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Fandom Explained: Naruto

Naruto is one of the largest anime/manga conglomerates around today, with a complex story that spans over 15 years and features some of the most iconic characters in modern fiction. Its main character, Naruto Uzumaki, is a loud, hyperactive, adolescent ninja who constantly searches for approval and recognition, and seeks to become Hokage, the leader and strongest of all ninja in the village.

The sixth and final installment of the Naruto fighting game series, Naruto Shippūden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4, is set for release this week, and covers the final events of the Naruto storyline. The new game follows the fighting game formula of previous games in the series, but comes with a few exciting additions, including breakable weapons, elemental damage, and the ability for players to swap out their leader mid-battle. The game includes over 60 playable characters, spanning across major points in the history of the series.

For those who aren’t dedicated followers of Naruto, here’s a small update on the major storyline and what plot points you can expect to experience in the newest game.

What’s Happening Now?

The original Naruto manga series completed its run after 700 volumes on Feb. 4, 2015. The final events include the Fourth Shibobi World War, fought between the Allied Shinobi Forces and the Akatsuki. The war is further complicated when several powerful shinobi are raised from the dead, and the powerful Ten-Tails beast emerges.  The manga formally ends with an emotional final confrontation between Naruto and Sasuke.

An epilogue chapter that takes place ten years after the war reveals a new generation of young ninja, many of whom are children of major characters. Naruto finally accomplishes his dream of becoming Hokage of Konohagakure. A sequel mini-series that follows Naruto and Sasuke’s children is currently running and is called Naruto Gaiden: The Seventh Hokage and the Scarlet Spring.

The Naruto Shippuden anime is still currently airing and has reached over 440 episodes. The anime includes several story-arcs not covered in the manga. The current story-arc is called Jiraiya Shinobi Handbook: The Tale of Naruto the Hero. This arc focuses on a historical novel written by Jiraiya in Tsunade’s Infinite Tsukuyomi dream, in which key aspects of Naruto’s life are different. For example, Naruto’s parents did not die during Nine-Tails‘ attack before the series begins.

The plot of Naruto could be considered one of its major reasons for being a powerhouse, but what specific elements make it stand out among the sea of other shōnen series out there? Let’s take a look at the strongest qualities that have given the series such longevity.

Action/Comedy Balance
Haremtechnique

Naruto features intense action sequences and drawn-out conflicts, but it also showcases some great lighthearted moments between major characters. The series frequently flips the mood of a scene almost immediately with goofy antics of many of the characters. Naruto’s infamous Sexy Technique has gotten hilarious responses out of many male characters.

There are plenty of goofy interactions between students and their teachers, like the relationship between Might Guy and Rock Lee. Even some of the major villains in the series are known to be cheeky, such as Tobi and Hidan. Comedy is not limited to one set of characters and can be found across several moments of the series, whether in the middle of the battlefield or not.

Complex Jutsu System
Ninjutsu

Jutsu are the mystical arts and techniques that ninja utilize in battle. To perform them, a ninja will need to channel their chakra energy, as well as form various hand seals. The system of jutsu is expansive, with several major and minor classifications. The three basic systems of jutsu include Ninjustu (Ninja Techniques), Genjutsu (Illusionary Techniques) and Taijutsu (Body Techniques). Many jutsu are shared exclusively within clans or villages.

All major characters in Naruto focus on their own unique approach to jutsu – such as Rock Lee’s dedication to Taijutsu, or the powerful Sharingan techniques utilized by the Uchiha clan. The progression of power is unique to each major character, and this leads to some incredible one-on-one showdowns throughout the course of the series.

History Matters
HokageMountain

The cast of Naruto is immense, consisting of several generations of ninja who play a major role in the series’ ongoing story. The main characters begin as junior-level ninja and are trained by several higher-ranking ninja who educate them on fighting techniques and philosophy. These older ninja were once children themselves, and their upbringing often contains several key bits of information for the motivation of several villains, or the relationship history between important characters. The actions of dead ninja such as Madara Uchiha are important in understanding the origins of ongoing events. Many deceased characters still play an important role in Naruto’s plot, whether they are brought back to life by reincarnation jutsu or not.

Villains
Akatsuki

The strength of the villains and anti-heroes in Naruto can be considered a big reason for its success. Each villain has their own respective strengths, weaknesses, and motivations that make all of them compelling characters. The first major villain introduced was the immortality-seeking Orochimaru and his right-hand man Kabuto, who later becomes a formidable villain in his own right.

Perhaps the most compelling villain in the entire series is Sasuke’s older brother, Itachi Uchiha, who murdered the entire Uchiha Clan in Konohaguke and led Sasuke to a path of vengeance. Despite Itachi’s actions, his motivations were revealed to be more complicated than originally appeared, and were done only in the interest of his brother and village.

The major villains in the later part of the series, including Obito and Nagato, are shown to have complex personalities, and have personal goals and ideals that originally weren’t so evil. Nagato dreamt of bringing peace to the violent shinobi world, while Obito’s resolve was broken after the death of his love interest, Rin Nohara.

Love
NarutoHinata

Relationships can be a big motivation for fans to stick around long-running series such as Naruto. Early in the series, we experience some subtle hints of romance between many of the young characters, including a love triangle between Naruto, Sakura, and Sasuke. Once more characters were introduced, canon pairings began to take root in the series.

While romance certainly isn’t in the forefront of the series, there have been some intense moments such as Hinata confessing her love to Naruto during the fight with Pain, which leads to him going berserk when she’s hurt.

In the epilogue of the manga series, we are greeted with the new generation of young ninja in Konohagakure, who are the children of several of these relationships. Some of which include Boruto (the son of Naruto and Hinata) and Sarada (the child of Sakura and Sasuke).

For more info on all things Naruto, visit Narutopedia.


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