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Masashi Kishimoto Didn't Put Much Thought Into Romance In Naruto

The popular series "Naruto" is a staple among manga and anime titles; this long-running franchise remains one of the best-selling mangas of all time, with its subsequent anime seen by viewers around the world. Lasting from 2002 through the present day, "Naruto," "Naruto: Shippuden," and "Boruto: Naruto Next Generations" construct a rich narrative around the title character, Naruto Uzumaki. His journey towards becoming a ninja and rising among the ranks introduces him to numerous experiences.

A major element of Naruto's success comes from an emphasis on action and adventure over other thematic elements. Romantic pursuits have always been pushed back in favor of more dramatic fare. For some fans, there are more than enough characters as well as character development to work with. They've turned their talents toward creating fanfiction specifically geared toward their favorite characters. Wattpad, a popular site for these creative stories, features over one thousand unique contributions. Many focus on romantic entanglements, even exploring otherwise off-limits topics.

Creator Masashi Kishimoto has his own thoughts about the romances that have developed over the years, as well as how those famous pairings came to be. It's a surprising reveal for those who thought they knew everything about the notable series.

Kishimoto finds inspiration from a surprising source

Fans may talk about relationships and their importance to "Naruto," but that doesn't seem to be the case with Kishimoto. Cinema Today caught up with the writer in a wide-ranging interview and asked about the romances which were pushed to the background until much later in the series. Kishimoto was pretty blunt about his thoughts on the matter, admitting "I wasn't very conscious of it" (via ComicBook).

In an interesting turn, the creator revealed it was the characters themselves that helped him choose their directions. "I thought I would leave the course of it up to them," he added. His main instance of this came in the complicated relationship between Sasuke and Sakura; the pair would be a constant source of speculation throughout much of the series, only finding themselves married at the end of "Naruto: Shippuden" (via ComicBook).

Kishimoto explained that he wondered how they would finally establish a romance in the anime; "I didn't write Sakura in the position of heroine. Naruto was special because he was the main character, but all other characters were equal, regardless of who were main or side characters," he said. "But along the way, I thought that Naruto and Sakura were different. I somehow decided [their romances] at a pretty early phase." Thus, the Sasuke/Sakura romance was born. 

A new Boruto arc promises more romance

Viewers keen on getting more to the stories left out of the "Naruto" franchise can look forward to "Sasuke Retsuden," the newest arc in "Boruto: Naruto Next Generations" which serves to cover a period previously unknown to audiences (via MeriStation). Jun Esaka stepped in for Kishimoto, with the latter only credited for illustrations. A writer of other Naruto novels, Esaka undoubtedly helped fill in romantic areas that creator Kishimoto normally feels less comfortable addressing. "I'm embarrassed to write [romance], so in truth, there were parts that I didn't want to write," Kishimoto disclosed during the Cinema Today interview.

The anime takes place in a period between anime arcs. It focuses on Sasuke and Sakura as they set off on an adventure with dangerous consequences. "Sasuke" also delves into the relationship between the pair. They are married now, dealing with a husband who doesn't know about affection and a wife coming to terms with his emotional gaps (via Anime News Network). Ever a "Naruto" narrative, much of the romantic aspects play out against a race to help Naruto recover from his life-threatening condition, which puts additional pressure on the couple as they try to adapt.