Title:  Naruto

Year:  2000

Manga Available in the UK?  Coming Soon

Anime Available in the UK?  Yes (ETA: July)

Games Available in the UK?  Coming Soon

What's Naruto then?

Where have you been??  Naruto is one of the most eagerly anticipated anime releases of recent years, having built up a huge online fan base on the back of fan-made translations of

the anime and manga.  The story revolves around the titular Naruto, a trouble-making ninja in training living in the hidden village of Konoha.  Many years before a gigantic demon fox had attacked the village and in a last ditch attempt the most powerful ninja in the village - the Hokage - sealed the demon inside the newborn Naruto.  Now in his teens Naruto is ostracised because of this legacy he knows nothing of, and desperate for recognition he vows that he will become the next Hokage to force everyone to look up to him and take him seriously.  It isn't going to be easy though, first he has to graduate from Konoha's ninja academy...

Hang on, rewind a second, you said fan-made translations, isn't that illegal?

Weeeell, translating it isn't but distributing it without a licence is.  These fan-subtitled episodes (commonly known as fansubs) did make the show hugely popular in the US and Europe, but ironically it considerably delayed the series' release as the Japanese studios - noting the show's popularity - ramped up the licensing cost to a point where no-one could afford it!


It's licensed now though, so why is it so popular?

It's got ninja in it!  Do you need anything more?  It is a pretty epic series that has a very good continuing storyline, the characters are great and the action is superb too.  It's combination of ninja powers, epic fighting, tension and character-driven drama really struck a chord with fans around the world, and it now looks to repeat that success in the UK through the TV screening from Jetix and DVDs from Manga Entertainment.

 Sounds interesting, but won't it be hacked to pieces when it comes on telly?

There are cuts, but despite the often dark storyline, use of weapons and blood, the cuts are actually very minimal.  The series has been treated with great respect, the cuts are done very well and are not obvious.  The English dub is very good too.

Really?  So how much ninja action have we got to look forward to?

The franchise is still going strong in Japan, where (at the time of writing) it has clocked up over 30 collected manga volumes, three anime films, three anime specials and an anime series that is rapidly closing on its 200th episode!  In the UK so far the first 52 episodes of the anime have been picked up for release, but no doubt more will follow if the show is as popular as it deserves to be.

So definitely one to look out for then?

It is indeed.  Luckily if you are unable to catch the Jetix showing which starts in July you can look to the DVDs, which Manga Entertainment intend to release as 13 episode boxsets from August, or the original manga, which Gollancz have lined up for later in 2006.

Cool, do you have any other articles about Naruto?

Yep, check out the following

Merchandise Review - Naruto Image Figures vol 1