Uzumaki Naruto (Naruto Uzumaki in the English anime) is the main character of the manga and anime series Naruto. He is a student of Hatake Kakashi’s and later of Jiraiya.
Little is known about Naruto’s birth or parentage, and it is very probable that he has no living relatives at all. What is known, however, is that around the time his mother was about to give birth to him, the Nine-tails Demon Fox, or Kyūbi no Yōko, attacked his village, Konohagakure (Hidden Leaf) and the Yondaime Hokage (Fourth Hokage) decided to seal the demon away with a forbidden technique inside him, sacrificing his life in the process. Yondaime’s wish was for Naruto to be remembered as a hero by the people of the village.
Things, unfortunately for him, definitely did not turn out that way. The people of the village needed something to blame and channel their bitterness and loss onto, and he was the perfect candidate. The adults of the village, without known exceptions, knew him and treated him as nothing more than the demon fox that has attacked the village; As a result he grew up alone and isolated. It is implied in the manga that he went through very difficult emotional times and often shed many tears, but kept reprimanding himself for doing so and telling himself nothing would be achieved by crying. Eventually he developed into the loudmouth, hyperactive prankster he was at the start of the manga, though as the Third Hokage (Sandaime) observed (and even Naruto himself, in a moment of rare enlightenment, once admitted this), it is only an act to cover up for his deep insecurity in a desperate plight for recognition.
By chance or fate, Umino Iruka, who had felt much of the same desperation as Naruto in his younger years, was Naruto’s teacher, and he was the first person to recognize Naruto as a human being and ninja, and not just as a stupid screwup or the Nine-Tails. Naruto, at one point, says that when he is with Iruka, he often wonders whether that is what being with a father is like.
Personality and characteristics
Naruto is very determined and has very strong values that he never once fails to act by, even in hopeless situations. His dream is to become Hokage, as it is the epitome of his ambitions to have the village acknowledge him and live for the sake of protecting his important people.
Naruto has a knack for inspiring people to realise their potentials and resolve to work harder or change their ways for the better; his determination and resolve often earn him sympathy from other characters. One early example of this is Konohamaru, the grandson of the third Hokage, who was inspired by Naruto to stop trying to find shortcuts to becoming Hokage, as there are no shortcuts and the only way is paved with plenty of hard work. Another is Inari, whom Naruto helped by making him see that anyone can make a difference and by confronting him about his refusal to come to terms with his painful past (as Naruto’s past was similarly tragic). Both of them have gotten very attached to Naruto and have taken to calling him Onii-chan (big brother).
Though he is naturally impetuous, hyperactive and tends to rush into combat without thinking, Naruto is capable of devising some quite clever plans by creative usage of his jutsu. He has more than once upstaged what looked like a superior opponent by exploiting the element of surprise an unconventional usage of a technique entails; Kakashi even dubs him the “number one ninja in surprising people”. Another main driving force behind his otherwise average Taijutsu and Ninjutsu abilities is the huge power and chakra reserves of the Kyūbi. Kyūbi is by no stretch of the imagination a particularly pleasant character, but nevertheless does everything in his power to help Naruto – lending chakra as requested, healing Naruto with his extreme healing ability and so forth – if only for the fact that Naruto’s death would apparently mean the Kyūbi’s death as well.
There are downsides to the huge chakra load that is Kyūbi; like most of the biggest weapons, it can’t be lifted, let alone wielded, with ease. Naruto is a relatively small container that cannot quite handle the whole of Kyūbi’s chakra, which might account for Naruto’s inability to control and focus chakra consistently for jutsu during his days at the academy. Even later, when Naruto learns to better control his chakra, any technique relying on Kyūbi’s chakra to work properly runs a chance of failing, as it takes great conviction or control on Naruto’s part to draw Kyūbi’s chakra effectively. However, Naruto’s Chakra and Kyūbi’s chakra are slowly fusing and are expected to eventually become one, which is bound to drastically change this status-quo.
