I feel like our character list needed an anime character, and I don’t think there is one that we have watched more of than Naruto. We have watched the whole run of Naruto, and into Naruto Shippuden, but not all of it. So many episodes! Hulu is a good place to watch, as they have the episodes subtitled.
So while the show is named after him, he isn’t the whole show – there’s a large ensemble cast of various ninjas, who are all awesome. They’re not all Rock Lee, but still, awesome. But amongst all of these characters, there’s something about Naruto himself, the mystery factor, and the focus that is brought upon him, and the steps he has to take as a character, that all add up to him being a strong choice for title and main character.
The Orphan with the Mysterious Background
In some ways, it’s a character you see a lot – the orphan with a mysterious background, adults who know secrets trying to take control of him and lead him along, defending him in the shadows, all that. Uncertain of his parentage.
From this fairly lonely place, Naruto becomes the class clown, acting out, looking for attention. He shows some aptitude for ninjutsu, the ninja arts, but not in the traditional sorts of ways the other characters do. He is creative, and a little ridiculous and inappropriate, but talented. But he needs guidance, and something to fight for, and the other people around him help give him that. Watching Naruto get friends, and fight for them, is a strong emotional component to the show.
The underlying aspect behind Naruto’s power is that he has the Nine-Tailed Fox spirit within him – something the audience finds out very early, so I’m not spoiling anything, really – this is the plot. It means he can tap into large reserves of chakra, and can power normal sorts of techniques to absurd extents. Like, making shadow clones…
Loki only ever seems to come up with a handful of Mirror Images, tops. That’s… a couple more.
However, if Naruto uses too much power, he loses control, and the Fox takes over – which can be dangerous. The Fox wants out, and Naruto is its prison. So Naruto, jokester, and willing to do anything to protect his friends, has to learn how to harness and control his nearly limitless reserves of power. But it also means he gets to face off against ridiculously powerful ninjas and hold his own, which makes for some great scenes. He is simultaneously a major player and the underdog, and they do a great job of setting it up so you’re rooting for Naruto.
He also solves many of his situations through cleverness and outwitting the opponents, by being random and unexpected. Seeing what crazy thing he does next is generally pretty fun too! We haven’t watched Naruto in a while… I think it may be time to work on that backlog some more.