With the story of Naruto Uzumaki finished after 15 years of excellence, fans want to hear more from the legend behind the Naruto series, Masashi Kishimoto. In an interview with Japanese newspaper The Asahi Shimbun, Kishimoto-sensei mentions Naruto “is similar to me in some respects”. First and foremost is his love for ramen, however, that’s not where the similarities end. The mangaka mentions the character of Naruto, who fell behind his peers, reflected his own childhood. Others would laugh at his dreams to become a manga artist and his career in the manga world was unexpected.
“I was unable to do well in school and felt a strong sense of inferiority,” he said. “When Naruto said, ‘I will be Hokage,’ people surrounding him laughed at his dream. Since childhood, I also told others that I would be a manga artist but had no foundation.”
“Unlike Naruto, I did not have the courage to declare that I will become a manga creator at any cost. So I would just say in my mind, ‘It may be possible.’”
“It is unbelievable that I am working as one of the manga creators who have to write stories and depict many characters, because I was poor at the Japanese subject in school,” he said. “I could not answer questions requiring students to guess the feelings of characters in stories in school exams.”
From strategic maneuvers, genjutsu deception, and skilled hand-to-hand combat to brute force and powerful chakra-filled techniques like the Rasengan, Naruto fans are quite familiar with all of the ninja action in the series. Kishimoto-sensei mentions the thing that differentiates Naruto from other comics in the same genre is through understanding his adversaries and verbal persuasion.
“Boys’ comics inevitably feature violent scenes. But I wanted to tell (readers) that enemies who resort to violence probably do so because of unavoidable reasons,” Kishimoto-sensei said. “And if (the protagonists) defeat them without understanding their motivation, it could end up leading to a repeat of the same thing.” Ending a battle through dialogue may have been almost taboo in comics for boys, he said.
“In most boys’ manga, the protagonists typically achieve dynamic growth in the first episodes and continue to behave the way they believe to be good and affect other characters,” Kishimoto-sensei said. “But Naruto faces the challenge of how he can create a world where there are no conflicts, as he battles Pain. I could have made him go his way without agony, but I thought it would be wrong in some aspects.”
Success didn’t come easy for Kishimoto-sensei. Before achieving greatness with Naruto, he had to overcome many challenges. He spent years studying how to write scenarios and dialogue in films to learn about story structure and directorial techniques. He also studied oil painting at an art college. Only after all of that hard work was Kishimoto-sensei able to begin on Naruto and achieve the greatness we have come to know him for today.
“Life is colorful,” Kishimoto-sensei said. “It is the reality of a manga protagonist to face obstacles.”