Naruto was created by the Japanese manga author and artist Masashi Kishimoto. The manga series premiered in 1999 and ended in 2014. It remains one of the most popular and best-selling manga of all time. As of May 2019, over 250 million volumes of Naruto have been sold in 46 different countries. 95 million volumes of Naruto were sold in just the U.S.!
But it’s not easy to have created one of the world’s most popular manga and anime franchises. Kishimoto’s next manga series Samurai 8: The Tale of Hachimaru only ran from May 2019 to March 2020 before it ended. This sci-fi samurai story has only 43 chapters which added up to five completed volumes. And it never had an anime adaptation. Poor Hachimaru!
Just like books published in the U.S, manga are targeted at different demographics of readers. Naruto is a shonen (or shounen) manga that was intended for boys from age 12-18. Some recurring themes in shonen anime are martial arts and fighting, sports (especially in teams), science fiction and robots (like Gundam), horror, and mythical creatures. Protagonists in shonen manga usually work really hard to overcome personal obstacles and become the best version of themselves. Naruto checks a lot of those boxes, doesn’t it?
Most manga that are published today are shonen… probably because shonen titles sell the most copies! Other really popular shonen series are Dragon Ball, One Piece, Bleach, Naruto, Demon Slayer, and My Hero Academia. Shonen manga also create other profit-making opportunities like licensed merchandise, themed cafes and restaurants, and even amusement parks.
Let’s visit the Naruto and Boruto theme park in Japan:
Let’s talk a little about the symbology of Naruto. It’s hard to miss the leaf symbol that appears on all of the ninjas’ headbands – especially when these headbands play such an important role in episode one! This stylized leaf represents Konoho, or the Hidden Leaf village where Naruto lives.
But what about that red spiral symbol that appears on the back of Naruto’s vest? According to Naruto lore, this symbol represents his mother’s clan. But I think it looks an awful lot like narutomaki. Narutomaki (also called naruto – just like our main character) are slices of cured fish that are rolled into long sticks and sliced for bowls of ramen. When sliced they look like a white and pink spiral. Naruto loves his ramen, so don’t you think this is a fitting name for him?
If you can’t make it to a ramen restaurant you can find instant ramen packages at your local grocery store and watch this video for The PERFECT INSTANT Ramen Recipe? – Roy Choi’s Favorite:
If you like Naruto, borrow these from Prosper Community Library:
- Bleach – YA GN KUB
- The Boy and the Beast – YA GN HOS
- Demon Slayer – YA GN GOT
- My Hero Academia – YA GN HOR
- Naruto – YA GN KIS
- Bleach – DVD BLE
- Dragon Ball Super Broly – J DVD DRA
- Fairy Tail – DVD FAI
- Kiki’s Delivery Service – J DVD KIK
- One Piece – DVD ONE
- Pokemon Movie Collection – J DVD POK
- Spirited Away – J DVD SPI
Careers in Anime:
“How can I turn my love of anime, manga, and Japanese culture into a job?”
Work in an Animation Studio!
There are lots of options here including animator, director, producer, etc. Check out the video below for more.
Borrow these books from Prosper Community Library to hone your drawing skills!
- Doodling for…. Series by Gemma Gorrell – YA 743 COR
- Manga Mania Universe by Christopher Hart – YA 741.5 HAR
- The Master Guide to Drawing Anime by Christopher Hart – YA 741.5 HAR
- Stan Lee’s Master Class by Stan Lee – YA 741.51 LEE
Thanks for joining me for Naruto! Join us next time to take a closer look at a body-swapping anime film that swept the world to become a surpise international hit.
Youth Services Librarian – Prosper Community Library