Up to his academy graduation, Naruto has precious little of the acknowledgement and empathy he seeks. His sensei, Umino Iruka, and to a lesser extent the Third Hokage, are the only positive influence on him in that respect (though Hyūga Hinata thinks very highly of him as well she never actually gathers the courage to address him). He neglects his academy studies so much that he repeatedly fails to graduate (though the Bunshin no Jutsu, the one he is worst at, being the final test every year doesn’t help much). That is until he is manipulated to steal the scroll of seals (a scroll belonging to the village containing forbidden techniques) by Mizuki. During the short conflict between Mizuki and Iruka, Naruto acquires his signature technique, Kage Bunshin no Jutsu, by learning it from the scroll. When he demonstrates usage of this technique, Iruka passes him and congratulates him on graduating.
While labeled as dumb at the academy, Naruto shows surprising talent in unexpected areas and often comes up with inventive solutions and strategies. Later in the series, Naruto manages to learn the Rasengan, a technique that took the fourth Hokage three years to develop, in just a month (he takes a couple of days for the first step, three weeks for the second, and one week for the third). An example of Naruto’s inventiveness is shown here — he lacks the chakra control required to execute the technique using only one hand, but he settles for an inferior delivery method which is slower and requires another hand (either by occupying his other one or using a kage bunshin). While not on par with the original, Naruto’s version is still very effective.
Later in the manga, Naruto is seen to be able to use Rasengan with only one hand (though this might be a misinterpretation due to the graphic limitations of manga). Early in the Naruto II arc while out to rescue Gaara, Naruto uses a new version of Rasengan called Odama Rasengan- essentially two combined Rasengan spheres from him and a clone requiring only one hand of each, again suggesting that he is now capable of executing Rasengan as originally intended.
In order to become a genin, in addition to graduating from the Ninja Academy, one must first undergo an evaluation with a Jōnin; if one passes, they will be assigned to that Jonin for training. Naruto, Haruno Sakura (his crush) and Uchiha Sasuke (her crush) are assigned to Team 7 under the leadership of Hatake Kakashi. The evaluation test is simple. There are three members and two bells: the two who manage to put their hands on a bell win and are awarded with food, and the one who is left out remains hungry. Kakashi easily defends himself from all three, and after a while calls a break and points out their flaws in teamwork; he lets Sakura and Sasuke eat so they can all try again later, but forbids them to feed Naruto, who is also tied to a log for good measure. Sakura and Sasuke decide to go against Kakashi’s words and feed Naruto anyway, figuring that if the problem is their teamwork this would be a good way to start working on it; Team 7 thus becomes the first group that Kakashi ever passed to be Genin, as this is exactly the message he was trying to get across – caring for your friends is more important than “the rules”.
Though Genin are only supposed to go on D-Rank missions, Naruto insists on doing something more exciting and the Sandaime Hokage agrees to send them on a C-Rank mission to escort a client. During their mission, the team is attacked by two enemy Chūnin- something that is definitely not supposed to happen on C-Rank missions- and Naruto panics and freezes; Sasuke however deals with the attackers quite efficiently. Sasuke rubs his one-upping Naruto in by calling him a “Scaredy-cat”; this name-calling, which Naruto would imitate many times later in the series, is a defining moment in the Naruto-Sasuke rivalry. Team 7 also undergoes chakra training in this arc of the manga, another point of rivalry between the two ninja, as they constantly challenge themselves to try to outdo each other, but instead end up helping and motivating each other to succeed.
Naruto’s “hidden power” is also revealed in this arc. In a particularly ferocious battle in which he believes Sasuke has been killed, Naruto loses control and is consumed by Kyūbi’s chakra. Its power is so immense that the chakra is visible, all of Naruto’s wounds heal near-instantaneously, and Naruto’s appearance changes. He completely overwhelms his enemy with this power and speed. Although the power of the Kyūbi is introduced at this point, the full extent of it is not shown yet. Naruto has not communicated with the Demon Fox inside of him; he only subconsciously calls upon this power.
After his graduation, Naruto gradually becomes more acknowledged and appreciated, as more and more people come in contact with the real Naruto behind the “demon” and “idiot prankster” stigmas. From his previous state of isolation he develops friendships with all sorts of people; his relationship with Sasuke grows into a mix of friendship and rivalry, eventually escalating into very strong friendship and a rivalry of epic proportions, while Haruno Sakura’s role slowly develops from that of Naruto’s mere crush into that of his important friend.
