Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

What Sets Naruto Apart From Some Other Anime According To Maile Flanagan

Naruto Uzumaki's adventures have achieved legendary status among manga fans. His growth over two decades made him into much more than a character. Instead, he personified an entire genre, appealing to audiences previously unaware of an entire industry.

It's safe to say the "Naruto" anime incarnations carry on that success. Premiering just years after the first manga volume's publishing, the original show saw the hero begin his journey at a young age, facing his all-important adolescent years along with dreams of becoming his village's Hokage dominates the early stories. The second anime series, "Naruto: Shippuden," aged him a couple of years and made a teenage Naruto confront previously avoided concepts. As an adult, "Boruto: Naruto Next Generations" shows his life as a father and adult, balancing his love for family with his role as village Hokage.

The powerful draw of "Naruto" and its subsequent series makes it a prime example of anime's changing dynamics. Since the mid-to-late '90s, the current attitude toward anime and its source material has propelled similar titles to unbelievable heights. One major contributor to the "Naruto" franchise, the voice of Naruto himself, Maile Flanagan, thinks she knows why it stands out from its counterparts.

Maile Flanagan knows what makes an anime work

Maile Flanagan is a crucial part of "Naruto" for English-speaking audiences; the actress has voiced the titular character for dubs since 2005. While some voices may have fluctuated over the years, Flanagan has proven to be a constant presence. She's also a champion of the whole "Naruto" franchise, as evidenced by a 2022 interview with Crunchyroll's Briana Lawrence. The interviewer touched on an actor's passion for the project and Flanagan spoke on why "Naruto" exemplifies so much.

The actress took time to address the medium's past and what it was versus what it has become. "I will tell you that in the past, anime was sort of the stepchild of animation," she said. Her thoughts come from the assumptions she found surrounding anime as a whole. Early experiences with bringing these titles to English language audiences proved to be problematic for Flanagan. She discovered that projects were rushed or completed too quickly. Another issue the actress encountered was translations; this is especially problematic and goes well beyond anime — into the broader catalog of international titles (via ComicBook.com).

It's all about the creative process for Flanagan

A lot of fans and critics praise "Naruto" and its subsequent additions; from establishing character depth to taking on complicated storylines, there's no shortage of topics that enthrall viewers. Flanagan's perspectives on what makes this franchise work delves into both surprising and unsurprising areas.

Hiring talented voice actors who know the industry is a big plus for the actress. She expanded on the thought by saying the project took its time to find great actors; their dedication to the project extended to checking on translations, even during the recording process. "We're still working in the booth when we talk. We still change the words a little to make it sound more natural," she added in regard to "Boruto." According to Flanagan, it also came at a time when the creative team worked with the scripts. That added period to hone the scripts made a big difference for the actress.

Flanagan has shown concern about getting moments just right

Flanagan has been vocal about her dedication to "Naruto" and its core characters. It's a devotion that upholds her comments and further backs up her claims about the franchise's impact. More importantly, this isn't the first time she's spoken about the anime's commitment to getting it right; the actress reflected on the role and its emotional impact in 2021. Viz Media asked her if there were scenes or dialogue that were concerning but turned out to be better than she thought.

The long-time voice of Naruto Uzumaki took an honest approach to the question by addressing the concerns she's had over the years and the fears surrounding running an important moment or storyline. "I'm a big believer in not phoning things in," she commented. "So, you know, I try and go there as much as I can."

One moment that brought all of this together for the actress involved Naruto's reunion with his mother. It was a hard moment for Flanagan, something she was sad to record. Watching the episode's moments play out on-screen showed her what could come from creating those emotional connections. According to Flanagan, it showed authenticity. Furthermore, the moment once again illustrated her respect for the writers, creator, and animators who have made this anime a defining moment in the medium's history.