After 15 years, the legendary shonen manga, Naruto, has officially ended at chapter 700 (Nov 10, 2014).
Who would have thought that a story about ninjas would be considered cool, especially in today’s modern times? Not only has Naruto shaped and inspired a generation of fans, but it has also left a huge imprint on Japanese popular culture, culturally and commercially. Naruto is probably the Japanese equivalence of JK Rowling’s infamous Harry Potter series, but when you consider the bond that Naruto fans have with the series, the relationship is definitely a lot more intimate and unique.
Naruto has been an absolute phenomenon that has captured readers’ attention for more than a decade. For 15 years, fans would waited patiently every week to read a manga chapter and/or watch an episode of Naruto. Many Naruto fans would have grown up with Naruto and began reading/watching the series from when they were a child, tween, teen or young adult.
Some may argue that Naruto is nothing compared to popular works such as Sailor Moon and Pokemon as they are more well-known on an international scale, thanks to their popularity in the ’90s. But how on earth can you compare an incredible full-fledged story like Naruto to anything else that is deemed as basic in general?
The story of Naruto is a true Shonen story that cannot be compared to anything else. Naruto grows up being hated and ostracised by the village for having an indestructible power within him. Despite surrounded by all the negativity, Naruto keeps his head high and dreams of becoming the leader of the village also known as ‘The Hokage’. To be a Hokage not only means you are the leader of the village, but the title also means you are well-respected, loved and considered the strongest in the village.
Chances were slim for Naruto — his grades weren’t great and he was best known for his clumsy antics and loud persona. But as the years went by, fans have been blessed to watch this young boy mature into a village hero whom everyone relies on for warmth, security, inspiration and motivation. He may stumble and fall a lot, but Naruto mentally and physically never gives up. Naruto is the type of person who will defend you for life (even if you’re a villain), and if something is not morally correct, he will make sure that things are being seen right to the end by using the power of words rather than violence. Because after all, that is Naruto’s way of being a ninja.
The story of Naruto is more than just about Naruto working his way towards the Hokage title. The biggest challenge that obstructs Naruto’s path is none other than his rivalry-sibling bond with Uchiha Sasuke. Filled with thoughts about revenge and power, Sasuke joined the dark side in search of greater power in order to fulfill his revenge.
But how could Naruto possibly be Hokage when he can’t even save his friend from the darkness? In order to catch up to Sasuke, Team 7’s Naruto and Sakura needed to take matters into their own hands and transition into adulthood. The course of fifteen years has allowed Kishimoto to develop his story and its characters in a way like no other. Not only do we witness the breakdown of their childhood, but we also see both Naruto and Sakura learning about adulthood such as respect, love, death, responsibility, loneliness and pain.
Despite spending many years searching for Sasuke and training aggressively to be even stronger, Sasuke always seemed to be out of reach. The desperate journey to save a dear friend has not been an easy road for Team 7, but Naruto never gave up on Sasuke — even when they fight to death.
While it is understandable that a number of fans couldn’t stay to the end due to the drawn-out nature of the story, fans cannot deny the impact that Naruto has had on them at one point of their lives.
From start to finish, we have been blessed with Kishimoto’s grande vision. From the history of shinobi to the background details of each character in the story to Kishimoto’s view on politics, philosophies and morals..it has been an absolute joy reading this fantastic work of art. And oh, we simply can’t forget the highly-charged battles, teenage distractions such as romance and rivalry,
NarutoxSasuke fanservice, and many more!
Thank you Kishimoto-san for creating such an inspiring and entertaining story — you have made us laugh, smile, cry and feel pain (good and bad) over the years. Naruto has been a symbol of our youth and it has been a wonderful journey to grow alongside such diversified characters. Words simply cannot express how much the story and its characters mean to us… I know for sure that Naruto will stay in all of our hearts forever and ever.
It has been a good 15 years … Farewell, Naruto!
Stay tuned for our thoughts on the Naruto manga finale and the best battles from Naruto Shippuden!