Team 7 returns to Konoha to continue with their lives as regular Genin, accomplishing menial missions. Eventually, whilst playing with Konohamaru and his friends, Naruto meets with two of the three Genin from Sunagakure (Hidden Sand), Kankurō and Temari and shortly learns the reason for their presence; Chūnin Selection Exams are in effect. Naruto is thrilled about the possibility of becoming a Chūnin, and though he fails to, various events during the exams drastically affect his ability and enrich his social relations (much later in the manga, when Naruto reminisces on how he was alone but slowly more and more people became his friends, we see a growing line which first contains Iruka, Kakashi, Sasuke and Sakura, and later expands to include people he met on the Chūnin exam).
During the exam, Naruto finds himself for the first time in a truly desperate situation, up against Orochimaru – an S-ranked criminal so powerful that the third Hokage later mentions that there is nobody in the hidden Leaf Village that can fight him equally (even he himself, he admits, cannot). Naruto and Sasuke’s reactions to the situation are a complete reversal of what happened in their previous mission – Sasuke is paralyzed with panic while Naruto fights on fearlessly, at one point stopping Orochimaru’s huge summoned snake in its tracks on his own, and muttering to Sasuke, in a a moment of glorious comeuppance that marks another milestone in their rivalry, “are you all right… scaredy-cat?”. Naruto eventually snaps Sasuke out of his panic, and when Naruto is knocked out Sasuke continues to fight Orochimaru.
Naruto vastly improves in ability during the three stages of the Chuunin exam; beside winning his first true fight (against Kiba) by having shadow replications perform a combo attack, he improves his chakra control by practicing walking on water, learns how to call upon Kyūbi’s energy at will and how to use the summoning technique to call a toad to his aid (the former skill essential for the usability of the latter, as without Kyūbi’s chakra his summons are generally not much more than tadpoles). He uses these skills to a powerful effect in later battles, and at the climax of the arc triumphs against Gaara, an opponent Sasuke could not face equally, thus reversing their roles and inducing in Sasuke deep feelings of inferiority – though Sasuke still attempts to maintain the same attitude in front of Naruto, in an attempt to cling to his former superiority. At an early point Naruto tells Sasuke that he wants to fight him during the exam; Sasuke acknowledges Naruto in his own way later on when he tells him that he wants to fight him as well.
In the month between the third stage preliminary matches and the third stage main matches, Naruto meets Jiraiya – one of Konoha’s legendary three – for the first time. Jiraiya agrees to be his sensei and is the one who teaches him most of the advanced techniques he learns during that time. He also undergoes a brief training period under Ebisu, who earlier saw him as nothing more than the container of the demon fox but after spending some time with him decides that he is indeed a true ninja of the leaf.
Naruto’s defining trait of being extremely spirited and never giving up is further emphasised in this arc. During the written test part, when given a choice between taking a question or not taking a question – when not taking it would mean failing the exam, and taking it but not answering correctly would mean failing and staying a genin forever – he not only chooses to take the question but proclaims his resolve to will himself to be Hokage even if he stays a genin forever loudly, inspiring many people in the room to do the same (in a twist, it later turns out that the whole point of the “question” was to see who was fit and who wasn’t fit for being a chūnin, an occupation in which one does not have a choice of whether to undertake missions which risk everything or not, and Naruto has answered correctly by merely deciding to confront it). He also faces up with determination to Hyūga Neji and Gaara – Two opponents that, he frankly admits to himself often at various points during the arc, terrify him.
Naruto’s encounters during the Chūnin exam arc are characterized by Naruto relating to or opposing to sentiments and outlooks on life, and it is through this relation that he makes many new friends (and on three different occasions, by defeating an enemy). He gradually bonds with Rock Lee, a Taijutsu expert, who represents the ideal of hard work prevailing against all odds and stands up against the much more powerful Gaara during the third stage preliminary exams even while unconscious. Naruto deeply identifies with Lee and feels very sorry for him when Gaara beats him (since he does such a thorough job as to, according to the doctors’ first impressions, permanently cripple Lee.)
