Naruto, Masashi Kishimoto’s short anime series, explores the childhood of Naruto Uzumaki, an orphaned aspiring ninja in The Leaf Village. Naruto wants nothing more in the world than to become the Hokage of the Leaf Village, just like his father before him. Naruto grew up without a family, so in a sense, the citizens of the Leaf Village raised him — even though most despised his constant childish antics throughout the town. Naruto finds a home in his ninja team, Team 7. His team includes his instructor Kakashi Hatake, an introverted but highly trained ninja with a mysterious power and an even more mysterious past, Sasuke Uchiha, Naruto’s rival in ninja school and the lone survivor of his clan, and Sakura Haruno, a bubbly and upbeat girl with a ginormous crush on Sasuke. The end of Naruto segues into the beginning of Naruto Shippuden, Kishimoto’s follow up to Naruto, wherein Sauske abandons his team to follow a dark path. Over the course of 500 episodes, Shippuden follows Naruto, Sakura, and Sauske’s replacement Sia as they try to navigate their way through the darkness and save their old teammate.
Ask any anime-geek and they will tell you: Naruto is by far the best anime ever. The show has several different villains, ranging from an insane ninja who does not like to stay in the same body too long to fish-man whose sword eats ninja’s chakra, the energy that allows them to practice their jutsu. While this show may have the best story, twists and OH SHIT moments in any show, the best thing Naruto has going for it is the character development. The viewer gets to see Naruto evolve from an antsy and immature seven year old to the most powerful and most caring ninja in all of the villages. Naruto grew up in a village where most of the people despised him, but through his risky missions and determination, he makes several friends as well as admirers over the series. The viewer gets to experience Sasuke discovering the truth about his past and come to grips with reality and himself, and see Sakura discover the power she holds inside of herself, one that has nothing to do with the jerk boy who abandoned her. This is a commitment, with over 700 episodes from both series, but trust me, this is a show that not only lives up to the hype, but in my opinion, surpasses it. This show will make Game of Thrones look like it was written by a hungover college freshmen. Naruto is available for streaming on Netflix, and Naruto Shippuden is available on Hulu. — RACHEL TESON