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Why Naruto's Reunion With His Parents Had Personal Significance For Maile Flanagan

When it comes to the "Naruto" franchise, the series has no shortage of memorable moments that fans are constantly reliving to recapture the feelings of when they saw it for the first time. Whether it be an epic scene that brought all the hype, like when Rock Lee (Brian Donovan) first removes his leg weights, or an incredibly tragic moment that elicits tears, like Zabuza Momochi (Steven Blum) and Haku's (Susan Dalian) deaths, "Naruto" has most anime lovers covered if you want to experience any range of emotions. Speak with any avid "Naruto" fan and they'll likely have their set of scenes for their own personal reasons.

But what about someone who had to experience the hype or the tears firsthand? In October 2022, Crunchyroll celebrated the 20th anniversary of the "Naruto" franchise by speaking with the English dub voice actor for Naruto Uzumaki, Maile Flanagan, to discuss the character, his impact, and her experiences being his voice. When asked about her most memorable moments from the series, Flanagan listed a few great moments like Naruto's inaugural brawl with Sasuke Uchiha (Yuri Lowenthal) and the entirety of the Pain arc, before leaning into something far more personal.

"I have said this often at conventions, but when Naruto gets to see his parents again," Flanagan intimated. "Around that season, I had lost my mother shortly before I recorded when he talked to his mother. It was very hard to record that episode. I had been with her and came back to LA. Then around that time, I had to record those episodes. That was so moving. The episode I think turned out really great. It's raw and real."

Maile Flanagan lost her mother around the time she recorded the scene where Naruto met Kushina

Overall, it must have been very difficult for Maile Flanagan to not only have to suffer such an immense loss, but to also have to go to work and have to revisit those same emotions while working. It must have been both painful and cathartic. However, it seems like it helped to inform her performance, providing fans with an incredibly sincere moment in the anime.

In the series, while Naruto confronts the Nine-Tailed Fox within him, a vision triggers in which Naruto can meet his mother, Kushina Uzumaki (Laura Bailey), for the first time. After subduing the Fox, Kushina regales Naruto with the tale of his birth and the circumstances that led to her death and that of Naruto's father, Minato Namikaze (Tony Oliver). Sixteen years prior, during a rampage of the Nine-Tailed Fox, Minato and Kushina sacrificed themselves to save Naruto from a killing blow by the Fox. To save the village, Minato removes half of the Nine-Tailed Fox's chakra and seals it within himself, gifting the remaining half of the Fox's chakra to Naruto. Before sealing their own chakras within Naruto so that they could perhaps meet their son one day, they say their tearful goodbyes and perish.

After Kushina concludes the story, she apologizes to Naruto for leaving him to grow up alone and for making him a Jinchūriki. Naruto waves off her apology, expressing his happiness just knowing that his parents loved him all along.

It's a beautiful moment when a son gets to speak with his long-deceased mother for the first time and offers her reassurance. Considering what Flanagan had to go through at the time, It's no wonder that she feels so strongly about this scene.