Another contrast that deeply affects Naruto is the clash between Hyūga Hinata, the forsaken heir of the Hyūga clan head house, and Hyūga Neji, her cousin, who is much stronger but will never be the heir because he is a part of the branch house. Naruto watches the start of the fight with little knowledge of either fighters (apart from that Hinata is a nice person, as she offered to let him copy off of her paper in the written test stage and offered him medicine immediately after his fight with Inuzuka Kiba); however about a minute later, after Hinata mumbles quietly that she just wanted to change herself and Neji lectures her about the supreme rule of destiny and how people cannot change, Naruto is already shouting into the stadium for Hinata to stand up for herself. She loses the fight, much like Lee loses his own fight with Gaara – still standing at a point where she should technically be dead; when she finally goes down, Naruto is so overwhelmed with sympathy for her predicament and antagonism for Neji’s attitude that he closes his punch around her overflowing blood and flings it at Neji, promising to her that he will beat the Hyūga prodigy himself.
Naruto’s fight with Neji a month later is a very dramatic one. As techniques are used and advantages are gained and nullified, Neji lectures Naruto much like he did earlier with Hinata, telling him that dropouts remain dropouts and cannot change. Naruto suffers somewhat of an emotional impact when Neji gives him a speech about the Hokages being people who were destined to become ones, and how one cannot become one just because they want to; Ultimately, however, he would have none of it and keeps confronting Neji about his attitude, until Neji tells him of the tragedy of his father’s death and the Hyūga fate of hatred. Naruto eventually wins the battle through sheer motivation and believing in victory, and in the process changes Neji’s outlook on life one-hundred and eighty degrees, inspiring him to create his own fate and forming another important bond (“Stop talking about fate and how it can’t be changed,” says Naruto sardonically, “you’re not like me. You’re not a dropout.”)
The climax of the arc is Naruto’s battle with Gaara. Gaara represents the opposite reaction to Naruto’s very predicament than the one Naruto had; Naruto looked for acknowledgement and attention to form his identity, while Gaara built more and more walls around himself, eventually concluding that his purpose in life was to kill everybody that was not him. At first Naruto is clearly outpowered, but later in the fight he gains more ground by using clever tactics and employing the techniques Jiraiya taught him. Most of all what enables him to triumph is his devotion to his important people, which turns out to be a source of much greater strength of Gaara’s hatred, contrary to Naruto’s first impression that Gaara’s state of mind makes him somebody he could not possibly face.
After the battle ends, Gaara wonders whether he’d be able to love again, and appears later in the series as a positive character and another important friend Naruto has made during this arc.
Naruto’s influence on Sasuke, though profound, is powerless to prevent Sasuke from deciding to become a Nukenin (Missing-nin) and leaving the leaf to receive training from Orochimaru. Sasuke’s decision to leave is the result of a chain of events that rekindles his hatred and desire to avenge his clan so much that it overshadows all other influences in his life. This experience is traumatic to Naruto, as he has promised Sakura to bring Sasuke back and this is the first time he is unable to live up to something he promised to an important person. Unlike Jiraiya, however, who from his own experience with Orochimaru believes that Sasuke is too far gone and that Naruto should forget about him and concentrate on his own survival, Naruto believes that there is hope for Sasuke yet. He tells Sakura that he will, one day, bring Sasuke back to the village and live up to his promise.
Naruto II arc
After this failed attempt to retrieve Sasuke, Naruto learns that circumstances have granted him a 3-year window to prepare himself for when the time comes to face Orochimaru (who has switched bodies prematurely and now has to wait 3 years before executing his original plan of transferring into Sasuke) and defend himself against additional kidnap attempts from the shady organisation Akatsuki (who, according to Jiraiya’s information sources and for reasons unknown, halt their plans to attempt capturing Naruto for three years). Naruto takes this opportunity for intensive training under Jiraiya, as does Sakura under Tsunade. As Jiraiya was the Fourth’s sensei, this places Naruto in a very good position to actually fulfill his dream to become Hokage or at least a ninja of great renown, as most legendary ninjas and hokages are closely tied to one another through student-teacher relations (though she does not tell him this, Tsunade is already certain he will grow up to become Hokage).
When Naruto returns to the village two and a half years later he finds out, much to his chagrin, that he is the only one of his former-Genin social circle (known as the “Rookie 9”) who is still a Genin. During his absence, the rest have become Chūnin (and Hyūga Neji even made Jōnin).
