*SPOILER ALERT: This article contains some major plot details that go ahead of the English dubbed Anime timeline*
No matter who we are; age, race, gender, or species, at some point we all yearn to be stronger. We imagine that within each of us there is something bigger to be brought out of. We can all hear it, that wake-up call inside of us just waiting to break free! Because of it, “nerds” and “geeks” inevitably are born in that pursuit of trying to make those dreams and wishes reality. Naruto has brought this to life for me.
Probably, like most of you, I first remember seeing Naruto on Cartoon Networks’ Toonami in 2005. Out of nowhere came this scrawny Ramen-eating ninja-like outcast swinging his huge bag of confidence around engaging anyone who was willing to listen. After that first episode, I could feel my imagination craving more about this new character, who was becoming more real to me with every second I watched. My awakening had started.
Naruto Uzumaki from manga print to the screen
Masashi Kishimoto, was a nobody before Naruto blasted his way into all of our hearts. The man came onto the scene by first struggling through school, overcoming his fears, and then going after what he loved! He started with a Manga pilot; Karakuri (カラクリ, lit. “Mechanism”), published in 1995. Kishimoto came far in order to realize his dream, and anyone can see where Naruto’s fighting spirit and passion came from in him.
The point of Naruto after all; is to see passed what we know, to dream, and then believe it! The manga ended up finishing at 702 chapters, with 72 volumes, and two parts. After its conception in 1999, and start in 2000, Naruto the manga, became a huge sensation throughout the world and became an anime in 2002.
Even though the main storyline of the manga finished in 2014, (and no, I’m not forgetting about Naruto Gaiden in 2015 either), its animated counterpart still continues! So, for the fans beyond the manga, there is still hope. Not to mention, there are already eleven movies between both series that help to patch up some of the storyline gaps in between production of the seasons and story arcs.
Recap of Naruto, Part 1
Now, back to our simple minded hero’s story. We watched him as he struggled through overcoming being an outcast when he first entered into the “Hidden Leaf Village”, Ninja academy . Or for you subbed/Japanese fans; “Konohagakure“. Then, after a bit of Naruto “controversy” (sexy jutsu), and drama of course.
Things started to move along when they all finally graduated. Some by a larger margin than others. Reluctantly, except for Naruto thinking being grouped with Sakura, they are formed into the most plot driving unit that has ever existed. (Known as Team 7 ; or team Kakashi.)
After the infamous triple team is formed, some growth happens, and they are eventually joined with some pretty cool allies. Hinata , Kiba, Akamaru, Shino, Shikamaru, Choji, Ino, Asuma, Rock Lee, Neji, and Tenten. Fast forward.
The chūnin exams, attacks on the hidden leaf village by Orochimaru, the Gaara storyline. Even meeting Itachi, the Akatsuki, losing Sasuke in more ways than one, and having to also make many different tough choices along those paths’. All in order to uphold the most important thing over anything else.
The safety of the Konohagakure/hidden leaf village. And before we know it part one of the series is over! With Sakura pushing to be mentored by Lady Tsunade as a Medical Ninja, and Naruto seeking out his most difficult training yet from Jiraiya, has everyone saying goodbye and parting ways.
As we roll back into the world of Naruto Uzumaki in the second series Naruto Shippuden too many questions are left in the air.
Subbed/Japanese anime, where the storyline is now: Part 2
Once Naruto returns to the village two and a half years later, everything’s changed. The storyline starts out by catching everyone up. After the “re-introduction” episodes, the action starts to pick back up around episode 16; “The Secret of Jinchuriki”. Our hero’s, who are in better shape than ever before, finally start to face the Akatsuki head on. Regardless of the Jinchūriki being taken and Naruto being a high-value target.
It’s safe to say that the Naruto universe is pretty much split into three parts as of now. The Japanese/English Subbed Anime (ep. 459; season 20), the English Dubbed Anime (episode 335; season 15), and manga (finished). The “dubbers” are still in the midst of trying to figure out how Naruto, and the rest of the “Allied Shinobi Forces” will overcome both Tobi and now, yes, the real, and resurrected Madara Uchiha. *Spoiler* Someone chose the wrong person’s identity to steal!
Of course, those who have read the manga already have the closure all we anime fans have wanted for years! Those left in the English dubbed animated world, are only just now caught up to the point of knowing the truth about the man who calls himself “Madara Uchiha”. You know, the one that pretty much started this whole fourth shinobi war in order to; “transform and save the world” with all nine Jinchūriki. The worst part is. He Isn’t even who we thought he was.
The harsh truth is though, Kakashi‘s old friend and team-mate is Tobi . And that isn’t even revealed until episode 343; Who Are You?! We all thought Obito stayed trapped in the cave, after trying to save Rin, when the roof of rocks collapsed on him being buried under! With Obito “never making it out”. One can only assume the worst. That goes back all the way to season 6 ep. 119-120; ” Boys’ Life on the Battlefield Part 1 & 2 .”
After catching back up, (sticking with the English Subbed/Japanese anime’ storyline progression). Obito just didn’t account for the fact that Sasuke was able to withstand his ultimate power, due to his own sharingan, which allowed Sasuke to put a stop to that in the end of Fourth Shinobi World War.
Now, It’s finally time to address Itachi! How cool is this arc? Everything we thought we knew about him was completely wrong! And now, no matter how evil Sasuke thought his brother was. After the whole Uchiha Clan was slain in cold blood of course. And everything has now taken a completely new turn. This last arc revealing Itachi, for who He truly is, is nothing short of a heart warmer though.
K the tissues close. The latest episode in the Japanese/English Subbed “Moonlit Night”, takes us into what really happened during the Uchiha Clan coup too. It’s an amazing time in the Naruto story to see Itachi’s true colors shine.
So, what is next for Naruto?
To answer that, the fans who only watch the anime need only do one of three things. 1) Watch the eleventh movie in the franchise: Boruto: Naruto the Movie, which still might not be enough. 2) Cheat, start reading the manga. Or 3). Like any good fangirl, or fanboy, SPECULATE to your heart’s content!
What we know so far has risen beyond expectations. And as a fan, my thoughts start to lean towards wanting story lines like that of Kakashi and his father; Sokumo Hatake, the hidden leaf’s “White Fang”. All we really know about him is that he was a revered ninja during his time and unfortunately took his own life after a reported mission went terribly wrong.
Something that maybe even reveals what actually happened during that mission, would be a huge bonus. Plus, what did he tell Kakashi when they both met in the “afterlife” during the pain arc? That’s just another fantastic mystery to think about.
Know, that regardless of where the story veers us to, or whatever questions that we have no answers to. As fans, we just have to have patience, and be ready for anything. The fact still remains; the genius of Kishimoto, those he has entrusted his beloved story to in production , and the generations of Naruto lovers. Will always stand firm in whatever happens next. Because just like Naruto, we’ll always; “Believe It!”