Naruto is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Masashi Kishimoto. It tells the story of Naruto Uzumaki, a young ninja who seeks recognition from his peers and dreams of becoming the Hokage, the leader of his village. The story is told in two parts, the first set in Naruto’s pre-teen years, and the second in his teens. The series is based on two one-shot manga by Kishimoto: Karakuri (1995), which earned Kishimoto an honorable mention in Shueisha’s monthly Hop Step Award the following year, and Naruto (1997). Naruto was serialized in Shueisha’s magazine, Weekly Shonen Jump from 1999 to 2014, and released in tankobon (book) form in 72 volumes. The manga was adapted into an anime television series produced by Pierrot and Aniplex, which broadcast 220 episodes. The story of Naruto continues with Naruto’s son, Boruto Uzumaki, in Boruto: Naruto Next Generations: Boruto wishes to create his own ninja way instead of following his father’s.
Naruto is the fourth best-selling manga series in history, selling 250 million copies worldwide in 46 countries, with 153 million of the sales in Japan alone and remaining 97 million copies elsewhere. Reviewers praised the manga’s character development, strong storylines, and well-executed fight scenes, though some felt the fight scenes slowed the story down. Critics noted that the manga, which has a coming-of-age theme, makes use of cultural references from Japanese mythology and Confucianism. A powerful fox known as the Nine-Tails attacks Konoha, the hidden leaf village in the Land of Fire, one of the Five Great Shinobi Countries in the Ninja World. In response, the leader of Konoha and the Fourth Hokage, Minato Namikaze (with his wife Kushina Uzumaki) seals the fox inside the body of his newborn son, Naruto Uzumaki, making Naruto a host of the beast, this costs Naruto’s father his life, and the Third Hokage returns from retirement to become the leader of Konoha again.
Naruto is often scorned by Konoha’s villagers for being the host of the Nine-Tails. Due to a decree by the Third Hokage forbidding any mention of these events, Naruto learns nothing about the Nine-Tails until 12 years later, when Mizuki, a renegade ninja, reveals the truth to Naruto. Naruto then defeats Mizuki in combat, earning the respect of his teacher, Iruka Umino. Shortly afterward, Naruto becomes a ninja and joins with Sasuke Uchiha, against whom he often competes, and Sakura Haruno, on whom he has a crush, to form Team 7, under an experienced sensei, the elite ninja Kakashi Hatake. Like all the ninja teams from every village, Team 7 completes missions requested by the villagers, ranging from doing chores and being bodyguards to performing assassinations. After several missions, including a major one in the Land of Waves, Kakashi allows Team 7 to take a ninja exam, enabling them to advance to a higher rank and take on more difficult missions, known as Chunin Exams.
During the exams, Orochimaru, a wanted criminal, invades Konoha and kills the Third Hokage for revenge. Jiraiya, one of the three legendary ninjas, declines the title of Fifth Hokage and searches with Naruto for Tsunade whom he chooses to become Fifth Hokage instead. During the search, it is revealed that Orochimaru wishes to train Sasuke because of his powerful genetic heritage, the Sharingan. After Sasuke attempts and fails to kill his older brother Itachi, who had showed up in Konoha to kidnap Naruto, he joins Orochimaru, hoping to gain from him the strength needed to kill Itachi. The story takes a turn when Sasuke leaves the village, Tsunade sends a group of ninja, including Naruto, to retrieve Sasuke, but Naruto is unable to persuade or force him to come back. Naruto and Sakura do not give up on Sasuke so Naruto leaves Konoha to receive training from Jiraiya to prepare himself for the next time he encounters Sasuke, while Sakura becomes Tsunade’s apprentice.
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