In this new arc of the story, dubbed Naruto II, we see the growth of all of the characters, including Naruto. Naruto shows physical growth, sports a new outfit, and appears to not only have increased in strength and techniques, but intelligence as well (the pervertedness of his Sensei also seems to have slightly rubbed off on him). He has little time, however, to wander the village and greet all his old friends, as the Hokage sends him, Sakura and Kakashi on yet another rescue mission, this time to retrieve the helpless Gaara (who, to Naruto’s utter awe, has become the fifth Kazekage during his absence) from the hands of Akatsuki, who plan to extract the sealed demon from him for purposes yet unknown. Jiraiya’s information sources indicate that Akatsuki has been growing impatient with their lack of success capturing Naruto, and thus this clash with Akatsuki seems to have been inevitable.
Naruto, along with Sakura, Kakashi, Team Gai, and Chiyo, go on a mission to rescue the recently-captured Gaara from the Akatsuki. They are first confronted by Itachi and Kisame, who turn out to be body substitutes by means of Shoten no Jutsu (Shapeshifting Technique), and defeat them. Upon arrival at the grotto where Gaara is being held, the group figures out that a barrier jutsu seals off the entrance. To facilitate entry, Team Gai goes to remove four seals scattered in the area; doing so creates clones of them which copy their every movement. Meanwhile, Naruto and Kakashi decide to confront Deidara while Chiyo and Sakura face Sasori. Both pairs defeat the Akatsuki members, and Gai and company defeat their clones, with help from Neji.
Upon retrieving Gaara from Deidara’s clay bird, Naruto undergoes the second-stage Kyūbi transformation, which he used against Sasuke. Because Kakashi knew how to contain Naruto’s further transformation using a special seal he received from Jiraiya, it has been implied that Jiraiya also witnessed Naruto’s transformation during the last three years.
- The surname “Uzumaki” translates to “spiral”. The Konoha leaf symbol is drawn with an arrow attached to a spiral, the seal on his abdomen is a spiral, and one of his attacks is Rasengan which means “Spiralling Sphere”. One wonders if the spirals surrounding Naruto are a reflection of the main character, or if Naruto’s last name is a reflection of the spirals of his village. For Uzumaki may be a generic last name representing the village given to those without a family name.
- “Uzumaki” can also mean “whirlpool”. The Naruto whirlpool, named after the city of Naruto, lies between said city and Awaji Island.
- Naruto can mean “maelstrom”, and is also the name for a sliced stick of Kamaboko with a pink whirlpool design in the middle which is used as a topping for Ramen (Naruto’s favorite food). The Japanese sometimes use it as a nickname for the commercial at (@).
- The Kitsune is a well-known character in Japanese myth, and the influence behind not only the Demon Fox a.k.a. the Kyūbi but many other reincarnations in modern Japanese culture. It likes to play tricks and pranks on people, and on occasions transforms itself into a beautiful woman and seduces a man (obviously the inspiration for Ninja Centerfold (Oiroke no Jutsu, literally Sexy Technique), which is often called “Sexy no Jutsu” by people in the North American Naruto fanbase). Foxes are also known to be especially fierce and resourceful when pushed into a corner, and can even kill a hound or other powerful animals, something which also reflects Naruto’s determination. It should also be noted that every time Naruto loses control and is overwhelmed by the Kyuubi’s chakra, he seemingly gains another “tail” of chakra. This stems from the Japanese myth that when kitsune reach 100 years, they gain an additional tail, as well as increased powers and intelligence; their powers and number of tails continue to grow every 100 years until the age of 1000 when they receive the ninth and final tail and incredible powers which in some versions even reach up to immortality. The Kyuubi’s powers are limited to seep through to how much Naruto can take, though it seems that this limit is severely stretched the older Naruto gets, and will probably be broken altogether when their chakra finishes melding.
- October 10, Naruto’s birthday, was “Taiiku no hi” (Health and Sports Day) in Japan when his character was conceived – a holiday full of physical activity fit for a hyperactive kid. The holiday, however, was moved to the second Monday of October during 1999.
- According to the Game Boy Advance game Naruto: Konoha Senki one of Naruto’s hobbies is gardening and he is the one who gives Kakashi Mr Ukki, the plant seen on Kakashi’s windowsill. According to the official databooks his hobbies are playing pranks and watering plants.