Naruto (NARUTO - ナ ルト) is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Masashi Kishimoto with an anime adaptation. The main character, Naruto Uzumaki, is a loud, hyperactive, unpredictable adolescent ninja who constantly searches for recognition and aspires to become a Hokage, the ninja in the village acknowledged as the leader and the strongest of all.
Kishimoto first authored a one-shot of Naruto in the August 1997 issue of Akamaru Jump. The plot differed substantially in that Naruto was the son of the demon fox instead of being the container, and the story was placed in a more modern setting. This early version of Naruto already had the ability to transform into a sexy young woman - but when he did so, a fox tail sprouted. Kishimoto then rewrote the story to its current form, which was first published by Shueisha in 1999 in the 43rd issue of Japan's Shonen Jump magazine. As of volume 36, the manga has sold over 71 million copies in Japan. Viz Media publishes a translated version in the American Shonen Jump magazine. Naruto has become Viz's best-selling manga series. To date, the first 27 volumes are available. In order to catch up to the translated anime, Viz plans to release volumes 16 to 27 three at a time over the months of September to December 2007.
The first of two anime series, produced by Studio Pierrot and Aniplex, premiered across Japan on the terrestrial TV Tokyo network and the anime satellite television network Animax on October 3, 2002, and is still being aired. Viz also licensed the anime for North American production. Naruto debuted in the United States on Cartoon Network's Toonami programming block on September 10, 2005, and in Canada on YTV's Bionix on September 16, 2005. Naruto began showing in the UK on Jetix on July 22, 2006. It began showing on Toasted TV on January 12, 2007 in Australia, which features the German dub opening, although it could be watched on Cartoon Network in 2006. The first series lasted nine seasons, while Naruto: Shippuuden began its first on February 15, 2007.
Naruto has a large number of characters, most of whom are ninjas. They initially study at the Ninja Academy, where the story begins, are split up into squads of three after their graduation and become Genin, rookie ninja. Each squad is assigned an experienced sensei. These core squads form a basis for the characters' interactions later in the series, where characters are chosen for missions for their team's strength and complementary skills; Naruto's squad 7 becomes the social frame where Naruto is acquainted with Sasuke Uchiha, Sakura Haruno, and their sensei Kakashi Hatake, forming the core of his world-in-the-making. The other three-man teams of his former classmates form another such layer, as Naruto connects with them to various degrees, learning of their motives, vulnerabilities, and aspirations. The groups of three are not limited to the comrades Naruto's age – groups in the story in general come in threes and multiples of three.
In the Naruto world, countries operate as separate political entities ruled by landlords. Within these countries are hidden villages (éš ã‚Œé‡Œ, kakurezato), settlements housing ninja, warriors capable of using supernatural abilities in combat. A hidden village maintains the economy of the parent country by training ninja from a young age and using them to perform missions for other countries. The ninja of a hidden village also serve as the military force of their parent country. The leaders of the hidden villages hold equal status with the leaders of their respective countries. Five countries in the Naruto world—the Land of Earth, the Land of Fire, the Land of Lightning, the Land of Water, and the Land of Wind—are known as the "Five Great Shinobi Nations". These countries are the most powerful in the Naruto world. They are ruled by a feudal lord, and the leaders of the hidden villages in these countries hold the title of Kage. Other apparently smaller nations have been named in passing, in either the manga or anime, but are yet to be explored.
Naruto Uzumaki is a young boy who has the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox sealed within him. Twelve years before the start of the series, the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox attacked the ninja village Konohagakure, slaughtering many people. In response, the leader of Konohagakure – the Fourth Hokage – sacrificed his life to seal the demon inside Naruto when he was a newborn. Konohagakure, however, regarded Naruto as if he were the demon fox itself and mistreated him throughout most of his childhood. A decree made by the Third Hokage forbade anyone mention the attack of the demon fox to anyone. Years later, Naruto was tricked by the renegade ninja Mizuki into stealing a forbidden scroll, but was stopped by his teacher, Iruka Umino. That encounter made Naruto realize he was the container of the demon fox.
The main story follows Naruto and his friends' personal growth. Naruto befriends two comrades, Sasuke Uchiha and Sakura Haruno, who are assigned with him to form a three-person team under an experienced sensei named Kakashi Hatake. Naruto also befriends other characters that he meets throughout the series. They learn new abilities, get to know each other and other villagers better, and experience a coming-of-age journey as Naruto dreams of becoming the Hokage of Konohagakure. At first, emphasis is placed on Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura, who are the members of Team 7. Later, Orochimaru, a criminal at the top of Konohagakure's most wanted list, attacks Konoha killing the Third Hokage as an act of revenge. This causes one of the three legendary ninja, Jiraiya to search for his partner Tsunade, to become the Fifth Hokage. During that search, it is revealed that Orochimaru also desires to acquire Sasuke Uchiha due to his powerful genetic heritage. Believing Orochimaru will be able to give him the strength needed to kill his brother Itachi, who destroyed all his clan, Sasuke goes to him. Naruto does not give up on Sasuke, leaving Konoha for two-and-a-half years of training to prepare himself for the next time he meets Sasuke.
After the training period, a mysterious organization called Akatsuki attempts to capture the nine powerful tailed beasts including the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox sealed inside of Naruto. Several ninjas from Konohagakure, including Team 7, fight against the Akatsuki members and search for their teammate Sasuke. Sasuke, in the meantime betrays Orochimaru and faces Itachi to take revenge. Although Itachi dies, Sasuke is told by the Akatsuki founder Madara Uchiha that Itachi was ordered by Konohagakure's leadership to destroy his clan. Saddened with the revelation, Sasuke joins forces with Akatsuki to destroy Konohagakure. Meanwhile, as several Akatsuki members are defeated by the Konohagakure ninja, the leader, Pain, invades the village to capture Naruto.