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Naruto Uzumaki's Entire Backstory Explained

The story of Naruto Uzumaki spans two series totaling well over 700 episodes. Even with that expansive canvas to work with, the animators and storytellers crafting the story of a misfit ninja turned savior of the world left quite a bit offscreen.

Naruto and Naruto Shippuden aren't a straight telling of the young shinobi-in-training's life and plenty of aspects of Naruto's story are filled in via asides, retellings and small details that are revealed as the story goes on. The show begins with Naruto already struggling through the first level of his training, and the show doles out relevant background in bits and pieces from there.

For folks who don't have time to binge nearly 800 episodes to get a full picture of who Naruto is, we've put together a little primer on all the important info that sets up the story of the Nine-Tailed Fox protector and master of the Sexy Jutsu.

The world of Naruto

To understand Naruto (and Naruto), first you need a handle on the world in which it takes place. Naruto was born during a time of relative peace in an era of world history known as the "Shinobi World."

The Shinobi World is marked by the division of five great Shinobi countries: powerful nations who became as much via their military powers. Wars are occasionally fought between these five great powers but the world has no conventional weapons of war, as we would understand them. Instead battles are fought between ninjas, who are trained from a young age to harness their life force (or "chakra") to create attacks and illusions.

The five nations are split along geographic and elemental lines, as each nation has an elemental flavor to the types of ninjutsu skills their warriors can recreate. The countries are the Land of Earth, the Land of Lightning, the Land of Wind, the Land of Water and the Land of Fire. All of their warriors are trained in hidden villages built around the training academies where young soldiers-to-be learn to control their powers.

Naruto was born in the Land of Fire and, as the show opens, we see him attempting to graduate from the Village Hidden in the Leaves' first level of ninja training. But before we get to that, we need to understand the way that humans in this world came to possess supernatural powers.

The creation myth

The world of Naruto has a creation myth that will ring a few bells for just about any religious person or student of theology. The world of ancient times had a God Tree that sapped the world of its energy. It was literally believed to grow stronger as it was watered with blood. The tree would produce a sacred fruit that was forbidden for man to eat. This carried on for eons until a figure named Kaguya Ōtsutsuki came and ate the fruit, in an attempt to end an era of endless war via the godlike powers it would give her. It imparted on her knowledge of chakra powers, and she did use them to bring about world peace.

Her chakra powers were imparted to her two sons upon their birth. However, wanting to be the only being in possession of such a power, Kaguya turned into a horrific beast called the ten Tails and attempted to kill her own sons. The two brothers were able to seal her away in one of their bodies and began teaching use of chakra to the rest of humanity.

Wars on wars

The newly empowered humans formed the aforementioned nations after hundreds of years of feudal wars. The conglomerated nations did not end all wars, though. As you might imagine, given that each nation's main concern is spitting out warriors, there were frequent battles between the great nations. Every so often this spilled over into a Great War between all five of the power players.

Prior to Naruto's birth, there were three of these Great Shinobi Wars. The first was similar to our own World War I, in that it was a war of attrition that found many of the nations grappling with new tactics and techniques in warfare. All of the major nations were badly damaged before an armistice was called.

That peace lasted only 20 years before the Second Shinobi War broke out. This war was born out of the discontent of minor nations in the Naruto world. Seeing the economic disparity between the five great lands and the smaller countries, these disadvantaged nations began to form alliances and blocs to protect themselves from invasion and exploitation. After the smaller nations began to challenge previously unquestioned invasions and occupations by the Five, a massive war broke out.

A third war occurred less than a decade before the start of the series, as smaller countries began disputing borders of the Great Nations and attacking in the hinterlands. Naruto's father Minato fought in the war and his performance was so impressive that he was made the leader of his village (called "hokage" in the series).

Naruto's parents

Naruto's father was an obviously impressive ninja and leader, serving as the hokage of Naruto's village before his birth. However, it's possible his mother was even more impressive. Kushina Uzumaki was so gifted and full of chakra power that she was chosen as a guardian of a portion of the demon that Kaguya became.

(As you might remember, the demon was sealed in one of her two sons. When he was nearing death, he split the Ten Tails into ten equal parts and sealed them in gifted humans called Jinchuriki. These beasts were sealed in young and talented shinobi for generations and Kushina was chosen as the carrier of the Nine-Tailed Fox.)

Carrying the beast inside her gave her incredible power, but also an extreme sense of responsibility. Were she ever to let the beast overtake her protection seal, it could rampage and cause incredible amounts of death and destruction.

