Masashi Kishimoto
(Creator, Naruto)

Masashi Kishimoto has risen to become one of Japan's best known manga artists, but his roots are somewhat more humble.  Born in the countryside of Okayama Prefecture, Japan on 8th November 1974, Kishimoto had quite a normal upbringing.  Both he and his twin brother Seishi (now also a manga author) loved anime and manga, and he began drawing from a very long age.  Inspired by the work of Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama, as well as Gundam and Katsuhiro Otomo's Akira, Kishimoto decided he wanted to become a manga author whilst he was still at school.  With dreams of drawing a series for the mighty Shonen Jump magazine, he admits to spending more time drawing than he did studying,

Masashi Kishimoto

but his early attempts at manga failed to impress his brother and father.  Undeterred the young Kishimoto carried on drawing and tried desperately to find his own style.

After he left school Kishimoto went to art college and it was whilst he was there that he finally achieved a breakthrough.  In 1996 he submitted a short manga story called Karakuri to publisher Shueisha, and won their highly prized monthly Shonen Jump 'Hop Step' competition for new manga.  Despite being spurred on by this success Kishimoto stayed on and graduated from art college before he started work on his next story - Naruto.  A rough version of Naruto debuted in Akamaru Jump in 1997, and two years later a reworked and revamped version of the story started in the weekly Shonen Jump.  His dream had become a reality and soon the manga was amongst Japan's most popular, spinning off into a lengthy anime series and several anime specials and films.  The huge popularity of Naruto quickly spread across the world through illegally distributed subtitled anime and when the series eventually received a legitimate release fan fervour couldn't have been stronger.

Naruto ranks amongst the most famous and popular anime and manga franchises of recent years, and one of the most popular outside of Japan too.  Kishimoto continues to draw the manga for Shonen Jump and the anime shows no signs of slowing down either.  There's still plenty of life in the story yet, and with his place in manga history secured it's going to be interesting to see what Masashi Kishimoto has lined up for the future...

 (Titles in Red are not available in English)