I wrote this blog to try and motivate people who didn’t watch Naruto, and who are generally not well acquainted with Anime to give this one a shot. It’s well worth it. Although it contains some spoilers, by the time you’ll be drawn to the series like a pigeon to the food, you’ll forget everything about this little text you once read.
The Naruto anime is based on a very popular and acclaimed manga of the same name, but as this is an introductory blog, I’ll only describe what I like about anime.
To be honest, the first time I sat down to watch Naruto was fairly late in my life. I was in my 20s, and Shippuden was already running for over a hundred episodes. Despite many of my friend’s recommendations, I was afraid that it would be just a Dragon Ball clone, and I didn’t want to waste my time watching that (Don’t get me wrong, Dragon Ball is okay, but it’s just not on the same level with some anime that were made afterwards).
And boy, was I wrong. All it took me to absolutely fall in love with this series was 3 episodes. By the time Kakashi Sensei is giving a challenging to Naruto, Sasuke and Sakura, I was addicted to Naruto. And I stayed so despite the fact that the series is going too long for my taste.
Naruto (including the second, longer part called Naruto Shippuuden) has everything a good anime should have, and it all fits together. Well-developed characters with emotional back-stories, intense action-filled battles, true villains, many anti-heroes, quite good pacing and that somewhat exaggerated Japanese humor.
As is the case with many anime, this one is all about the characters – they are perhaps the strongest reason to watch Naruto. I mean the battles are pretty cool, the ninja skills as well, but that would not be enough to make it supercool. In this one, you really care about the main protagonists.
There is no American-style pathetic emotional bullshit. This is a real cartoon that will blow you away. The only thing that arguably spoils it are those hackneyed fillers. And you are free to google which episodes they are and simply skip them.
This anime is so rich with well-developed characters. Characters seem to be pure embodiments of will, more precisely a will to devote everything they’ve got and more to a higher cause, or a personal ambition. Each one of them is unique and you love them or hate them. It’s really hard to remain detached from these guys, as you watch Naruto.
There is plenty of great, or simply interesting guys you’ll see throughout the series. For this purpose, in order not to bore you, I had to pick just a few, so here we go:
The main character. A boy with a nine-tail daemon fox sealed inside of him. A boy with a dream. He wants to become a powerful ninja. He wants to become Hokage – the head of Konohagakure village. And eventually he might fulfill it. But he is in for a long ordeal.
Naruto is one of the most stubborn characters ever. Also, he is highly animated, eccentric, full of energy, and uncontrolled when it comes to conventional behavior. But his determination and sense of self-discipline are unrivalled. It’s almost impossible not to admire him.
This is the guy that will make you fall in love with the series. This is the guy the sentimental souls cry about. He never ever gives up. At some moments, I just wanted to applaud him for his persistence.
He is one of the main characters that Naruto considers as the best friend, and at the same time his greatest competitor. Sasuke is decidedly motivated to take a revenge on Itachi Uchiha, his brother, for killing the rest of his family. It’s the only thing he has going on for him, and he is willing to renounce everything and everyone in his life to be the avenger. Sounds insane? Not through the lenses of Japanese culture, where family, and individual’s honor are so highly esteemed.
Sasuke was a happy child until Itachi decided to wipe out the rest of Uchiha clan. After the event, he starts working damn hard to develop his ninja skills. He isolates himself to train more and better. He doesn’t care about much other than his revenge.
Early in the series, Sasuke builds up his hatred for Itachi and gets so obsessed that he decides to team up with the sneakiest villain Orochimaru, to get closer to fulfilling his goal. And this, in turn, sets the tone for many of the thrilling events that will follow.
Always competitive, Sasuke uses every opportunity to test his skills fighting against his peers and elders. This leads to some breathtaking battle scenes against Naruto. When you watch them, you don’t want to make a pause to go to the toilet.
Another character with a big demon locked in inside of him, Gaara evolves from a really bad guy to a profoundly good one, a prototype hero.
At first, he is subjected to a will of his own demon, also sealed inside of him. He wants to kill everyone, to assert himself. He gets mad easily, and his bloodlust escalates instantly. Once, during a ninja tournament, he tried to kill and ended up badly injuring an opponent, just for the sake of it.
