school students would read Confuscian ideas at an incredibly young age in school.
These values are seen a lot in Naruto. In one example, Naruto becomes a bit of a menace to his village in order to get people to pay attention to him, and this ends up causing havoc in the Hidden Leaf Village. It disrupts the Wa of the area, a term referring to the Confucian golden rule and ideas relating to harmony among people.
Naruto made amends for his actions, forced to make things right by the sensei in the community. This eventually leads to him being rewarded with ramen. The sensei is meant to represent the perfect Confucian ideas of a leader – benevolent, kind and intelligent.
This of course is just one example of many in the series, leading to Naruto gaining the respect of the villagers and helping him to set off on his journey.
The Naruto Storyline Explained
So what exactly is Naruto about? What is this epic story consisting of hundreds of anime episodes actually about? Well, it would be difficult to explain every single plot point in detail in a way that does it justice, so it’s definitely a good idea that you give the manga or anime a try for yourself.
If you are just itching to get to the bottom of this story and don’t have copious hours to spend watching it, however, here’s the plot of Naruto explained.
A World Of Ninjas
You heard that right – ninjas. Naruto takes place in a version of Earth quite different from our own. In this world, every single person is born with something called chakras inside of them.
These are powers based on the elements. There are five great lands in the Naruto universe, and each of them are named after the five elements: The Land of Wind, Land of Earth, Land of Lightning, Land of Fire and the Land of Water.
Each of these individual countries are ruled by a monarchy of their own, and they are defended by ninjas that have perfected the craft of using their chakras to protect their lands. The ninjas are trained by armies, and are selected from villages after they have demonstrated some level of talent that shows their worthiness.
When not in combat, the ninjas in training are asked to do certain tasks. These tasks would help them to gain more experience using their powers, while also allowing them to earn some money and keep the village afloat.
This is the universe that a young boy, Naruto Uzumaki, is a part of. The boy is an orphan with quite the fascinating history, as we would soon come to learn.
Naruto Uzumaki was born to be a ninja, since his parents were both incredibly skilled ninjas themselves. They had immense and impressive powers, especially Naruto’s mother, Kushina.
Kushina kept the nine-tailed fox spirit inside of her thanks to her incredible control over her chakra. She would control the beast, which would give her great amounts of power.
With great power comes great responsibility of course, since her body was also home to the monster and it was her burden to keep him inside of her so the rest of the village wouldn’t be in danger.
Unfortunately, Kushina was soon attacked by a rogue group of ninjas when she was in the middle of giving birth to Naruto, and this resulted in the nine-tailed fox demon being let loose from her body since Kushina was so vulnerable. The beast soon went rampant in the village, and this eventually resulted in the death of both of Naruto’s parents.
As Naruto’s father sacrificed himself to save the village, he did one final thing – he trapped part of the beast inside of his son, Naruto. From a young age, the boy was already immensely powerful as a result.
Sadly, this power also came at a price – the village held so much animosity towards the demon inside of him that ruined their village that they also held that same resentment for Naruto.
He was looked after, of course, but he was also ostracized from everyone around him.
Since he spent so much of his childhood isolated from others, Naruto started to become a pain for the other villagers, causing problems and pulling pranks on his neighbors in order to just get a tiny bit of attention.
Thankfully for many of the villagers, he is eventually sent off to ninja academy where he can hone his talents for good. Many of them are certainly pleased about this!
Now Naruto has entered the Ninja Academy, we’re introduced to the vibrant cast of characters. Many of these characters all have the same goal: to be the very best fighter there.
Naruto begins to make some of his very first friends at the academy, starting with his friend Sakura Haruno. He also has a rivalry which will span the entire series with another talented fighter by the name of Sasuke Uchiha. They eventually end up becoming friends, despite this rivalry.
Sasuke’s story is quite a devastating one. He came from a clan that was brutally murdered by none other than his older brother, a man called Itachi. He was part of the same group that were responsible for the death of Naruto’s parents. Sasuke’s aim? To find and kill his brother to avenge his clan.
As the series progresses, we learn more and more about Sasuke. We learn that he was often pitted against his brother who was considered to be more talented than he was. Unsurprisingly, Sasuke harbored a lot of resentment towards his brother, sick of being constantly compared to him and feeling like he could never be as good as him.
Of course, he became even angrier upon coming home one day to find his whole family massacred by that very same brother. The images of the murders cemented in Sasuke’s mind, and he was enraged to learn that their deaths meant nothing more than a simple test to the clan. He was asked to kill to prove that he was powerful enough to the clan.
Sasuke’s anger builds and builds, consuming every fiber of his being and causing him to eventually go mad and leave his friends behind. He ventures into the criminal side of the shinobi, and joins a clan known as the Sound Four to hopefully improve much faster in his ninjutsu skills.
Leaving The Village
The very first series of the show ends on the destruction of the friendship between Naruto and Sasuke. The pair of ninjas fight, though the battle is quite a challenging one since Sasuke has grown immensely in strength.
Naruto is left with no other choice but to call on his powers from the nine tailed beast inside of him, yet he still could not win. He is spared by Sasuke, and his former friend flees, leaving Naruto with his head protector from his days at the academy.
It is clear from here that rogue leaders and secret organizations are lurking in the background – a war of a global scale is on its way, and Naruto resolves to become stronger under the training of a new teacher – Jiraiya.
The following series, Shippuden, takes place a number of years after the first series of Naruto ends. All of the original cast of characters have grown up by the time that Shippuden starts, and Naruto comes back to the academy.
His friend Sakura is a healer, Naruto is exceptionally talented as a ninja and Sasuke is being taught by a Shinobi by the name of Orochimaru, a man who has been disgraced. Sasuke is still running following the events at the end of the first series of Naruto.
In Shippuden, our characters are fighting the Akatsuki who are wreaking havoc on the cities nearby. Sasuke also ends up finding his brother, and they engage in battle. It turns out though that this battle has only taken place inside of their minds – a real battle has yet to take place.
Eventually the two of them start a real battle, where Sasuke eventually realizes that his brother sustained an injury before the fight had even begun. Weak and unable to carry on, Sasuke’s brother Itachi comes up to his brother and taps him on the forehead before he succumbs to his injuries and his exhaustion.
Here we learn more about Itachi’s story. Basically, he ended up killing his family because he was working on behalf of his country as he swore to protect their home. By being labeled a traitor, he was able to get into the Akatsuki organization and worked as a spy until his death, reporting back to leadership in order to save those around him.
Revenge And More Tragedy
Upon hearing his brother’s story, Sasuke is determined to get revenge. After all, the Akatsuki organization had ruined his entire life. His goal became to destroy Konoha.
It is also revealed that the intention of Akatsuki is to let all of the sealed beasts loose in order to make the entire world become locked inside of a dream. Unfortunately, the turn of events causes Jiraiya, Naruto’s mentor, to be killed in battle before he has the opportunity to share the information that he knows about Akatsuki.
Eventually, a war is declared between the Akatsuki and the five nations. All of our cast must now fight to defeat them.
After a number of things happen, Sasuke eventually turns a corner and chooses to help to destroy the evils facing their world. He tries to kill the five leaders in order to make the world better, but Naruto thwarts his plans.
The pair of them are seriously wounded and bleed out next to each other for the next couple of days until they are found by Sakura who ends up healing them.
Here, they both finally give the world some peace by removing the dream world weapon. No more destruction can come and peace is restored.
So, are you interested in watching Naruto: Shippuden? You should definitely give it a try, alongside the original series. You won’t regret it – it may even become your new favorite show!