As a family, we’ve watched many anime (cartoon) both film and TV series, but none that has quite captured and sustained our interest and emotions like Naruto. The manga (comic book) itself has been in print for over 10 years now, and it appears to be finally coming to an end (but very slowly). To sustain itself as a valid and valuable story throughout, as well as still air at prime time in Japan is a credit to its creator, Masashi Kishimoto. My wife and I have watched a fair few episodes, especially during my university days – when I was first introduced to it by a friend, who couldn’t believe I didn’t watch Japanese anime even though I had a Japanese wife. Haha! Hmmmm! However, the benefit of watching now, is that we can skip all the fillers that are not relevant to the actual storyline as followed in the manga.
Naruto is a story set in a slow-paced, relaxed setting, far away from modern society. It is a story filled with ninjas, friendship, love and determination to succeed and protect those around you. Masashi Kishimoto, the creator of Naruto, has been likened to Shakespeare for his excellent script writing and understanding of the human psyche. Naruto is one of the best-selling manga series of all time having sold more than 126.5 million copies in Japan alone. If that introduction is not enough to invite you to have a peak, what will?
The anime comes across quite light and fun, but in actual fact it’s an anime that is heavy in content and demands you invest your emotions and thoughts into it. I suppose this is easier as an adult, but then would be very much overlooked as it’s targeted to children. So by having children who like it, the bonus is that you can both watch it. Which is ideal because you can explore and discuss the themes it raises. In addition to Lord of the Rings, Naruto has even influenced part of my novel in some respects.
We allow our children to watch Naruto because:
- It’s not to overly sexualised like many Japanese cartoons
- Whilst there are scenes of violence. They are constrained to a children’s setting. But like all parents we can best judge a) what is suitable for our children and b) whether it is appropriate
- The characters are very unique and embody their own challenges, background stories, ambitions and ways for understanding the world and expressing themselves
- The children are learning quite a lot about friendship, sacrifice, bravery, honour, emotions, challenges, etc.
- The main character overcomes many ordeals both mental and physical, which really shows to our children that one should ‘never give up’ and that we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be judges, labelled or put into another’s view of fate and destiny. A hard worker can overcome and surpass a genius
- They also get to learn and listen to Japanese
Note: ‘Naruto’ features the younger years of the main character, Uzumaki Naruto, whereas ‘Naruto: Shippuden’ follows the character after he completes his training and returns to the scene to save his village, search for his best friend, as well as protect himself from forces that try to capture him. To find out more about Naruto, click here!