Title:  Naruto

Creator:  Masashi Kishimoto

Year:  1999

Manga Incarnations:
Naruto - Ongoing series (Viz Media)

Anime Incarnations:
Naruto - 220 Episode Series (Manga Entertainment)
Naruto: Shippuuden - Ongoing series (Manga Entertainment)
Naruto the Movie (Manga Entertainment)
Naruto the Movie 2 (Manga Entertainment)
Naruto the Movie 3 (Manga Entertainment)
Naruto Special (Manga Entertainment)
Naruto Special 2 (Manga Entertainment)
Naruto Special 3 (Manga Entertainment)
Naruto OVA (Unlicensed)

Selected Computer Game Incarnations:
Naruto: Ultimate Ninja - Sony PS2 (Atari)
Naruto: Uzumaki Chronicles - Sony PS2 (Atari)
Naruto - XBox 360 (UbiSoft)
Naruto Shippuden Narutimate Accel - Sony PS2 (Bandai)
Naruto Clash of Ninja - Nintendo GameCube (Tomy)
For a full list click here

Naruto Uzumaki

In order to save the hidden ninja village of Konoha from a nine-tailed fox demon, the head ninja (called the Hokage) sacrifices himself to seal the beast within the body of a newborn baby called Naruto.  12 years later Naruto is a clumsy trainee ninja, but is ostracised from everyone in his village because of the dark legacy he knows nothing about.  Desperate for attention Naruto dreams of becoming the next Hokage, a new great leader who the whole village will respect.  However, to make this dream a reality he has to become a full ninja, and there's a lot to do first.  Teamed up with the cute Sakura Haruno and the moody Sasuke Uchiha, Naruto has to undergo missions and training under the tutelage of the enigmatic elite ninja Kakashi in order to rise through the ninja ranks.  It's not going to be easy, especially when their missions take them up against some unexpectedly powerful opponents...

Random Trivia:

1.  Naruto is also the name of the small fish cake slices that are often used to garnish ramen noodles in Japan.  The cake is usually white with a pink spiral running through it, and a spiral motif is used prominently on Naruto Uzumaki's clothing.  Ramen is also his favourite food.

2.  Naruto is also the name of a coastal city in Japan and a whirlpool in the nearby Naruto strait is a popular tourist attraction.  The Japanese word for whirlpool is Uzumaki, so the whirlpool is known as the Naruto Uzumaki - the same name as the main character from Naruto.

3.  The ninjas in Naruto use 'chakra' to power most of their abilities.  Chakra is a type of bodily energy referred to in East Indian mysticism, and many Indian holistic therapies are based around improving or balancing the body's chakra flow.

4.  Naruto was one of the biggest series to be widely subtitled by fans and heavily distributed online for free.  The sheer popularity of the series in the West through illegal distribution was such that it even came to the attention of the Japanese companies, who put such a high price on the license that no Western anime company could afford it.  It is believed that 'fansubbing' actually delayed the official Western release of the series by about two years.

5.  The 'sannin' ninja from Naruto - Jiraiya, Orochimaru and Tsunade - are based on characters from a Japanese folk tale called Jiraiya Goketsu Monogatari.  In the original story the gallant ninja Jiraiya uses his ability to morph into a giant toad in order to defeat his former follower and master of snake magic Orochimaru and win the heart of snail magic master Tsunade.  In Naruto Jiraiya can summon frogs and toads, Orochimaru can summon snakes and Tsunade can summon slugs.

6.  Similarly Naruto's Sasuke Uchiha, Asuma Sarutobi and Sarutobi the Third Hokage are named after Sasuke Sarutobi, a famous fictional ninja that appeared in numerous Japanese stories.

7.  Naruto's home village of Konoha is based on creator Masashi Kishimoto's home town, with the ninja training academy Naruto attends loosely based on a local Japan Self Defence Force base.

8.  The nine-tailed demon fox, or Kyuubi, that is sealed within Naruto's body is taken from Japanese legend.  Foxes were believed to have magical powers in Japanese folklore and the oldest and wisest foxes were said to have multiple tails, up to a maximum of nine.

9.  Creator Masashi Kishimoto admitted to using ninja headbands in Naruto because the goggles the lead character originally wore were awkward to draw.

10.  Masashi Kishimoto has a fear of monkeys after being attacked by one when he was young.

If you like this try:

Bleach (Manga - Viz Media)
(Anime - Fremantle)
Ninja Scroll TV
(Anime - MVM)