He’s a short, silent guy, with powerful look in the eyes, and you don’t wont to come across as his enemy. Or to have a bad luck to be on his way. Coming from Sunagakure – a desert village, his skills are heavily based on the use of sand that he carries with him all the time.
Needless to say, Naruto makes an impact on him, and that will bring about positive changes in Gaara. And his transformation is wonderful to watch.
Although a supportive character, I simply adore him. He is an endlessly lazy guy who doesn’t care about his teachers, but he is bloody intelligent. He has but one strong power – to trap the enemies by extending his shadow. But he finds ingenious ways to use it.
Shikamaru is endlessly likeable. Having a long hair and furrowed eyebrows, he always appears bored. He describes himself as “the number one coward”, but when things get rough, he takes the responsibility and risks his life for the sake of his mission and others.
Shikamaru is happiest when he can spend a whole day not doing anything. His favorite thing catchphrase is ‘how troublesome’.
This guy is Naruto’s first teacher and the one that gets to watch Naruto grow from a mischievous outcast to a ninja of legendary prowess. As he appears from the very beginning of the series, he is actually the first ninja we get to meet in all his coolness. He is thus one of the reasons most of fall in love with this great anime. In fact, he is so cool that he never takes his mask off his face, and we only see his eye and his hair. We don’t get to know much about his private life, and that’s just fine. He’s more awesome like this.
Cold-blooded and extremely self-confident, Kakashi is rather modest about his skills. Naruto’s first teacher. The copycat ninja. He masters the Sharingan, an ability that by all genetic rights should never have been his. Kakashi prides in knowing over a 1 000 skills, combined with Sharingan that gives him the means to predict his enemy’s movements,
In critical situations, he is highly devoted to protecting his team. A true leader, able to make hard decisions when necessary, even at a price of his own life. It’s very hard not to respect this guy.
Kakahsi has read everything that Jiraiya wrote many times.
Along with Orochimaru and Tsunade, he is known as one of Konohagakure’s famous sannin (the 3 men).
Possibly the funniest and surely the most perverted guy in the series, Jiraiya-San is always light-hearted and full of easy energy. He always seeks the company of beautiful women, although he is too perverted so he scares them off. He is a bit of a peeping tom. Naruto always calls him ero sensei – roughly translated from Japanese as a perverted hermit. Jiraya travels the world, seeking higher knowledge and writing pulp erotic fiction. His eccentricities generally don’t appear to bother people. What a lifestyle!
He is essentially a good guy. He was the father Naruto never had. Their relationship is quite evolved. Jiraiya believes Naruto to be a child of the prophecy. He also trained Pain, and that led to a dramatic outcome.
He discovered the magical land of frogs. There, he was told that one day he would have a student that would either save or destroy the world. As a result of all this, one of his abilities is to summon, gigantic frogs. And in anime, this is so much more awesome than it might seem. Needless to say, he really did train the prophecy student. Naruto. Or Pain. Jiraiya actually never got to find this one out.
This is a big guy, with a white hair (naturally grey, or maybe dyed, it’s up to you to decide).
At one point, being a very powerful ninja, Jiraiya was offered to become a Hokage, but he refused.
You’ll have to watch a bit more episodes to get to this one, but he is such a masterpiece of anime making. In my opinion, the most complex and the most awesome of all the villains in Naruto.
Pain is a result of a profoundly sad story. He was a sensitive child. His parents got killed. His best friend got killed. Naturally, he got very very angry. And he decided to seek the revenge upon the world. Eventually, he got immensely powerful. His personal tragedy was so well depicted, that it’s hard to judge him despite all his victims. And his motivation was to bring about the same level of suffering to the word he himself felt.
He co-founded Akatsuki, an organization of top the most dangerous outlaws, seeking to take over the world. Who could say that a wretched pale little kid with red hair was capable of this. Episodes with Pain could be regarded as a separate arc about him. And again, it’s a remarkable tale of an extremely strong will. Who could not love Naruto?