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Masashi Kishimoto Says Jiraiya Could Have Had His Own Naruto Spin-Off

"Naruto" and its sequel series "Naruto Shippuden" are a massive undertaking for any fan wanting to get into the shinobi world, as the shows total over 700 episodes. While there are more than enough filler episodes to skip during a marathon, there's a reason for the series's longevity. As most animes of its size do, "Naruto" spends a considerable amount of time exploring its characters and giving them compelling backstories that rationalize their actions later on. "Naruto" director Hayato Date credits this as the reason for the show's ever-lasting success, and fans would agree. Because of that, it's no surprise that, once the anime's finale premiered in 2017, Viz Media wasn't ready to give up on the shinobi world, greenlighting a spin-off, "Boruto: Naruto Next Generations" shortly after. 

Spin-offs are relatively common in the anime industry, with big-name shows like "Pokemon," "Yu-Gi-Oh," and "Dragon Ball Z" being just three of countless animes to give certain characters more screen time. The character development in "Naruto" lends itself to the anime having the potential for numerous spin-offs, and the fans recognize this as they frequently discuss who should get their own show. Although fans only have "Boruto" to continue the story, Kishimoto revealed, given the opportunity, Jiraiya would have made a great spin-off.

Kishimoto could have expanded on a younger Jiraiya's story

During an interview with Anime News Network, "Naruto" writer Masashi Kishimoto revealed that, while he could spin off many of his characters, a series focusing on Jiraiya could have added a great perspective to the "Naruto" franchise. 

"I suppose one possibility would be to write the story from Sasuke's perspective, or even the mentors, the teachers, especially like Jiraiya, because there's a generational difference there too," Kishimoto said in the interview. He continued by saying Jiraiya's unique perspective would lend itself to a spin-off, as there was a time before he became a lovable mentor they could explore. "There was a time when he was still young, when he didn't really know much, and he was kind of dumb too. So it'd be interesting to show that contrast. Also, Jiraiya grew up in a time when the jutsu that we know now in the current 'Naruto' worldview had not been refined, or even developed in some cases. So I think it would be fun to show that gap," the writer said. He related a potential Jiraiya spin-off to the popular Japanese series "Oshin," which starts with a shot of a wealthy old woman before flashing back to her childhood, where the story begins. 

It should be no surprise that "Naruto" fans would welcome a spin-off focusing on a younger Jiraiya. A series could further explore this and give fans a deeper look into his relationships with fellow Legendary Sannin Orochimaru and Tsunade. Returning to a period where justus didn't grant shinobi god-like powers would also be welcome, as fans take issue with the insane power scaling in "Boruto."