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How Masashi Kishimoto's Own Childhood Gave Birth To Naruto

"Naruto" was a titan in the anime industry, coming from Masashi Kishimoto's uber-successful manga. Following its adaptation into an anime by Viz Media, the series grew into a worldwide phenomenon, with numerous movies, video games, and sequel series following in its footsteps.

The series follows everyone's favorite hotheaded, sometimes overly-annoying ninja as he strives to reach his goal of becoming the Hokage. From the beginning, villagers in the Hidden Leaf Village ridicule Naruto, with both kids and adults shunning him for unknown reasons. His parents died when he was young, so he grew up alone, leading him to an early childhood filled with poverty and mischief. Those two aspects stick with Naruto throughout his journey, which eventually sees him become the Hokage and lead the Hidden Leaf Village.

Throughout all his struggles and success, Naruto never forgets where he came from, staying humble all the way. Creating such an optimistic hero who comes from a background filled with pain and struggle isn't an easy task. Finding that fine line between relatability and heroicness would be a challenge for even the most skilled writers. In Kishimoto's case, he discovered the idea for Naruto by looking back at his own upbringing.

Kishimoto also grew up poor

Speaking to the Los Angeles Times, Masashi Kishimoto revealed where he came up with the ideas for Naruto's origin. The manga artist said that there wasn't exactly an inspiration behind the story, but he created the character's image from his own adolescence. "When Naruto was born, it was more like he somehow came out, rather than my creating him from some inspiration," he told the outlet. "The only image I had in mind was a character who was a naughty boy. I was a poor student, but unlike Naruto, I was the type of poor student who gave up easily and pondered things that weren't worth pondering. I wanted Naruto to be different. He was created based on my self-image of my own childhood, but different from how I really was."

When it came to making Naruto a relatable character, Kishimoto said people love him because he's a bit of a "knucklehead" and not a perfect hero. He makes mistakes, he has weaknesses, and a lot of the time, he feels inferior to those around him.

Legendary "Naruto" voice actress Maile Flanagan expressed a similar opinion to CtrlGeekGirl when asked why the series captured so many hearts. She said that Naruto being a bit of a loner and failing a lot makes him more relatable than other anime heroes, and his struggle with finding a friend group he fits in with is also something plenty of fans can identify with.