A rogue group

While most people can agree that keeping the beasts sealed away seems sensible, there exists a rogue group of shinobi who want to unleash all ten of the sealed beasts and revive Kaguya. Known as the Akatsuki, these breakaway ninjas are reviled criminals orchestrating a grand scheme to remove all of the seals placed over the beasts.

They aren't Joker-style agents of chaos, however. All of the members of the Akatsuki share a hatred for war. The ranks of the group swelled following the Third Shinobi War, as warriors who had seen incomprehensible killing and bloodshed returned home and feared another worldwide conflict. Kaguya was able to create a period of world peace before going mad with power, these pacifist ninjas hope to recreate it and avoid anyone ever going to war in service to a Great Nation ever again.

Because of Kushina's sealed beast, she lived under constant threat of attack from this splinter group. And she was right to fear them, as an attack from these ninjas would end her life. Given the extreme power that Kushina possessed, they waited until she was at her most vulnerable to attack: the night she was giving birth to her son.

A tragic birth

Naruto's parents knew that her seal over the beast she held would weaken while she was in labor. Because of that, they traveled to a remote spot well away from their village to allow Kushina to give birth. If the demon broke free, they would have time to try and tame it before it could destroy the village.

Naruto's father, himself the most powerful shinobi in the village in title, makes a point of keeping the demon under control while his wife gives birth. Unfortunately, their concentration is broken when a masked man working on behalf of the Akatsuki attacks them both. The Nine-Tails breaks free and rampages, destroying portions of the village and killing many of its fighting men.

Naruto's parents make the decision to seal the beast inside their infant son to save what's left of the village. His father, Minato, goes through with the idea even though he knows that the process will kill him. Believing that it's better for Naruto to grow up with his mother than for all of them to perish, he sacrifices himself in the ceremony. However, the beast lobs one final attack before being sealed away and both mother and father protect their son with their bodies. They die immediately after sealing the beast in newborn Naruto.

The life of an outcast

Naruto is ostracized from that point on. Many of the villagers look at him and know that the beast that killed their brother, father or son lives within him. Though he was just an infant at the time, the village by and large blames Naruto for the deaths the spirit caused.

This treatment is compounded by the fact that Naruto has no parental guidance. He was orphaned during the tragedy and no one wants to be responsible for him, given that they can't look at him without seeing the village's destruction. Naruto is completely unaware of the fact that he has a demon spirit sealed in his body and an edict from the village leadership keeps villagers from telling Naruto anything about the circumstances of his birth or his latent power. Because the villagers ignore him, he acts out as a means of getting attention. Naruto is a nuisance to the entire village, frequently vandalizing property or pulling pranks on shopkeepers.

Naruto is also hated by children his own age. While the village children do not know why Naruto is bad, they can pick up on the way that their parents treat the young boy and they act accordingly.

Connection to the greats

In spite of this, Naruto is destined for greatness. While he doesn't know who his parents were, the fact remains that he was the son of two of the most powerful warriors in the entire village. His father was so skilled at combat that he became the village leader prior to his death and his mother possessed enough chakra to be one of the ten people on Earth tasked with keeping beasts at bay.

Beyond that, he does have an immense power trapped within his body. That's something that he can feel and will eventually be able to call upon after years of intense training.

Naruto also has connections to some of the most powerful people ever to live in the Shinobi World. His godfather is a legendary writer and warrior named Jiraiya. Naruto is named after a character from one of the ninja novelist's books and Jiraiya would eventually take a teenaged Naruto under his wing to complete his shinobi training.

Naruto has a sense of all of this, even if he can't articulate it. Coupled with the massive chip he carries on his shoulder due to the village's outright hostility toward him, this sets Naruto on a path toward becoming a legend in his own right.

In the academy

Naruto enrolls in the village's ninja academy with the goal of becoming hokage. He wants to become a ninja of such undeniable skill that the village people all have to respect him. Unfortunately, Naruto is a clown and his lack of parental guidance leads to him performing poorly in school. The series opens with nine-year-old Naruto taking a test for the third time to attempt to graduate from novice levels at ninja academy. In spite of his considerable chakra, Naruto is rough around the edges and fails his test miserably.

When he finally does pass his final, after saving his teacher by using an incredibly advanced ninjutsu technique that he taught himself out of a forbidden scroll, the story begins in earnest. Naruto sets off to the second level of training, is assigned a core group of fellow trainees, and begins to unravel the mysterious circumstances of his birth and early life.