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How Naruto Was Almost A Completely Different Anime

Today, the world knows "Naruto" as one of the most popular anime of all time. It's a giant within the industry, and has become as ubiquitous to anime fans as Superman or Batman is to comic book readers. Focusing on its titular character, the series follows Naruto as he strives to become the Hokage and break the cycles of violence that have continuously plunged him and his loved ones into violent conflict lasting generations.

However, "Naruto" wasn't always about one yellow-headed kid becoming king of the magic ninjas, nor was it always about generational trauma. Before "Naruto" was released in 1999, original manga author Masashi Kishimoto conceived an entirely different version of the now multi-billion dollar franchise (via Howchoo). This version lacked many of the core ideas that we now associate with "Naruto." As such, it wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that "Naruto" was almost a completely different anime.

Naruto was almost a cooking show

Die-hard fans of "Naruto" might already know about the connection that Naruto (the character) has with cooking. True to his love for ramen, Naruto is named after a type of Japanese fish cake called narutomaki, which is often used as a ramen topping (via Honest Food Talks). However, the connection used to run even deeper. In an interview with the fan magazine "Naruto Meigen Shu" (via Naruto Wiki), Masashi Kishimoto talked about his original idea for "Naruto," and how it started as a cooking anime.

"It was supposed to be about a teenager named Naruto cooking ramen," Kishimoto said. "But my editor at the time told me 'It is never gonna work.' I had to find something else and this became a story about ninjas. After my cooking manga got refused, I created a monster/ghost story in which Naruto was a fox-man who could change other people's form."

After that, Kishimoto added more elements that "Naruto" is now known for, such as ninjutsu. In between the cooking manga that never was and the "Naruto" we have now, he also experimented with making "Naruto" about samurai. When that didn't work out, he inevitably came up with the ninja story that we all know today. However, it's interesting to imagine how life might have been different if Kishimoto really had made that cooking manga.