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Naruto Director Hayato Date Credits The Character-Driven Narrative For Making The Show So Successful

"Naruto" captured the hearts of generations when Viz Media adapted Masashi Kishimoto's legendary manga for western audiences. The story focuses on the young shinobi Naruto Uzumaki, an outcast ninja who won't stop until he reaches his ultimate goal of becoming Hokage. To this day, the over-700-episode run of "Naruto" is impressive, creating a fairly complicated storyline as it ranks as one of the longest-running and most-successful animes to date.

Throughout the series's lengthy run, "Naruto" has more than enough time to dedicate to most of its characters. Of course, Naruto and his shinobi counterpart Sasuke get a majority of the screen time, but there are many more powerful "Naruto" characters that fans love. Within Team 7, Kakashi gets an emotional-filled flashback arc detailing the tragedy surrounding his team under the tutelage of Minato. Sakura goes from relatively useless to a shinobi rivaling Tsunade, one of the legendary Sanin. Even Sai learns to feel emotions and sympathize with others in his short time in the series.

Characters are a focal point for "Naruto," a series that has seen consistent success since its humble beginnings in 1999. While someone could chalk that up to word of mouth or its impressive fight scenes that can keep any action fan entertained, Hayato Date thinks the characters are the ones that keep people coming back to "Naruto."

Character depth entraps viewers into the story of Naruto

During an interview with Animation Magazine, "Naruto" anime director Hayato Date revealed why he thinks the series has seen such everlasting popularity, saying that taking the time to explore each character is the key.

"Probably because the story is about Ninja, who have the unique appeal of Eastern culture, comparable to that of samurai," Date said. "Above all, the popularity of Naruto can be attributed to each character's extensive backstory, which motivates us to be attentive in our work. Unlike most hero stories, where the villain is simply evil, in Naruto, the villains act on their own thoughts: This allows viewers to really get absorbed in the story."

Date's comments are incredibly spot-on and give a compelling reason for the constant success of the "Naruto" franchise. When watching the series, it's challenging to find a character who doesn't get the time to develop fully, as even the villains have interesting backstories lingering behind their passion for seeing the shinobi world burn. For example, Nagato's pain-filled life pushed him onto a path of achieving world peace through the way he knew best, war, and he's just one of many villains in the series. One thing's for sure, "Naruto" fans will forever discuss who the best character is, as there are far too many incredible ones to choose from.