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Masashi Kishimoto Relates To Naruto Being An Underdog

Though the titular character in the popular "Naruto" franchise ended up being one of the strongest shinobi in history, he didn't start out like that. Instead, Naruto Uzumaki was seen more as a dunce at the beginning. During his time at the Ninja Academy, we are told that Naruto failed the graduation exam three times. Fans were even privy to a demonstration of his ineptitude when Naruto was unable to produce a simple clone. Seen as a failure among his peers, Naruto started out as the ultimate underdog. And it seems that this is how his creator, Masashi Kishimoto, relates to his creation.

During "Naruto"'s manga run, the series was published weekly in a magazine called "Shonen Jump." After a number of chapters were published, they would be compiled into an easily collectible volume. Kishimoto would provide glimpses into his childhood at the end of each volume with small anecdotes, some about his past.

In 2006, Kishimoto sat down for an interview with "Shonen Jump." The outlet remarked that, likely based on his journal entries, the manga artist must have had a pleasant upbringing. The author corrected the magazine, explaining that his blurbs were embellished. Because he wasn't good at the things that children value, he was an outcast, seeing himself as an underdog.

"My childhood wasn't all that happy," he intimated. "It may have sounded like it was all good in my journal entries in the manga volumes, but that was in order to make it interesting for the readers. Like any person, I've had hardships in my life. I was not the center of anyone's attention in school, rather sitting on the outskirts. I didn't do well in everything. I didn't excel in studies nor sports. So I can understand Naruto's feelings of being an underdog."

Masashi Kishimoto deeply relates to Naruto

Because he was seen as an underdog, Naruto Uzumaki was constantly disparaged by those around him. While it may have discouraged him a few times, he never let it destroy his optimistic spirit. Instead, he remained steadfast in his goal of being acknowledged by the village. So while Naruto saw himself as an underdog, he never stopped moving forward. And it seems like that's another trait that Masashi Kishimoto shares with the character.

In 2015, Kishimoto traveled to the United States for the first time for New York Comic-Con. Beforehand, however, the illustrator was the subject of a special fan event hosted at the local Apple store, after which Anime News Network sat down for an interview with the legendary manga artist. Regarding the conversation at the Apple store, the outlet mentioned Kishimoto's many attempts at making a successful manga among readers, asking him how he managed to keep himself motivated.

Kishimoto's response echoes Naruto's blind optimism and drive. "I don't know if I ever really got THAT discouraged or depressed during that time!" he explained. "I always had the thought in the back of my head, 'Eh, so they rejected me this time, I know I'm going to be a mangaka someday. That's all right, I'm just going to move on.' Partly because I thought that was the only thing I had to market myself. Maybe that makes me a little naïve or stupid."

One can easily replace "mangaka" with "hokage" and it'll sound like one of Naruto's motivational speeches. Regardless of any obstacle, both he and Naruto always forged forward knowing that their dreams would be accomplished.

It looks like Kishimoto put the most relatable parts of himself into Naruto, helping him to resonate with fans everywhere.