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Naruto's Yuri Lowenthal Looks At Episode 30 As The Ultimate Litmus Test For Fans

At this point, it's no question that "Naruto" is one of the most influential animes of all time, with generations of fans experiencing the young shinobi's journey to becoming Hokage. The series spans over 700 episodes, so naturally, fans gravitate toward different parts for their favorite moments. 

"Naruto" fans frequently take to Reddit to discuss the show's all-time greatest moments. In a 2018 post, many listed Naruto returning to defend the Hidden Leaf Village from Pain in their top moments. The numerous iterations of Naruto vs. Sasuke also tend to rank high within the fan base. Naruto's English voice actress, Maile Flanagan, reminisced on cheering behind the scenes when the shinobi mastered the Rasengan, choosing the character's moment of personal triumph as one of her favorites. Similarly, Japanese actress Junko Takeuchi chose Inoshikacho's final moment with Asuma as her favorite. 

Interestingly, Sasuke's English dub actor, Yuri Lowenthal, singles out a moment much earlier in the Naruto timeline as one of his favorites. In Episode 30, Sasuke and Orochimaru come face to face for the first time, resulting in the former finally awakening his full Sharingan and getting his first big power-up. Not only is the moment a standout for Lowenthal, but the actor believes it serves as the perfect make-or-break moment for new viewers.

Sasuke getting his Sharingan and curse mark is the perfect one-two punch

During an interview with Crunchyroll to celebrate Sasuke's 20-year journey, Yuri Lowenthal chose his character's interaction with Orochimaru, which left him with a curse mark, as a pivotal moment in the series. If he had to choose, the actor said he would tell new viewers to at least make it to that scene in Episode 30 before dropping the show for good.

"Not that I've ever had anybody say, 'Yeah, I watched Naruto and I couldn't get into it,'" Lowenthal told Crunchyroll. "Everybody who starts watching it is pretty well hooked early on. But I would argue, 'Look, I know it seems like deep into the series, but if you get to Episode 30, and it hasn't grabbed you yet, walk away.' Luckily, I've never had to put it that way. I've always loved that episode and it's the beginning of a journey and a change for Sasuke as well, but just as a viewer watching and it was like, wow."

Lowenthal makes an excellent point about the moment, as it drastically changes the show's tone while setting up important storylines for future episodes. Although new viewers would need to make it 30 episodes into the show, the scene is more than worth it, as Orochimaru's introduction as the show's first big bad is worth the binge alone.

In the same interview, Lowenthal reflected on recording the episode, revealing that everyone involved knew they had something special on their hands. "There was something about that episode where it feels like, energized," the actor said, and everyone loved it so much they devoted more resources to perfecting it.